NY Times Suddenly Gushing Over State Ballot Initiatives, When They’re Pro-Abortion

September 13th, 2022 4:34 PM

The New York Times is loving the purported surge in Democratic voter excitement fueled by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, and is eagerly tracking the status of various abortion-related ballot initiatives among the states.

In Saturday’s edition, reporter Jonathan Weisman's “First Kansas, Next Michigan and Beyond as Abortion Ballot Measures Spread” came close to sanctifying the process of ballot initiatives – which let voters bypass hostile legislatures and pass new laws directly by majority vote -- as a way to work around stubborn Republican legislatures.

The inclusion of an abortion-rights referendum on Michigan’s November ballot has given Democrats hope for a wave of enthusiastic voter turnout on Election Day as the movement to allow voters to decide the issue directly sweeps outward from the first state that did so, Kansas.

Democrats in Michigan say the referendum will supercharge activism among a broad swath of voters determined to keep abortion legal in the state, just as another referendum did in August, when 59 percent of voters in reliably Republican Kansas voted to maintain abortion access in the state. 


While Democrats see ballot measures and referendums as a way to work around Republican-led legislatures, Republicans across the country have sought to limit citizen-lead ballot initiatives, a century-old facet of American democracy.


Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said conversations about future ballot measures would gather steam after the fall elections, if, indeed, abortion proves to be a major driver in Democratic gains.

A May 2021 headline similarly chided Republicans for resisting the sacred tradition: “Republicans Move to Limit a Grass-Roots Tradition of Direct Democracy.”

It’s fascinating to see the Times now embrace “ballot initiatives” or “ballot measures” as a vital part of direct democracy -- except, oddly enough, in liberal California, where they’re often used by conservative minority in a state where legislation is dominated by Democrats -- after spending years loathing them.

Indeed, the Times has historically shown no sympathy for ballot initiatives that advocate conservative proposals. A front-page 2009 story by Jennifer Steinhauer, "In California, Democracy Doesn't Pay the Bills," came on the heels of her insulting piece "Calif. Voters Reject Measures to Keep State Solvent."

In November 2010, James McKinley Jr. filed a dismissive story on an Oklahoma ballot measure, “Surprise: Islam as an Election Issue -- Ballot Measure on Shariah Law Fueled a Political Clash.” McKinley’s story was packed with hostile ideological labels like “archconservative."

In October 2017, Clyde Haberman decided to bash Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot initiative restricting government aid to illegal immigrants: “Failed Referendum That Propelled Policy on Migrants.” Haberman cried “xenophobia” in the first sentence.

So much for that traditional, respected facet of grass-roots democracy, the ballot initiative!