Indeed, my heart is gladdened: the Displaced Plainsman reports that conservative and liberal politicians tend to overestimate the conservatism of their constituents. LK points to Garance Franke-Ruta's hypothesis that legislators get a right-skewed impression of their constituents through exposure to highly-organized and loud conservative lobbying groups. And as avid Pierre-watcher David Montgomery observes, conservatives in our Capitol yell louder than liberals. Perhaps that explains our Legislature's blind spot on abortion, supporting extreme abortion restrictions that a majority of South Dakota voters consistently reject.
Franke-Ruta summarizes the working paper on this rightward misreading of the electorate as suggesting that "there's an effective supermajority requirement for passing liberal bills within state legislatures." Interesting: the South Dakota Legislature is trying to extend the formal supermajority requirement for passing arguably liberal tax increases to the initiative process via Senate Joint Resolution 2.
Think about that: our legislators want to ensure that, even if hardcore fiscal conservatives are in the minority, they can prevent tax increases at the ballot box. But they don't consider a rule that reducing our taxes and thus starving vital public services should also require a two-thirds vote. We build a conservative bias into our political process, as if we are afraid that majority rule won't always support the political agenda of the current party in power.
Why should conservatives be entitled to such favor? If we're going to govern by supermajority, let's apply that standard to every vote. Otherwise, let's pull the two-thirds requirement on tax increases and let the voters work their will, fair and sqaure.