There are, as most voters in Michigan realize, several different statewide ballot proposals to consider in the coming election. Most of them do not merit serious thought, as they seek to clog up the Michigan Constitution and dangerously tie the hands of lawmakers. Perhaps the worst of those is Proposal 6. It would require a vote of the people before the state could fund any international bridge crossing. It was brought on by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Maroun.
There seems little reason to believe that this is nothing more than Maroun throwing a hissy fit. He hasn’t been able to get his way on building a bridge himself, so he’s trying to keep Lansing out of the business. But be that as it may, by itself the proposal has certain merits. There’s no reason why a private business cannot build and maintain even an international crossing. It’s what we have anyway with the current Detroit/Windsor bridge.
Yet despite that, there are practical issues. Canada has said that it won’t allow a private bridge to be built, essentially on the grounds that only governments should control international crossings. The argument is weak, but it is what it is and there’s not much Michigan voters can do about that. If another bridge is to be built, it will be built publicly. And, to be fair, the Canadians are willing to put up the lion’s share of the funds.
The strongest reason to vote for this proposal is that it supports individual rights. Never mind that we may not care for the attitude of the individual behind it: right is right no matter what we personally think of even the persons involved. But the trouble with enshrining within the Michigan Constitution a popular vote on such things is that such things ought to be up to the Legislature. It’s why we elect leaders: to scan the landscape and do the best they can under the circumstances they’re facing. Making a major decision such as a bridge which can only help international traffic, international business, and international relations, ought to be left to elected representatives. If we don’t like their choices, well, we get a choice on them during the regular elections.
It would be easy to vote for Proposal 6 if for no other reason than to support the idea that individuals with the money and the will should be allowed to finance even international crossings. But as there will be no new bridge that way, it seems a silly and counterproductive effort. It’s best to vote no on 6, even if we must do it with a frown and a smirk.