10.16.08

Colorado Amendment Crib sheet, Conclusion

Posted in Society at 8:45 by RjZ

Alright, clearly there was a bit of a theme in my rant about (most of) the Colorado Constitutional amendments on the ballot. No, No, No, No, and more No. It’s an easy crib sheet at least, but why I am I so opposed to these changes? I alluded to it a couple of times in the individual explanations but it amounts to this; these amendments show a basic misunderstanding of the point of a constitution, at least the one on which Colorado’s is modeled: the United States Constitution.

The Constitution is supposed to be a framework for government. So: here it is, outlined by and for the people, what we think our government is going to be allowed to do. If it ain’t in there, they may not assume it’s their prerogative! Contrary to how many politicians act this days it’s not a list of what they can’t do and if we the people forgot to mention it, off you go, do whatever you wish. It’s do this and no more, for everything else, try keeping your mouth shut. Make laws, so long as they don’t conflict with this framework and restrict people’s freedoms.

The Constitution is and should be a living document. That’s why the federal one has a chance for amendments at all. But there aren’t many (27) and it’s over twice as old. Nearly every amendment to the U.S. Constitution (except prohibition, later repealed; some technical ones regarding the government itself and how long someone can be president; and this crazy idea about income tax)  expanded the rights of the people. That is, they told the government, the specific folks using the Constitution, more about what, explicitly, must be assured for every individual citizen. None of the amendments were new laws. We have a legislative body complete with checks and balances for that.

On purpose, it’s a difficult process make amendments to the U. S. Constitution. Legislators have to pass a proposed amendment with a two-thirds majority and then three-fourths of the states must approve it. This strong foundation for the government is not intended to sway back and forth with the winds of popular culture and mob rule. 

Meanwhile, in Colorado, and some other states, any one with enough signatures can decide to rewrite a part of our government’s very framework. There is a reason we elect people to government and even pay them. So that they will be professionals who read and understand all the ramifications of a new law. Of course, they are people too and we shouldn’t necessarily trust them to do the right thing, but laws can be eliminated and the bums can be voted out. I don’t trust our politicians, but I can hope they spend more time studying bills than I do. To be honest, I don’t trust the average person I meet, who’s more interested in Bronco’s games or his next rock climbing route, than reading the fiscal impacts of new laws. And who can blame them?! Unlike our legislators, they’re not being paid for it! [By the way, I am glad if you read all of my crib sheet post, but I don't expect you to actually vote like I've suggested. Read the blue book and decide for yourself! Why would you trust me after all?]

In general, even on the good laws being proposed, amending the constitution is a dangerous and inappropriate way to govern that weakens our system and increases its complexity needlessly. If you only scanned my two previous posts, live in another state, or don’t have enough time to read every detail of the propositions, it’s a pretty safe bet to vote “NO” on constitutional amendments! We have a legislator, how about we keep them busy!

There are amendments like 46 which prohibits Colorado governments from providing preferential treatment. This one actually does increase rights for people and is the kind of thing that actually belongs in the Constitution. However, just so we’re clear, it also ends Affirmative Action. Another post could discuss whether Affirmative Action has worked, or is still necessary, but I decided to leave that one up to you without my comments. 46 shows how this whole process is fraught with problems. Everyday folks worrying more about filling up their gas tanks are faced with seeing through the who-could-argue text of the amendment and deciding whether or not to end another policy in which they may very well be in favor without even realizing it. 

These things are written by people who want them to pass. They seem innocuous. You may very well want some of the stuff they’re recommending to be done by government. But the world is full of unintended consequences by well meaning people.  It’s unlikely the amendment process is the best place for them, and if you don’t know, vote no.

Whatever you do, please vote!

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