The Other Shit on the Ballot
The public outcry after last week’s California Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage reminded me of what else is at stake in the election this November. I’ve been experiencing an acute form of Democratic Primary Burnout over the last couple of months, which got bad enough to prevent me from posting the Fucked-Update for a while. My apologies. I had to stop watching the news regularly to keep from ripping all my hair out amidst the “Obama’s an America-hating, terrorist-loving, flag pin snubbing, angry, black, secret muslim” accusations and the “Hillary’s a PMSing, lying, power-hungry, bitch” claims.
Then I stumbled upon some good news: California is now the second state to legalize same-sex marriage. Of course, a bunch of people are going to try to take it away. In California, groups have already begun petitioning for an amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and invalidate the court’s ruling. Whether or not it’s successful, only time will tell.
Ballot initiatives are often over-looked, especially when they coincide with Presidential elections. People get so wrapped up in choosing a President that they lose sight of what’s at stake at the state-level. So just out of curiosity, I moseyed on over to the Colorado legislature’s website to take a look at the proposed initiatives for this November. Keep in mind that not all proposed measures will be voted on: there’s a painfully long and boring process to get an initiative or referendum put on the ballot. The November 2006 ballot was the longest in Colorado’s history, and so far it looks as though the 2008 ballot could be just as long.
The list of proposed measures for 2008 is equal parts amusing and horrifying. On the one hand you have measures like this one calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the text of which reads:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado:
Shall William Jefferson Clinton be impeached for authorizing the U.S. military, based on his “explicit assurances for the highest levels of government” to them, to use a “Superman” camera called Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar or Millimeter Wavelength Radar that can take pictures through the roof of our bedrooms and bathrooms and sexual partners, against Colorado homes in April of 1997, through an amendment to the Colorado Constitution?
No seriously. That’s what it says (don’t ask me how this radar stuff is taking pictures through “the roof of our bedrooms and bathrooms and sexual partners”). It’ll never make the ballot, but still… good citizens of the great state of Colorado are actually concerned about this. And just in case you’re curious, they didn’t forget about dear Senator Clinton. She has her own separate impeachment initiative, which says almost exactly the same thing. The only difference? The fine people who drafted these measures added a line about how Hillary Clinton had the military spy on the American people “as revenge for her husband cheating on her”. Classic.
Those two measures were proposed by Page and Chester Penk, who also proposed several well-intentioned, but ridiculous anti-war measures, like adding an article to the state constitution that simply states “Peace is Possible“. It’s cute, but it’s not gonna happen.
Amidst the giggle-inducing ballots, are a few that have pretty frightening implications, like the proposed measure to include fertilized eggs in the definition of personhood. That measure actually has a good shot. The sponsors have collected enough signatures to get it on the ballot, and they’ve been working through the process to insure that Coloradoans will vote on it. This is a strange one, because while the implications of it are pretty huge, laying the groundwork to consider all abortions as murder, it’s also nearly impossible to enforce.
One of the most misleading and horrifying of the measures I’ve found is one that will be on the ballot in several states: Prohibition on Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Colorado Governments. This measure, which is a copycat measure of California’s infamous Proposition 209, would ban affirmative action in all state contracts in all state institutions. One of the reasons these measures are so dangerous is that they are deceptively called civil rights initiatives, despite the fact that they run counter to most people’s concept of civil rights.
Proposition 209 has led to a remarkable decrease in public contracts granted to women and minority run businesses in California, and now there’s a movement to have this same legislation passed in Colorado. It’s bad news, folks. Bad news. Affirmative action is always a controversial subject, and I think that both sides of the argument make valid points, but the aftermath of Proposition 209 in California has shown that without it, women and minorities aren’t afforded the same opportunities. So for now, it’s still a necessary evil. This measure has already been approved for the 2008 ballot in Colorado, so be prepared for the deluge of campaign signs and TV ads.
With all the tension in the air, surrounding the Presidential race, it’s easy to overlook other important factors in the up-coming election. If you’re struggling to stay interested in the upcoming election, remember that we aren’t just voting for our lawmakers; we’re also voting on our laws. And with all the shit going down both at the state and federal levels, this November’s ballot will be pretty fucking important.