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Friday, November 03, 2006

Amendments, Referendums and Voting

One of the fun things about our Republic is that we occasionally have the opportunity to cast some singularly special votes. We tend to call these Amendments and Referendums. Amendments are rare, but I have the opportunity to vote on one in just a few days. It's an Amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that will, if passed, limit marriage to one man and one woman, while also limiting the recognition of non-marital relationships. We also have a state wide "advisory referendum" that will begin the process to consider reinstituting the death penalty in Wisconsin. One of my favorite things about this referendum is that it has "DNA evidence" written right in there, which is the only way I'll even consider the death penalty after some lengthy debates with my friend Lisa Renee. Yet, these two are not the only specials I have the opportunity to have a say in. On the local level, I also get to vote as to whether or not I want to fund additions onto the high schools in my city. Oh goody!

Now, maybe I'm just strange. I mean, I'm rather used to that. But, I find all these specials rather fun. Somehow it seems so much more democratic when we voters actually get a say in what happens, not just who decides what happens. So, I'm really looking forward to voting next Tuesday, and I hope you are to, even if you don't have specials. And if you don't have specials, maybe voters can find a way to ensure a special is included in every elections. Who knows, it just might help boost voter turn-out!


At 11/03/2006 2:09 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

Somehow it seems so much more democratic when we voters actually get a say in what happens, not just who decides what happens.

I think that is what I was trying to say in my post.

In a democracy, even after the election, the leaders should still try to express the will of the people through their policy.

It is not like we elect monarchs, we elect "representatives" which more than implies that the will of the people is important.....even after the election.

At 11/03/2006 2:11 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

Here is an extreme example of what I mean. Let's say we elect a president and after he is elected he says that all the babies have to be rounded up and killed.

Well, I don't care if he or she got 100% of the vote, this leader is no longer expressing the will of the people and should be removed from office.

Are you with me here?

At 11/03/2006 8:32 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Yes, I understand what you mean. But, in part, it's a matter of changing the way the system works, not criticizing for the leader who is using the system. A president doesn't have the power to round up and kill all the babies. That power isn't granted to the president at all. However, the power to select his/her own cabinet members is granted to the president.

I'd certainly agree with you if you were to say it shouldn't be. Ideally, at least in the little world in my head, we'd have many more elected officials and many more people actually participating in the democratic process. We'd get to elect the President, VP, and cabinet members separately, so we'd actually get people we the people felt was qualified for the positions. However, the way the cabinet is set up now Bush gets to pick who he thinks best fits his needs, not ours.

I'm certainly on-board with how much that sucks for us, but it's the way the system works.

At 11/03/2006 9:00 PM, Blogger Lisa Renee said...

We have lots of issues in Ohio to vote for on November 7th here too, and some I hope voters of Ohio are educated on rather than buying the advertising hype.

Our zoo and a local science museum called COSI both want funding, we have an additional levy for our Children's Services board among them and on a state level we have two competing smoking issues, a constitutional amendment that would allow several racetrack owners to have slot gambling and a minimum wage amendment among them.

All of which have groups that are promoting for and against in not a totally honest fashion. Nor can I say our media is doing an excellent job in getting accurate information out there either.

Yet, I'm like you, I like having the say, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of my fellow voters will make informed decisions. Even if they vote differently than me as long as they have taken the time to actually read the issues? That's cool with me.


At 11/03/2006 9:51 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Again, with the lack of television I get to avoid most of the hype, but from what I've seen our journalists are adding to it instead of subtracting from it. No matter which side they come from, their bias is apparent. Even the "balanced" articles are obviously biased, by the fact that they seek out the most over-the-top character on the side they don't agree with, and go out of their way to show the character as over-the-top and falsely representing him as the poster-child of that side; while presenting a much more normal, more likable person as the spokesperson for the other side. I've seen two newspapers do this, one favoring the amendment and one opposing it. They both used the same tactics. It's disgusting really, to call it journalism at all.

At 11/03/2006 9:52 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

But, at this point, I agree. I don't care how people vote, I just hope they inform themselves and vote.

At 11/04/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...


I know the baby example is not based in reality.

I agree that the system should be changed somewhat, but an honorable leader in this system will express the will of the people who elected them.

Certainly, by taking advantage of how the systme works, a person can corrupt the system, but we should see it as just that: corruption.

In short, elected leaders should at least listen.

At 11/04/2006 5:59 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...


Of course elected leaders should listen. However, the American tendency of late to elect leaders who do not listen is very widespread and Bush is not the best (or worst) example of that, simply the most prominent.

Obviously Bush can do more damage with his habits of not-listening than most elected officials, but he was still elected -- twice. And considering that Al Gore and John Kerry were our other two main choices (and most people ignore those who are not "main" choices) both times, it's really no wonder that Bush did get elected.

Bush is an example of the problem we're in, but he's not the cause of the problem. The apathy of the American people is the cause of the problem. That we'd actually consider electing whatever the Reps or Dems decide to foist off on us is problematic.

I'm really tired of choosing the lesser of two evils, and I'm really tired of people thinking the system cannot be changed. The system was created by human beings, and can be changed by human beings. Eventually it will be. The question is whether we do so peaceably and with integrity, or whether civil war/revolution is the means that will be used. That or conquest.

Contemporary America is far too much like the end-of-era Roman empire for my own tastes, and I do hope that we choose to do something to rectify that problem.

At 11/05/2006 7:09 AM, Blogger Praguetwin said...

I think a good first step to changing the system is to hold the leaders in office accountable for their actions and not just throw up our hands and say, "well, he's been elected, there is nothing we can do, it is the system's fault."

This includes, but is not limited to, the president. It is a sort of apathy in itself to blame the system instead of the indivduals who corrupt it.

At 11/05/2006 1:22 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...


"It is a sort of apathy in itself to blame the system instead of the indivduals who corrupt it. "

Except when the system was corrupt long before the particular individual in question took office. I'm not defending Bush, what I'm saying is that due to his predecessors' decisions, Bush has the power to do what he's doing without recourse. It's not like we can impeach him for not getting rid of Rove. And it's not like he's responding to "angry letters" or condemnations of his pig-headedness. If he's not going to listen to the army and get rid of Rove on those grounds, who the hell would he listen to? If God's voice came booming down from on high, then maybe, yeah, but really I suspect God doesn't have nearly as much to do with Bush as Bush likes to think he does.

The first step in changing this is to remember, rationally speaking, why we were so disappointed with Bush, and to make a point -- as a nation -- to not get stuck with an elitist snob next time. Considering, in 2004, we had a choice between voting for an elitist snob that acted like a good ol' boy on occasion, voting for an elitist snob that never had enough sense to act like anything else, and voting for one of the not-so-viable third-party candidates...we need to demand better candidates and break the strangle-hold the Dems and Reps have on our political system before we're going to break free of the elitism.

If Bush has said he's not going to listen no matter what, which is basically what he did, then ratcheting up the outrage is more or less throwwing a temper tantrum.


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