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The Proposed Amendments to the Minnesota Constitution

Those proposed amendments to the Minnesota Constitution seem so simple, but caveat emptor: let the buyer beware.

It’s Tuesday, and all focus is on the soon-Great Debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney in Denver.

A month from now is the 2012 Election.

Sometimes it seems as if there is only a single contest that makes any difference in this country, and that by some magic one candidate will win the electoral Super Bowl through this debate and two successor debates and we can all get down to the serious business of blaming someone else for our problems.

We seem to want things simple and easy in this immensely wealthy, complex and huge society of ours. Perhaps we want to be spared from taking an active role in our own destiny. It is easier to blame somebody else.

But our society has many layers of government.

In my town, Woodbury, and yours on November 6 we are going to elect, among many other positions, our Representatives to the State Legislature. In most all places, it will be a Republican or a Democrat who will win the local seat. Many of us will hardly know the name of our candidates for local office, much less what they stand for, or what they really did, if they are an incumbent. The candidates can’t come to every house for private meetings — there are just too many houses to come to.

Advertising? They don’t have big budgets, unless they have independent expenditures sending out mailers with contents outside their control.

But it will make a huge difference who we vote for in these local contests.*

The Republicans, in charge at the State Legislature the last two years, have a record, and it’s a record not easy to honestly defend, particularly on Education. But education policy is very complicated and it is easy to confuse people (more on that in another post).

In my opinion, the defining issue in the Minnesota state race this year are the two proposed Amendments to the Minnesota Constitution which will appear on everyone’s Minnesota ballot November 6.

Both amendments deserve a NO vote (people who go to vote and don’t mark their ballot on these questions count as a NO.)

Both questions, on marriage and on eligibility to vote, are essentially ideology issues with an intent for the winner to gain long term control. They are “us” vs “them” questions; “winner-loser”, rather than legitimate fixes to problems.

They are anti-liberty.

Ironically, their core support will come from those who claim to own “liberty” and “freedom”.

The amendments were ram-rodded through the 2012 State Legislature by the Republicans; by-passing negotiations with the Governor (who could not veto the proposals). I recall that the voter eligibility amendment was passed by a party line vote (with one Republican defector and zero Democrat support). The marriage amendment was moved forward by every Republican and a few Democrats. No compromise was possible. Both radical initiatives have twins in many states around the country. They are WAR issues – citizen against citizen. They have dangerous long-term implications.

I’ve thought about these two issues a great deal, and here’s where I come down, and why:

1. The so-called Marriage Amendment is an attempt to enact a BELIEF into Law. It has nothing to do with “God”, however defined.. It is simply a human attempt to enshrine prejudice into permanent law. (Personally, we have nine grandkids. And we’re Catholic. But this is a human rights issue long term. Period. I will vote no.)

The Marriage Amendment is the Prohibition Amendment of 2012. As Prohibition was enactment of a strongly held belief, so is this initiative an attempt to enshrine belief. As Prohibition failed, so will this amendment, even if enacted, but it will do a lot of damage, first.

2. The Voter Suppression Amendment – that’s what it is – is very simply an attempt to disenfranchise certain people and permanently change electoral control in this divided country. This Amendment discriminates against everyone in a perverse way.

It is confusing, and I think that was intentional by its promoters. The prudent rule is: if one doesn’t fully understand all of the short and long term implications of this Amendment, the vote should be NO. This Amendment has lots of negative implications, except for the minority that is pushing it.

To date it seems that many people think “Voter ID” is common sense. But this is short term thinking, and only about themselves. For me, for example, I could say something like this: “I’ve lived in this house for twelve years, and I have a drivers license, and this ID thing is no problem….”

But this isn’t so simple.

This is the 25th election cycle during which I’ve been eligible to vote.

A while back I wrote down where I was in each of those cycles, (which began in November, 1962 – voting age then was 21. I was already out of college).

Long and short, in 6 of those 25 cycles, for assorted reasons, my eligibility to vote would have been subject to challenge under the proposed amendment. And I have always been just a normal ordinary citizen.

Think these Amendments won’t adversely affect you or someone in your family?

Think again.

Vote NO November 6.

General information on the 2012 election can be found here.

* – My preference on the west side of Woodbury MN, SD 53A: for Minnesota House of Representatives JoAnn Ward; for State Senate, Susan Kent. You can read more about them, and colleague candidate Ann Marie Metzger, at Senate District 53′s website.

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