A Proposition To End Ballot Propositions

There is a saying that when two wolves and sheep vote on what to have for dinner, the sheep is going to be disappointed that lamb chops are on order. Have Colorado voters put ourselves on the menu? In his Op-Ed, A Proposition to End Ballot Propositions, millennial author and commentator Allen Thomas challenges Coloradans to rethink our romance with ballot propositions.

There is a saying that when two wolves and a sheep vote on what to have for supper, the sheep is going to be disappointed that lamb chops are on order. There is a basic understanding that a democracy can have dangerous implications to the minority. Unfortunately, we have invited the wolves to Colorado although not in the way most Republicans would imagine.

Propositions are a pure democracy and a threat to the rights of our republic. The reason we have a Constitutional Republic is to protect our rights and to protect ourselves from the mob. With ballot propositions we bypass the system to allow the best political demagogues and emotional persuaders to influence the mob. We give the illusion of legitimacy when people are allowed to take rights away through a popular vote. Ballot measures easily become special rights for special persons hidden in a “people’s choice” measure.
Our Republic works because we bypass a direct democracy and instead balance the power of legislation between the state legislature and the governorship. It is a system of checks and balances. By having a deliberative body, we let the elected representatives hear the public and allow public opinion to influence legislation, just not directly pass it. Lately, all levels of the state government have been controlled by the Democrats so we have turned to propositions to try and pass reasonable legislation. The problem is, Progressives have been using the proposition process for a while now and they are much better at it.

Progressives have been ruthlessly effective at swaying public opinion towards propositions that take rights away. With their massive war chests of money, they have swayed the public to give away our electoral votes and steal from business owners and workers in the form of paid family medical leave. And we were able to pass a 0.08% income tax decrease. Do we still think ballot propositions are a good idea? Right now, we are losing the culture war. But wasn’t that already apparent? If late-term abortion was unable to pass the state legislature, wasn’t that a sign that the culture was not accepting of that idea? Politicians are downstream of culture after all. It is time for conservatives, republicans and freedom lovers to start playing the long game and not be short-sighted. We cannot count on becoming more effective or having more persuasive messaging because we have too much to lose while we learn and lose.

We also cannot count on the Colorado populace to think more reasonably. Federalist #55 famously said “Had every Athenian been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would have been a mob. “ In other words, even the most reasoned people among us can think unreasonably when in a mob and the passions of the mob can’t be controlled by reason. Human nature is unchanging and history is replete with examples of democracies falling because the mob became unruly and the press became the dictator. The Colorado population has already shown it can be controlled by fancy, misleading rhetoric or by offering “free” things. We cannot allow the mob to control legislation through the initiative process, no matter if it is a Republican or Democrat mob.

We need to lay the groundwork of abolishing ballot propositions now, while we are not in the majority, that way the implication of hypocrisy doesn’t linger over the Colorado GOP. Instead of fighting a battle over optics, we can instead influence the culture towards freedom. Instead of placing all our efforts into the ballot measures, let’s place our efforts into voting in representatives whom actually represent us the people and influencing and changing the culture. We need to unite in our efforts to ban initiatives that allow Colorado voters to simply vote our rights away because something sounds “good” to them. We have already introduced the wolves to Colorado; we need to prevent that from happening again.

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