Why Democracy is Bad

By Steven Dell

Walking through the Tivoli Student Union on Campus yesterday I saw a group handing out stickers and postcards. They were campaigning against Amendment 48 to the Colorado Constitution. This Amendment is on the ballot for this November election.

The Amendment is written

“Define the term ‘person’ to include any human being from the moment of fertilization and apply this definitions of person to the section of the Colorado Constitution that protect the natural and essential rights of persons, allow open access to courts for every person, and ensure that no person has his or her life, liberty, or property taken away without due process of law.”

Actual text can be viewed here.

How could such an encompassing amendment even make it to the general election? The Daily Camera reported on May 30th

“Secretary of State Mike Coffman said backers of the proposed state constitutional amendment turned in an estimated 103,000 valid signatures, far more than the 76,000 required.”

The answer is that proposed amendment that gains enough signatures can be voted on by the people of Colorado to amend the constitution. Once it is amended it is law. Special interest groups can then take their ideas to streets to collect signatures so that it can be voted on in the general election. A good video of how it is done can be viewed here.

This is where I have a problem with our legislative process. People think too much with their emotions. If you get someone riled enough they will vote to pass anything no matter how ridiculous. People would argue this is true Democracy and is the way it should be. Are average people (including me) at all qualified enough to write laws? Isn’t this why we have a representative government in the first place? Why can’t my representatives do the job I’m paying them for?

I don’t pretend to know any thing about Doctoring either. So how in the world would I decide on any particularly health oriented amendment such as 48? Do Doctors think at the moment of fertilization an egg is a person?

Is this definition even valid legally? Think of a pregnant woman who has cancer, should a doctor have to call a third party lawyer (who has nothing at all to do with the doctor patient relationship) before administering any kind of chemo-therapy because it could endanger the “person” in the womb? I think all are relevant questions and I know I am not the person that should be answering them.

Referendum O would limit this process, I don’t think it goes far enough but it is a start. In that ref O link it does talk about how the Colorado Constitution is one of the easiest constitutions to amend. It is too easy for my taste, especially when you look at the US constitution as a model.

One last video by the late George Carlin, if you know him you know his language can be colorful at best so watch knowing you have been warned. It is relevant to the post. All of his fans will miss his witty cynicism.

Let me make clear where I stand on this.  People should collect signatures and contact their representatives if they feel their government needs to change, they should not be able to change it directly.  I do not agree with abortion, and I know that I personally could never make the decision to terminate. I do not feel it is my decision to make when it comes to other people. The decision should be between the doctor and the patient, and maybe the patient’s family but even that is a streach.



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6 responses to “Why Democracy is Bad

  1. Thank you for your opposition to Amendment 48 — and to direct democracy. The Founding Fathers set up a constitutional republic — not a democracy — for good reason.

    You might be interested to read an issue paper recently published by the Coalition for Secular Government: “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person” by Ari Armstrong and myself. It’s available at:


    We discuss some of the serious implications of this proposed amendment, including its effects on the legality of abortion, birth control, and in vitro fertilization. And we offer a strong defense of abortion rights based on the biological facts of pregnancy.

    Diana Hsieh
    Founder, Coalition for Secular Government

  2. balaban13

    This amendment 48 is ridiculous is my opinion and I generally agree with your statements here. But I do think that people ought to have the right ultimately to amend the constitution. However, having seen how many different amendments are proposed each election cycle and how absurd some of them are, I believe a compromise solution can be worked out for these amendments. I would propose a multi-step solution where at first these amendments are discussed at the judicial level where their constitutionality is debated. If the courts deem that a certain amendment is constitutionally viable, then it would then go to the legislative level where the local House and the Senate can try to come up with a certain compromise about a particular amendment. If no compromise has been reached then, voters would get their crack at it at the polling booth.

    Lastly, there is one thing I find hard it to reconcile is the opposition to the abortion/birth control and at the same time support for the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Why is it ok for gun shops owners to sell lethal weapons to the mentally unstable people, who then go on a shooting spree and kill innocent people, and yet it’s not ok for women to control what is happening in their own bodies?

  3. caitlinmock

    I would also agree that amendment 48 is ridiculous although also vaguely terrifying. Hotly contentious issues like abortion and the right to life draw people in and create huge gaps in the electorate. I feel very strongly about reproductive rights and don’t think government should have the ability to interfere with a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. I am not a doctor but I have done a lot of research on abortion and related procedures and it is as humane as possible. The choice is deeply personal and I can scream about pro-choice as much as I want to but can also acknowledge that I have no idea what I would do if I was actually in the position where I needed to make that choice. But just the idea of thinking I may not have that option, or my daughters or granddaughters scares the hell out of me. Don’t we live in a country of freedom and liberty for all? I would argue that “all” shouldn’t be expanded to cell bodies and should be granted to women first.

    I also know there is a proposed ballot to ban birth control in all forms. I haven’t done a lot of digging on this proposal but I think it is even more absurd. Good idea GOP. Let’s teach our children abstinence is the way to go, prevent them from obtaining any birth control if they were going to be smart about sex, and then deny them the right to terminate the pregnancy. I’m sure that will definitely cut down on unplanned teen pregnancies! All I know is, if this insane ballot ever passes I can guarantee you my best friend and I will be driving to Canada to stock pile Nuva Rings…

    The really frightening thing to me is that because these issues are so emotionally charged they draw voters to the polls who may be completely uneducated in other areas, including the issues that may ultimately matter more immediately. Like the GOP’s brilliant move of placing anti-gay marriage initiatives on many state ballots in 2004 to draw conservative voters, I fear proposals involving abortion and abstinence only education could lead to more people showing up to vote McCain.

  4. Matthew Wolf

    Many of the anti-abortion people call themselves “Christians” and argue that promoting this “sanctity of life” issue is the only way they can practice their religion. Yet in the New Testament, Matthew (somewhere around chapter 20) quotes Jesus as saying “Do not parade your religion before others.”

    I take this to mean that one should walk the walk not talk the talk, and not judge others. Remember that Jesus himself had friends who were whores and other societal miscreants. He forgave and refused to judge them, an irony which his detractors could not fathom. They held this out as part of the reason that he should be crucified.

    If Jesus were around today, would he show up in Cheyenne at the funeral of gay man who was beaten to death because of his sexual orientation carrying a sign that said “homosexuality is a sin”?

    Who decides what a sin is, and who should be punished, or the punisher? Jesus says this is for his Father alone; is anyone on earth his father? Some of these “so-called” Christians apparently think so.

    One of the concerns of this faction is that too many women have “convenience abortions”, and want to stop it, but by outlawing all abortions they slide down a slippery slope into medical and moral complication that is beyond human judgment. In the words of Meredith Wilson, “…that kind of child ties knots, no sailor ever knew…”

    There is actually a more Christian, more humane approach; one in which the protagonist puts control and judgment aside and offers love and support to women and men who have difficult decisions to make. And the friendship and support do not stop when a poor decision (in their opinion) is made. The act of forgiveness serves to draw one into the shoes of the afflicted and understand their situation, and that of their peers, better, ultimately showing potential solutions.

  5. Heather

    You bring up a good point Steven. Our constitution makes it way too easy for interest groups to have their way in Colorado. Think back to the mid-term elections. There was an amendment on the ballot banning gay marriage. In contrast there was also a referendum on the ballot to allow common law rights to same sex couples. As we all know, gay marriage as well as common law rights are all illegal in the State of Colorado. Because we live in Colorado, we are the epicenter of social issues showing up every two years. Very important social issues. We Denverites sometimes forget about the powers that be in Colorado Springs and how influential they are on this state. The gay marriage amendment came right out of Focus on the Family which has a huge base in this state. Anyone who cares about gay marriage being illegal also voted NO on referendum I. The opposition was not strong enough to battle this force. Although it was easier for the opposition to have some rights on the ballot in opposition to the amendment, it was too easy for this interest group to make their intentions law. Furthermore, people who come out to vote in the mid-terms are all interest anyway.

  6. Stephen Noriega

    It is too easy for the state to amend the constitution and thankfully there are courts above us to keep us from rampaging over the civil liberties of others (Amendment 2). With some of the political culture in Colorado, Amendment 48 might have made it to a ballot even under stricter circumstances. Remember, it gained 30,000 more signatures than it needed and it has support from the legitimate far-right and some religious leaders.

    I just wonder where the life debate will stop. Will unfertilized eggs be considered human beings, thus forbidding any kind of reproductive intervention? Will sperm cells be considered human beings. If that’s the case, the average male murders about 5 trillion people during their lives!

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