Tag Archives: Abortion

The Wedge Issue – R.I.P?

By: Brian Bohnert

Largely buried in the furor of the historic nature of the presidential election, our old electoral friend “the wedge issue” has not disappeared completely.  Used to great effect in the 2000, and 2004 elections by Rove and the RNC to get voters to the polls (although, it should be noted that there is not much statistical evidence for the actual success of said strategy), wedge issues have worked their way onto ballots around the country for the 2008 election.  What exactly defines a wedge issue in terms of ballot politics?  From the name, we can assume that these are issues designed to create division within the electorate and to play upon fears – many times unfounded.  Almost exclusively social issues, these debates many times turn irrational and play to the lowest common denominator of humanity.  This video explains further:

However, these are not necessarily issues that should be taken lightly or brushed aside by political observers as they have the potential to mobilize large numbers of voters to volunteer in campaigns and to get to the polls on election day.  While Colorado has its fair share of wedge issues on the ballot (48, 46), lets take a look at some of the other issues that are showing up on the ballot for voters do decide on tomorrow.

Wedge issue #1) – Same sex marriage – a question pertaining to this shows up on ballots in Arizona (Prop. 102) Arkansas (Initiative 1), California (Prop. 8)  and Florida (Am. 2).  Each one of these addresses a different facet of the the same sex debate that is taking place in states across the country.  The Arizona measure is similar to one that failed in 2006 that would make it constitutionally illegal for gay couples to marry.  It is already illegal by way of statute, which is why this failed in 2006 and will most likely again fail in 2008.  The Arkansas measure makes it illegal for “cohabiting couples outside of a valid marriage” to adopt kids (because I suppose an overcrowded orphanage is much better for their overall psychological development), the Florida question bans same-sex marriage, and California’s measure seeks to reverse a  Supreme Court decision last year that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage. – something that had Ellen dancing, and Bill O pontificating.

While each of these scream “GET TO THE POLLS YOU EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS!!!” it is clear that this voting block does not hold the sway it once did a few short years ago.  While this continues to be at the top of the list for James Dobson and his loyal followers,grand_ayatollah_james_dobson  America as a whole has largely moved on from the issue to more pressing things, like real issues that actually matter.

Wedge Issue #2 – Abortion –  This issue shows up on the Colorado ballot (Am 48 – definition of personhood), the South Dakota ballot (Init. 11) and the California ballot (Prop 4 – parental notification).  The most aggressive attack on reproductive rights comes from the South Dakota measure that would ban all abortions except in the case of rape and health of the mother, put doctors in jail and is clearly desinged to overturn Roe v. Wade.  While the voters of SD have previously voted to turn down such restrictive laws, all eyes will be focused on the outcome of this election as polling predicts that it has a good chance of passing.  This of course, makes the presidential election all that more important as the next commander-in-chief will determine the make up of the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

Wedge Issues # 3-7 – immigration, stem cell research, affirmative action, marijuana, assisted suicide –  While the bulk of the ballot debate has focused on abortion and same-sex marriage, other states will be deciding about these other popular wedge issues.  Arizona makes it illegal to hire immigrants that are undocumented, Michigan voters will decide if stem cell research is allowed and if marijuana can be legal for medicinal use, and Washington state will continue its battle over doctor assisted suicide or “right to die” debate that has been going on for the past eight years.  

While each one of these alone does not determine national policy, the test cases that each of these represent have broader implications for future laws.  While most political pundits have large Democratic wins across the nation, one can wonder if that will translate into decisive victories on these ballot initiatives as well (you can track the results here). If the original intention was to get these on the ballot so conservative voters will come to the polls, it might have backfired.  In other words, what would be more debilitating to “pro-life” advocates if Am 48 in Colorado and Initiative 11 in South Dakota lose by substantial margins?  What if Democratic voters come out in droves to vote for Barack Obama and while in the booth vote to keep gay marriage legal in California and allow gay couples to adopt in Arkansas?  Whatever the results, wedge issues will never completely disappear, but hopefully using them solely for political gain at the polls will be a thing of the past.



Filed under Negative Campaigning

Amendment Overview

By: Lance Thibert

Several recent developments have lightened the massive Colorado ballot, however there are sill a huge number of initiatives and amendments to be voted on.

First off, several amendments have been pulled from the ballot by their sponsors.

Amendment 53:Criminal Liability of Executives when their businesses are found liable for criminal conduct.

Amendment 55: Employers must find Just Cause to terminate the employment of a worker.

Amendment 56:Businesses employing 20+ employees must provide health insurance for employees and employee dependents, would also set up heath care oversight organization.

Amendment 57: Would require employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

These Amendments were primarily put forth by labor unions attempting to hit back against the backers of Amendment 47, the right to work initiative that would prohibit mandatory union membership. The reason the union sponsors pulled these amendments was that they reached an agreement with business groups, who agreed to raise 3 million dollars to opposed Amendment 47 in return for Amendments 53, 55, 56, an 57 to be dropped from the ballot.


“In an alliance born in part of fear, corporate executives across Colorado pledged to contribute at least $3 million to help organized labor defeat ballot measures that many in the business community might normally support. More than 75 chief executives — including the heads of major companies such as Xcel Energy Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. — agreed to donate money and time to the union cause.”

However, not all business leaders decided to throw their support behind labor.

“Not every business leader could stomach the compromise. Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said he was glad to see the union-backed measures off the ballot. But he couldn’t bring himself to back labor’s ballot agenda. “We just wouldn’t do that,” he said.”

From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122299027373800373.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


There are still a large amount of amendments on the ballot, I will provide the amendment, a brief description, and a “controversy rating”. These are my take on the amendments, with a bend towards the informative rather than my opinion. Bias however, can probably still be found.


Amendment: 46  “Discrimination and Preferential Treatment By Governments”

Description: Would make all affirmative action programs in the state of Colorado illegal, using the language of anti-discrimination. Ward Connerly is leading the fight for amendment 46 in Colorado, with similar initatives in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and Nebraska.

Level of Controversy: High, as it effectively ends affirmative action in Colorado.

Amendment: 47  “Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues ”

Description:  Amendment 47 would prohibit unions from negotiating “union shop” contracts under which employees would be required to pay union membership. This is the infamous amendment that would effectively break union power in Colorado, well, whatever power it had to begin with. Business leaders oppose Amendment 47 as per the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: High, Millions have been, and will be spent for and against this Amendment.

Amendment: 48  “Definition Of Person”

Description: With both Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall against this amendment, and a large campaign to defeat it, the chances of it passing are low. However, legally defining a person as a fertilized egg has provoked a firestorm of controversy in the home of Focus on the Family. Would effectively outlaw abortions and most stem cell research in Colorado, as a start.

Level of Controversy: High, for obvious reasons.

Amendment: 49  “Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions”

Description: Amendment 49 would bar automatic union dues deductions from public employee payrolls, tentatively labelled as “ask first”. Amendment 49 is part of the attack on labor that was launched at the beginning of the year. Business leaders now opposed 49 as part of the deal with labor struck earlier this month.

Level of Controversy: Medium, not as visible at Amendment 47, but works with it to dismantle unions.

Amendment: 50  “Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek”

Description: Fairly straightforward, would allow gaming (read: gambling) in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Raising the maximum bet from 5 dollars to 100 dollars. Opponents are generally of the anti-gambling variety.

Level of Controversy: Low, with the economic state of the state and country, any extra revenue without a direct tax is welcome.

Amendment: 51  “State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities”

Description: Would raise sales taxes in 2009 and 2010 to fund services for the developmentally disabled. With a massive base of support and little to no opposition, it will almost certainly pass.

Level of Controversy: Low, no real campaign against it. Die-hard fiscal conservatives may oppose it at the ballot box.

Amendment: 52  “Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways”

Description: Amendment 52 would allow the use of severance tax revenues to fund highway construction an maintenance, apparently not allowed currently.

Level of Controversy: Low, as I have no idea why this would provoke controversy anywhere outside of a highway enthusiast club.

Amendment: 54  “Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors”

Description: Amendment 54 would prohibit those who have contracts with the government worth over 100,000 dollars from making political campaign contributions for two years after that contract has expired. Business leaders now oppose Amendment 54, as part of the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, as it is part of the 2008 attack on labor that provokes so much controversy and the aforementioned war between business and labor.

Amendment: 58  “Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry”

Description: Amendment 58 would increase a severance tax, and eliminate a property tax deduction that allows the oil and gas industry to write off 87.5% of their taxes. Proceeds from the elimination of the tax deduction would be funneled into scholarships, wildlife habitats, and clean energy projects.  Opponents charge that it is a tax increase, a charge led by the oil and gas industry and anti-tax advocates. Governor Ritter supports the Amendment and has taken fire for his support.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, Ad wars have exploded around this issue.



Amendment: 59  “Education Funding and TABOR Rebates”

Description: Amendment 58 would deal a heavy blow to TABOR, which has had public opinion as well as legislative opinion growing against it as the economy worsens. Bypasses TABOR’s restrictions on spending by creating a new State Education Fund. Has heavy support from democrats and moderate Republicans.

Level of Controversy: Medium, Douglas Bruce and the Club for Growth types that originally pushed for TABOR obviously oppose it.

I was originally going to delve into the referendums, but now that this post is past the 1000 word mark (sorry), I think i’ll save that for the next one or something.


Filed under Colorado, Media