Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Constitutional Amendment X? Another Attempt At Trashing South Dakota's Motto, "Under God, The People Rule."

     What is it with some of these people that go to Pierre and run the government of South
NO On This Turkey
I happen to like majority rule
Are they under the impression that majorities of our state's voters aren't capable of making substantive decisions at the ballot box?  After the last election they trashed an initiated measure (IM-22) that would have radically reformed the way government conducts business in this state after a majority of the voters approved it.  So discombobulated were government officials by the wholesale revision of their status quo that they found a way to legislatively negate the measure even before its constitutionality was determined by the South Dakota Supreme Court.
     But as I noted a couple of blog posts ago, that stubbornly reformist "cat" came back, this time  with a replacement amendment (Amendment W) that will again test the nerves of elected officials who are married to business-as-usual in Pierre.  They'll be stuck with the results of Amendment W if it carries, at least until the courts can give it a constitutional go-ahead.  That notwithstanding, some of these public servants have taken their own pro-active steps to make it much tougher for simple majorities to make constitutional decisions in South Dakota.  They have trashed the long-honored principle that majorities rule in South Dakota and in the process have trampled on the state's motto "Under God, The People Rule."
     This cavalier and condescending endeavor goes by the name of Amendment X on the coming ballot.  Amendment X essentially says the heck with a majority of South Dakotans, what we now require to amend our state's constitution is a supermajority of voters, namely 55%, to change our constitution at the ballot box.  Why is it cynical?  Because it lets our political class pick the size of the majority that knows what's best for South Dakotans.  Why is it condescending?  Because its arbitrary cutoff point of 55% tells 54% of South Dakotans that their voice doesn't matter.  In other words, if you were part of a 54% majority of voters who wanted something that was rejected by 46% of the voters,  Amendment X tells you to get lost.  That is completely. freakin' bonkers.
     I get that people are fed up with out-of-state interests paying signature gatherers to manage the tough job of getting issues placed on our ballot.  By raising the ballot approval threshhold beyond a simple majority, Amendment X will supposedly make the job of obtaining enough petition signatures for constitutional amendments to make the ballot in the first place much tougher, thereby reducing the number of such measures that turn up in South Dakota.  I think that's an iffy assumption, but I don't think it's the most relevant consideration anyway.  We should be most concerned by the fact that if signature gathering will be made more difficult by Amendment X, the stiffer challenge also applies to in-state activists seeking constitutional changes.  That's where my 54-to-46 scenario gets meaningful, because it essentially makes a minority of voters the ones who determine the fate of proposed changes to our constitution.
     That doesn't work for me, and it shouldn't work for anybody who believes in the tenet that "the majority rules."  Join me in voting no on Amendment X.

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