Democracy: A Lesson In Numbers

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So, California’s social conservatives got their way: a gay marriage ban will be on November’s ballot, along with many other state-based issues, like transit taxes to cut back on ruinous congestion. And, as Neal Broverman reminds us, the States’ democracy makes it easier to change a state’s constitution than tend to civic duties.

Guess which measure has better odds of passing? If you said “the anti-gay initiative,” you would be correct. That outcome is not based on an assumption that most Californians are homophobic, but the fact that it will take just 51% of the electorate to write discrimination into our Constitution and a whopping 67% to invest in our infrastructure and environment.

Our federal Constitution is virtually immune to the whims of the public; it takes a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress to propose a constitutional amendment, and then it must be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

No state makes it that hard to change its own constitution…

Forethought may not have been our forefathers’ strong point…