It’s more than who’s going to be President

People get all wrapped up in whether Romney or Obama will be president but there is much more at stake Tuesday. Photo: San Francisco Examiner

COLORADO, November 4, 2012 - Every two years, presidential election or not, we re-elect the House of Representatives and one-third of our senators. In addition, there are state legislators, initiatives, judges, and more to vote on. Many of these decisions will have a more immediate impact on our lives than who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Founders understood that it was the Parliament as much as the King who was attacking their liberty. They also knew that in their republic the legislature would be most powerful.

Presidents get too much credit and too much blame. People credit Bill Clinton for the balanced budgets of the late 1990s, ignoring the Newt Gingrich-led House and the Contract with America. People blame Bush for the deficits of the 2000s instead of blaming both the Republican and Democratic Congresses.

The power of the purse belongs to the Congress. The president suggests a budget, but like the latest Obama budget, the Congress can ignore it. Why have we not had a budget in the last 1285 days? Because although the House has passed budgets, they all die in the Harry Reid-controlled Senate. Will that change if Mitt Romney is elected? No. Reid said flatly this week he can’t work with a President Romney.

Let’s make sure he doesn’t have to by electing a majority of conservative Republican senators.

The House needs continual attention as well. In Colorado, we have, according to author Peter Schweizer, one of the most corrupt members of Congress in Jared Polis. Rep. Polis (CO-2), already a billionaire when he entered Congress, has managed to double his net worth through the Congressional equivalent of insider trading in just four years. Polis doesn’t do fund-raising: he self-finances his campaigns.

Polis is one of four billionaires in Colorado whose money seems to run the Democratic Party in the state and through their ability to elect candidates, to control the state itself since 2006. Their model, known as the Colorado Model or The Blueprint, was taken national by the Obama campaign in 2008. In political science, we call that Plutocracy—government by the rich. Only an informed and active citizenry can prevent it.

Tell me, Democrat Party voters: Is this your vision of democracy? Of government of the people, by the people and for the people?

Further, it is not only the U.S. Congress but also the state legislatures which are up for election. The Constitution assigns a greater role to the states than to the federal government and although the federal government has overshadowed the states, the power is still there if states have the will to use it. Most people you meet on the street don’t even know the name of their state legislators. In Colorado there were some very tough primary fights this year due to redistricting. Since the Democrats controlled the Colorado Supreme Court and the senate, they made sure several good Republican legislators would be eliminated.

Thus the importance of the judiciary. The Framers felt the judiciary would be the weakest of the three branches of government. That would have been true if they had confined themselves to their role in interpreting the law. In practice, they have become activists and legislators in their own right and the legislatures have not reined them in.

We the people can. Ironically, it was a Progressive-era reform to have judges not serve for life but be re-elected periodically. In Colorado, judges are appointed but then face election at two years and every ten years thereafter. Sadly, people don’t know much about judges and so many leave the boxes unchecked. That’s changing, though: Clear the Bench Colorado offers analyses of judicial decisions on Constitutional and other liberty-related concerns.

On addition to all the elected officials, there are also initiatives and referendums on the ballot. These give citizens the chance to weigh in on issues—we should not miss it.

Amendment 64 in Colorado is about legalizing marijuana. We legalized “medical marijuana” (wink, wink) already; Amendment 64 would go the full monty. Interestingly, marijuana is illegal federally and so this is a case in which a few states are actually willing to defy the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ll see what the vote is. Even Democrat Governor Hickenlooper is against it.

Amendment 65 is an interesting and unusual referendum. It seeks to put into the state constitution a recommendation that our U.S. Congressional representatives advocate for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution about the rights of corporations under campaign finance law. You read that right. Campaign finance laws generally work to advantage incumbents at the expense of free speech and challengers. Amendment 65 is being run by people who want to overturn the Citizens United decision.

In my county there are also three separate proposals for tax increases by different taxing authorities. TABOR in Colorado forces these authorities to submit proposals for new or greater-than-allowed tax increases to the people. I guess they haven’t been paying attention to the national debate on taxes.

All in all, the presidential check boxes form only a small part of the ballot. Every state and even every county ballot is going to be different.

We won’t take back our country until we take back every part of it.

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Al Maurer

Al Maurer is a political scientist and founder of The Voice of Liberty. He writes on topics of limited government and individual rights.

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