Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Brief Civics Lesson

Apparently some people think the state constitution is an infallible document that should never be tampered with under any circumstances.

That's the only conceivable explanation for rejecting Question 7, which 53% of voters did on Nov. 3.

The constitution gives city and town officials five days to verify signatures on petitions. The amendment would have allowed ballooned this deadline all the way out to ten days.

Yikes! The revolution is at hand! Call in the National Guard!


First of all, let's clear something up. The constitution is not perfect. 

If it were perfect, it would contain the following clause: "No citizen shall be compelled to view or listen to any advertising that contains an unrealistically hyper used car salesman who exhorts people to 'come join the party' in a voice that sounds like the love child of Tim Sample and an over-caffeinated red-tailed hawk."

Yeah, I'm talking about you, Glenn What's-his-face from Bangor Car Care. You recently made a commercial you promised would be "serious" because of "these tough economic times," but then you slipped back into buffoonery by breaking Television Personality Rule Number One: "always talk into the camera."

Dude, I'm over here! Look at me when you're insulting my intelligence, dammit!

So, yeah, that guy needs to go. But no matter how much we all agree on this point, or any other, there's no way we can put it in the constitution, because it's a pure and sacred document.

We citizens exist to protect and preserve its welfare. Not the other way around.

Suppose I own a company, and an employee asks me for a few extra days to complete a project. The extension would have no tangible impact on our operations. This employee happens to be the only one who does not spend half his or her shift in the break room, pumping inane status updates into Facebook.

Am I a jerk boss for not granting this request? No, because I'm preserving The Way We've Always Done Things.

I probably don't have to tell you where I'm going with this.

People voting "yes" on Question 1 were most likely conservative. If you're a conservative, you like to conserve. Conserving is sometimes good. I hope people 50 years from now still know how to quilt, or who Elvis was, or what trees look like. 

But conservatism sometimes takes the form of cainotophobia (fear of change).

The margin of victory for Question 1 looks remarkably similar to the margin of defeat for Question 7. Is it a stretch to suppose all the same conservative fogeys who turned out to "preserve marriage" got carried away with preserving stuff and voted down a constitutional amendment for absolutely no logical reason?

Is the state constitution so completely infallible that it should never be tampered with -- except to ban gay weddings?

Let's find out. If you voted "no" on Question 1 and on Question 7, please email me at Kindly include your name, what town you live in, and a quick explanation of what the hell you were thinking.

If I hear from anyone, I'll let you know. Otherwise, you can assume what 47% of us have already started to suspect:

Maybe we're not doing this democracy thing quite right.

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