Letter: The lost art of power to the people | AspenTimes.com

Letter: The lost art of power to the people

The state of the Republic is terminal.

There are almost daily examples of the shift of power from the individual to the collective, and from the private sector to government.

The legacy of the baby-boom generation will be the loss of principles as a guiding force in governance.

For example, the Pitkin County Charter blatantly violates the state constitution by denying citizens the power of the initiative petition in regard to the levy of taxes. Nobody cares. It’s a matter of principle, so it doesn’t matter.

In 2013, the Colorado state supreme court gutted the initiative power on the local level with an extraordinarily narrow definition of “legislative,” which determines what matters can be addressed by initiative petitions. There are no individuals or organizations with the interest or financial resources to challenge what the courts have done, and the power of petition is forever diminished.

At the state level, it has become commonplace to run initiatives as constitutional amendments, and at least two major reasons are the fault of the courts and the state legislature. All constitutional content is deemed legislative, and the state legislature can’t just vote to change what the voters have adopted.

So now the battle shifts to an attempt to make constitutional amendments by initiative nearly impossible. Proposed Amendment 71 will require that signatures be collected from all 35 state senate districts, and that 55 percent of the vote be required for passage. Perhaps the Republican and Democratic parties have organizations sufficient to circulate petitions in 35 separate areas of the state, so perhaps we are simply reserving constitutional amendments for the two branches of the Government Party.

Regardless, citizens are being asked to vote away their own power. And they probably will.

The campaign to pass Amendment 71, pitching it as an “opportunity” for rural Colorado, is the most dishonest and cynical I have ever seen. But there is no principle which says you can’t lie to the voters, so there really is no basis to complain. There is that thing about honesty in government, but nobody is so naïve as to expect it.

The brightest spot on the horizon comes from national politics. The new Clinton administration will finally end corruption in government. They will simply stop using the phrase. And, think how efficient they will be once the government is finally relieved of the burden of arcane and outdated “republican” principles.

Who needs a republic anyway?

Jeffrey Evans

Basalt


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