MOSER: Amendment 71 is an attack on Colorado’s democratic rights


Every freedom-loving citizen of Colorado should vote no on Amendment 71. It is an attack on our democratic rights. 71 will make changing the Colorado constitution so difficult that only powerful corporations will have the capacity to bring amendments before the voters. The result is that the people of Colorado, from every region, and across the political spectrum, will have less political power not more. 71 is yet another way to rig the system against the citizens.

71 proposes that 2% of all registered voters from all 35 senate districts must sign on to proposed amendments. This is a classic divide and conquer strategy meant to pass 71 by exploiting old animosities between rural and urban communities, but the real impact will be to prevent citizen groups from every region from proposing amendments. 71 is less representative not more, less democratic not more.

Powerful interests, including high-ranking office holders from both parties, intend to raise the bar and play gatekeeper to what the public gets to consider. The gatekeeping functions of 71 are the essence of the amendment. Even pass the gate, and a supermajority of 55% would be required.

The Colorado State Constitution is a rare treasure we must preserve. At a time when everyday people has almost no say in our national affairs, Amendment 71 wants to make Colorado more like the federal government, where, according to President Jimmy Carter, “unlimited political bribery” is business as usual. Like the disastrous Supreme Court decision, “Citizens United,” that claims corporations are people and money is free speech, Amendment 71 will replace the voices of everyday people with the money of billionaires and big corporations.

According to the Secretary of State, 71 has raised, $2,698,813.00 while the opposition has raised zero dollars. The largest contributors to the campaign in favor of 71 are Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, an oil and gas PAC, Colorado Concern, a pro-business lobby, and Colorado Association of Realtors. Vital for Colorado, an oil and gas lobby, is coordinating much of the campaign. These powerful corporate interests, all based in the Denver Metro area, would have us believe they have rural interests at heart.

The existing constitution allows the people of Colorado to actually exercise democracy. We are leaders and we have led very well. Time and again the people have proven wiser than the political machines.

While the big interests funding 71 hide behind a fabricated issue that the constitution is too long and messy, the people of Colorado consistently address the real issues of our time: universal health care, the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana, climate change, clean water, minimum wage, and prison slavery to name a few.

The big money and the high-ranking Democrats and Republicans that are behind Amendment 71 like to invoke the US Constitution but they forget to mention the three most important words in that hallowed document, “We the People.”

Vote no on 71 to stop big money from taking control of the amendment process and to preserve a Constitution that grows in accordance with the wisdom of “We the People.” We need to get money out of politics and the people back in.

Richard Moser is a historian and author. He is retired and taught mostly at Fort Lewis College. He lives in Mancos, Colorado.