Mandan News

We, the people, can bring about change

Layout 1 (Page 1)How often have you heard folks say that their vote doesn’t count? Have you ever felt like your government imposed an unfair law? Have you ever felt like taking the law into your own hands? Have you ever been so mad at our politicians that you felt like taking up arms?

Well, before you grab your guns and Molotov cocktails and head off to blow up city hall or the state Capitol, I’d suggest that North Dakota’s Constitution has a better option that you might want to consider.

In North Dakota, we, the people, have something called the initiative and referral available to us. Under the referral concept, you and I can refer any law that the Legislature passes, as well as recall any politician we want to.

In addition, you and I have the right to initiate our own laws (think lottery) … all we need to do is find a small percentage of folks that voted in the last election to sign a petition saying they’d like to vote on the issue.

You gotta admit this process is much better than what’s going on in Egypt today, where they are killing each other in hopes that their side will have enough folks left to install a president and rule the country.

I’m a Presbyterian and I really don’t want to shoot or imprison or torture my Catholic/Muslim neighbors so we can take over city hall … the concept seems rather crude to me.

We Americans have agreed to live under the rule of law and we have also agreed to elect representatives to act on our behalf. If our elected representatives pass laws that we don’t like, we can vote them out of office during the next election. No one in America has a right to govern us; we don’t have a line of royalty or military juntas who can dictate to us.

Unlike our federal government, we North Dakotans have a right to refer existing laws and initiate our own laws. During this past legislative session, our legislators decided to limit those rights by asking us to vote on whether or not they can limit what we initiate or refer – and I hope we reject their meddling with our rights … but in order to do that you and I have to get engaged in our government.
It seems quite popular to complain about those who govern us but very few of us are willing to do something about our complaints. Way too many of us just like to bitch and hope that someone else will take care of the matter, and way too many of us don’t think our vote counts.

So as I watch the slaughter in Egypt I can’t help but appreciate how far we’ve come and how far we all have yet to go.

Both my loyal readers know that I’ve had a serious burr in my saddle about starting school before Labor Day. This year, Bismarck started on Aug. 20 and Mandan on Aug. 22, a full two weeks before Labor Day. Along with many other citizens, my logic and pleas have been ignored by our school boards and legislators. So a group of parents recently announced that they are initiating a measure that says school can’t start until after Labor Day … and as you can imagine as soon as I recovered from my cartwheels, I wrote this down: “I’m not only willing to sign their petition but I’d be willing to gather some signatures. I think we, the people, need to vote on this issue … and I think our right to do this affirms that our government really is of, for, and by the people.”

So it’s once again time for we, the people, to literally take the law into our own hands. Got any idea where a fella like me could pick up a few petitions?