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Democracy is a system which works best when people, informed of the issues, vote their conscience. Without a doubt, it has become polluted with money and marketing strategies, a battle of psychological manipulation and the amassing of the funds to propagate it. But if we fail to draw the line at outright intentional deception, at blatant misrepresentation designed to deceive voters into voting for something that they have been led to believe is something else entirely, then we should at least invoke the moral condemnation that should be triggered by such acts, followed by the punishment of it at the ballot box.

Amendment 62, of course, is a ballot measure which defines life as beginning at conception, in a probably unconstitutional assault on Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights, and is a little gremlin of legal mischief, tying in knots a legal system almost entirely predicated on legal rights that vest at birth. Even that minority of Democrats who lean in the pro-life direction would (or should) tend not to support this measure, because it’s poorly drafted and poorly conceived, and far more draconian in its implications than simply the repeal of Roe v. Wade would be. The majority of Democrats, who, in the final analysis, simply can’t conceive of reducing women to legal incubators, would oppose this ballot initiative both for its anti-reproductive-rights implications, and for its general costly dysfunctionality (if it became law, it would wreak havok through a plethora of unintended consequences, while simultaneously tying up the courts by the need to rule it unconstitutional, the inevitable ultimate outcome).

Which is why its advocates decided to try to trick Democrats into voting for it, by means of a robocall by “a fellow democrat” which makes no reference to “abortion” or “fetuses” or “unborn children” or any other word or phrase which would indicate what the amendment is actually about, but instead refers only to thousands of Coloradans being killed due to a lack of civil rights protections (as reported by Colorado Pols: http://coloradopols.com/diary/14149/now-thats-one-misleading-robocall).

Yes, you can argue that from the perspective of whoever paid for the call (but who also violated Colorado election law by not stating who they were), the description in the robocall is entirely accurate (if also intentionally selective). But there is no doubt that it was designed to invoke false images in the mind of the listener, to deceive them into believing that Amendment 62 is a measure to protect some group of fellow Coloradans (as currently legally and conventionally defined) whose lives have been put in jeopardy by a failure to provide adequate civil rights protections.

It is left to the imagination of the listener who the members of this group may be. Illegal immigrants being denied life-saving services? Residents exposed to toxic substances in their drinking water? Inmates being subjected to dangerous involuntary drug testing? There is no doubt that the ambiguity was exploited in order to trick some population of not terribly well informed or dilligent Democratic voters into voting against their conscience, by misleading them about the meaning of the measure on which they would be voting.

This is a case of a fanatical minority, knowing that they are in the minority, but wanting both to impose their moral tyranny on the majority that disagrees with them, and to circumvent the Constitution which protects the rights of some from the tyranny of others, trying to undermine both popular will and constitutional protections by means of outright deception.

Since they are so transparent in their contempt of both democracy and constitutionalism, I recommend that we take pains to ensure that democracy and constitutionalism return the favor.

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