LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Ignoring will of people is a flawed concept of democracy

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 3:29 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 1, 2011

I have never before been moved to write a response to a published article, especially one in the Missourian, which I admire and have great respect for.

However, the terribly misguided, naive and just plain wrong writings of J. Karl Miller beg an honest answer.

Mr. Miller's assertion that it is wrong for the legislature to respect the will of the people indicates that he has a flawed concept of our democracy, our country and the American spirit.

One of the mottoes inscribed in the marble walls of our state Capitol building states, "The Will of the People Shall Reign Supreme." That is what this country is all about.

When elected officials can completely disregard what the majority of our citizens have decided is right, through initiative petition and a subsequent election, we no longer have a government. Of the people. By the people. For the people.

Mr. Miller's statement that "the will of the people is tempered in the General Assembly by honest debate, judgment and reality" shows a naive lack of understanding of special interest groups and personal and political hidden agendas.

If Mr. Miller is against voter-passed campaign finance reform, decent wages for working people, clean energy and not abusing man's best friend, one has to wonder what his agenda is. Possibly we could understand where his thought processes come from by his quoting Larry Flynt, America's porno king.

All the "Your Vote Counts" petition asks is that it would take a three-fourths majority of the legislature to overturn initiatives that have originated with Missouri citizens and then been voted upon by the people.

The initiative petition — and elections — are the only basic rights we average citizens have to exercise input and control over our government.

Please seek out and sign this petition and exercise your rights as a citizen of our great state, and let the folks in Jefferson City understand that the will of the people shall reign supreme, as our founding fathers intended.

Fred Seaman lives in Columbia.

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J Karl Miller August 31, 2011 | 9:08 p.m.

Mr Seaman commits an error common to those not availed the opportunity to learn civics in that he erroneously refers to the representative republic given us by the founders as "our democracy." We are not a democracy now nor have we ever been so.

I take issue also with his assumption that I am against voter passed campaign reform, decent wages for working people, clean energy, that I favor abusing Fido and Old Yeller--nor did I assert that it is wrong for the legislature to support the will of the people. Just to be sure, I reread my column and found nothing to support those allegations.

Accordingly, I must assume that along with the cheap shot reference to Larry Flynt, Mr Seaman's objectivity is colored by his determination to see only what he wants to see and hear only what he wants to hear.

I respect his right to differ in opinion; however, stating facts not in evidence does little little for his credability.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 31, 2011 | 10:26 p.m.

Col. Miller:

I remain puzzled that there are some folks who think we are a democracy, but even more puzzled they would want one. I think they do not know what a democracy...a pure

Let's pretend, for just a minute, that Columbia was a pure democracy. To be a pure democracy, only a majority of the people...collectively...make the rules. There are no "inalienable rights", there is no outside Constitution to keep us in line, there is no council of elders (Congress) to make rules, and there is no judiciary to judge the "rightness" of any rule.

Only a majority of the people make the rules.

That means, in Columbia, you only have to convince slightly greater than half of those who vote to your way of thinking.

I would not want to live in such a place. There is no telling what sorts of damnphool things we might *think* we want; plus, we could willy-nilly change our minds next week, next month, next year, or the next decade. Think of the harm that could be done to those finding themselves in the minority. What if we decided only certain peoples could vote, or live here, or live at all, or own land, or take office, or work in certain professions, or enter a place of business, or find themselves in servitude, or child labor. Each of the above things we have done to ourselves (and one another) in the past, and it is only by virtue of our system of government and time that we finally worked many of these things out. And they were worked out because we are a constitutional republic of constitutional states...each possessing a representative form of government, an executive branch, and a judiciary. With this system, the majority cannot rule without the potential for correction.

Today, Columbia votes on a variety of things...and the majority generally rules. Some folks may think this is a pure democracy, but it isn't. If Columbia votes *for* something that is against the state or national Constitution, or against our laws, we get called-to-carpet for it. These checks/balances we have in place absolutely forbid any notion of a pure democracy.

I actually believe, regarding citizen initiatives, that it should take more than a simple legislative majority to overturn a vote. But, 3/4th's? No. Such a bar is so high that it stretches and strains our well-established concept of checks and balances too far to one side. It unbalances.

I'd throw out 55% or even 60% as a starter, but 75% is a deal-breaker for me. Hence, I'm a "no" for the latter value.

(Report Comment)
James Krewson September 1, 2011 | 12:24 a.m.

I am deeply disturbed by this response. WE DO NOT LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY! Are they not teaching this in public school? We live in a Representative Constitutional Republic. We elect people to vote on our behalf. It is a good thing we do, because most of America are victims of a substandard education as shown by this type of response to Karl's commentary. This type of ignorance really bothers me.

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry September 1, 2011 | 1:12 a.m.

Yes - we're a Republic not a Democracy. Yes - Majority Rules can --> bad crap happening. Absolutely agree with you.

Odd how you seem to have no issue with MO legislators ruling by simple majority. Isn't it the same problems as when a simple majority of voters detemine law?

The Your Vote Counts ensures that a simple majority of legislators can not overturn or modify a voter-approved law. Seems to me it helps minimize the effects of personal agendas and lobbyists in the legislative process, and better ensures balance between urban and rural needs and advantages.

You don't agree? Then what is the solution?

(Report Comment)
Kathy Snowberry September 1, 2011 | 1:50 a.m.

Oops - my above comment to Mr Miller, Michael W and any other's with these issues related to Your Vote Counts

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 5:37 a.m.

Oh yes, I agree. We, the public are so ignorant to how the world works, it would be a shame that we could make any decisions about the place that we live. The "damnphool" things we would want. Eduacation for our children, health care that works, roads to drive on. I would go another step past Mr Williams and say lets get rid of publics right to vote all together. I mean, after all, I want to commute to work on a dragon and I would rather get paid in potato chips rather than money. But, as my representatives in government know, that is not practical, and as they have so many times before, my government saves me from myself. It boggles my mind to hear people repeat over and over and over again that government is too large and then argue against citizens having an actual say in that government. Why shouldn't it be at 75% to overturn the public majority? It is clear that government is run on bribes, back-door deals and individuals that only have their best interests in mind while making decisions for the rest of us. So why shouldn't it be difficult for the saints in government to go against the people that they represent? Please educate me.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 1, 2011 | 8:37 a.m.

I posted this comment to the Colonel's op/ed, but since the conversation appears to have shifted over here ....

Karl once argued that Obama's health care reforms should be rejected because a majority of people in some poll said they were happy with their insurance. He's also used polls indicating a majority of Americans support capital punishment to conclude that the opposition to the death penalty is "misguided."

Karl only cares about "protecting the liberties of the minority" when he's in the minority. Otherwise the minority can just lump it.

I get the same vibe from some of the other comments. I know one or two of those folks regularly argue that "the people" ought to have more to say about things. They now appear to want to give legislators more power while stripping legitimate recourse away from "the people."

So their argument becomes, "that law is so stupid the people who signed the petition must be especially ignorant." If it's something they support, like opposition to health care reform, every person who shares their opinion is a genius.

California has been dealing with these kinds of things longer than any other state. They're only now considering requiring these initiatives to appear on the ballot in November general elections. That would ease Karl's mind, since it would be subjected to a much more through vetting than the 10-15 percent of registered voters who typically turn out for primary elections.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 9:23 a.m.

Supporters of this initiative:

Now wait a minute. Are you telling me that a citizens initiative that draws less than 50% of all registered Missouri voters out on election day, with an affirmative vote of...say...51% of that 50%, should require a super-majority of 75% to modify/overturn?

No way Jose. 51% of 50% is only 25.5% of the total registered voting population.

You can have your super-majority IF AND ONLY IF you can get greater than 50% of ALL registered voters to vote in the affirmative on the original initiative.

On further thought, I take back my previous offer of 55%-60% to overturn all initiatives at the legislative level. This current initiative is a really bad deal for the reason given above. The focus right now is on a few initiatives that were recently overturned/modified...and made folks mad...but the fact is that any damnphool notion by ANY special interest group could become a virtually irreversible law for the entire state if only a small minority of voters are motivated to vote for it.

No way.

You are disappointed about a couple of initiatives that got modified, but I can think of all sorts of potential initiatives that could become law by a small minority of motivated voters. And each of them is something you definitely would NOT like at all. And you want 75% to overturn them?

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 9:36 a.m.

If 50% of people are too lazy to get out and have their voice heard, that is their fault and not mine. If there are people that don't vote, then cry at the results of said vote, who cares. The one way we have to voice our opinion in government is to vote. What concern do you have to represent the inactive citizens of this country. And if our one way to be heard is to vote, and the elected officials have an easy way to overturn or ignore that vote, then what is the point. You make no sense at all. I can think of all sorts of fictional things that are scary. I can also think of monsters and gobblins, but it doesn't make them come true.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 1, 2011 | 9:51 a.m.

@ Michael Williams:

Sometimes the best way to test a proposal is to take its provision(s) and stretch it (them) to the limit, be the result (limit) good and logical or totally ridiculous.

In the present case one "limit" would be to disband the legislature and accomplish "legislation" by petition initiative. That would be an economic blow to Jefferson City, but who cares about them?

I take it you don't favor that; neither do I.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 10:01 a.m.

matt arnall pleads, "Please educate me."

I'll try. With an example.

I support a taxpayer right to direct where his/her school tax money goes: public or private. That is, if I want to send my kids to a private school, I should be able to direct that my taxes go to that private school instead of public schools. I shouldn't have to pay "double."

I would bet that...right now...I could find sufficient signatures on a petition to do just that very thing. I believe that I could garner sufficient support to get it on the ballot.

Let's say I do. Let's also say that 70% of all registered voters in this state turn out to vote on my initiative, and 51% of those voters support it.

And you want a 75% super-majority to modify/overturn it????? Only 35.7% of all registered voters in this state wanted what I offered!

Now, for my own self-interests, that would be a rather great thing to, 75%! Ain't NOBODY gonna be able to turn over THAT law. Ever!

But I'm going to turn away from that "wish" because it's not in the best interests of ALL citizens in this state. Such a super-majority is fertile ground for the abuse of many for the benefit of only a few.

No. I won't support a 75% super-majority. It badly skews the rather effective current system of checks and balances.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 10:11 a.m.

Ellis says, "In the present case one "limit" would be to disband the legislature and accomplish "legislation" by petition initiative. That would be an economic blow to Jefferson City, but who cares about them?"

Hey, don't rush me!.......................................................................I'm thinking about it. :^)

Maybe they should only be in session 2 weeks every 2 years?

Ok. Three. Definitely not four.

I'm no fan of a pure democracy; it's just another form of dictatorship that spreads responsibility for bad law among many rather than one or a few. In such a political system, I have NO alternatives but to move when I find myself in a permanent minority.

That might help the economy, uptick in the housing markets.

Can you say "Balkanization"? As if we aren't already.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 1, 2011 | 10:57 a.m.

Michael, not only is 75% too high, I think the threshold needs to be higher on voters approving amendments to the state constitution. I'm thinking 2/3 majority on both is probably the sweet spot to keep groups and citizens from amending the constitution willy-nilly, as well as keeping legislators from immediately overturning laws from the initiative process.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor September 1, 2011 | 11:22 a.m.

pure democracy = the mob rules

minorities look out

I didn't meet the founding fathers, but mr mob rules advocator, "You're no fouding father!".

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 11:31 a.m.

Mr Williams, you failed to educate me. Your example falls short of explaining why there should not be a 75% rule to go against the public opinion. Only 35.7% was the majority in the election in this fictional example. Therefore, as the majority, steps should be taken to represent that majority in its government. At a minimum, that elected government should look at the options, and if it is unfeasable to make those changes, that governing body should come together in a 75% majority and explain to its public why they decided to go against the will of the people. You are acting as if politicians are so far superior mentally to the public that they protect us from ourselves on a daily basis. If public schools are crap, then the system should change, as voted on by the public majority. You act also like you and your opinions are far superior to me and my thinking. Your opinion is yours, and you are welcome to it. However, my opinion is valid as well.
To quote you, "But I'm going to turn away from that "wish" because it's not in the best interests of ALL citizens in this state. Such a super-majority is fertile ground for the abuse of many for the benefit of only a few." Double talk. A majority of the public would have to vote for the issue, there for not benefiting just "a few". It would benefit the majority of citizens that chose to get off the couch and vote. Banning abortion does not benefit ALL, making drastic cuts in government spending doesn't benefit ALL, not raising the debit ceiling doesn't benefit ALL, but these are all things that you have fiercely argued in the past. So how do you want it today? The answer is always "My way" with you and that is not how the world works. Win some, lose some.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 11:46 a.m.

JohnS: Certainly something to think about. Our US Constitution requires a 3/4's affirmative vote by the states before it can be amended. It's the biggest "law" we have and I place all other "laws" below it. I think the Constitution absolutely demands a very high bar re: modification.

As for all the other issues, I support a lower bar. "How low?" is what I am willing to discuss. Not 75%, tho. I have no wish that ANY Tom/Dick/Harry can push through a special interest initiative with a minority of motivated voters and then make it virtually impossible to rescind or modify. Legislatures do make mistakes, but so do voters.

And, make no bones about it..."Your Vote Counts" IS backed by certain special interests who don't like to think of themselves as special interests...and certainly resent anyone else saying they are. But, they are.

Fact is: If this initiative passes, sometime real soon it will come back to bite the current advocates in the rear end. Hard. And I'll be there to remind them of their past advocacy and apparent inability to see further down the road than their own current interests. Two ol' sayings come to mind:

What goes around, comes around, and
Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 11:59 a.m.

OK, Matt.

I hope you get what you want...a 75% majority.

I look forward to several conservative initiatives that I think can get passed in this sometimey conservative state. Ones which you will absolutely despise.

And you'll have to live with them.


So, I'm now on your side. Let's vote. I wanna see what happens after it passes.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock September 1, 2011 | 12:00 p.m.

There were times in US history where the "peoples will" was not only degrading to humans but was shameful. Minorities had little rights. So the mob majority rules should be questioned.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 12:06 p.m.

Fact is: If this initiative passes, sometime real soon it will come back to bite the current advocates in the rear end. Hard. And I'll be there to remind them of their past advocacy and apparent inability to see further down the road than their own current interests.

#1- you have no more ability to see into the future than anyone else.
#2- it is not your job to remind people of there opinions or beliefs, and I struggle to see what the point of that is aside from again making yourself feel superior.
#3- every statement that you make argues for your own current opinion or interest.

Are you employeed by the Missourian, or do you have nothing else to do?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 12:07 p.m.

Matt: In your 11:31 post, you equate "best interests of ALL citizens in this state" with the notion that the best interests have to benefit ALL.


Absolutely not! A best interest to me is not necessarily a benefit to me.

The best interest for all citizens in this state is to maintain the careful and thoughtful balance of powers that have worked for a very long time.

I have followup questions from anyone in the know: When the legislature modified past initiatives, did the governor have to sign off on them? That is, are such modifications similar to a formal bill that has to be signed by the executive branch? What is the current role of the judiciary in such legislative modifications?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 12:14 p.m.


Hey. I'm on your side. I hoping like hell you get what you want. As a chemist, I know experiments can be exciting.

Especially the ones that blow up.

PS: You bet I can see into the future on this one. Clearly.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 12:20 p.m.

There are plenty of things that I don't like in government, so if some conservative things get passed, so be it. You don't know me, so don't act like you do. I am arguing for reasonable representation in my government. I am not always in the majority. Actually, I probably am in the minority most of the time. The times in US History that the majority were "not only degrading to humans but were shameful." have passed. I live in 2011, not 1789, so don't you act like I am supporting slavery or against woman's rights. I am not advocating for "Mob Rule". If you don't believe in majority public opinion having an impact on that governments actions, what are you arguing for? If public majority doesn't sound good, why accept the government making moves on a simple majority? And if 51% is not enough, but 75% is too much, then how do you recommend that we ever do anything as a country or in our government. You can't have it both ways. What do you bring to the table for a solution to move the country in any direction. This is a rediculous back-and-forth, because anything that I say is wrong.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 12:28 p.m.

Mr Williams, you are a chemist, not a wizard. Two very different things. You were against it, now you are for it and hoping that it bites me. Seems like a childish reason to change your opinion. Maybe your opinion was actually swayed, because you seem to have no real reasons for arguing your side other than supporting your friend, Col Miller. Public opinion or desires should have an impact on the government that represents it. That is my point. Argue against it if you can.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

Mr Williams, are you serious?

You state, "The best interest for all citizens in this state is to maintain the careful and thoughtful balance of powers that have worked for a very long time."

Are you saying that you support how our government works at this present day and age? If no, then the above statement is untrue. If yes, then many of your previous arguements are untrue.
Seems to me that many people in this state and in this country are very fed up with government as a whole, and this anger seems to be stemming from the notion that they are not being represented by their represetatives. You yourself seem to generally dislike the government in its present state, based on your passed comments.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 12:50 p.m.

Mr Williams, if something is in your "best interest" then it absolutely would be a benefit to you. How would something that did not benefit you be in your best interest. You don't have to like what would be in your best interest, but your best interest is always a benefit to you, like it or not.
To quote "A best interest to me is not necessarily a benefit to me." It always benefits you if it is in your best interest.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor September 1, 2011 | 1:34 p.m.

Something tells me you are young and have not listened to the older folks at family gatherings when they discuss the ways of the world and you were playing your Nintendo DS instead of paying attention in American history class. You needn't go back to 1789 to find instances of majority rule being ugly and wrong.

The 19th amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified in 1920.

Birth control information was considered "obscene" prior to modification of federal law in 1936.

In 1954 the Supreme Court said segregation in public schools was illegal.

Rosa Parks desegregated the busses in 1955.

President Kennedy had to send 5,000 national guard troops to Mississippi because James Meredith, a black man, enrolled at the University of Mississippi.

The equal pay act that said you couldn't pay women less than men for the same job was passed in 1963.

The civil rights act was passed in 1964.

Roe v Wade was ruled on by the supreme court in 1973.

It wasn't until 1976 that the first state implemented a law that said it was illegal for a man to forcibly have sex with his wife.

In 1988 congress passed the civil rights restoration act which expanded the reach of non-descrimination laws to private institutions receiving federal funds.

It wasn't until 2005 when Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter for the Mississippi civil rights murders he had admittedly committed 41 years earlier.

That should be enough, but if you want more I can point you in the right direction at the library...

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 1:36 p.m.

Matt: It always benefits you if it is in your best interest.


Either you understand that fact, or you don't. Apparently you don't and cannot be convinced otherwise.

I'll close my part of this discussion with a scenario and question:

Scenario: This state has not always had a majority conservative legislature. In fact, it was not too long ago that our legislature was heavily liberal...or, at least, heavy in the Democratic Party. It will be so again; history demands such a thing as folks evolve their thinking. But, this state also has traditionally been a rather balanced mix of conservatives and liberals; that's not likely to change anytime soon. Politically, we behave like we are at a crossroads and someone tore down the street signs...conservative at times, liberal at others.

In the not too distant future, certainly less than a decade, this state will again have a liberal legislature. We may also have this 75% business in place.

Question: In such a scenario, will you be ok if a conservative special interest group pushes through an onerous initiative (with less than 20% of the voting public participation) because they are motivated but the opponents are not, but there is nothing that can be done because liberals can't muster the required 75% in the legislature?

PS: BTW, I don't hope this law will bite you. I KNOW it will bite you.


Because things never stay the same. Sometimes liberals are extraordinarily conservative by thinking that things can be forced to stay the same.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 1:43 p.m.

Mr Mentor:

Good post. I lived through much of that.

A pure democracy where majority rules is a truly horrible thing. I want no part of it. Faced with an either-or situation, I'd rather live in a benevolent dictatorship where at least the governing would be rather consistent.

"Majority rule" is a horrible thing. I'm glad we have an Executive branch, Legislative branch, and Judicial branch with all of the checks and balances that sometimes make me happy and sometimes make me angry. We muddle along, but at least we are still muddling.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 1, 2011 | 1:57 p.m.

Michael says, Matt: It always benefits you if it is in your best interest.


Either you understand that fact, or you don't. Apparently you don't and cannot be convinced otherwise.

I don't understand it either, but I'm willing to be convinced. Come up with an example of something that benefits you but is not in your best interest.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 2:59 p.m.

Brian: Such a discussion *must* include...time and wise use, neither of which have been brought up yet.

But, here's a few:

Some folks win the lottery...a significant benefit indeed...but that event does not end up being in their best interest.

A one-night stand may be a benefit, but it may not be in your best long-term interest.

Buying a plasma screen TV may be a benefit, but it may not be in your best interest...especially when you *could* have bought a true asset.

Buying a car you look good in may be considered a benefit...but it may not be in your best interest if you use it unwisely.

Not paying attention in high school and doing something else that is fun may be a benefit...but not in your best interest.

Charity may be a benefit to me (me on the receiving end), but it may not be in my long-term best interest. Giving charity to others may not be in my best long-term interest (financially), but it may be a benefit to me in other ways.

When my dad spanked me, it certainly wasn't a benefit...but it was most definitely a long-term best interest.

Having your way on something political may be to your short-term benefit (i.e., 75%)...but not be in your long-term best interest once the legislature changes but an onerous initiative passes when you were not motivated.

INO: Your best interest may not be a benefit to you, and

A benefit to you may not be in your best interest.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 5:15 p.m.

Mr Mentor, I dont have to go back to 1789, but that is the number I pulled out of the air when writing. Dont dare lecture me about listening to the elders in my family. I have politely argued my point which I am entitled to do. I could easily look up some date and time talking points like you, so I am not impressed by the ones that you have produced. If you have something to include in the debate, do it, otherwise stay out of it.
Mr Williams, you again are making yourself appear insane by claiming to be able to see the future. That is hog wash. Again, you are not a profit.
Mr Wallstin, a benefit might not be in your best interest, but your best interest is always a benefit to you. That is what I said. As you will see in all of Mr Williams examples he points out a benefit that is not in your best interest, NEVER a best interest that is not a benefit. Mr WIlliams is sometimes too busy thinking how to prove his point to actually read what is written.
My Final statement is a quote from myself earlier. Public opinion or desires should have an impact on the government that represents it. No one has told me why that is a stupid thing to argue in favor of.
Hope you all have a good night.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 6:10 p.m.

Matt says, "Again, you are not a profit."

This is correct. I am not, and have never been to my knowledge, the bottom line of an expense report. I do not represent revenue minus expenses less taxes and have no intention of ever doing so. However, I will accept any and all such things that come my way in the form of gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, or (in last place) greenbacks.

I do not claim to predict the future; but I am confident that history repeats itself. Missouri will once again have a democrat majority in the legislature, but not one with a 75% majority. A conservative initiative will pass that you will hate because this state is well-balanced with conservative and liberals. We see-saw.

And there will be nothing you can do except say "Doh!".

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 1, 2011 | 6:16 p.m.

Mr Williams

to Quote:
“PS- you can bet I can see into the future on this one. Clearly.” September 1st, 12:14 PM

You are having a hard time with reality. That must be difficult. I hope the best for you.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 1, 2011 | 7:14 p.m.

Man oh man. We had better not vote for that initiative. Because when we vote for that initiative that means that our vote will mean something and count. I can't imagine a scarier thought. I only want to go out of my way to vote if it will be meaningless and irrelevant. The government types know what is best and that is why they are the ones with their hands on all the cookies. I mean, face facts. They've been doing a great job without our input so far. Right?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 1, 2011 | 7:16 p.m.

Oh, and I think that the only way we will cease to be the ignorant masses is if we allow ourselves to be treated as other than the ignorant masses.

(Report Comment)
Brian Wallstin September 1, 2011 | 7:25 p.m.

Matt...I think Mike's last couple of responses show that he didn't enter this conversation to debate how to strike the right balance between the will of the people versus the will of the legislature. It's clear to me, despite all the bluster that he and some others direct toward the government, that they are perfectly happy to let the government carry their water when it suits their interests.

For some people, "protecting the interest of the minority" only seems important when they're in the minority.

I applaud Mike for at least owning up to his prejudices, even if it was by employing a classic fallacy: Someday, Matt, you're gonna get yours.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 1, 2011 | 7:59 p.m.

Brian: There is no fallacy. My comments on this initiative are simply my opinion. My opinion is that it is a very bad deal. I have presented good reasons and examples why it is a bad deal. Many of those reasons are based upon Missouri history: Eventually, there WILL be a Democratic majority in the legislature and it will not be a 3:1 majority. Further, there WILL be a conservative initiative passed by voters who number less than 30% of all registered Missouri voters. With the 75% rule in place, there WILL be nothing that you can do.

To believe otherwise is illogical and irrational.

If these words are interpreted as a "Matt, you're gonna get yours" statement, then so be it.

As for your first paragraph, you have evidently failed to read or understand all my posts on the matter. I offered that 75% was too high. I also offered that a super-majority could be on the table ONLY IF a majority of Missouri registered voters voted in the affirmative on an initiative; getting a new law on the books with less than half of Missouri voters with no checks/balances (i.e., no recourse for correction) is simply unacceptable to me and, when the worm turns, I'm confident you won't like it either.

All you and Matt have to do is this: Tell everyone posting here that you would gracefully accept a situation with a democratic legislature at a 2:1 majority unable to correct/modify/delete a bad conservative initiative that passed with only 30% of all Missouri voters...because of the 75% rule.

If you do this, there will be no further need for me to argue with you. My argument would be with those current supporters of this initiative who say "No, I would not accept such a result, graceful or otherwise."

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 2, 2011 | 11:20 a.m.

Where did my comments go? Missourian, I stayed within your guide lines. No profanity, attacked no one. Why were my comments removed? Don't I get freedom of speech?

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer September 2, 2011 | 11:43 a.m.

Matt Arnall — Sorry about that. We sometimes struggle in the newsroom with how to consistently enforce our policy on no personal attacks, and we're actually working on a review of our comments policy now. (I'd welcome feedback from all of you about what our rules of conduct should be, at

In the meantime, your comments on this story have been restored.

Joy Mayer, director of community outreach, Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
mike mentor September 2, 2011 | 12:06 p.m.

Brian Wallstin September 1, 2011 | 7:25 p.m.
Matt...I think Mike's last couple of responses show that he didn't enter this conversation to debate how to strike the right balance between the will of the people versus the will of the legislature. For some people, "protecting the interest of the minority" only seems important when they're in the minority.

Hmmm... I posted about all of the rights that were denied to women and blacks because of "mob rules" legislation and you say, "It's only important to me to protect the interests of the minority when I'm the minority". Well my outreach minister mother who exposed me to many social injustices during my childhood will be surprised when her white son comes home a black woman...

You all are doing a good job keeping the forum from turning in to the "lagoon". Keep it up !

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm September 2, 2011 | 12:21 p.m.

@ Mike mentor

They are referring to *Michael* Williams not you; if that was not already obvious by their 11 posts to each other since your last post.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 2, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

Joy, thanks for the help, but one of my posts is still missing.
Jack, thanks for straightening Mike Mentor out.
Mike Williams, I am disappointed to see that you ran outta steam.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall September 2, 2011 | 1:00 p.m.

Joy, It is back. Thank you. Have a nice day.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams September 5, 2011 | 8:11 a.m.

MattA says, "Mike Williams, I am disappointed to see that you ran outta steam."

Nah. I didn't run out of steam.
I had other things to do that required my steam.
Things that are more important than posting here.

Like my farm.

And family visitations complete with grandkids about your age.

Plus, I rode the Columbia Star train. Very nice. Excellent food. Elegant dining. Lots of fun! You should try it.

PS: Oh, by the way, the Missourian does not owe you "freedom of speech" in their newspaper. The first amendment to the Constitution simply says Congress shall make no law abridging your freedom of speech. The Missourian is free to publish whatever it wishes, even if that means discriminating against you and/or me. The Missourian makes the posting rules; there is no such thing as freedom of speech regarding what you and I post herein.

(Report Comment)

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