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State Ballot Initiatives Could Influence Presidential Campaign

Controversial state law initiatives, set to appear on this November's ballot, could influence the debate throughout the presidential campaign, and provide national voters various litmus tests by which to judge the candidates. Research shows that initiatives do not increase turnout, but the measures are prompting Barack Obama and John McCain to take positions on hot-button issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, labor rights, and energy. Here is a roundup of some of the most divisive initiatives:

  • Abortion: South Dakota will consider banning abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or threats to a woman’s health. California will vote on parental notification (for the third time). Colorado voters will decide whether to define a “person” as “any human being from the moment of fertilization.”
  • Same-sex marriage: In Arizona, California, and Florida, voters will decide whether to amend the state constitutions and define marriage as between one man and one woman, like 27 other states have. McCain endorsed the proposal, while Obama says he opposes the ban.
  • Affirmative Action: Arizona, Colorado, and Nebraska will consider banning affirmative action, as California, Michigan and Washington have. McCain supports the ban, although in 1998 he opposed something similar. Obama opposes a ban.
  • To find out what voters will decide about labor and energy,


    • Labor: Colorado will decide whether to prohibit employers from requiring union membership or union dues. In South Dakota, a measure would prohibit unions from making political contributions if they have agreements with state or local governments. In Ohio, voters will decide whether to require companies with over 50 workers to provide seven paid sick days. Obama’s platform endorses a similar plan for sick leave, while McCain has criticized the idea. Massachusetts's ballot has an initiative to abolish the state income tax.
    • Energy: A California measure would require utilities to generate 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010, increasing to 40 percent in 2020 and 50 percent by 2025.

    Do you think ballot initiatives are the best way for activists to call attention to their causes?


bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I'm jealous Torgleson.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Must have been the glass of wine I had with lunch.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Wow, and we're doing it without Ritalin. How is this possible?
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Haha, it is possible, Torg!
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Aww, look at us. Talking about one of the most hot-button issues in our country, all nice and civilized!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
You're not morally obligated to protect your children? Remind not to nominate you for mother of the year. ;)
True-Song True-Song 9 years
>so why can't we see each unborn child as a famous violinist, or nobel prize winner? Well, the obvious and I'm-not-trying-to-be-a-smart-aleck-but-it-might-come-out-that-way answer would be because they're not all famous violinists or nobel prize winners. Some of them are Hitlers. I think the more glaring flaw in the argument would be of course that we have no control over having violinists plugged into us while we sleep, but we do have control over becoming pregnant. Personally, though, I agree with the main sentiment which is that I'm not morally obligated to use my body to protect anything else's life. I'm not required to harbor fugitives in my womb. I think the situation changes once the fetus becomes either viable or sentient, but that's just my opinion.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
But shouldn't we see all life as valuable? The potential each child has at conception is pretty much the same, so why can't we see each unborn child as a famous violinist, or nobel prize winner?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
My guess would that so we see it as a "valuable" life as opposed to, say, a drug deal or child abuser.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
Agreed janneth. I can't find any very important flaws in that analogy.
janneth janneth 9 years
In Thompson's story, why does the person need to be a famous violinist? Strange. But it is an interesting ethical dilemma she poses.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Oh, I read wrong, sorry. (Making dinner.) It's not my reasoning, anyways. It's what some people think, but I'm not clear we should value human life above animal life, so there ya go. Some people think human life is superior because of our mental capacity, but that opens the door to valuing the intelligent more than the dumb or the mentally healthy more than the mentally disabled. And organicsugr, I invite you to google "Thomsen violinist example" and read about it for yourself. (It might be "Thomson," I forget.) I'm sure I won't be able to give it a just explanation and chop onions at the same time.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Torg, I never said I thought we should protect the potential for human life. I just think you should think through your reasoning before you start asking questions about what makes us more valuable than a cow.
organicsugr organicsugr 9 years
Torg that violinist example is great. The violinist analogy is a perfect fit, since in the example the one who must support the violinist caused caused the violinist to become ill, right?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Seems like if we start talking about protecting the potential of a human life, we're headed down a road that leads to opposition to birth control.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Torg, a two month old baby doesn't have rational thought OR language, but I think it's more valuable than a cow. I bet you do, too. It has the potential for those things, certainly. But then, so does a fetus.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
It's still a little murky, but they're pretty sure it's between 8 and 12 weeks.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Do we have a way to measure when a fetus feels things? (I am honestly asking - I have no idea!)
True-Song True-Song 9 years
>Well what about being a full-grown human makes you more valuable than a cow? I think generally the consensus is rational thought and language. But that takes us down a whole 'nother road. And a lot of people might say we're not!
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Torg, at what point is a fetus sentient?
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Well what about being a full-grown human makes you more valuable than a cow? It's a difficult question to answer, but I think (and hope) that we all value the life of a living human above that of a cow. The question is simply "When is a human alive?" Since science can't answer that question for us, we are forced to have our own individual answers.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Sentient means the ability to feel things, specifically pleasure or pain.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
>Torg, you're twisting UnDave's words. He never said there should be a rule against killing "things" with heartbeats, he simply stated that he believes human life begins when there is a heartbeat. There's a big difference between a "thing" and a human. I didn't mean to. But what's the difference? A new fetus, even with a heartbeat, doesn't have language, doesn't have thoughts, can't feel pain. What about it being human makes it more valuable than a cow?
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Mine is when the fetus becomes sentient." This is my definition as well.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Torg, define "sentient" in this context for me. Sorry, I am not understanding what you mean.
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