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Guest Editorial: Amendment frenzy hurts us all

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The U.S. Constitution, in its infinite wisdom, is more than 200 years old and has served as a model for constitutions in more than 100 countries.

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In that time, we've progressed from a society in which modern medicine, computers, airplanes and televisions were not even a glimmer in someone's imagination. Our society has changed vastly, yet our founding document has only had to be amended 27 times. (One of those to reverse an earlier amendment: prohibition.)

So it seems strange that Minnesota suddenly and urgently needs to make several amendments to its own constitution this year alone.

Well, it seems strange until you realize that the party that controls the legislature can do an end-run around compromise with the governor by simply calling everything an amendment to the constitution rather than a bill.

This is not an indictment of the party in power in the legislature, but rather an indictment of a tactic. Should it be easier to amend the state constitution than it is to pass a law? We think not.

It's a dangerous road we're traveling down when we give either of the two political parties -- which seem each year to embrace the poisonous partisanship of politics over the best interests of Minnesotans -- a loophole to get their agenda through.

Big topics like same-sex marriage and voter ID at polling places are transformative issues, and deserve at least an effort at compromise before they're tossed on the ballot for voters to have to make the hard choices.

Proponents of this method say these issues are too big for mere legislators to decide, because, shucks, they're not paid to make the big decisions. If that were so, they would have also given voters the choice to vote in favor of having gay marriage, an option which apparently the simple voters can't be trusted with.

This is plain and simple: it's an attempt to cut the governor out of negotiations on some issues. It's wrong, and it's not a tool the DFL or the Republicans should use.

This editorial represents the collective voice of the Wadena Pioneer Journal's editorial board.

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