Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Incomplete Idiot’s Guide to Amending the Iowa Constitution

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” (Mark Twain, 1882)

Thanks to the undisclosed lobby efforts of the Penguin Group publishing company, the Iowa House has opened Pandora’s Idiot-Box by proposing a joint resolution that would amend the Constitution of the State of Iowa. The House wishes to amend Section 5 of Article II, which disqualifies persons from voting who are “adjudged mentally incompetent to vote or a person convicted of any infamous crime shall not be entitled to the privilege of an elector.”

Much to the delight of the Penguin Group, publishers of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide Series,” the proposed amendment to the resolution “removes the words ‘idiot’ and ‘insane’ from the constitutional provision and substitutes the phrase ‘mentally incompetent to vote.’” A spokesperson from the Penguin Groups, who wishes to remain anonymous, cited record-low sales of its guide, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Government” (see left) as the main reason spearheading their lobby efforts. “Since Iowa’s constitution bars ‘idiots’ from voting, we’ve had a hard time selling the guides to our target audience. It would be like trying to sell the ‘Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Along With Difficult People’ on Capital Hill in D.C. (‘Complete Idiot’s Guide to Figurative Language’) There’s simply no interest for our product in these markets.”

Opponents to the proposed resolution argue that, much like the amendment itself, the changes cannot be adequately enforced at the polls and begs the question: Where do you draw the line distinguishing between who is and is not an idiot? An amendment would definitely change poll watcher’s strategies for challenging votes, but without the addition of an idiot-proof fail-safe plan, who would be watching the poll watchers?

Federal opponents, including the federal constitution purists, “The Constitutional Literalists' Society,” argue that if there’s no amendment restricting an idiot from running for President of the United States, there should be no restrictions placed upon idiots voting for such a candidate.