There ought to be a law

Back from her winter holiday, Alice left Bob behind to meet up with her friends Camila, Codie, and Oralia. Before long talk turns to politics.

Oralia gestured as she spoke, "Candidates ought to be limited to campaign contributions from district residents only--no outside money!"

"Better yet, we need put a stop to all these incumbent candidates that we somehow keep sending back to Washington year after year", replied Camila. "Senators serve 6-year terms and Representatives 2-year terms, so how about we pass a law to set limits of say 12 years of the previous 17 for Senators and 6 years of the previous 11 years for Representatives? Any more than that and the candidate can't appear on the ballot."

"Those limits of 12 and 6 years are about the right length, but that law would allow politicians to seek office again after a 1-term break" said Codie. "We need a law for lifetime limits of some kind: two terms for Senators and three terms for Representatives. That might take an amendment, so in the meantime we require new candidates to pledge to honor the limits. If any incumbent tries to exceed the limit, or any candidate fails to take the pledge, they get some kind of disclaimer by their name on the ballot."

Alice winced a little as Codie continued into a rant. "But what we really need", said Codie, "is a law prohibiting state and local governments from giving protected status for sexual orientation."

Oralia jumped in at this point. "How about a law revoking the Governor's authority to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation? I would vote for that."

"Listen, ladies" said Camila. "The real problem is cable television. Let's ban subscription television--all TV should be free. And while we're at it, we should overturn some of these housing anti-discrimination laws and instead guarantee the right of all home and apartment owners to choose buyers or renters as they wish."

Alice decided she didn't want to have anything to do with these proposals.

What's really going on with Alice, Camila, Codie, and Oralia?

Hint #1:

What's most relevant to the answer are 1) the proposals and 2) who proposed them.

Hint #2:

The answer has something to do with the limits of direct democracy.

Hint #3:

The answer has something to do with the United States. Specifically, something to do with direct democracy in four states.

Hint #4:

The answer has something to do with what happens when (at some times in some US states) the most majoritarian process comes up against the most counter-majoritarian institution.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ rot13(Gurfr nccrne gb ersre fhcerzr pbheg pnfrf (r.t. Ebzre i. Rinaf) ohg V pna'g cebprrq orlbaq gung.) $\endgroup$
    – Helix Quar
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 9:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @HelixQuar rot13(Pbybenqb cnffrq onyybg vavgvngvirf bs gur glcrf qrfpevorq ol Pbqvr. Abgr "Pbqvr" fgnegf jvgu gur cbfgny nooerivngvba sbe Pbybenqb.) But I don't see anything of the sort for anything Oralia said. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ @msh210 Bertba unf Zrnfher 8, 1995. $\endgroup$
    – Helix Quar
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 10:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ yea maybe @msh210 is onto something? What if we apply the same guess to the other characters' names? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 0:45

1 Answer 1


Alice, Camila, Codie and Oralia represent the US states Alabama, California, Colorado and Oregon respectively (the first two letters of each name correspond with the postal abbreviation of the respective state), and their political talking points represent laws drafted in their states.


California Proposition 15, No Fees for Television Programs Transmitted to Home Televisions (1964).
California Proposition 14, Right to Decline Selling or Renting Residential Properties to Persons Initiative (1964) .


Oregon Candidates to Receive Contributions from Residents Only, Measure 6 (1994). Oregon Revoke Governor’s Authority to Ban Sexual Orientation Discrimination, Measure 8 (1988).


Colorado Term Limits Act, Amendment 17 (1994). Colorado No Protected Status for Sexual Orientation Amendment, Initiative 2 (1992).

  • $\begingroup$ Close! rot13: bar "fgngr" unf bar vgrz gung arrqf punatvat, ng juvpu cbvag nqqvgvbany vzcbegnag cnggreaf nccrne. $\endgroup$
    – C8H10N4O2
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 15:45

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