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Evan Ravitz

Ballot initiatives are the origin of most reforms, such as women's suffrage (passed in 13 states before Congress went along), direct election of Senators (4 states), publicly financed elections (passed by initiative in 6 of 7 states with them), medical marijuana ( in 8 of 12 states) and increasing minimum wages (in all 6 states that tried in 2006). See http://Vote.org/initiatives for more examples and references. The media have seized on the problem initiatives. They generally kiss up to politicians.

Having promoted better and national ballot initiatives for 20 years, I've found the only occupational groups opposed to them are pro politicians and the lobbyists that buy them. Who's paying you to talk trash about government by the people?

Joel

Evan, thanks for your comment. No one is paying me for my blog, it's a nice idea though. I'm in the process of voting by mail right now, and I've been reviewing the ballot initiatives and I'm alarmed at how deceptive they are. Many of the are written in such a manner that a vote no is actually a yes vote. It's clear that these ballot initiatives are funded by commercial, corporate, and national interests and are designed to exploit the naivete of the average voter. This is a an abuse of democracy, not a celebration of it. No system is perfect, but I'd rather stay with our traditional representative democracy than trust our future to even more of these kinds of ballot initiatives.

Bill Davis

Ballot initiatives are the precursors to anarchy. The idea of representative government is that many positions can be evaluated and the best of ideas can be accommodated through intelligent compromise. The idea of initiatives is to convince enough people you are right and the majority that votes...rules. Unfortunately, the majority that votes is not the majority of our citizens. This allows for a well organized minority to bring about legislation that is not in the interest of the majority. This is the primary reason ballot initives are so popular at this time. If we are going to govern ourselves by initives, we may as well abolish the legislature and save money.

Joel

Bill, thanks for your comment. I agree, there is nothing so wrong with our traditional legislative process that needs fixing by a ballot initiative process that rewards special interests claiming to speak for the voters. People need to be reminded that the U.S. was founded to be a representative democracy - a republic - and not a direct democracy. The Founders actually distrusted the idea of direct democracy and we would be wise to adopt that some distrust.

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