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Blockbuster Democracy

The Myth Of Industrial Rebound

  • By
  • Steven Rattner,
  • New America Foundation
January 25, 2014 |

Should The State Reimburse Initiative Proponents for Valid Signatures?

September 27, 2011

(originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
As Californians assess direct democracy on our system's 100 birthday, one criticism echoes from across the political spectrum: access to the system is limited because qualifying ballot initiatives, referenda, and recalls is such a costly process.

If You’re Developing An Initiative Idea for 2012, Forget It

September 26, 2011

(originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
It's late September, and Californians across the political spectrum, from the labor left to the good government center to the Tea Party right, are still cooking up ideas for initiatives for the November 2012 ballot.

Here's some good, if unsolicited advice: they should knock it off. Because when it comes to 2012, it's already too late.

The Sign I'd Wear on My Chest

August 24, 2011

(originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
I know that Senate Bill 448 -- which requires circulators of initiative and referendum petitions to wear large badges or signs on their chests explaining, in 30 point type, that they are paid - is probably unconstitutional, given that it restricts the First Amendment rights of people to petition their government.

Modern Direct Democracy and the American West

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 9:00am

For more than a century, Oregon has led the country in direct democracy, with the state’s voters confronting more initiatives than other Americans. In recent years, Oregon has conducted a thorough debate over the process, and taken historic steps to build a citizen-based infrastructure for direct democracy.

Five Trades California Should Swing

August 2, 2011

(originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
If you follow sports, this is the season of trades. The baseball non-waiver trading deadline just passed with a flurry of deals. And the National Football League has seen a week full of trades, with more to come.

If only we could make trades in California governance. But you know how that goes - gridlock, supermajorities, legal realities.

How Do We Put the People Back in the Initiative Process?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 7:00pm

In the fall of 1911, the new governor, a lawyer from San Francisco, convinced California voters to add the recall, referendum, and initiative to the constitution as a way to stop the political machines. These days, the initiative process is itself a machine, accessible mainly by interests and people with big money. After a century, can California's experiment with direct democracy be saved? And if so, how?

Summer of Referendum

July 22, 2011

(originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
There's an old Swiss saying: every time the referendum bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

OK, there's not really an old Swiss saying like that.

But there should be.

Bargaining with Mr. Fox

July 15, 2011

Originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily
Joel Fox, proprietor of this web site, has a suggestion for a constitutional amendment that's at least half-right. The power of referendum should be extended to cover tax increases.

Letter from Brussels: Europe Opens the Door to California and Its Initiative Biz

July 6, 2011

(Originally published at Fox & Hounds Daily)
Dear Californians, and especially those Californians who play in the initiative process,

You might want to plan a working vacation to Europe soon.

I'm spending the week in Brussels, visiting European Union institutions and talking with people here about a new, EU-wide initiative process that will launch in April 2012.

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