November 21, 1988 |
One of the comforts of American elections is that they provide something for everyone. The 1988 election has already been acclaimed as the ultimate celebration of divided government, with voters deliberately keeping Republicans in control of the White House and Democrats in charge of Congress. But the election was also belated ratification of the wisdom of early 20th century Progressives, who operated on the useful premise that voters are capable of making intelligent decisions on issues.
August 14, 2003 |
The nation owes Arnold Schwarzenegger gratitude for pushing Kobe Bryant out of the headlines for the first time in weeks. Still, the concept of recalling a sitting governor for anything less than moral turpitude strikes this conservative as ill-advised. Liberals, you may have noticed, tend not to cling very hard to principle. They are outcome-oriented. If judicial activism brings them the results they desire, they're all for judicial activism (as in the case of the Florida Supreme Court rewriting the election law ex post facto in 2000)
October 24, 1998 |
Why does it take so long for Americans to learn what type of government we live under? Well over two centuries now, and still people don't get it. America is not a direct democracy. That's right. It is not a democracy founded on direct response to the will of the electorate. In fact, the founders were afraid of such an arrangement. The very structure of our government is meant to slow down the immediacy of public opinion, and to delegate authority to a slower, more circumspect process than mob rule.
August 2, 1994 |
Watch out, Washington. The revolution has arrived. For the first time in American history, citizens are demanding less government and not just lower taxes. The crusade began four years ago with the appearance of term-limit petitions. Fourteen states adopted such initiatives in 1992, with average approval rates of 66 percent, and at least eight more will consider the matter this year. Not content with rotating rascals out of office, activists also have started to fetter politicians' freedom to waste workers' money.
October 15, 1996 |
Citizens in five states will get a chance to address the root of the rot in American politics: They've put campaign finance reform on the ballot. Maine has a proposal to publicly finance state elections, and four other states are looking at contribution limits. But just as citizens are starting to use direct democracy to curb the influence of big-money special interests, big money is starting to corrupt direct democracy. Twenty-four states have citizen initiatives on their ballots, but as Don Carter of Washington state told Associated Press, the era of the "mom-'n'-pop initiative" is passing.
December 10, 2000
A NEEDED BALANCE IN A DIVERSE NATION Direct democracy is not always the best. This has been the general consensus of great minds since Aristotle. Direct democracy is to be feared. Should we be able to rape that woman? Let's take a vote. Can I kill my boss? Let's take a vote. Can I hurt a downtrodden minority? Let's take a vote. Direct democracy in its worst form is mob rule. That's why we do not have it in our Congress nor in electing our chief executive. The Electoral College protects the smaller, less-populated states from the larger ones.
November 10, 2000
Hunting is now a constitutional right in Virginia. In Nebraska, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. South Carolinians have a new lottery to fund public education. Voters made these decisions Tuesday. The 2000 election featured a whopping 204 statewide ballot questions in 42 states. Almost half were approved. The initiative process, which led to many of the questions, has been gaining momentum since California's renowned Proposition 13 in 1978, which set limits on property taxes.
January 18, 2005 |
Amid the media din about the tsunami, Dan Rather's implosion, and the usual grim news from Iraq, an amazing story has been unfolding - but has received scant appreciation from the chattering classes. Democracy is on the march. The Ukraine election reversal is the most significant victory for democracy in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Palestinians have held the first legitimate nationwide (so to speak) election in their history. (Arafat's previous "election" was a sham.
September 23, 1990 |
California has a proposition for you. When it comes to lawmaking in this state (and 22 others that allow voter initiatives), any citizen can write one, and, provided he or she gathers enough signatures, have it put on the ballot. If a majority approves, it's law. The process seems so simple, so equitable, so straightforward - democracy, some say, at its purest. But in California, it's none of the above. Instead, it has become what some describe as a monster, spewing forth an ever-increasing number of sometimes frivolous, often confusing proposals - poorly written initiatives that conflict with existing law; initiatives that are deliberately misleading; initiatives that hamstring the legislature, sometimes requiring it to spend, sometimes requiring it not to. In the state's eye-straining 144-page ballot pamphlet, there is even an initiative on initiatives.
July 24, 2000 |
Sean Damon is a soldier in the anticapitalist revolution. A self-proclaimed anarchist from West Philadelphia, he believes in free thought, personal autonomy and direct democracy - not chaos. He favors dark-colored T-shirts with slogans - not a shaved head, pierced body parts or a bad attitude. And yet, Damon concedes in his mild-mannered way, that is how outsiders perceive those, like him, who are part of what he calls "the revolution. " As "the revolution" prepares to hit the streets of Philadelphia in the form of protests and demonstrations during the Republican National Convention next week, local anarchists who plan to participate say their movement has been misrepresented and their views misunderstood.