Posted June 8th, 2008 by jpritikin
Matsusaka (2004) noted that "the fact that 49 of 50 states require popular approval by referendum for amendments to their constitutions—apparently without controversy—suggests that there is actually a broad consensus that ordinary citizens are capable of voting on issues" (p. 178). Twenty-four states already have a mechanism for people to make certain types of law at a state and local level, in these states the people have legislated responsibly. Many states also already have some type of initiative voting such as on bond issues. Civil service, campaign finance reform, women’s right to vote, and environmental responsibility are but a few examples of the progressive legislation initiated and changed by the people.
There is certainly a place for representative lawmaking. The people do not have the time or interest to oversee every policy decision. However, when it comes to determining the public interest, the public itself can make the most precise judgment. Listen to Senator Mike Gravel contrast representative lawmaking with direct lawmaking (4m 34s).
To appreciate the potential benefits of direct lawmaking, consider Switzerland. There, an administration based on the U.S. Constitution has been combined with direct democracy. The result is without precedent in human history; Switzerland has evolved into one of the most successfully governed nations in the world.
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