The Ambivalence of Direct Democracy Essays

The Ambivalence of Direct Democracy Essays

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The California Constitution states, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.” (CA Const. art. 2, sect. 1) Indeed, the age-old maxim that the government is for the people is evident in California’s Constitution, and the inception of direct democracy by the early 20th century Progressive movement follows this ideology. The 2nd article of California’s constitution includes three forms of direct democracy: the initiative, referendum, and recall. Respectively, these forms of direct democracy grant electors the power to propose statutes and amendments, adopt or reject statutes and amendments, and remove an elected official from office. In theory, these reforms empower voters and make the government more responsive. But direct democracy has come under fire in recent years with critics referencing the detrimental effects of average citizens directly participating in “a policy area… otherwise commonly dominated by experts” (McCaffery & Bowman, 530). Questioning the feasibility of allowing these citizens a direct say in government may be an elitist standpoint, but it is a valid one nonetheless. For example, many analysts blame much of California’s current budget crisis on Proposition 13, a ballot initiative enacted on June 6th, 1978. But an opposing argument to this elitism is that the voting population experiences living conditions first hand; how then can one say that they are incapable of assessing when conditions are good or bad? Surely California’s citizens can accurately assess an elected officials impact. This justifies the recall measurement, and a significant example is G...


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...aliforniataxdata.com>.
Krasny, Michael. Isaac Martin Discusses Prop 13 on KQED. Stanford University Press Blog. 2008. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.
http://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/2008/06/isaac-martin-di.html
Marinucci, Carla, and John Wilder. "Schwarzenegger Leads Voter Revolt: Davis Recalled; Turnout Is Huge." SFGate.com. San Francisco Chroncicle, 24 June 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. .
McCaffery, Jerry, and Jon Bowman. “Participatory Democracy and Budgeting: The Effects of Proposition 13.” Public Administration Review, 38.6 (1978): 530.
Salladay, Robert, and Zachary Coile. "Davis Concedes He Had Lost Touch with Voters."SFGate.com. San Francisco Chroncicle, 24 June 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. .

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