Monday, June 13, 2011 - Power to the People? How Déclassé - Opinion: Power to the People? How Déclassé


In Colorado and elsewhere, the concept of citizen ballot initiatives is under attack.

Twenty-four states currently allow voters to write their own laws through the initiative process, sidestepping gridlocked legislatures to pass statutes or constitutional amendments. Conservative voters have used the tool to impose term limits and curb racial quotas. At the same time, liberals have used initiatives to pass minimum-wage laws and tobacco taxes that were often blocked by legislatures where lobbyists held sway.

It's just such citizen democracy that has irked the establishment in states such as Colorado, California and Oregon—so the political class is trying to rein it in.

It's fashionable these days for elites to disparage popular democracy. "The longer that people live in California, it seems, the more likely they are to be misinformed, and possibly brainwashed into ignorance," sniffed the Economist last April in a 16-page special report slamming that state's initiative process. But in reality, the initiative process serves as a popular check on out-of-touch legislators and reminds everyone that it's the voters who should be in charge of the politicians, not the other way around.




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