Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum and Recall
A decade ago, as we celebrated the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitutions ratification, we were mindful that the founding fathers were fearful of direct democracy; virtuous representatives were to be at the center of the new political experiment. Ballot democracy, populist democracy, democracy by initiative, referendum, and recallhowever one labels itis only one hundred years old in the United States and has been in and out of fashion during that time. At the writing of this book there was a resurgence of interest in new kinds of forces trying to overturn legislative and executive fiat by direct ballot. In this book Thomas Cronin suggests why this is so, how it is working, and what should be done. Cronin examines the use of the initiative and referendum offered in twenty-six states over the yearsincluding some very difficult issues such as tax caps on spending, the death penalty, pornography, prayer in schools, abortion and homosexual rightsand he makes sense out of the sponsors motives and the voters reactions. Through the analysis of hundreds of reports, studies, hearings, polls, and interviews that cover the country from Maine to California, he provides evidence to assess the state of participatory democracywhat happens when people decide to take charge after they perceive that their elected officials have failed to understand them.
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