Found this video of my friend Evan Ravitz who runs Vote.org asking our U.S. representative Jared Polis about how he feels about national ballot initiatives:
National ballot initiatives make a lot of sense to me… They would give power to the people to override congress in cases where they fail to represent the wishes of the constituents. This would somewhat undo the representative system of government we have, which is why most of the the powers that be fight to prevent this from happening. I think it would be a great way of undoing the apathy that many Americans have towards our government.
Why ballot initiatives?
- Initiatives put the people in the drivers seat. Responsibility brings more responsible people: more people vote in States with initiatives. In Switzerland, national initiatives since 1891 result in the highest newspaper readership in the world. The mental health benefits are incalculable.
- Initiatives are competition for legislators. The National Initiative will break the monopoly Congress has on national legislative power.
- People are less swayed by money than representatives are. This study and book show that people favor “grassroots” initiatives over “big money” initiatives while the Associated Press shows Congress usually votes the way big money wants. Buying Congress is the world’s best investment, paying off at 1000 to 1 or more. See what jailed lobbyist/bribesman Jack Abramoff says in this Washington Post article (3rd paragraph).
- “No one misunderstands the public as much as its representatives.” See this study from the U. of Maryland
- When legislators make mistakes they cover them up –to protect their careers. Citizens lack the coverup incentive but have incentive to fix mistakes: regular people suffer more than the privileged. Thomas Jefferson said “The will of the majority is the natural law of every society and the only sure guardian of the rights of man; though this may err, yet its errors are honest, solitary and short-lived.”
- Large, diverse groups of independent people make better decisions. The award-winning book The Wisdom of Crowds shows how and why.
- Even animals practice democracy! NY Times article