Tuesday, December 6, 2011

California Distrust: The Case of Direct Democracy

Here in California, we even believe that the government cannot be trusted to govern.  In fact, we trust the voting public more (The Field Poll, October 2011):
  • Californians have become increasingly convinced that the voting public is more likely than their elected representatives to “consider the broad public interest in making decisions about state government policies and laws.” Seven in ten (71%) now feel this way, up from 42% who said this in 1982.
  • Voters also think that the voting public can be trusted more often than their elected representatives “to do what is right on important government issues” (63% to 24%), and is better suited “to decide upon large-scale government programs and projects” (57% to 33%).
Thus, we have allowed legislators to abdicate their obligation to legislate.  With only about 500,000 signatures, anything can be put on the ballot, often with disastrous results. (See the Economist's wonderful article on this, "The People's Will," April 2011.)

However, Californians have begun to rethink the whole "direct democracy" proposition thing.

More than twice as many voters believe that the results of most statewide ballot proposition elections come out the way a few organized special interests want (60%) rather than the way most people want (27%). This is a more jaded view than held by voters in 1999 when they were evenly divided on this question.

Still, we distrust the government so much, that we'd rather place our future in the hands of our completely uninformed fellow voters than our special-interest influenced legislators.

The situation in California has gotten so out of hand, that it has become a subject worth of Daily Show mockery; though Chairman of the California Democratic Party John Burton, has it right: we are completely fu$ked.


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