The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of California’s Direct Democracy

Keep the Mail-In Ballots. Lose the Money and Special Interests. Give the People More Information

While majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents in California agree that the state’s system of direct democracy is a good thing, they also agree that it needs some fixing, especially to keep big money and organized special interests from having too much influence in the process.

But how to do that?

This was the meaty question of last night’s panel, “Is This What Direct Democracy Looks Like?” The Zócalo event, in partnership with the Berggruen Institute, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, was a searching …

People, Not Politicians, Should Reshape Direct Democracy

After Sitting on Four Commissions Over 30 Years, I’ve Discovered Why Legislator-Led Efforts Are Almost Always Bound to Fail

Lawmaking by voters through the ballot initiative process has been popular in California for more than a century.

So why is there near constant talk of altering or limiting California’s direct …

Goodbye to the Ideas Man for American Cities | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Goodbye to the Ideas Man for American Cities

Bill Barnes, Who Died Last Week, Strengthened and Deepened a 'Republic of Conversations'

When we think of ideas that change our lives, we often think of a great genius, a single discovery, a major technological breakthrough. But often the greater role is played …

France’s Elections Show the Need for a New Revolution

The Country's Centralized Model Is a Danger to Democracy. Local Communities Could Fill the Void

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Might this month’s French elections be the prelude to another French Revolution?

The problems with these dismal elections are many—low turnout, moribund public …

Ukraine Shows Us the Power of the 21st-Century Citizen | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Ukraine Shows Us the Power of the 21st-Century Citizen

From Crowdsourced Community Organizing to DIY Weapons, Ordinary People Are Waging a New Kind of War

This is a new kind of war, waged by a new kind of citizen.

The failure of the Russian forces to subdue Ukraine quickly has astonished experts, officials, and journalists worldwide. …

Can Ukraine’s Experiments in Local Democracy Survive the Invasion?

From Balta to Vinnytsia, Communities Have Been Growing in Power—and Democratic Innovation

As I write this, Russian troops reportedly are moving north through the Odesa oblast, or region, toward the river Kodyma, along which sits a town called Balta.

This is not new …