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 …

How to End the Vicious Cycle of Dysfunctional California Governance

Real Change Means Integrating Our Direct Democracy Into the State's Entire System

California lawmakers and civic leaders are debating changes to our state’s direct democracy. But not one of the proposed changes is bold enough to reach the heart of what’s wrong …

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 …

The Secret to Making Democracy More Civil and Less Polarized | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Secret to Making Democracy More Civil and Less Polarized

When Citizens Get to Decide Big Questions for Themselves, They Act More Responsibly Than Their Politicians

“When you take responsibility away from people you make them irresponsible,” proclaimed English politician Sir Keith Joseph almost half a century ago.

Sir Keith might not be a household name …

California’s Recall Is Riding a Global Wave | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

California’s Recall Is Riding a Global Wave

From Nigeria to Brazil, Democracies Are Experimenting With New Ways for People to Hold Their Elected Officials Accountable

The recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom is being widely—and wrongly—dismissed as a peculiar and illegitimate consequence of California’s strange direct democracy.

The truth is that the recall is very much …