Could California-Inspired Voting by Referendum Unify the Nation?

An Expert in Direct Democracy Offers a Plan to Improve the Republic, One Ballot at a Time

California has a solution for America’s putrid populism and political paralysis on issues from abortion to voting rights to reducing greenhouse gases.

That solution is adopting direct democracy at the national level—allowing Americans to vote, by referendum, on the biggest questions dividing the United States. Enacting such a change wouldn’t be terribly challenging or risky. All Congress would have to do is follow a series of practical steps offered by a Californian named John Matsusaka.

I’m co-president of the annual Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, and have gotten to know Matsusaka, …

For Global Democracy, These Are the Worst of Times, But Also the Best of Times | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

For Global Democracy, These Are the Worst of Times, but Also the Best of Times

A Rising Tide of Authoritarianism Co-Exists With Advancing Forms of Participatory and Direct Democracy

Right now, it can feel like the worst of times for democracy. It also can feel like the best of times.

Democracy is under stress around the world from authoritarians and …

In Liechtenstein, Power to the People—And the Prince | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Liechtenstein, Power to the People—And the Prince

For Nearly a Century, the Small European Nation Has Fused Monarchy and Direct Democracy Into a Government That Works

Liechtenstein, the nation of 38,500 in the heart of Europe, has for nearly a century deftly governed itself by combining two seemingly contradictory elements: direct democracy and monarchy. Rather than …

Who Should Rule These Scottish Islands?

Even if All of Scotland Achieves Independence, the Archipelago of Orkney May Not Gain Sovereignty

Ten years ago a farmer was digging in his backyard in Ness of Brodgar—a village on one of the islands that makes up the Scottish archipelago of Orkney—when he came …

Why This Column Ought To Be a Picture

Californian Voters Won’t Read Thousands of Pages About Public Policy. But They Might Look at a Drawing.

To be an engaged, informed citizen in California is to be hopelessly behind in your reading.

We’re told that we need to follow the big issues in California, that we need …

The Bad Dad Who Cursed California

We’re Still Paying the Price For Hiram Johnson’s Toxic Relationship With His Father

Why is California so hard to govern? One reason is that we’re suffering from daddy issues, and this Father’s Day is as good a time as any to confront them.

The …