This Doggone Direct Democracy

Would California Be Better Off Without Ballot Initiatives?

A century ago this month, voters approved Gov. Hiram Johnson’s plan to bring direct democracy to California. Today, some Californians wonder whether to be thankful for the effort. Ballot initiatives are blamed for sclerotic governance, starved budgets, and civic apathy. Would we better off without direct democracy? In advance of Can Direct Democracy Be Saved?, a Zócalo event, several seasoned observers of California politics offer their thoughts.

No–initiatives aren’t as bad as you think

Critics of California’s governance are legion. Many of them reserve special ire for the institution of …

Our Insanely Direct Democracy

A Panel Suggests California’s Ballot Initiatives Could Work Better With a Lot, Lot, Lot of Changes

Some say you can never have too much wealth or too much good health, but can you have too much democracy?

California has one of the world’s most robust systems for …

Mend, If Not End

What’s the Single Best Thing We Can Do to Improve the Initiative Process?

California’s statewide system of direct democracy–the initiative, referendum, and recall–turns 100 years old this fall. Remarkably, the system approved by voters in October 1911 has not changed all that much …

Can Deliberative Polling Work?

Debating the Prospects for What's Next California

Ask Californians how to fix their state, and the answers aren’t helpful – because most voters don’t know the basics of how the state works, and their solutions are based …