Our Constitution begins with the words “We the People.” Was that just a typo?
I ask because David Broder, the Washington Post reporter, has written a book attacking the right of voters to enact laws directly through the initiative process. Broder argues that the process destroys representative government, has no constitutional restraint, and is corrupted by special interests.
Should we fear initiatives? Our Constitution protects us from laws that abridge our rights whether passed by voters or imposed by politicians. But in reality, initiatives are regularly struck down by the same courts that regularly give a free pass to acts of the legislature.
What about corruption? There’s a long, ugly history of legislators taking bribes and doing the bidding of special interests. But can special interests pay off an entire city, an entire state? Get real, Broder. Power corrupts men, but an initiative, a piece of paper, cannot be corrupted.
So why the antagonism for initiatives? Broder, like most of elite Washington, opposes term limits and tax reforms that have come about almost exclusively through the citizen initiative process. If you don’t like it when people regain control over their own lives and their own government, you won’t like initiatives.
Broder doesn’t think much of the average voter. Let career politicians decide all. Dane Waters of the Initiative & Referendum Institute admits that no lawmaking process is perfect, but asks, “If the people can’t be trusted, who can?”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.