June 30, 2000

A Democracy Derailed: How The Initiative Petitions Undermine Our Republic

Dr. Franklin, What have you given us?
A Republic, if you can keep it.
-Benjamin Franklin

by Daniel L. Muñoz

Democracy Derailed Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money
by: David S. Broder
A James H. Siberman Book Harcourt, Inc.
Published 2000 ISBN
260 pages; $23.00 hard copy

It is unfortunate that many of California's voters did not have the opportunity of reading DEMOCRACY DERAILED; INITIATIVE CAMPAIGNS AND THE POWER OF MONEY or the outcome of several Initiative petitions might have had a far different outcome. "A new form of government is spreading in the United States. It is alien to the spirit of the Constitution and its careful system of checks and balances," states author David S. Broder.

Though the subject matter might be considered a bit out of the ordinary, those practitioners and observers of the political arena may agree that David S. Broder has made public a long festering sore in the body politic. The Initiative process has become the political tool of the wealthy power-brokers and Corporate America. In fact, what we have in being is an extra branch of government, controlled by the Wealthy-Corporate Brokers, with few restrictions, which was not originally provided for by the Constitution. Its function: to be a legislative branch of government.

Of course, you could count on our state, California, to be the initiator of the first Initiation petitions. "After more than a decade of intensive lobbying, the leader of the movement was a Physician, Dr. John R, Haynes of Los Angeles"... "(he) organized other wealthy and influential citizens and formed the Direct Legislation League," stated Mr. Broder. "In 1911, California adopted the Initiative process."

Initially promoted by Pro-gressives, populists and Liberal loyalists as a means of having government work for and by the people.The Initiative Petition has instead turned into a means by which individuals, very wealthy ones at that, can have their special interests be enacted into law without having to go through the legislative process or have to deal with elected officials or deal with the masses.

In case the reader have any doubts of the cost of an Initiative campaign, David S. Broder lay it all out and demonstrates just who pays and who doesn't. Even the most naive voter will quickly get the picture: Initiative Petitions are not "grass roots driven nor do they reflect the will of the voters. "In 1997-98 cycle, total spending for and against statewide initiatives reached $257,053,852... In California, the most expensive initiative campaign was the battle between the California Indian tribes and the Las Vegas casinos... The tribes spent $66,257,088 to win. The Nevada interests $25,756,828 to lose... Unz put up $650,000 of the $976,632 on prop 227 to end bilingual Education in the state etc."

There is more money being spent by wealthy individuals and corporations on Initiative petitions than there is on presidential elections. That should give you an idea of what is the danger to our system of government.

Recommended reading for all those who have an interest in how we are governed and who may fear the overreaching of the Wealth-Corporate complex to subvert our system of government .

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