Showing Some Initiative

2004-11-04

Charles Johnson (a.k.a. RadGeek) hits the nail on the head: it's time to think about avenues of reform other than electoral politics. One venue is the courts (a strategy pursued by the Institute for Justice, which I wholeheartedly support). Another is initiative and referendum: the ability for those who gather enough signatures to put issues directly on the ballot. Most of the time I find myself voting against such initiatives, but it seems to me that this provides a good (if imperfect) mechanism for bringing issues of reform directly before the voters. (Who needs political middlemen, i.e., politicians? It's time for some disintermediation in the political realm.) A good example from supposedly leftist Massachusetts was a referendum there a few years back on repealing the income tax. Amazingly, it almost passed! Those spearheading the initiative were pretty much hardcore libertarians, who probably polled the usual 3% at the ballot box that year but almost got the state income tax repealed.

Here are some possible topics to bring before state or local voters:

One good thing about such topics is that those who advance them and vote on them don't need to agree on everything under the sun, just the topic at hand, so it's easier to build coalitions. Why try to get candidates outside the mainstream (libertarians, greens, progressives) elected, or even worse try to influence candidates in the Democratic and Republican parties? That seems like an awful waste of time. Take your case directly to the people! Another good thing is that such reforms would put pressure on the government headquartered in Washington, D.C. (e.g., if all the states repealed their estate taxes, the Feds might have to follow suit).


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal