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Democracy and its Problems



     The corruption of the US political system was sanctified by the incredible Supreme Court ruling that money is a form of free speech. I have long thought that the process would be made more honest by the initiative system typical of Swiss democracy and in the US most developed in California. Yesterday I received a request to sign a petition about improving California schools. I was about to sign it, I may still do so, although the wording made me suspect that it had been promoted by the building industry.
     David Broder has written an indictment of the initiative system entitled Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money. As is so commonly done, he resorts to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, who wanted a representative democracy. Did they ever specifically reject the initiative system? The title of David Broder's book indicates its thesis, namely that initiatives are expensive to conduct and that the money is put up by vested interests. Why is that money dirtier than the money donated to election campaigns? Why does David Broder not examine the initiative systems in countries like Switzerland, where money plays a much smaller role? He writes for the Washington Post, and, if the initiative system flourished, Washington politicians would become secondary figures, and what would that do to the Washington press?

Ronald Hilton - 4/30/00


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