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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 23, 2010

THE CASE FOR NATIONAL BALLOT INITIATIVES

Evan Ravitz, Daily Kos - Since 1848, the Swiss have "checked and balanced" their parliament with national ballot initiatives. This has kept their Parliament far more honest and representative than Congress. Voting 4-7 times a year on local, regional and national ballot initiatives, the Swiss also read more news than anyone: they take their responsibility for self-determination seriously. Actually, they call their system "co-determination," a good idea for all relationships!

While the media have harped on the few problematic U.S. state ballot initiatives, largely in California, a century of ballot initiatives in 24 States and D.C. shows initiatives are the origin of most reforms, such as women's suffrage (passed in 13 states before Congress went along), direct election of Senators (similarly in 4 states), publicly financed elections (passed by initiative in 6 of 7 states with them), medical marijuana (in 10 of 13 states with them) and increasing minimum wages (in all 6 states that tried in 2006). . . .

Outcomes depend on who uses the power of ballot initiatives. Here in Colorado, ballot initiatives gave us the country's first renewable energy mandate , the country's strongest ban on lobbyists giving politicians anything, campaign finance reform, increased K-12 funding, background checks at gun shows, medical marijuana, cleaner hog farms and term limits, just in the last six general elections.

"There are no exceptions to 'power corrupts,' including me when I had power" So says maverick former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. Congress has absolute national legislative power, and they've been corrupted absolutely to give away the economy to those who crashed it, give away the peace to the war industry, and give away the climate to the fossil fuel industries. Only a monopoly can do this.

The best project for U.S national ballot initiatives, with big improvements to prevent problems like those in California, is the National Initiative for Democracy - vote.org - loosely led by Gravel.

Our project is endorsed by people such as Patch Adams, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, "Granny D" Haddock, Julia Butterfly Hill, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Ralph Nader, John Perkins, Coleen Rowley, Pete Seeger, Cindy Sheehan and Howard Zinn. Nader is releasing a book about it this coming year.


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