Friday, February 06, 2004
The House Government Operations committee in Minnesota approved a proposal that would allow Minnesotans to vote directly on public policy issues. Twenty four other states use the process, known as Initiative and Referendum, as do 80 local governments in Minnesota. Details can be found here in the Minnesota Star Tribune.
A predictable array of special interests, ranging from the Chamber of Commerce to labor unions, opposed the proposal. These interests evidently think they are better off schmoozing with legislators, who they help elect by virtue of campaign contributions, than taking their case directly to the people of Minnesota. They seem to think that the rest of us are too stupid to vote directly legislation, but somehow smart enough to vote for good representatives to act on our behalf.
I have no beef with representative democracy. It has served us well in America. But in cases where legislatures gridlock, or refuse to tackle issues where incumbents have an inherent conflict of interest (such as campaign finance reform), giving citizens the ability to take matters into their own hands is a healthy addition to representative government. Go for it Minnesota!