Martha Stewart Was Wrong: It’s Not a Good Thing
I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so I will be brief.
While I certainly agree with many of Eric Dixon’s points, direct democracy is not as rosy as he seems to think.
Surely, Mr. Dixon recognizes the potential for fraud with a paid signature-gathering initiative approach. The bill under consideration in the General Assembly does not limit the initiative process. It only outlaws this particular type of signature-gathering technique. How is preventing fraud an assault on democracy?
And the initiative process has been responsible for terrible legislation, particularly in California, where direct democracy is king. California passed Propositions 39 and 98 through teachers’-union-led initiative processes that mandated minimum K–12 education funding (40 percent of the state budget!) and eliminated the supermajority requirement for passing new school bonds. Most tax increases in California have been passed through initiatives, because the state requires a supermajority legislative vote (only three states have such beneficial requirements) for all tax increases. And while many people seem to love Proposition 13 (also an initiative bill), I would argue that the bill did far more to insulate existing homeowners than it did to lower property taxes across the state (making the state impossibly expensive for an outsider like me).
In Missouri, the initiative process also tends to be the path of choice for social conservatives (and progressives) with controversial ballot issues.
Should Missouri get rid of the initiative process? Not necessarily. But we should definitely make sure that the signatures that are collected are valid.