Direct Democracy, for Billionaires
prospect.org — Over a century ago, progressive reformers were deeply worried about how wealthy interests had hijacked American politics populating state legislatures with cronies who did as they were told and otherwise steamrolled the will of the people. To level the playing field, reformers worked to create mechanisms for direct democracy through state referendum and ballot initiatives, allowing voters to bypass corrupted political systems. Now, in a classic case of unintended consequences, these mechanisms for popular power are routinely used by the rich to change state laws—or try to, anyway. Regardless of what the rich want, the ability of a single wealthy person to wield so much influence over a state's political agenda is disturbing. And this year it is worse than ever, with more than a 170 ballot initiatives before voters in November.