The Campaign Manager: Running and Winning Local Elections

By Catherine M. Shaw | Go to book overview
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12
The Issue-based Campaign
In this chapter
Initiative, Referendum, and Recall
Saving Our Libraries
Building New Schools
Packaging the Issue-based Campaign
Flies in the Ointment: The Double Majority and Super Majority

Initiative, Referendum, and Recall

The initiative and referendum processes arose out of the fundamental controversy about whether government should come directly from the people or through representatives to the various levels of government. Although some direct democracy existed in the early years of U.S. government, the first hundred years were almost solely representative. It wasn't until the late 1800s, when dissatisfaction with government and distrust of the state legislatures became prevalent, that citizens enacted the initiative process. Primarily a Western-state phenomenon, the initiative process began in reaction to laws that benefited a few powerful interests rather than the body electorate. It enlarges the role people have in decision making.

Ironically, today this process has become a tool for special interest groups with agendas relating to natural resources, morality and government, the rights of minorities, and tax limitations. As Oregon's Secretary of State Phil Keisling said, "At key moments in our history, the initiative has held up a mirror to who we are as [a society], reflecting our pettiness as well as grand visions, our mean-spiritedness as well as our generosity, our perils and possibilities as a political community."

"To be success-
ful, grow to the
point where one
completely for-
gets himself; that
is, to lose himself
in a great cause."
-- Booker T.
Washington

The state initiative process enables citizens to bypass the legisla-, ture and directly place proposed statutes and constitutional amendments on the ballot by gathering signatures. Each of the twentyfour states with citizens' initiative authority has different criteria to

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