The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
COMPETITION WITH THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

"IN the most enlightened view and purpose, substitution of representative government by a pure democracy is not contemplated in adopting the principle of direct legislation. The principle is best defined as a supplementary power given to the people to use at times when the legislative branch of the government fails in what its authors actually intended it to be -- actually representative."1 "We shall not abandon the representative system of government, of course; we will only check and correct it, and bring it back to its true foundation principle, that representatives should truly, conscientiously and purely represent the masses of the people."2

This is the theory, but in practice, as has been indicated,3 direct legislation has become more than a "supplementary" institution. Thus, it is asserted, the "negation of representative government" results. "It was not intended that representative government should be abolished by the new system; but it has been abolished by it."4 "The assumption that representative government is a failure is responsible for this state of things."5 But, as explained above,6 the "sins of the legislators," whether "sins of omission" or "sins of commission," whatever their extent, are not the only causes of the multiplicity of measures submitted to the people.

____________________
1
Oregonian, Jan. 3, 1913, p. 8, col. 2.
2
Oregon Journal, Mar. 12, 1905, p. 4, col. 1.
3
Above, pp. 78-82.
4
Oregonian, Mar. 10, 1908, p. 8, col. 1. For the development of a "round-about representative government," see above, pp. 98-9.
5
Ibid., Apr. 12, 1908, sec. 3, p. 6, col. 1.
6
Pp. 82-5.

-159-

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