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Gibson writes: "Direct democracy through statewide ballot initiatives has proven to be much more effective and more satisfying than waiting for a deadlocked Congress to catch up to the will of the people."

Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, puts up posters encouraging people to vote yes on DC Ballot Initiative 71 to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, puts up posters encouraging people to vote yes on DC Ballot Initiative 71 to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)


We Actually Don't Need Congress Anymore

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

06 November 14

 

merican voters proved this week that when Congress fails to get something done, the people have the means to do it themselves. Direct democracy through statewide ballot initiatives has proven to be much more effective and more satisfying than waiting for a deadlocked Congress to catch up to the will of the people.

When Americans overwhelmingly supported increased background checks on gun purchases in the wake of almost two dozen children getting massacred in school, Congressional Republicans wouldn’t agree to anything. When 70 percent of Americans polled supported an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Congressional Republicans refused to take action. When most Americans supported a “Buffett Rule” stating that billionaires should never pay a lower tax rate than working people by a 2 to 1 margin, Congressional Republicans dug in their heels and filibustered. Neither Democrats nor Republicans in Congress would dare to rein in the prison-industrial complex, much less even utter the phrase in the first place. And legalizing marijuana at the federal level? Forget about it.

However, ballot initiatives passed last night accomplished all of those things in multiple states. Washington State voters passed increased gun background checks, voters in 4 states increased the minimum wage, Illinois voters taxed millionaires to raise more money for schools, and voters in California all agreed to rein in the prison-industrial complex by changing low-level, nonviolent drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Voters in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC, all agreed to legalize marijuana. And that’s just from this year – ballot initiatives passed in the last two years legalized marijuana in Colorado, Washington State, and Portland, Maine; raised taxes on the wealthy in California to end the the state’s budget woes; legalized gay marriage in Maryland and Maine, and raised the minimum wage in New Jersey. If the American people were Congress, our country would be in much better shape right now.

It doesn’t really matter that the party that spent the last 6 years obstructing everything they could just won control of Congress. Everyone knows that since the Republicans don’t have a veto-proof majority, and that since Mitch McConnell’s history of divisiveness won’t win any remaining Democrats over to his side, Republican bills that don’t get filibustered will likely be vetoed by President Obama. After those vetoes, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will continue to blame their inability to get anything done on the president, and congressional deadlock will continue. And really, it’s pretty ridiculous to think that 535 people, most of them millionaires, could adequately represent 310 million people.

In Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the founders’ idea of proper apportionment was one representative for every 30,000 people. If that held true today, we would have over 10,000 members of Congress. That number of people would ensure a more representative democracy and more parties to check the monopoly held by Democrats and Republicans, and would allow citizens more direct access to their elected officials. But don’t hold your breath for 9,500 new Congressional districts to be drawn up after the next census. We no longer live in the days when Congress was a functional body that represented constituents’ interests and regularly passed laws for the betterment of society. Congress has long since been a breeding ground for corruption, in which a deluge of lobbyist gifts, campaign donations, and potential future careers of members take precedent over voting for what the people demand.

Let’s not kid ourselves – even if the tables were turned in the 2014 midterms and Democrats had a wave victory, gaining control of both the House and the Senate, the corrupt culture of Washington would prevail. The people’s interests would be forsaken as 535 people all vied for the biggest re-election war chest and most lucrative lobbying careers after retiring from public “service.” President Obama and the Democrats enjoyed such a supermajority for 60 working days after the 2008 election, but they took no action with it. It’s time we stop looking to well-connected politicians earning comfortable salaries in luxurious offices far away from constituents to be the saviors of working people. We’ve always held the power in our own hands through direct democracy.

There’s nothing stopping us from implementing single-payer healthcare in our own states, as Vermont already has. We already have the means to start petition drives for marijuana legalization. We can mobilize for a $15 an hour minimum wage like residents of Seattle and San Francisco. We can organize a ballot initiative for a free public WiFi network in our own city, like Chattanooga, Tennessee. We can increase funding to our schools with higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires in our own cities and states through the initiative process.

We have the power to ban harmful practices like fracking and the construction of oil and gas pipelines through private land and natural habitats. We are the ones who can abolish the “personhood” status of corporations where we live, ensuring that only flesh-and-blood human beings have constitutional rights and that money is property, not free speech. Residents of black cities with abusive white police forces, like Ferguson, could create civilian review boards with the authority to fire police officers found guilty of brutalizing citizens, as New Haven, Connecticut has. New Yorkers could, theoretically, launch a task force given the job of investigating, arresting, and charging the financial criminals in their state who caused the 2008 financial crisis.

All it takes is enough engaged citizens to organize and pass ballot initiatives. Let’s give direct democracy a try, and leave Capitol Hill to the vultures and wolves.



Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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-60 # brux 2014-11-06 12:40
Well, I guess I have to be glad to see that the Left is not able to frame and exaggerate as well as the right, that - at least, is something! ;-)
 
 
+107 # REDPILLED 2014-11-06 14:09
The whole left-right paradigm is a useful divide and conquer tool of the Plundering Class, so it should be retired.

Reality is the Plundering Class top 5% (and their millionaire politicians) vs. the rest of us, the Common Good, and a sustainable planet.
 
 
+15 # ritawalpoleague 2014-11-07 06:17
Retired? Certainly - via implosion. Congress and endless election fraud (with polling caca such as "This is a close election." mantra, which merely assists in election fraud, a.k.a. Vote Death by Diebold), along with our today being under total control of the Plundering Class (as you so well cite it, REDPILLED), must be gotten rid of. Period.
 
 
+84 # RicKelis 2014-11-06 14:00
Bypassing Congress is quite possible, even creating a new Constitution is possible without Federal government involvement at all, thanks to Article 5 of the Constitution. Congress would have itself to blame for the bypass into irrelevancy -- if you cease to do your job, you'll lose it.
 
 
+57 # Barbara K 2014-11-06 14:32
Sad thing is that the Rs did not do their job. They did nothing but filibuster and block every single Bill the Dems brought up, and yet they were put in charge of the same congress they so disdained. The number of idiots in this country has become a real fright. I hope that the Dems do the same thing to the Rs; filibuster and block every Bill the Rs bring up; and that the President does all he can without them. Keep any Bill from even getting to the President so the Rs cannot threaten impeachment. We already know that anything the Rs bring up will benefit only the Robber Barons, and none of us. Show the Rs that Karma is a real bitch.

..
 
 
-57 # skylinefirepest 2014-11-06 20:27
Hey BK, now you know that's simply not true. How many bills are currently sitting on Dingy Harry's desk that he refused to pass on?? Now that asshole is gone maybe some real work can get done. But in the meantime let's not muddy the issue by saying the R's were the ones holding up progress, ok???
 
 
+14 # cymricmorty 2014-11-07 10:22
I shudder to think what you consider "progress."
 
 
-1 # babalu 2014-11-09 15:27
Silly boy! Harry's not gone yet! The new super-Republica nts don't take office until the New Year.They will get their turn to plunder soon enough!
Let them rest up before all those January lobbyist-sponso red parties to "retire their campaign debt."
 
 
+25 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-11-06 16:16
We need to demand that our 'representative ' truly represents us. This could be easily done by requiring them to put up of all the bills coming up for a vote in Congress and asking for our advice on how we want the vote to go. Listed on the official web site of our elected official would be listed the complete bill, a summary of it and arguments both for and against the bill. Then on a secure web site, as registered voters in the district, we post our advice on how to vote and the count is shown for us all to see. The lobby boys can throw all the bribes on them they want, but the Rep MUST vote as we, the constituents, say. Oh that would be so wonderful. Democracy in the U.S. of A.!
 
 
+6 # Cassandra2012 2014-11-08 16:53
The KKKoch-sponsore d Tea-pugnicans are NOT interested in preserving or ensuring 'Democracy', just the opposite.
 
 
+68 # fredboy 2014-11-06 14:10
That's good, because we, the people, don't HAVE a Congress anymore...
 
 
+39 # reiverpacific 2014-11-06 14:27
Simple answer.
The US hasn't HAD a Congress since 2009.
When I think of them sitting around becoming back-door, corporate-lobby ist-greased millionaires whilst we watch, at our expense ON top of their generous salaries, four-star benefits FOR LIFE and corporate junkets as a reward for doing sweet fuck-all, I often think that Guy Fawkes of old in the UK had the right idea with the "Gunpowder Plot"!
I guess that'll get me on the terrorist list if NSA get onto it, even though I wrote "I often think".
Well, piss on 'em from a great height, the keyhole-wanking , kibitzing super-finks!
Off with their heads!
 
 
+23 # Old4Poor 2014-11-06 19:09
And do not forget to revise the generous pensions they all get even after only one term of service.
 
 
+48 # WestWinds 2014-11-06 14:36
[quote} Carl Gibson: "When Americans overwhelmingly supported increased background checks on gun purchases in the wake of almost two dozen children getting massacred in school, Congressional Republicans wouldn’t agree to anything. When 70 percent of Americans polled supported an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Congressional Republicans refused to take action. When most Americans supported a “Buffett Rule” stating that billionaires should never pay a lower tax rate than working people by a 2 to 1 margin, Congressional Republicans dug in their heels and filibustered. Neither Democrats nor Republicans in Congress would dare to rein in the prison-industri al complex, much less even utter the phrase in the first place. And legalizing marijuana at the federal level? Forget about it."

--- And yet, for all of this, America has put all of these crooks back into office once again. QED you can't fix stupid.
 
 
+2 # babalu 2014-11-09 15:30
No, we did get rid of some of the DINOs who will retire with their pensions and HUGE PACS's and become lobbyists and commentators bewailing the loss of bipartisanship, by which they mean rolling over for the oligarchy.
 
 
+43 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-11-06 14:46
"You can fool some of the people some of the time. And, that's enough to make a good living" --- W.C.Fields
 
 
+33 # Billsy 2014-11-06 15:02
Thanks for the positive and realistic spin Mr Gibson. Just as the GOP extreme right came to power slowly and steadily via domination of local politics, so can the progressive left. Despite the GOP congressional success, you're correct in that they can accomplish nothing legislatively and at local level there have been tremendous successes: California passed a proposition to reduce incarceration of non-violent offenders, instituted higher minimum wages in SF, a soda-tax in Berkeley and approved infra-structure bonds. The city of Richmond CA stood up to attempted domination by Chevron in electing its local government.

Let's not waste time on negativity. Focus on these success stories at local level and keep it up.
 
 
+38 # Vardoz 2014-11-06 15:31
Now states have to overturn Citizens United!!!!
 
 
+10 # Old4Poor 2014-11-06 19:10
And,wouldn't the Supreme Court simply override that?
 
 
+7 # Caliban 2014-11-07 02:01
The Supremes can only rule on laws as they are written. So, we cannot simply "overturn" Citizens United as such. But new laws can be written in willing legislatures that--if cleverly enough composed--could undermine the negativee impact of Citizens United without directly attacking the Supreme Court's ruling.

And--in reference to Carl Gibson's thoughtful article--such new laws could indeed come through direct ballot initiatives.
 
 
+10 # Allanfearn 2014-11-06 15:32
What are you going to do about your Supreme Court? Do the people have the money even to get there when some Republican lawyer argues their direct democracy is unconstitutiona l? How many of the Justices are Democrat nominees?
 
 
+16 # davidr 2014-11-06 15:38
Driving back law-making to the local level is precisely the outcome sought by the right wing. It's today's version of states' rights. Think of how utterly futile it is to set policy city by city, from Keokuk to Sioux Falls, Peoria, Pocatello, etc., etc. What could be a better outcome from the right's point of view?

Sure, some local laws & initiatives will be Progressive. But reactionary interests make very effective use of the same strategy. It has, for example, been a hugely successful tactic for right-to-lifers.

When legislation devolves to local jurisdictions, vital national & international interests go completely unregulated — banking, corporate prerogatives, trade, infrastructure, war & peace, federal taxes & block grants, military spending, the environment, and every other matter that reactionaries prefer be dealt with in boardrooms & lobbies, or not at all.

At the end of the day, Progressives had better damned well concentrate on getting Congress back and not persuade ourselves that we're doing OK winning petty, feel-good victories here & there. We very, very much DO need Congress actually.
 
 
+16 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-11-06 18:41
@davidr
Your basic premise may be correct but you are a bit short on how to fulfill it. So in the meanwhile…

The 2014 election is proof that when voters are given the chance to govern themselves, they can often do a passable job, sometimes better than the State or the Federal governments. Furthermore, your argument has a serious flaw.

You claim that the ballot initiative process as touted in this article is the same as what right wingers are pushing in the Statehouses. “… reactionary interests make very effective use of the same strategy. It has, for example, been a hugely successful tactic for right-to-lifers .” That is not true. The laws you reference were enacted by men with narrow religious and political views, elected by gerrymandered districts where most of their opposition is crammed into as few districts as possible while the rest of the districts, now absent said opponents, strongly favor the Regressives.

In contrast, the initiative process allows us to present to the voters any measure which we believe will help solve problems in our State, including amendments to our State Constitution. Then, ALL the voters’ votes will have equal weight. Gerrymandering is defeated. To reverse our vote, the opponents must bring suit. Yes the new law can be stayed during the trial and appeals process but eventually, assuming it doesn’t violate our State Constitution and or restrictions on State law embedded in the US Constitution, the new law will prevail.
 
 
+18 # Old4Poor 2014-11-06 19:14
I will point out that lunatic AZ kept most of our excellent Dem COngress people and also had only one slight loss in the State house. Reason: No Gerrymandering. Redistricting is mandated by an independent panal. That should be enforced nationwide.
 
 
+9 # davidr 2014-11-06 20:58
In my opinion, Carl has this exactly backwards. He's looking for something to be happy about, and he's really found something that should make him sad. Progressives are precisely the people who actually do need Congress.

Who creates a do-nothing Congress, progressives or reactionaries? Who shuts down the federal government, reactionaries or progressives? Who believes in nullification (states over feds), and who believes in posse comitatus (counties over states)?

The more local the focus, the better for reactionaries and the worse for Progressives.

Progressivism is big, not parochial. The social contract is not a local concept. It's American, it's for all citizens everywhere. We don't want to pass a separate Wagner Act in every town in the nation. We can't. It has to apply across the board. This, of course, is the root of Republicans' hatred of big government — it's the very prerequisite of progressivism. Without even knowing it, Carl has drunk the right wing Kool Aid. I don't blame him. It kind of gets in the water, but we have to see it for what it is.

So it's great that WA has a better gun law now. That's nice. I have no objection to the new law. I do, however, strongly object to the notion that we don't actually need Congress. That's wrong. It's counter-product ive. It represents the adoption by the left of exactly the point of view that the right would wish us to take.
 
 
+6 # Ken Halt 2014-11-07 06:08
Completely agree, the US needs a strong federal gov't, strong enough at least to stare down the large corporations that now control it and us, and consistent, uniform federal law that creates in every state the opportunity and equality that the authors of the US Constitution hoped to create. The federal/anti-fe deral tussle has been going on since the end of the revolution. After a brief, failed experiment in loose confederation, the Constitution was written and the US probably wouldn't have survived long without the strong federal executive it created. The writers of the Constitution knew that when we cooperate and band together we are stronger than when we stand alone. The 1% and their conserv lackeys have successfully emasculated federal power with the opposite tactic, divide and conquer. It's going to be a long hard slog to get back there, but YES to strong federal gov't of We The People.
 
 
+10 # Old4Poor 2014-11-06 19:12
Exactly. We had a ballot measure here in AZ that would allow State officials to reject any Federal law they deemed Unconstitutiona l. Last I saw that was ahead in the vote count.
 
 
+4 # cymricmorty 2014-11-07 10:25
But in AZ, that would mean any crackpot measure could pass. I read about some of our state reps and their ideas, and I considered that to be an utterly terrifying concept.
 
 
+3 # Old4Poor 2014-11-07 10:54
Agreed. Perhaps I did not make clear that I think the measure to allow local lawmakers to disregard Federal Law and Law Officials is terrible.
 
 
+3 # cymricmorty 2014-11-07 11:13
Not to worry, I figured that's what you would think.
 
 
+18 # propsguy 2014-11-06 15:43
the upcoming trade agreements give corporations the power to sue for potential lost profits if, say, your state forbids them from dumping carcinogens in your drinking water

monsanto will certainly sue states that have insisted on GMO labeling

but still, i love the author's optimism. indeed, these grass roots local democracies are our only hope
 
 
+12 # Floe 2014-11-06 15:43
Well it is jubilation to see that people are getting it! We have been working on a new online nation where everything is decided on a true consensus. We can do that now with the internet! It's called Synergy Nation. Any human can be in it but not corporations. However corporations are catered for on the underlying structure of Synergy Nation, the Nodes Network. Here's a taste, the rest of it is still coming together, we need volunteers. We have to glide out of this violent money system into one that lifts all things beneficial to the common good:

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/26801-focus-we-actually-dont-need-congress-anymore
 
 
+10 # Floe 2014-11-06 15:45
And this is what keeps me humble - I used the wrong clipboard paste! This one is correct, Synergy Nation:

http://nodes.net/stevemoyer:stevemoyer/
 
 
+14 # Vardoz 2014-11-06 15:54
Lets do it! And make sure those billionaires are taxed so we can implement green energy before its too late.
 
 
+11 # Malcolm 2014-11-06 15:56
I was thrilled to see "Illinois voters taxed millionaires to raise more money for schools".

Alas, it's not true. They DID pass a NON-binding resolution to that effect,nwhen their useless legislature refused to follow their constituents.

I wonder why they only passed a non-binding resolution? Is there perhaps some law preventing them from passing an actual law?

It occurs to me that, perhaps, Illinois does not even HAVE an initiative process.

I think all states that DO have this wonderful power should get the ball rolling, and start getting laws passed WITHOUT their so-called "representatives"!

We Oregonians have used the initiative process to such great effect that our beloved legislators have trid-and FAILED to amend our constitution to strip us of our poet to rule by initiative.
 
 
+8 # Malcolm 2014-11-06 16:13
I found out how very few states do have the power of the initiative process.

http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/chart-of-the-initiative-states.aspx

Illinois has it for amending its constitution, but not for making new laws. Maybe that's why they only passed a non binding resolution?

All you folks whose states do not have benefit of this procedure should try to get your state constitutions overhaled. You don't know what you're missing!
 
 
+11 # arquebus 2014-11-06 16:18
I live in the state that started the whole ballot initiative idea way back in the early 20th century. Let me tell you it is not a panacea. Sometimes you get great laws, but more often you get inane laws that were passed because they had the backing of........wealt hy donors trying to rig the game.
 
 
+6 # davidr 2014-11-06 16:38
You're right. In some ways it's an anti-panacea because the chickenshit legislature has used it for decades as a means of keeping its fingerprints off bonds & taxes. It's not unusual for voters to be asked to approve or reject extremely technical details of insurance regulation, for example, and other matters we thought we had elected our representatives to study & deal with.
 
 
+9 # Malcolm 2014-11-06 17:18
Oregon was the originator of what we called "Direct Democrwcy, c. 1902. The other states began following Oregon's lead, calling it the "Oregon System"

I certainly HOPE YOU TWO FELLOWS AREN'T PROPOSING THAT WE TAKE THIS POWER AWAY FROM THE VOTERS, simply because some of the people are too stupid to pass good laws!

Do you honestly trust state legislatures more than you trust your fellow citizens?

Tell me it ain't so!
 
 
+4 # davidr 2014-11-06 19:45
There are just as many, maybe more, corporate-spons ored, deceptive & phonied-up initiatives as true grass roots measures. And I'm always amazed by the genuinely good measures that are defeated through big spending by organized opposition. Such measures could easily have been passed by the legislature, but that's where the big spending started! So instead of passing a decent law, the pols wash their hands of it and put it to the voters. Sometimes the voters get it right, often they don't. I've lived for decades with this system, and I have to say I'm deeply unimpressed by its populist wisdom or good effects.
 
 
+1 # Malcolm 2014-11-06 23:57
Where you from, David? Sounds like your state has some real problems.

How many areas had citizen driven laws passed to increase minimum wages this month? Four?

The initiative process here in oregon is CITIZEN Driven. It's not "put to the voters" by our legislature.
 
 
+3 # lsd 2014-11-07 09:25
Weed would still be illegal in CO without a true voter initiative. Weed legalization would never have happened otherwise.
 
 
+4 # arquebus 2014-11-07 15:38
I stand corrected....Ca lifornia didn't adopt the initiative until 1911. Often, people will vote against their interests because the proponents of a proposition flood the airways with misinformation. Good example...we had a prop. on the ballot that would raise the cap on medical malpractice from $250,000 (established 1965) to $1,000,000 adjustable for inflation. An obvious benefit for patients, but defeated because the opposition said it was a measure to enrich trial lawyers....and none of us like trial lawyers--until we need one that is.
 
 
+12 # reiverpacific 2014-11-06 18:37
Quoting arquebus:
I live in the state that started the whole ballot initiative idea way back in the early 20th century. Let me tell you it is not a panacea. Sometimes you get great laws, but more often you get inane laws that were passed because they had the backing of........wealthy donors trying to rig the game.

Oregon's been doing this and being one of the first to use mail-in ballots since I first came here in 1977 and started paying attention.
It also has one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation -including the last election @ 65.9% -and is one of the most progressive.
I still think we now have a case for a nation of Pacifica with Hawaii, Washington and California (sorry but I can't ever trust a state like Alaska who took the grand opportunist Palin even a little seriously).
 
 
-1 # Malcolm 2014-11-06 23:48
Where have I been? Never heard of the nation of Pacifica, but I sure like the idea! I like it better than the GWB era call for "Canada del Sur". Or was it "Baja Canada"?

I presume you've heard of the State of Jefferson, where I live. The exception to Oregon's otherwise exemplary progressiveness , sad to say.
 
 
-1 # reiverpacific 2014-11-07 13:53
Quoting Malcolm:
Where have I been? Never heard of the nation of Pacifica, but I sure like the idea! I like it better than the GWB era call for "Canada del Sur". Or was it "Baja Canada"?

I presume you've heard of the State of Jefferson, where I live. The exception to Oregon's otherwise exemplary progressiveness, sad to say.

No kiddin' (although Tillamook County where I live isn't much better, that dedicated Blue-Dawg Democrat Kurt Schrader or "Shredder" as some of us call him, who votes with the Rethugs 65% of the time, notwithstanding)!
I ran a major construction project as Field Engineer in Cave Junction for ± two years and it was actually quite an interesting cultural experience; either camouflage or tie-dye were the accepted dress code and the tie-dyes had a Pirate Radio Station in an abandoned trailer in the woods, which I played "live" music on quite often.
Then there's that cultural oasis in a redneck desert Ashland (where my daughter went to college) to balance things out a bit.
Actually I quite enjoyed my time down there with my newly-married spouse as we basically eloped in a huge RV; it all seemed like a fresh adventure in a furrin' land. I still even have a small account with SOFCU (Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union).
Just goes to show -no place is ALL bad and you can have fun anywhere if you plumb the right places.
 
 
+6 # cherylpetro 2014-11-06 17:03
Republicans have been wanting to get rid of Federal government, so that individual states have more of a say so over their own business. It's good on one hand, but not so good on the other. Republicans have been very good at stealing elections on a more local level, such as governor (Gov. Scott Walker, for one example). Not all states can afford to repair infrastructure, and need financial help on a federal level. Even Rick Perry of Texas, who brags about secession, had to borrow from the fed gov't to balance his budget! Republicans may even be thinking that if they cause enough problems with passing budgets,America ns will say "enough,let the states act independently!" BUT, we are the UNITED States of America,NOT the 50 INDEPENDENT States of America! Republicans would like everything to be privatized, and push out people who cannot afford their prices. They look at our misfortune as (to quote Mitt Romney)a BUYING OPPORTUNITY! The rest of us, can be their serfs, paying them rent,and working on their property, as near to slaves as they can get.I think giving states so much independence,is tantamount to 50 little countries within one big border.I mean, I do see some positives with the idea, because places like California,wher e the people vote in a more intelligent,bet ter informed manner,are not pulled down by the knuckle draggers of other states. But,we need a unified idea of caring for the environment,bec ause that can hurt us all.I don't see disbanding the Fed.gov. as workable.
 
 
+2 # Ken Halt 2014-11-07 06:24
Wish I could agree more. California, for instance, passed, by citizen initiative, the prop (sorry, I don't remember the number) that froze tax rates . It was actually sponsored by big money interests and the effect on the state education system, to cite on example, has been disastrous. What was once the best state college system in the nation and very affordable has been ruined and underfunded. A friend of mine going to UC Berkeley. where one could get a very good education in the 60's, paid $25/credit hour, the best bargain I've ever heard of in US higher education. Other industrialized nations use tax money to support free education through graduate levels, an investment in the future that pays off handsomely.
 
 
0 # arquebus 2014-11-07 15:42
You are referring to Prop. 13 which did address a problem. Housing prices were going up so fast that retirees and working folks couldn't afford property taxes anymore since they shot up hand in hand with prices. The problem is that houses turn over, but commercial properties are much slower so they end up with tax bills from 30 years ago

And,the cost of college didn't come out of property taxes...local schools did. UC and state colleges were paid for by legislature.... which hasn't seen fit to provide that kind of support since.
 
 
+5 # futhark 2014-11-06 17:04
"When Americans overwhelmingly supported increased background checks on gun purchases in the wake of almost two dozen children getting massacred in school..."

When and where did this occur? If the citation is in reference to Sandy Hook Elementary, be aware that this incident was most likely a false flag attack, judging by available evidence. Google "Wolfgang Halbig" and "Sandy Hook". Or go directly to

http://www.sandyhookjustice.com/

The world is full of real threats and dangers and it doesn't do the progressive community any good to be taken in by artificial ones.

Disclosures: I am a retired public school teacher with 32 years of classroom experience and and now substitute teaching in 4 different local school districts. I have been an advocate in letters to the local paper and conversations with administrators for inside classroom door locks that can be activated without a key and for regular annual gunman on campus safety drills. The only firearm I own is a single-shot bolt action .22 rifle, last used in 1993 to kill a rabid fox in my front yard. I live 5 miles from the nearest small town (population 1052).
 
 
0 # lewagner 2014-11-06 19:34
Thank you.
Anybody who does any research at ALL into Sandy Hook, instead of knee-jerk believing Anderson Cooper, will soon see it's an obviously staged event.
No lawsuits were filed by bereaved parents, no death certificates, only one existent 17 kb photo of "Adam Lanza" ... it goes on and on.
I also thumbs-upped your post, but that might not show, if a lot of people give it a thumbs down, as has happened to me every time I've mentioned Sandy Hook on this site.
Do your research, people, don't believe anybody on anything.
 
 
+3 # Libraridan 2014-11-06 17:46
Ballot initiatives are a major failure!! Can we say Prop 13? The California initiative that gutted state programs and locked out any future reform? It is precisely these initiatives that have lead to lazy and irresponsible (unresponsive) state represenatives in Sacramento.

And, most importantly, they rely on the very whimsical, inattentive nature of American voters, AND they are highly influenced by the massive influx of - very effective -money spent on advertising.

We elect representatives to represent. If they fail at that we get rid of them. Better to reform the electoral process than fall back on this very leaky idea.
 
 
+2 # davidr 2014-11-06 21:12
Yep. Most recent example: Prop 45, a provision to allow the insurance commissioner to veto any action by health carriers to monkey around with ACA coverage and rates. The concept is very popular, of course, but there was never going to be any big money to promote it, so there were few or no pro-45 ads. Instead, the airwaves were full of insurance co & hospital-paid ads warning people not to let "a lone politician" (i.e., the insurance commissioner!) "interfere with Obamacare". How do you think the voting went?
 
 
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2014-11-06 21:17
Libraridan is wrong about ballot initiatives being a major failure. It is attitudes like his that fuel the belief among Conservative voters that their pocketbooks are open to politicians for fleecing. Taxes are necessary and government must have the funds to respond to the needs of its citizens. But anyone who thinks that all government spending is necessary, prudent or purely altruistic is delusional.

He criticizes Prop 13 but doesn’t report that one of the abuses it addressed was unrestricted increases on assessed valuations in a single year.* Imagine your tax bill goes from $800 to $1600 because your local assessor decides your house that was purchased last year for $250K is now worth $500K.

He glibly asserts “We elect representatives to represent. If they fail at that we get rid of them.” I’d guess after Tuesday, it’s fair to ask, “So, how’s that working for ya?”

I agree with his condemnation of the “whimsical, inattentive nature of American voters” but as whimsical, stupid and uninformed as they are, they are far better than the bought and paid for politicians from both parties.

Yes we should “reform the electoral process” but the “we” he means are the very politicians that profit from NOT reforming it. Thus, for those of us in states that have the ballot initiative, we are the lucky ones because we have a tool to fight back. True in an ideal world we shouldn’t need to but the sad truth is that we do.

*http://www.californiataxdata.com/pdf/Prop13.pdf
 
 
-1 # socrates2 2014-11-06 19:30
Mr. Gibson, I agree with Libraridan and I hate to burst your bubble, but in my state, special interests and multinationals have *hijacked* the initiative process--for profit, of course.
The corporate "side" does its cost-benefit analysis. It spends 10-20 million here and there in TV/radio newspaper, mass-mailed, slick brochure "fear-and-panic " ads, sometimes outspending opponents 10/20 to 1, in order to reap billions once the initiative passes or fails--dependin g on the initiative.
The typical voter--whose sole source of info tend to be mass-mailings and the usual media spots--seriousl y buys into this unexamined P.T. Barnum bombast.
Results: tax-paying shifts from corporate commercial property that today pays a disproportionat e pittance in relation to the typical homeowner. Bonds (and Three-strike laws) for massive prison construction to feed the prison-industri al complex at the expense of K-12 and college students--Wall Street issued bonds. Since citizens, bamboozled by "tax-cutting" initiatives refuse to tax those who can afford it, the investor class, citizens now BORROW from it, with interest...
Medical carriers, under California initiative, pay a pittance to those injured by medical malpractice.
And don't dare get accused of a felony in California. Watch the hearsay come in from non-journalist, biased police who get generous overtime to "testify" in court from their report what "a witness said," & juries of strangers picked for "non-bias" in minutes...
Be well.
 
 
-13 # Joeconserve 2014-11-06 21:32
I have learned a lot from this blog. I didn't realize how many UnAmerican anarchists there were in this country. And, I can no longer participate. You guys enjoy your lattes.
 
 
-11 # brux 2014-11-07 00:03
The people here are nothing .... nothing. They don't make any sense, so they speak for themselves and give off an illusion that they agree, but listen to any of them and they are just playing games. These people are no danger to anyone except themselves because they probably do not vote and they surely do not inspire anyone else to vote - probably push them away is more like it.
 
 
+5 # Caliban 2014-11-07 02:16
"Nothin", brux? But we the "people here" do know that you and Joeconserve are less than nothing, for that is what your idiotic fantasies show you to be. It is you two and a few others like you who are the "UnAmerican anarchists" on this site because you hate free and independent thought.

I do not know what others think, but I say good-riddance to both of you.
 
 
+5 # cymricmorty 2014-11-07 10:38
I say goodbye, good riddance, and will add the old saying don't let the (virtual in this case) door hit you both in the ass.
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2014-11-07 14:03
Quoting brux:
The people here are nothing .... nothing. They don't make any sense, so they speak for themselves and give off an illusion that they agree, but listen to any of them and they are just playing games. These people are no danger to anyone except themselves because they probably do not vote and they surely do not inspire anyone else to vote - probably push them away is more like it.


Coming from your dark little box that's a compliment.
You certainly add your own unique brand of negative, racist almost unbalanced bile to this site; we DO appreciate the variety and thanks for showing us how consistently miserable a human being can be.
You actually remind me of Dimwits Bush's sainted mother who was described by Richie Nixon as "A woman who REALLY knows how to hate"!
Makes me grateful to be alive -especially after the looney but experience-rich , risky, laff-filled life around our beautiful mother planet.
Try opening y'r blinds and letting the light of life in, if it wouldn't be too much of a shock!
And if you don't like we who support this forum, fuck off back across the Styx to whatever Wagnerian nightmare world you inhabit, you poor li'l sad-sack.
 
 
+1 # Malcolm 2014-11-07 00:13
??????????????
 
 
+6 # Ken Halt 2014-11-07 06:29
Thanks, Joe, I've been wishing for a long time that you and your stupid comments would disappear from these threads. Be well and good riddance.
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2014-11-07 14:09
Quoting Joeconserve:
I have learned a lot from this blog. I didn't realize how many UnAmerican anarchists there were in this country. And, I can no longer participate. You guys enjoy your lattes.


As one of y'r Reactionary heroes said famously "There you go again" with that ol' worn-out "Latte" line.
If you're goin' to insult we "UnAmerican anarchists" fer fuck's sake, favor us with a little originality at least.
You can only learn if y'r mind is free. Yours is as tight shut and predictably propagandized by the constant claims of "We're Number One" faux patriots, as a duck's arse -and that's watertight.
Try a shot of good AMERICAN Bourbon or my own native nation's heavily-exporte d national tipple.
It might clear y'r blinkered vision just a wee bit!
 
 
+7 # geriwolter@att.net 2014-11-06 21:37
A most insightful article, well-written!
Another approach I like so much -- Jim Rogers' radical proposal that legislators work from their home districts to promote transparency and accountability, voting in a public place for all to see. In his book "Street Smarts" (page 242) he says "Lobbyists could still come to see him, but.....would have to go to 535 offices around the country, rather than walk from K Street down to the Capitol, where all 535 representatives are served up like banquet food." (There is now a website advocating this, "Gov at Home").

He also suggests exploring the idea of randomly drafting citizens to serve as legislators, from their homes, for a fixed period, as their civic duty. "Reluctance to serve could be viewed as an asset", he says, citing the diligence of jurors, who usually acquit themselves very well.

Either method would be light years ahead of where we are now, and need I mention the money to be saved?
 
 
+2 # mmcmanus 2014-11-07 11:23
The United States will no longer be a viable country within the next two generations. Money has completeley corrupted the political system, killing thus thoughtful leadership and dedication to solving the problems of the country. Everything is now rigged for the large corporations and the super rich--but what will they do when they crush 95% of the population to the point where they cannot eat, house themselves adequately, get medical care and a good education?!
 
 
+1 # kurtatwork 2014-11-07 20:32
While this opinion piece makes some great points and is inspirational in the sense that "we the people" can actually take back some power, the problem with a lot of these issues is that Federal power trumps local or state power by the time the issue percolates up the legal system to the SC. At which point state ballot measures get kicked to the curb by a court that's basically lost its mind and become as "active from the bench" as any in history.

The other problem I see not mentioned here is the key strategy that senate Repubs will use which is to load up spending authorization bills with riders for things that they really want that would be automatic vetoes on their own; but when part of a bill that funds critical services it becomes extremely tough for Obama to veto these bills when the alternative is a shutdown of the Govt. The repubs will use this tactic to completely bend Obama over. Brace yourself for more dramatic DC showdowns and brinksmanship. It's unavoidable now. I doubt Obama's got the balls for this.

I predict the first assault will be a spending authorization bill with a rider that guts the ESA (endangered species act). Another argument for why any prez needs a line item veto.
 
 
-1 # moafu@yahoo.com 2014-11-08 10:01
Normally, I like to mock Mr. Gibson's extreme generalizations as being violations of the first rule of Jr. Hi Civics 101 "avoid glittering generalities"

This time Mr. Gibson.....you are to be commended. With all the agonizing over the mid-terms by the Dems - you fingered the problem....
thinking that you "don't need Congress anymore" is sooooooooo far removed from what the American voter is all about.
 
 
0 # bckrd1 2014-11-08 17:23
I have renewed hope for our democracy. Here is the prescription for real change. Not easy but doable with concerted effort.
 

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