Considering today’s dysfunctional Congress—the failed 2011 grand bargain, the 2012 fiscal cliff, and the 2013 government shutdown—it does not take much of a cynic to question James Madison’s faith in representative democracy rather than pure democracy. Madison argued that, “a pure democracy . . . can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction,” but a republican government, by passing public views “through the medium of a chosen body of citizens” can refine “temporary or partial considerations.” Federalist No. 10. Today, many see the citizen initiative as a much-needed corrective to our twenty-first century democracy—the voice of the people without a legislative filter. But is the citizen initiative an improvement or does it contribute to the break-down of political discourse?
Premium Content For:
- Environment, Energy, and Resources Section