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Now in paperback, how initiatives are remaking our democracy, creating a hazardous new arena of politics. Where once most state laws were passed by legislatures, now voters in half the states and hundreds of cities decide directly on such explosive issues as drugs, affirmative action, casino gambling, assisted suicide, and human rights. Ostensibly driven by public opinion, Now in paperback, how initiatives are remaking our democracy, creating a hazardous new arena of politics. Where once most state laws were passed by legislatures, now voters in half the states and hundreds of cities decide directly on such explosive issues as drugs, affirmative action, casino gambling, assisted suicide, and human rights. Ostensibly driven by public opinion, the initiative process is far too often manipulated by moneyed interests, often funded by out-of-state millionaires pursuing their own agendas. In this highly controversial book, David Broder, the "dean of American political journalism" (Brill's Content), explains how a movement that started with Proposition 13 in California is now a multimillion-dollar business in which lawyers, campaign consultants, signature gatherers, and advertising agencies sell their expertise to interest groups with private agendas. With a new afterword updating the results of the most recent elections and discussing the potential for future initiatives, Broder takes the reader into the heart of these battles as he talks with the field operatives, lobbyists, PR spinners, labor leaders, and business executives, all of whom can manipulate the political process.


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Now in paperback, how initiatives are remaking our democracy, creating a hazardous new arena of politics. Where once most state laws were passed by legislatures, now voters in half the states and hundreds of cities decide directly on such explosive issues as drugs, affirmative action, casino gambling, assisted suicide, and human rights. Ostensibly driven by public opinion, Now in paperback, how initiatives are remaking our democracy, creating a hazardous new arena of politics. Where once most state laws were passed by legislatures, now voters in half the states and hundreds of cities decide directly on such explosive issues as drugs, affirmative action, casino gambling, assisted suicide, and human rights. Ostensibly driven by public opinion, the initiative process is far too often manipulated by moneyed interests, often funded by out-of-state millionaires pursuing their own agendas. In this highly controversial book, David Broder, the "dean of American political journalism" (Brill's Content), explains how a movement that started with Proposition 13 in California is now a multimillion-dollar business in which lawyers, campaign consultants, signature gatherers, and advertising agencies sell their expertise to interest groups with private agendas. With a new afterword updating the results of the most recent elections and discussing the potential for future initiatives, Broder takes the reader into the heart of these battles as he talks with the field operatives, lobbyists, PR spinners, labor leaders, and business executives, all of whom can manipulate the political process.

44 review for Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim Rise

    Because of this book, I can no longer bring myself to sign initiative petitions nor fully support initiatives on ballots. Money brings the power to bend the truth most of the time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    I'm not sure if David Broder thought he was on to a compelling problem when he wrote this book, but fourteen years after its publication it just seems quaint. With authoritarian governments on the loose around the world, a post 9/11 security state at home, and Congress seemingly determined to seek out new lows of futility, ballot initiatives rank very low on the list of political problems to worry about. Broder has also misdiagnosed the problem. There's nothing inherently wrong with the initiativ I'm not sure if David Broder thought he was on to a compelling problem when he wrote this book, but fourteen years after its publication it just seems quaint. With authoritarian governments on the loose around the world, a post 9/11 security state at home, and Congress seemingly determined to seek out new lows of futility, ballot initiatives rank very low on the list of political problems to worry about. Broder has also misdiagnosed the problem. There's nothing inherently wrong with the initiatives he describes. Some of them are good ideas, some of them seem pretty dumb, and many of them get promoted with a mix of truth and lies. That's par for the course in politics, and the ballot initiative system seems to be functional and useful as a whole. The problem, as Broder points out, is that ballot initiatives are also expensive, so the system favors interests with deep pockets. Big Money is a problem, but it's a problem that affects all political systems, not ballot initiatives in particular. Broder seems to be looking for solutions to ballot initiatives, when he should be looking for ways to reduce the distortion of Big Money in politics. There may be some contrarian ways to do that: what if you lowered the signature threshold so that it didn't take so much money to get on the ballot? What if you created a crowdfunding system so that citizen groups could fund their causes without relying on businesses and multi-millionaire donors? There may be lots of ways to improve the ballot initiative process, but glaring at it and declaring your fealty to James Madison is unlikely to help.

  3. 5 out of 5

    K

    I'll use in oxymoron in my review in saying that this was at once boring and a quick-read. The latter probably has to do with the relative slimness (as far as political nonfiction books go) of the novel, and also the large font. In any event, most of the book, as the title implies, focused on initiative campaigns; most specifically, the campaigns revolving around California's Prop. 13 and Prop. 226. Some examples of other propositions in other states were peppered throughout, but really, most of I'll use in oxymoron in my review in saying that this was at once boring and a quick-read. The latter probably has to do with the relative slimness (as far as political nonfiction books go) of the novel, and also the large font. In any event, most of the book, as the title implies, focused on initiative campaigns; most specifically, the campaigns revolving around California's Prop. 13 and Prop. 226. Some examples of other propositions in other states were peppered throughout, but really, most of the hullabaloo described took place in California, which, given the largeness of the state, is not really all that surprising. The author's point, however, isn't resoundingly clear until the very last chapter, which is easily the best chapter of the book--it being the best organized and most readable. I wouldn't recommend the book, per se, at least not to the casual reader, but for political junkies like myself, it's a worthy read. The author, David S. Broder, is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who has clearly done his research and is a voice one may trust. In light of that, I appreciate this book simply because he wrote it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    PhirunMeach

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keith

  6. 5 out of 5

    Craig Cunningham

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hieu Tu

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

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    Ari

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ritta

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy Jordan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karl

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Benigar

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cullen Bonaventure

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tim

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    Desiree Roune

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    Eric Munn

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    Don McNay

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    Chip Berlet

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    Jeani

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    John Anderson

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    Dave

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    Genie

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    Angelmaye

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    Scott

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    Bjcortis

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie McClure

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

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    Phillip

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    Jon

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    Katherine

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    Jay

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  38. 5 out of 5

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    Austin Riley

  42. 5 out of 5

    E. Michael Murphy

  43. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

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