Direct democracy — the Switzerland-inspired system of initiatives, referenda and recalls that allows voters to make and repeal laws in 24 states — is poorly understood. It isn’t even very direct. Direct democracy has become blockbuster democracy: a half-billion-dollar international industry of signature gatherers, consultants, and election lawyers who use ballot measures less as a method of making law and more as a tool of mega-communications to boost some politicians, hurt others, and supplement lobbying campaigns.
Blockbuster democracy is a decentralized business that practices wide-open politics. This blog aims to provide a center of news, analysis and conversation for and about the industry. We will report from blockbuster democracy’s capital — California — but we’ll monitor ballot measures from across the country and around the globe.
Your Blogger: Joe Mathews is an Irvine senior fellow at New America Foundation; he writes about California, its history, its politics and its government. A journalist for the past 13 years, Joe was until recently a reporter at the Los Angeles Times. He covered dozens of initiative campaigns, and published a book about Gov. Schwarzenegger and direct democracy, The People’s Machine, in 2006. He previously reported for the Wall Street Journal and Baltimore Sun, and his work has appeared in The New Republic, The Washington Post, and CondeNast Porfolio.