Tag Archives: initiative




2315 DURANT #405, BERKELEY, CA 94704

(4l5) 540-0466

We find in Governor Hiram Johnson’s inaugural address in 1911 the words that best described our understanding of the initiative and recall processes:

“. . . When with your assistance, California’s government shall be composed only of those who recognize one sovereign         and master, the people, then is presented to us the question of how best we can arm the people to protect themselves             hereafter?

“If we can give to the people the means by which they may accomplish such other reforms as they desire, the means as          well by which they may prevent the misuse of the power  temporarily centralized in the Legislature and admonitory  and precautionary measures which will ever be present before weak officials, and the existence of which will prevent the  necessity for their use, then all that lies in our power  will have been done in the direction of safeguarding the   future and for the perpetuation of the theory upon which we ourselves shall conduct this government.

“This means for accomplishing other reforms has been  designated the ‘Initiative and Referendum,’ and the  precautionary measure by which a recalcitrant official can be removed is designated the ‘Recall.’ And while I do not by any means believe the Initiative, the Referendum and the  Recall are the panacea for all our political ills, yet they  do give to the electorate the power of action when desired, and they do place in the hands of the people the means by  which they may protect themselves. I recommend to you,              (legislature) therefore, and I most strongly urge, that the first step in our design to preserve and perpetuate popular  government shall be the adoption of the Initiative, the  Referendum and Recall. . . .”

“. . . Suffice it to say, so far as the Recall is concerned,        did the solution of the matter rest with me, I would apply          it to every official. I commend to you the proposition that,        after all, the Initiative and the Referendum depend on our          confidence in the people and in their ability to govern. The        opponents of direct legislation and the Recall, however they        may phrase their opposition, in reality believe the people          cannot be trusted. On the other hand, those of us who               espouse these measures do so because of our deep-rooted             belief in popular government, and not only in the right of          the people to govern, but in their ability to govern; and           this leads us logically to the belief that if the people   have the right, the ability and the intelligence to elect,          they have, as well, the right, ability and intelligence to          reject or recall; and this applies with equal force to an           administrative or Judicial officer.

“. . . Were we to do nothing else during our term of office         than to require and compel an undivided allegiance to the           State from all its servants, and then to place in the hands         of the people the means by which they could continue that           allegiance, with the power to legislate for themselves when         they desired, we would have thus accomplished perhaps the           greatest service that could be rendered our State. With             public servants whose sole thought is the good of the State,        the prosperity of the State is assured, exaction and                extortion from the people will be at an end, in every               material aspect advancement will be ours, development and           progress will follow as a matter of course, and popular             government will be perpetuated.”

The following is People’s Lobby proposal for a National Initiative Process:


“NATIONAL INITIATIVE—We, the people of the United States of America reserve to themselves the power of the initiative. The initiative is the power of the electors to propose laws and to adopt or reject them. An initiative measure may not be submitted to alter or amend the constitution of the United States.

“VOTE OF CONFIDENCE (RECALL)—Every elected officer of the United States may be removed from office at any time by the  electors meeting the qualification to vote in his state through the procedure and in the manner herein provided for,  which procedure shall be known as a vote of confidence, and is in addition to any other method of removal provided by  law.”

*In implementing this amendment, limitations on the amount of money spent to qualify each process should be built in and also limitations on money spent/donations in campaigns. In the vote of confidence procedure a president should be replaced by succession. Other federal officers should be replaced by caretaker appointments. A caretaker appointee should not be a candidate for that office, for at least one full term. The initiative should be on the national ballot. A vote of confidence should always be a special election.

Ralph Nader said in his column printed November 27, 1974

“. . . One way a democracy withers away is by excessive delegation of citizen rights and powers to remote and unaccountable business and government bureaucracies. To the extent that special interest groups buy, rent, misuse or manipulate elected or appointed government officials, democracy is overridden. . . . The revival of the initiative, referendum and recall in states which provide for them, the passage of similar measures in other states, and the adoption of a national initiative and recall would reduce citizen apathy and quicken citizen involvement in public matters.”