TESTIMONY OF RALPH NADER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Hearing Before Subcommittee on the Constitution
Committee on the Judiciary U.S. Senate
Voter Initiative Constitutional Amendment
S.J. Resolution 67
November 13 and 14, 1977
Mr. NADER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Senator Hatch.
I would like to congratulate the subcommittee for having hearings on this important issue. Too often there is a neglect in Congress m exploring basic issues in democratic decision making. Certainly this one raises a basic issue which has been debated and deliberated since the Jeffersonian-Hamiltonian exchanges.
We do not have to develop very detailed foundations for the thesis that the process of governmental decision making has become more and more remote, not only from the people but from the legislative branches at the State, local and national level as well.
This is a process of decision making that has not only extended itself into the executive branch and subexecutive branch agencies but has moved even more remotely from the executive branch with the development of quasi-public institutions at all levels of government that affect people in as real a way as a traditional government agency would affect people.
I point out to you for example the New York Port Authority which is one of these institutions that does not seem to be either under Federal or State control as it straddles the three States of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
Having said that, the point I would like to make is this. It is important to have a close understanding that the ultimate’ check on representative democracy is direct democracy.
If representative democracy turns itself into an institutionalized tyrant or is arbitrary in its decisions or insensitive in its decisions, then there needs to be a resort back to the source of power in a democracy which comprises of course the electorate.
As the witnesses will no doubt inform you today, there has been a considerab1e history at the State level with initiative referendums and the Chairman certainly has had experience in that area, both personally and coming from the State where the first initiative I amendment was enacted at the State level in the late 19th century.
It is often said that while it may work at the State or local it simply cannot work at the national level. That is not entirely an insupportable assertion. If it is going to work at the national level, there has to be a correlative series of reforms in order that the severe imbalances in access to money and access to communications do not turn this instrument into simply a tool for oligarchic power.
This is the principal emphasis that I would like to make this morning. Unless something is done about access to mass communications, the display of first amendment rights, which is the fundamental substructure of any democratic initiative, will not be possible even in a remotely effective way. The people who exercise these rights must have comparable access to the technology that can disseminate the words and beliefs exercised under our first amendment. That means that not only must there be campaign finance standards as envisioned in the background materials to this proposed amendment to the Constitution, but there also needs to be, particularly by implementing statutes, a resolution of the access problem to the mass media. Indeed, even in the traditional campaign financial forum discussions, it has been said by observers and students of this problem that the financial aspects are not the exclusive focus of reform. It has to also involve the access to the communication system.
Senator ABOUREZK. May I interrupt?
That all should be done in separate legislation, implementing legislation and not in the amendment itself; is that right?
Mr. NADER. Yes.
Senator ABOUREZK. Yes, that’s my view.
Mr. NADER. It would have to be done with an implementing statute.
Senator HATCH. Let me interrupt. Mr. Nader, you seem to be saying that in your opinion this particular joint resolution would not work if you do not take care of those two problems—basically the campaign finance standards and the resolution of access problems to the mass media; is that right?
Mr. NADER. It would not be free to work as well as the concept would imply. I can imagine in some instances it would work.
Senator HATCH. Certainly.
Mr. NADER. If for example there is a great fear of a particular health epidemic and there needs to be something done about it
can imagine it working just as it does now.
But obviously when you deal with issues of the distribution of power in our society, you have to have some fairness in the access to the communication system that is grantedly controlled by a very small handful of people and companies in our economy.
I would like to illustrate a point. For example, if there is a national initiative launched to overrule a populist piece of legislation that
Congress has enacted and the President has signed, if a national initiative was launched by the corporate institutions of the country and through their access to shareholders and to the mass media they could easily gain the requisite signatures and easily dominate the communications system. So, I think it is a little naive to think that only the people can really get the people behind them. Basically through such threats as mass loss of jobs which the companies can disseminate throughout the country or the increased cost of certain proposals that Congress has enacted then they could, lacking a countervailing source of information, obtain sufficient support for this kind of initiative.
That is not to say that the people cannot make up their own minds in an intelligent manner. The whole theory of democracy is that the broader the audience, the broader the value systems that are taken into account and the more likely will be the best decision for the society as a whole. While people can make mistakes like corporations make mistakes, to the extent that they can express their own interest as a people then they are expressing the broad values and interests of our society.
It is important to note that even with the expression of this popular interest there are still safeguards which this amendment does not disrupt. You have the safeguard of the initiative being declared unconstitutional. You have the safeguard of a two-thirds override with Presidential concurrence. And you have of course the safeguard of another initiative coming along and repealing the old initiative if, in the light of experience, it has not worked out well.
I think there needs to be more discussion, Mr. Chairman, of the side effects of this kind of national initiative proposal. One of the great needs in our society is the location of leadership. How do leaders arise in our society?
If there is principally one way that leaders arise in our society politically and that is through the formal political machines, the formal political parties, then we are going to deprive ourselves of some very basic reservoirs of leadership in the country. You just have to look at the composition of the Congress, for example, to see that one-half of the U.S. Congress comes from far less than 1 percent of the population called lawyers. One of the reasons that is true is that not only do lawyers tend to be trained for politics from law school on, but they have the time to be in politics. They have been able to combine both a practice and politics. They are viewed by society as perhaps the last remaining specialists who can be generalists as well and can be viewed as generalists in their commentary on public policy. Whereas people will say, “What does that architect know about politics?”, very few people will say, “What does that lawyer know about politics?”
But it is clear that the Congress does not draw from the broad base of leadership potential of our society.
In contrast, with the increasing development of initiatives and referendums and recalls at the State level, we have seen people who ordinarily would not be part of the political process come to the broader political process known as the initiative referendum o recall, and to get experience and to train themselves and put them selves forward as alternative leaders in our society.
That is one very important side effect of this process and in fact it may be just as important as the direct effect of this process. It opens many more opportunities for local, State and national citizen leadership and involvement than has been the case.
Imagine in the last 10 years the lack of leadership in our country of 250 million people compared to the leadership that our country drew forth before 1800 when the population was under 3 million. I think most of us in this country would agree that the leadership that came forward in the late 18th century in our country has not been exceeded in the 20th century in our country.
The second side effect that I think is important is that it puts a responsibility on the people. It is not only important to give people more rights and more opportunities to participate in decision making. It is also very important to put a civic burden on the people and to in effect say to them that they have no longer any excuses about not participating or deciding the future of their society and that they can no longer say, “You cannot fight city hall” and shrug off their responsibility. They can no longer say, “What is the use of trying everything is all locked up or rigged anyway?”
What the national initiative concept does, as well as State and local analogies, is to say to the electorate, “Listen, you have nobody to blame but yourself because you now have a direct tool of decision-making, namely the ability to propose and write your own laws.” That is very important.
The best antidote to cynicism in a civil sense is to endow the cynics with power. When those cynics are the electorate and the endowment of power is effective, then the issue of citizen obligation can come to the forefront as the dialog in our country and not the nagging issue of powerlessness.
I would like to add one more point because I know there are time limitations. Many of the people here have come a long way to testify today.
It is not likely that the proposal will be successful, as the Chairman knows, in Congress unless it achieves a much broader awareness and support level throughoutthe country.
I think it is important, for example, for some of the national pollsters to develop specific polls on the subject and keep them up-to-date. It is also important to enlist many of the neighborhood and community organizations at the local level into this effort.
I want to caution, however, the need for thinking through a rather comprehensive supplementary statute in order to make sure that this opportunity, as some others in the past, does not get captured unfairly by the very special interest groups, particularly the corporate structure, in the country
This is not to say that the resulting reforms in a supplementary statute will prevent a corporate-sponsored initiative from ever winning. It is to say, however, that there will be contention in the marketplace of ideas that is not obstructed by how deep your pocket is or how thin your pocket is.
This is, I think, the basic operational safeguard that the subcommittee should pay attention to in the coming months.
Senatorr Abourezk. Thank you very much. That is an excellent discussion of the issue and its side effects.
We did not include a referendum procedure in this for various reasons. I’m curious to know what you think about the inclusion of such a process in this amendment.
Mr. NADER. I think they go hand-in-hand.
Senator ABOUREZK. It would be your position that we should properly include it?
Mr. NADER. Yes.
Given the safeguards that apply to each one, I do not see any reason why the referendum power should be deleted.
Senator AB0UREZK. Senator Hatch?
Senator HATCH. Mr. Nader, I too have enjoyed your discussion here today.
How would you suggest, for instance, that we bring about this access to major media communication? I assume that it is for the benefit of all citizens.
Mr. NADER. There are two ways to do it. One is to require a certain amount of time to be devoted the way they do in England for election campaigns with, of course, the campaign finance limitation developed in a way where the allocated amount of time on the mass media cannot be easily nullified by simply buying up enormous amounts of additional time. I think that is one proposal.
The second would be to develop a more consistent procedural access to the deliberations of the Federal Communications Commission. That would not just apply to initiative and referendum proposals but basically it would apply to the need for the viewers, the television viewers and the radio listeners to have a mechanism whereby they can participate and make a contribution to critical FCC policy whether it relates to access to new satellite technology or to the more routine issues that the FCC deals with in terms of access to the electronic media.
Senator HATCH. You have asserted in your testimony that the decision making process is remote. I believe you have implied that this particular joint resolution would be a positive step in the direction of making that process less remote and more direct to the people.
I agree with you that there is a great deal of remoteness in the decision making process of the Government and Ii cite the fourth branch of Government, the bureaucracy, as a perfect illustration with more than 60,000 or 70,000 pages this year in the Federal Register. This frustrates almost everybody in society.
I also can think of the countless remote decisions that are made behind closed doors by, let’s say, the Federal judiciary.
My question is this. Should Senate Joint Resolution 67 be broadened to include the recall of Federal judges?
Mr. NADER. Not unless Federal judges are elected.
Senator HATCH. Would you prefer that they be elected?
Mr. NADER. No.
Senator HATCH. In other words, your answer to that would be no?
Mr. NADER. Yes.
Senator HATCH. Why?
Mr. NADER. I think there needs to be a branch of government that is insulated from politics, even if it is at the price of insulating them
from popular politics. Until we see that there is a gross abuse of this insulation, I think it is a good thing for society to have a branch of government that tries to make decisions on the basis of the merits and the law and the conscience of the judges.
Senator HATCH. Personally, I agree with you on that.
I do think that we may need some form of a recall approach with the Federal judiciary that resolves these problems of the tyrannical and overbearing and dishonest and unfair judge.
Senator ABOUREZK. We have an impeachment procedure.
Senator HATCH. We have that but it’s almost an impossibility tinder our Federal judicial system to impeach anybody in any reasonable period of time.
Mr. NADER. Mind you, the benefits of this insulation are so great that I think the society can take several judges that a significant portion of the people may not like.
Senator HATCH. We’ve had to up to this point.
Mr. NADER. Also if you’re going to have the ultimate constitutional safeguard for this initiative proposal be in the judiciary, then it seems to me you have to have a degree of insulation or otherwise the initiative process could upset the basic constitutional safeguard by simply recalling the judges.
Senator HATCH. Although I agree with you on your basic premise here I don’t think you seriously believe that judges are insulated from politics, do you?
Mr. NADER. No, they’re not wholly insulated from politics but the y are more insulated from politics
Senator HATCH. After they are on the bench than they are before? Mr. NADER. Yes, and they are more insulated from politics than a legislator by definition.
Senator HATCH. No question about it.
Mr. NADER. So, we’re not going to ever develop a system and nobody should be so naive as to expect the system that is that insulated. I think it is more insulated than other branches of government, however.
Second, the judiciary is not permitted to be overt about its connection with politics.
Senator HATCH. One of the points that came up yesterday, which I thought was a rather interesting point was this. I would like to get your viewpoint on it. Should this amendment be passed and should we have the right to have an initiative and, let’s say, that the rights of referenda are added to it, would you be in favor or would you not be in favor of requiring the Congress of the United States, once the percentage requisites are met, to have to consider this and vote up or down on whatever that initiative or referendum petition stood for within, let’s say, a reasonable period of time after the requisite number of votes or signatures are obtained?
Mr. NADER. That is like the Massachusetts model I think.
Senator HATCH. Yes. This way it would force Congress to vote and it might save the taxpayers money. If it is passed it might solve the problem and it might not.
Mr. NADER. I would like to think about that more. It is a difficult call to make. But as long as Congress is permitted to do that anyway, then it’s easier at first glance to say no to your question.
Senator HATCH. Until you think about it?
Mr. NADER. Yes. In other words, if Congress is still free to act because they see a referendum wave coming, then it’s easier to say no to your question unless some experience is built up. This is what we do not have. We do not have national experience on this. Unless some experience is built up to warrant an affirmative response, then I don’t think so.
Senator ABOUREZK. If the gentleman will yield, it seems to me that if you did forward the issue on to the Congress before it goes out on the ballot, then I think you would have to provide an up or down vote by Congress without amendment. If you provided it for amendment they could water it down enough so that people would say that it’s not worth it and they wouldn’t want an initiative.
Senator HATCH. That’s one of the arguments. If you make it requisite that they vote on a particular initiative, then that is on that particular initiative on that particular basis with that amendment. That means that you will at least have the expression of Congress which can then be overruled by the people in the national initiative vote.
But it may also resolve the difficulties right there on the spot if Congress votes for it.
Mr. NADER. On the other hand, you may have the California model where they may, for example, pass legislation that is 30 percent of the amount that is proposed by the initiative and take the steam out of the initiative movement. This was done to some degree during the nuclear initiative. There was a direct connection between the California legislature moving with its three bills and the pendency of the election day on the broader initiative on nuclear power plant are some of us who think that those three bills, having been enacted, took some of the steam out of the vote a few days later.
Senator HATCH. It may be good or bad on a given occasion. All I’m saying is that I’d like you to think about it and submit ~what you ~really feel, after reflective thought, would be the best approach here. That appeals to me.
Mr. NADER. Let me make one more comment. Your proposal then raises the question— Senator HATCH. It’s not my proposal. I’m just throwing it up for discussion here today.
Mr. NADER. But the point you raise raises the question of two institutions on a parallel track with the initiative process and the ability of powerful interest groups undermining the initiative track by going to the Congress.
Congress is very susceptible to campaign finance and powerful politics. I find it a little bit worrisome that that alternative could
use to undermine the initiative track.
Senator HATCH. It might be used to bolster it. We might automatically pass it.
I submit to you that power politics and special interest groups will have just as much say, if not more, in public initiatives under this particular amendment.
Mr. NADER. They certainly will—
Senator HATCH. It’s a new way of doing things.
Mr. NADER. It certainly will if there are inadequate finance standards and access to the media.
Senator HATCH. You’re saying campaign finance standards be applicable and be written right into this bill?
Mr. NADER. Or by supplementary statute or the implementing statute.
Senator HATCH. Would you prefer to have it written into the amendment?
Mr. NADER. No, because we’ll end up with an Indian-type constitution of great detail. I think our Constitution’s level of generalities has benefitted us.
Senator HATCH. Inasmuch as you are a strong advocate of greater popular control and more direct democracy, what would be your view with regard to having Supreme Court decisions, which hold that an act of Congress is unconstitutional, be submitted to the people in a popular referendum a p proach?
Mr. NADER. If the decision is made on the basis of a statute, that could be done. If it is made on the basis of the Constitution, I would oppose it.
Senator HATCH. What is your rationale for excluding the people from some decisionmaking and including them in other decisions? You seem to be in favor of some democracy but not a total and complete democracy.
Mr. NADER. I think this amendment to the Constitution envisages opening up the national initiative to reform at the statutory level. I do not think it envisages opening up the national initiative to amending the Constitution.
I think for the time being the existing way of amending the Constitution should be continued.
Senator HATCH. You seem to agree with me then that the reason the Constitution is such a viable document is that it is not a great detailed document and it is difficult to amend. lherefore, amendments have to have some validity and really great validity before they have much chance of success. That is probably a superior system to any others; is that right?
Mr. NADER. Also for another reason and that is that the Constitution stands as a safeguard of minorities. The Constitution stands for the proposition that even if there is a majority will expressed through the electorate, that it will have certain limits in its impact and it cannot alienate or violate the rights of minorities.
Consequently, I think there needs to be a reasonable shield between the constitutional amendment process and popular elections.
Senator HATCH. Do you see any dangers in the direct democracy approach? As you know the framers of the Constitution were concerned about that and they considered the merits of a direct democracy and rejected it in favor of a representative democracy as I think you’ve characterized it, or as a Federal republic.
One witness testified yesterday that the adoption of this amendment would open our system to radicalism and emotionalism.
That was Professor Bachrach. He said the adoption of this amendment would open our system to radicalism and emotionalism if I remember his words correctly and it would be harmful to our established practice of a moderate form of government whereby conflicting interests are channeled through the deliberative process of a representative assembly. He felt if this resolution becomes law that it will really prevent radical liberal proposals from becoming reality, many of which we have seen become reality in the past. He cited with, particularity the problems of urban decay, et cetera, and civil righti and so on.
His big concern was that this will really work to turn around a lot of the “gangs” that have been made through representative democracy rather than direct democracy.
Mr. NADER. One of the functions of the initiative is public education and public debate and the involvement of many people who don’t aspire to be local or state or national leaders.
Senator HATCH. Keep in mind that his point was that the special interest groups will at that point take over and they will brainwash the people, or at least I felt that was his point. They would brainwash the people to the point where really several of the things that are most wrong with society, which might be resolved by what he termed as “radical liberalism” will not be able to be resolved.
Mr. NADER. I would say first of all that as far as the civil rights point is concerned, that is taken care of by the constitutional barriers to any such incursions on people’s civil rights by the initiative.
Senator HATCH. But take one illustration. Pardon me if I interrupt you again.
Let’s take busing. That is not taken care of and a lot of people feel that we should enforce busing to restore a balance or to create a balance. In certain areas. of the country there is no question that probably it would be defeated.
Mr. NADER. First of all, that depends on how strong a stand the Supreme Court takes on the busing issue which could override an initiative.
Second, it might not be a bad thing if people concentrated on corporations and property taxes and housing policy instead of busing. They might get to the basic roots of the problem.
Senator HATCH. They might not do that. They might concentrate on balancing the budget and many of these other concepts that I think I characterized yesterday, that is not balancing the budget but some aspects that may be characterized as radical conservatism.
Mr. NADER. That is a risk that you take in a democracy. These are the debates that have been considered for over 200 years.
Senator HATCH. You’re willing to take those risks, and support this particular resolution; is that right?
Mr. NADER. Of course, but I recognize that information being the currency of democracy that there must be access to mass comnmunications or otherwise you will basically have a manipulative process run amuck. If people are not able to communicate to one another through the mass media in the process of advancing an initiative and if other people, who are not a part of the initiative, cannot hear the arguments of those who propose the initiatives, then I think, without much speculation, we can anticipate abuse of this instrument of direct democracy.
Senator HATCH. I have one more question.
Senator ABOUREZK. Go right ahead. I have a natural gas conference and this is a crisis day over there so IL have to go over. We’re on the verge of being sold out. [Laughter.]
Senator HATCH. 1. think that’s true.
Senator AB0urezk. So go right ahead.
Mr. NADER. Think of what it would be if we had a national initiative on natural gas regulation.
Senator HATCH. I’m worried about that. [Laughter.]
I can offer some other initiatives on the other side.
Senator ABOUREZK. I will excuse myself and turn this over to Senator Hatch to continue the hearings. I want to thank Mr. Nader and the other witnesses very much. I apologize for having to leave but this is happening right away and the initiative will be a longer process.
Let me ask one question before I go.
What do you think of the 3 percent, 10 State requirement? Have you given any thought to where it should be more or less?
Mr. NADER. I would probably recommend a little more in terms of States so that we do not get excessive regional concentration.
Senator ABOUREZK. If you send in a letter on the other point that Senator Hatch mentioned, would you give some thought to how much more and the basis you might have for it?
Senator HATCH [acting chairman]. I will ask unanimous consent that anything that you send us be incorporated in the record.
Mr. NADER. This resolution is not without its dangers to corporate crime, dangers to bureaucratic waste, and dangers to the nullification of the people’s rights by bureaucracies and other large economic institutions. I don’t think that’s the issue. The issue is how can we make it fair so that those who want to work the democratic process can have a fair opportunity to prevail.
Senator HATCH. I agree with you that if we’re going to have it, it has to be made fair. I agree with you that it should be expanded to more than 10 States and possibly broadened from a percentage standpoint. Professor Abraham of Virginia testified yesterday and suggested up to 5 percent or something like that. There ought to be some reflective thought put into it.
I also submit, however, that there are many other things that I think the vast majority of Americans would vote on such as; balancing the budget, which could be very harmful if you do it by 1980. And also impossible, or lopping off aspects of the bureaucracy, which may not be good because of the lack of reflection.
There are many other things like the development over environment. There are many things that certain people think are just purely liberal issues that really need balance. I think, without total reflection, this could cause chaos in America.
I have great sympathy with this idea. I think that people across the country are going to be pretty reflective before they vote on any of these initiatives petitions and I think if we can get into this bill or into any implementing legislation the character of mass media access which you have suggested—and I think that’s a good point—then I think maybe it has some possibilities.
Let me ask one more question. Is not the cure for remoteness lou -government regulation by unelected bureaucracies and unelected judges? These two branches are not even touched by this resolution and yet they are making many, if not almost all, of the decisions in society today. This is what is really frustrating to most citizens in our country.
Mr. NADER. First of all, appropo of your earlier point, recall the Reagan sponsored initiative in California on the budget in taxatioL
Senator HATCH. We had one in Utah.
Mr. NADER. It lost.
Senator HATCH. Yes, because of the way it was written.
Mr. NADER. People are often astonished at how sensible people can be.
Senator HATCH. That has won also in other areas and we lost one in Utah which is reputed to be a conservative constituency.
Not “we” but whoever submitted it lost it. But I am submitting that there can be a number of problems here. This sword cuts both ways.
Mr. NADER. The process is also revocable. That is what’s good about it. In a few years if the consequence of the first initiative is untoward it can be repealed. It’s not like something cast in bronze.
What was your second point?
Senator HATCH. The basic question was this. Isn’t the remoteness in government c~used by the bureaucracy and the unelected bureaucracy and the unelected judiciary? I have respect for the Federal judiciary so don’t infer from my comments that I want to bring special controls on the Federal judiciary that will bind it down and make it susceptible to politics. On the other hand we have to acknowledge the fact that there is an awful lot of legislation being created by judicial fiat today and certainly almost all, I think, is being created by the bureaucracy. So those are areas where remoteness is a reality.
Mr. NADER. The initiative process will affect those areas because it will affect the laws under which government agencies operate and the laws that are used to interpret conflicts before the judiciary.
Second, I think one of the consequences would be considerable reduction in certain kinds of government activity. For instance, a lot of what this town is all about is the dissemination of subsidies or indirect subsidies to commercial and industrial operations. So, that is a lot of activity.
Senator HATCH. I think it’s creating retirement programs for lawyers. I think that we have made the legal profession the most important profession in the world in this country. It’s a multibillion dollar profession and we’ve done it unnecessarily.
Mr. NADER. That is what might be expected of a Congress that is 50 percent lawyers.
Senator HATCH. That may be. I think it has resulted from advocates like yourself who are pushing programs that make everything litigious.
Mr. NADER. No. I think it largely comes from the impact of complexity arising out of special interest group pleading like the tax code.
We are trying to simplify the tax code and in fact we could reduce the tax code to one-tenth of the bulk that it is now and who would be the main opponents of that?
Senator HATCH. I would suggest to the contrary. The people responsible are those who have been advocating widespread and wholesale class action usage and those who have been advocating many of the litigation-type approaches here in Washington which have resulted in billions of dollars of cost to consumers without a heck of a lot of benefit.
Mr. NADER. Of course, as you know I thoroughly disagree with you.
Senator HATCH. I know that.
Mr. NADER. But I would like to point out that the class action is an efficiency instrument. It’s a wholesale instrument.
Senator HATCH. Only if it’s fair.
Mr. NADER. Certainly.
Senator HATCH. It’s not fair.
Mr. NADER. But in terms of the burden on the judiciary it is an infinitesimal fraction compared to the commercial litigation between companies and
Senator HATCH. I’m not talking about a burden on the judiciary. It is truly that. There is no question about that. A lot of litigation created here in Washington is a burden on the judiciary.
But it is far more than that. It’s a burden on the taxpayer and the consuming public and so forth.
Mr. NADER. I think the record will show that consumer legislation has saved the consumers enormous amounts of money not to mention the pain and anguish of human casualties.
Senator HATCH. I do not think it will show that. I think it will show billions of unnecessary dollars, even though there needs to be considerable legislation. I don’t mean to say that I disagree totally with you but maybe that’s a little off this subject.
Let me ask you this. I have enjoyed your testimony this morning. I think it has been articulate and I think it has been very fine testimony. I think it has been well-reasoned. I haven’t made up my mind on this particular joint resolution because I see some awful problems both ways. I see some nice solutions both ways, but I have a tendency to want to go very slow in doing away with that which our Founding Fathers set up even though I do not consider that sacrosanct. I still believe that we ought to be very slow in making these types of wholesale changes.
But I think your testimony has been excellent. As usual I have enjoyed it very much. I enjoy you very very much.
Do you have anything else to say?
Mr. NADER. One more point. I think we can learn from the experience at the State level as will be expressed by the People’s Lobby in California who will be testifying today and the Initiative America People who have gone to many States and I think have the pulse of what many people in this country feel on this issue. So, it’s not entirely speculative. We do have a good history of initiative and referendum.
Senator HATCH. I agree on the State level but I think it may be a far cry in application when it becomes federally applicable. That may be where we run into difficulty because it’s almost impossible to foresee what kind of ramifications it will have.
Mr. NADER. There are differences, of course, but it’s important, when you deal with a State as large as California, to see what we can learn from that experience.
Senator HATCH. I certainly agree with you there.
We appreciate your testimony and the effort that you put forth to be with us today.
Mr. NADER. Thank you.
Senator HATCH. Our next witness is Mr. Don Whiting, the election supervisor of the State of Washington, Olympia, Wash. We’re happy to welcome you to the subcommittee, Mr. Whiting. We are most interested in your testimony.