LETTER TO LEAGUE OF VOTERS/BETTY TROTTER 11/18/83
PEOPLE’S LOBBY, INC.
2315 DURANT #405, BERKELEY, CA 94704
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:
PROPOSED 27TH AMENDMENT*
“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.”