And, you can have a process that a campaign reformer can be proud of, if you write your legislator and insist not only that he/she vote for initiative, but that the initiative process contain provisions to limit initiative campaign contributions, give immediate disclosure of major contributors to all advertising, and contain other safeguards against abuse by monied interests.
The General Assembly of Virginia has resisted giving their constituents the rights of initiative, referendum and amendment for over 90 years. Former State Senator Brault found that 94 % of his constituents favored initiative and amendment (I & R). Even though polls by legislators have shown overwhelming support for these forms of direct democracy, most legislators refused to support even its release from committee for a floor vote! They argue that our system is a republic and not a democracy and that democratic processes undermine representative government. They use history to show that democracy led to the fall of Athens into a dictatorship, but ignore the lessons of the Republic of Rome, which also fell to dictatorship.
Another reason they give for not supporting I & R is that they're not hearing anything from their constituents. Send letters to all in your area, not just your specific district. As representatives start to run for higher offices, because public opinion doesn't stop at district lines but moves in social circles, and since district lines can change, elected officials don't like to alienate voters in nearby districts. It's hard to figure out where the district lines are, so if you don't know what districts and legislators are near yours, just write to legislators that have the same or nearby addresses to yours.
Find your legislators in the Virginia General Assembly.
It's crucial that you write AND call these people and that you write letters to the editors of your local papers supporting I & R, but DEMANDING a clean process. For us, the People of Virginia, campaign reform starts here, with I & R campaigns that are rational, informative, and fair.
Campaign Reform at the national & state level is a must!
A Northern Virginia group dedicated to honest and accountable government, VIA-Volunteers for an Independent Arlington-has been a proponent of Initiative and Referendum for Virginians.
Check out a website for a Progressive approach to ballot initiatives and referenda.
Here's the web page of the Direct Democracy Center, where you are encouraged to support I & R.
The Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association has debated and supported I & R for several years. There are strong forces within both parties who are actively opposing it and are trying to dominate the issue recently when a low membership attendance permits it. Check out their newsletters of Apr/May 1994,Nov/Dec 1994,Jan/Feb 1995,May/June 1995,Aug/Sep 1995, Sep/Oct 1995, Oct/Nov 1995, Dec 1995, Jan/Feb 1996, Feb/Mar 1996,Apr/May 1996, May, June 1996, Oct/Nov 1996, Dec1996, Jan 1996, the 1996 Legislative Package, Jan/Feb 1997, Mar/Apr 1997, Apr/May 1997, and May/June 1997.
The National Conference of State Legislatures has analyzed the field of ballot initiatives in the states where citizens have the right to and exercise the right to Initiative and Referendum. (Many legislators see I & R as a threat to their power, but this analysis on the surface seems neutral.)
To learn more about I & R, check out the Free Congress page.
Check out the North Carolina Alliance for Democracy and a short discussion, with links, of the role of ballot initiative in campaign reform in the states. And another page.
Arizonans for Clean Elections has a web page.
Other organizations working for cleaner government and voting rights:
The Center for Responsive Politics
The Center for Public Integrity--they have a terrific report titled "Short Changed" about influence that interferes with changes that are in the interest of the common good.
Initiative and Referendum are key item's in Public Citizen's "Citizens' Toolbox."
As Ralph Nader said at the celebration of Public Citizen's 25th Anniversary:
Check out Mary Taylor's political parodies and carols.