Direct Democracy Or Representative Government?

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Overview


In Direct Democracy or Representative Government? John Haskell develops a devastating critique of direct democracy by exposing the central flaw in populist thinking. Contrary to the beliefs of populist advocates of direct democracy, the popular will cannot be interpreted from the results of the plebiscite. John Haskell presents a defense of representative institutions that brings to bear, in an understandable way, the findings of public choice scholars. Haskell covers the clash of ideas between populists and constitutionalists throughout American history. He follows the development of direct democracy during the twentieth century, especially the dramatically increased use of initiatives and referenda in the last decade. As Americans become increasingly frustrated with the workings of the institutions of government at the state and national levels, and as populist ideas gain greater currency, new forms of direct and participatory democracy making use of the latest computer technology appeal to more people. Haskell speculates as to the likely future direction of direct democracy in the U.S. He describes in clear language the fundamental problem with the premise of populist thinking and explains why direct democracy presents a threat to minority rights and only promises irresponsible and unaccountable governance.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Haskell, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute, describes the dangers and uncovers the logical flaws of politics-by- plebiscite as practiced in California and other states, and makes the case that the populist impulse for direct democracy is as much a part of American political culture as the republican restraint embodied in the Constitution. He uses recent discoveries in social sciences to refute the populist position that direct democracy is the truest form of democracy, and claims that checks and balances and separated powers are all the more essential because of our populist tradition. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author


John Haskell is Senior Fellow at the Government Affairs Institute in Washington, D.C. He has written several articles on presidential and congressional politics, and is the author of Fundamentally Flawed, an examination of the presidential nomination process.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures viii
Preface ix
1 Introduction 1
2 The Heritage of Populism in the United States 21
3 Direct Democracy: Past, Present, and Future 47
4 Direct Democracy Versus Representative Democracy 85
5 Dispelling the Populist Myth 121
6 Curing the Mischief of Plebiscite 147
Notes 177
Bibliography 201
Index 207
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