For the Many or the Few: The Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy

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Direct democracy continues to grow in importance throughout the United States. Citizens are increasingly using initiatives and referendums to take the law into their own hands, overriding their elected officials to set tax, expenditure, and social policies. John G. Matsusaka's "For the Many or the Few" studies a century of budget data from states and cities to provide the first comprehensive, empirical picture of how direct democracy is changing government policies.Matsusaka argues against the popular belief that initiatives empower wealthy special interest groups that neglect the majority view. Examining demographic, political, and opinion data, he demonstrates how initiatives led to significant tax and expenditure cuts over the last thirty years and that these cuts were supported by a majority of citizens. He concludes that, by and large, direct democracy in the United States has worked for the benefit of the many rather than the few.

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The University of Chicago Press
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