Is There Room For Pure Democracy In A Representative Form Of Government?
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Arizona has a very progressive constitution that allows citizens to sidestep their representatives and pass their own laws. Currently, the Republicans in the legislature are trying to put a stop to this (mainly because they are terrified of legal weed). There are good arguments on both sides of this issue and the question “should pure democracy be allowed in a representative form of government” is a legitimate question.
Interestingly, Flagstaff’s progressives take both sides in this issue. I was once chastised by former Mayor Sara Presler for saying I would start the referendum process if a Property Maintenance Ordinance became law. She told me that I needed to respect our representative form of government by supporting the laws council passed.
Tonight’s Flagstaff City Council Meeting also comes to mind. There is a process in place for citizens and groups to put their own laws on the ballot and sidestep their representatives. Flagstaff Needs A Raise did it last year and Elevate Flagstaff is doing it now. Unfortunately for Elevate Flagstaff, their effort is running into possible roadblocks set by representatives on Council.
Would this whole thing be avoided if we did away with the citizen initiative process? A lot to think about. For now, here’s what the State Legislature is doing: