The initiative: A tool for fighting

Californians—or at least those Californians of a wonky sort—are marking the 100th anniversary of the state’s initiative process, October 10, with a series of events around the state. But I doubt any of the words spoken at those events will be truer than those delivered by Bruno Kaufmann, a journalist and president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe, at a September 21 forum hosted in San Francisco by the Swiss consulate.

Contrasting California’s use of the initiative with the Swiss system Hiram Johnson and the Progressives used as their model, Kaufmann said:

Your process is much more about enabling conflict, but not about solving conflict. You use it like a hammer, when what you need is a screwdriver.

Cheryll Barron offers a fuller account of the event at post-Gutenberg.