Letter to the Editor: Don’t lose direct democracy

Boulder Chamber of Commerce CEO John Tayer, nominally a Democrat, is digging up the long-obsolete Republican falsehood that we live in a republic, not a democracy. [Tayer: It’s a Republic … let’s keep it, BizWest, Oct. 1, 2021]. We’ve been a hybrid for over a century in the 26 states including Colorado that have initiative, referendum and recall laws, the ultimate check and balance on our not-always-representative representatives.

These 26 constitutions make it clear that voters’ decisions are legally superior to those of the legislators, city councils, etc.:

For example, the Colorado Constitution, Article 5, Section 1 (4) starts, “The veto power of the governor shall not extend to measures initiated by or referred to the people.” 

In Boulder, where John is telling people not to sign petitions, initiatives gave us the country’s first voter-approved open space, the country’s first gay rights law, public funding of election campaigns, and many other improvements made by the people when City Council wouldn’t. 

In Colorado, initiatives gave us one of the country’s strongest campaign finance laws, the country’s first voter-approved renewable energy requirements for utilities, the country’s strongest ethics in government law, the country’s first legal marijuana, and a slew of other things that attract people and business to our state.

The Chamber of Commerce and other wealthy interests have many ways to control city councils and legislatures. They can’t do that nearly as well with the voters. That’s why Americans demanded direct democracy a century ago and about half of us got it. Don’t lose it or let money and power abuse it. 

Evan Ravitz, founder

Strengthen Direct Democracy

Boulder