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Revitalizing American Democracy Where It Counts

American voters are increasingly coming to understand that the ballot is an effective and relatively inexpensive but underused tool for overcoming legislative gridlock. While candidate elections still matter, direct democracy offers one of the most promising avenues for advancing the majority's interests.

BERKELEY – America’s representative democracy has become increasingly fragile at the federal level. With the US Supreme Court captured by a radical conservative majority, and with Congress constrained by deep political divisions, electoral gerrymandering, and arbitrary procedural rules, neither body represents the interests of the majority – especially on issues such as abortion rights, minimum wages, gun control, and voting.

Fortunately, citizens can still effect change from the bottom up, through elections as well as through local initiatives and ballot measures. The past year has offered cause for optimism: In addition to the surprising results of many midterm congressional elections and state and local polls, there were also successful ballot measures concerning issues on which a majority of Americans agree.

The United States has a long history of concerned citizens pursuing direct action through the powers vested to them by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. And now, voters and progressive groups around the country are continuing this tradition, by tackling key issues that are being ignored or set back at the federal level.