As with everyone, politicians and government officials like
to get their way, and most of them don't appreciate it when citizens take charge with
popular initiative, referendum and recall petition campaigns. Michigan's
of the people to exercise these forms of direct democracy, but that doesn't
prevent elected and appointed officials here from trying to restrict this
For example, during the past 10 years, at least six
bills have been introduced in the Legislature to restrict
the right of citizens to recall an elected official. Several dozen more
bills have been introduced to make it more difficult to gather signatures
on ballot measure petitions. Legislative trickery has been successfully
employed to deny citizens the right of referendum on controversial new laws, by
exploiting a constitutional
loophole that somehow the Legislature never gets around to fixing. And the
body authorized to ensure that ballot measures initiated by the people
meet reasonable standards of clarity has abused
its power in a blatantly political fashion to deny citizens
Indeed, nowhere does the motto "The price of liberty is
eternal vigilance" apply more than in preserving the rights of citizens to
employ these direct democracy tools to take charge over the politicians.
Paul Jacob is the founder and president of Citizens in
Charge, a national organization created to protect and expand these rights. To illustrate the persistent threat of
politicians and wealthy special interests who seek to infringe these rights,
Citizens in Charge has created a humorous "Don't Be Fooled" video
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