Why People Do or Do Not Participate? The central argument behind Anthony Down’s revised theory of political participation is that most people participate out of duty or habit.
Why People Do or Do Not Participate?
The central argument behind Anthony Down’s revised theory of political participation is that most people participate out of duty or habit. If this hypothesis is true given the gradual decline in voter participation in this country since the late 1950s, then the sense of duty or responsibility has declined as well. Do you think this is true? If so, why do you think that you and I feel less of a sense of duty to vote than our parents or our grandparents?
There may be several answers to this question. First, many argue that people have lost faith in government, therefore feeling no duty to participate in it. Many analysts suggest that this decline began with Vietnam and Watergate but has been made worse in recent years by the sharp ideological and partisan divisions that have gripped the nation and the state. As it became clear that the government was lying to us, faith in and duty toward that government declined. About the same time, Texas experienced its own scandal in the 1970s (the Sharpstown scandal) which contributed to the cynicism.
Second, the 1960s began with great promise for government solutions, but ended with scandal and government failures. As it became clear that government could not solve our problems, our sense of duty to support that government declined.
Third, recent dominance (sine the 1990s of the Republican party has made elections less competitive and in so doing, have perhaps decreased participation.
Where do you see participation in the future? Can that faith or duty be recaptured or is participation going to continue to decline? If you were in charge of government, what would you or could you do to change this trend?
States That Allow Voter Initiated Ballot Referendums (Direct Democracy)
While most of the participation we will talk about refers to representative (indirect)
democracy where individuals cast their ballots for or against candidates who promise to pass rules
laws that govern our daily lives, sometimes voters get to actually vote specifically for or against laws or rules. This process is known as direct democracy.
There are two general types of direct democracy (inititiave and referendum), but really only one in Texas (and that one in a very narrow form: constitutional referendum).
With the initiative, laws are initiated and passed completely by the voters without any contributions by the elected political leaders. In the states that have initiatives (not Texas). Voters gather enough signatures
(ranging from 2% to 5% of the registered voters, depending on the state)
To get the proposal on the ballot and then voters vote for or against it. If a majority of the voters support the proposal, then it becomes law. It does not have to be voted on by the legislature or signed by the governor. Although the courts could find it unconstitutional.
Referendum. A second kind of direct democracy is the referendum, where voters cast their ballots for or against a proposal that the legislature has placed on the ballot. For example, in states that have the referendum, the legislature might vote to put a proposal up for a vote to restrict access to guns or to create a lottery, and then voters will decide whether or not they like they idea. If a majority vote for the idea, then it becomes law.
The difference between the referendum and the initiative is that the legislature puts the referendum on the ballot
then the voters decide if they want it or not. In the initiative, the voters place the idea on the ballot and decide if they want it to be law or not.
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