Alan Greenblatt of Governing hasn’t forgotten our Legislature’s brazen repeal of Initiated Measure 22. Greenblatt includes South Dakota in a new essay listing states where democratic norms are under attack:
So the assault on fair play isn’t a new idea. Nevertheless, it seems clear to most observers that something new is going on. Maybe it’s a difference in kind, or maybe there really is more openness about bending the rules to suit partisan purposes. Legislators have often been known, for example, to challenge ballot measures in court, or redirect or withhold funds that voters have approved. That still happens. But South Dakota took this tactic one step further this year. The state legislature kicked off its session by overturning a law (an ethics package, no less) that voters had just enacted at the ballot box in November. “Now legislators are picking and choosing what part of the voters’ will they’re going to accept,” says Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, “and that’s just not how democracy works” [Alan Greenblatt, “Democratic Norms Are Under Attack, and Not Just by Trump,” Governing, 2017.05.18].
Hmm… can “Great Faces, Great Places” and “Low Taxes!” work alongside “Low Respect for Democracy”?
Restoring respect for democracy will require more than a good citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to check Legislative power. It will require legislators who stop seeing themselves as members of an elite club and and recognize their proper role as servant in a democracy that includes everybody.