A new poll from South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy shows just how out of step Senator Al Novstrup and his anti-democracy party are with the general public with respect to citizens’ right to initiative. While Al and his Legislative Club had worked for decades to steadily erode our right to put laws to a direct vote of the people, the 500 South Dakotans surveyed by SDNW and Chiesman tend to say citizen ballot initiatives “are an important part of the democratic process” that the Legislautre should stop hamstringing:
Citizen ballot initiatives are an important part of the democratic process.
- Strongly Disagree — 6.6%
- Disagree — 6.2%
- Neither Disagree nor Agree — 9.3%
- Agree — 34.9%
- Strongly Agree — 39.9%
- Don’t know — 3.1%
The South Dakota legislature should make it more difficult for citizen initiatives to get onto the ballot.
- Strongly Disagree — 35.5%
- Disagree — 27.1%
- Neither Disagree nor Agree — 13.5%
- Agree — 17.7%
- Strongly Agree — 6.3% [Bart Pfankuch, “New Poll Reveals Economic Pessimism and Dissatisfaction with Democratic Institutions,” South Dakota News Watch, 2021.05.19]
And South Dakotans aren’t buying the GOP’s baloney about how “We’re a Republic, not a Democracy.” Asked whether “Democracy is always preferable,” 81.5% agreed, while only 9.1% disagreed. The Founding Fathers may have insisted on a “Republican Form of Government,” but they also insisted on counting black folks in slavery as three-fifths of a human being. The Founding Fathers sometimes got major moral and political issues wrong… and our Republican Legislature gets citizen initiatives wrong. Citizen access to the ballot is not mob rule to be feared and regulated to death. It is the proper expression of the will of the people, all people, whose equal dignity demands equal voice in writing the laws of their community. Our Legislature doesn’t get that, but our people do.
Now if we could just get those democracy-loving South Dakotans to stop electing those democracy-hating legislators….