Document Type


Publication Title

Willamette Law Review

Publication Date

Fall 1998


My task is to compare the processes of American representative democracy, or deliberative democracy, with those of direct democracy, or direct initiative lawmaking. By direct democracy I mean a form of lawmaking that allows a state's citizens to initiate amendments to statutes or constitutions for public consideration through a referendum. Included within this definition are systems that permit opportunity for legislative action prior to a referendum.

Comparing representative democracy and direct democracy involves more than an a contextual analysis of the steps in each process. Lawmaking processes are the exercise of real power. They regulate behavior, redistribute wealth, and indicate who has power in society. They also relate our own history and offer views of human conduct. "[W]hat is government itself," Madison wrote, "but the greatest of all reflections on human nature." To compare these processes, we must explore not only their steps, but their purposes and underlying premises.