Tax Crusaders and the Politics of Direct Democracy

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Routledge, 2013 M11 15 - 240 pages
Daniel A. Smith exposes the truth about the American tax revolt. Contrary to conventional wisdom, recent ballot initiatives to limit state taxes have not been the result of a groundswell of public outrage; rather, they have been carefully orchestrated from the top down by professional tax crusaders: political entrepreneurs with their own mission. These faux populist initiatives--in contrast to genuine grassroots movements--involve minimal citizen participation. Instead, the tax crusaders hire public relations firms and use special interest groups to do the legwork and influence public opinion. Although they successfully tap into the pervasive anti-tax public mood by using populist rhetoric, these organizations serve corporate interests rather than groups of concerned neighbors. The author shows that direct democracy can, ironically, lead to diminished public involvement in government. Smith looks at the key players, following the trail of money and power in three important initiatives: Proposition 13 in California (1978), Proposition 2 1/2 in Massachusetts (1980), and Amendment 1 in Colorado (1992). He provides a thorough history of tax limitation movements in America, showing how direct democracy can be manipulated to subvert the democratic process and frustrate the public good.

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Contents

THE POLITICS OF DIRECT DEMOCRACY
1
TAXES THE INITIATIVE PROCESS AND
17
POPULISM AND FAUX POPULIST MOMENTS
38
PROPPING UP PROPOSITION 13
52
GOING HIGH TECH
85
A SOLO CRUSADE
128
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About the author (2013)

Daniel A. Smith is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Denver. This is his first book.

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