Brian Normoyle (who's adorably cute as well as polticaly astute) has written a wonderful piece on how California's Proposition system came to be, how it's now destroying the state, and how it must be overhauled -- or more Prop 13's (and Prop 8's) and the like will drag it down further (if that's even possible).
From Brian Normoyle (via Huffpo):
In the special election held last week in California, five ballot initiatives designed to temporarily fix the state's crippling budget crisis failed by an overwhelming 2:1 margin. The voters of California sent yet another unequivocal message to Sacramento that they want their leaders and legislators to do the jobs they were elected and paid $116,000 a year to do. The problem is, they can't. The very system used to send this resounding electoral message is at least partially to blame for the state's problems; but a budding grassroots movement seeks to change that.
The California initiative process began in 1911 as a way for ordinary citizens to expropriate control of corrupt state government from the undue influence of special interests -- namely, the Southern Pacific Railroad. Sadly, however, the system has since become something its creators never intended: an unwieldy, untenable wolf that has subverted the deliberative nature of representative democracy; tied the hands of elected officials charged with controlling the state's purse strings; and undermined traditional court protections of minorities by eliminating fundamental civil rights -- and all via mostly narrow majorities in popular votes.
"The history of California's Constitution is interesting because it's been changed so much," Levine explains. Indeed, a little historical perspective demonstrates its cumbersome complexity. The US Constitution has been amended only 27 times in its entire 222-year history. By contrast, California's Constitution has been changed -- either by referendum or initiative -- over 540 times in 130 years, making it the third longest constitution in the world and an unmanageable behemoth that one writer called "the perfect example of what a constitution ought not to be."