Podcast Rules of the Game
PODCAST: Let the People Rule



With John Matsusaka I discuss direct democracy, based on his latest book “Let the People Rule: How Direct Democracy Can Meet the Populist Challenge”, that he published with the Princeton University Press in 2020.

Many people feel disconnected from politics. Direct democracy is a powerful democratic institution that can reconnect people with political processes and give them actual political power. Together we discuss the possibilities and pitfalls of direct democracy, and – based on his extensive research – John provides insights and opinions on direct democracy in the US and in general. The book indeed provides not only a great overview of the historic origins of direct democracy in the US, but also suggestions to implement direct democracy at the federal level.

Direct democracy is definitely here to stay. The question is how to use it in the best possible way rather than to cancel it as populist. Technology will bring another boost to direct democracy, carrying with it a lot of risks but also great opportunities. So the earlier we get to grips with this institution, the better for our societies.

John Matsusaka is Charles F. Sexton Chair in American Enterprise, Professor of Finance and Business Economics, and Executive Director of Initiative and Referendum Institute. An economist by training, he works on topics related to political economy, direct democracy, corporate finance, and corporate governance. His article “Ballot Order Effects in Direct Democracy Elections” received the Duncan Black Prize for best paper in Public Choice. He provides commentary for media outlets including ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NPR, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.

Find the show notes with links to all material discussed here.

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