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To see a working draft of National Initiative -- giving all Americans some of the tools Governor Hiram Johnson gave Californians  -- read to the end and click the link or click here:   

                  Philaelphia II's Direct Democracy Initiative

Thanks to a special election On October 10, 1911, by a vote of 168,744 to 52,093,  Governor Hiram Johnson made California the tenth state in the nation to augment  its citizen's right to democratically elect a representative government with the tools of  direct democracy through the use of:


initiative and



About half of the nation's states now offer their citizens the right to initiate legislation, refer issues to a direct citizens vote and recall public servants.  The nation does not yet have a national initiative. 

People's Lobby was the first grassroots organization in modern California history to:


organize and successfully run initiative campaigns


train other citizen groups to do the same


run the closest thing to a National Initiative campaign the nation has yet known


and place on the Congressional agenda a proposal to implement a National Initiative process..

People's Lobby Steering Board of  "Fanatic Fifty mules," who ran campaigns from

the Los Angeles office and home of  People's Lobby founders, Ed and Joyce Koupal...

In the 1960's and 1970's special power interests promised that nuclear industry would deliver us "power too cheap to meter."  People's Lobby was one of  those groups at the forefront of challenging this thesis and educating Americans to the dangers of nuclear power.  People's Lobby began a serious debate of nuclear issues by qualifying its Clean Environment Initiative in 1972 and by training, organizing and helping place the Nuclear Safeguards Initiative on the June 1976 ballot.

People's Lobby's skill and determination in changing policy and educating through the initiative process lead Ralph Nader to invite the Lobby to the "Critical Mass" conference held in Washington D.C. in 1974. At a meeting with Nader and other leaders who had shown an interest in continuing the thrust of citizen action into the nuclear power problem, the Koupals convinced them that the legislatures were too controlled by special interests to enact safe energy laws.  The answer the Koupals proposed was to have the people themselves enact safe energy laws through the initiative process.  Ralph Nader gave the idea his support and agreed to assist the Koupals in birthing this national effort.  Consequently, the Western Bloc was formed --- a partnership of up to 20 states* which allowed each group to maintain full local identification and individual thrust.  The campaign strategy was to have almost all the state that had the initiative process qualify for the ballot in 1976.  In doing so a very large segment of the country will determine who makes decisions on construction of nuclear power plants:  the investor owned utilities, the Federal government, or the citizens of the state.

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*Eighteen WB states had the initiative process, two who joined did not have the process.

The nuclear industry pumped tens of millions of dollars into each of the states to defeat the initiatives.   But one of the benefits of running an initiative campaign is that it often forces the electorate into maturation by forcing it to become educated on issues that before were known and controlled  by  a handful of special interests. Win or lose, in grassroots driven initiative campaigns,   citizens mature and get smarter.

Since 1978, after the effects of the Western Bloc Nuclear Moratorium Initiatives sunk into the public's consciousness, no new CP (Construction Permits) were issued through the United States Nuclear Regulatory Agency for Nuclear Power Reactors.


The well financed vested interests spent uncounted tens of millions (campaign disclosure laws were weaker then) on media, slick mailers and scare tactics. In the end, however, a much larger percentage of the American public became aware of the dangers of developing nuclear power plants as an energy panacea.

In 1976 People's Lobby souped up an old school bus,  filled it with two of its volunteers, John Forster and Roger Telschow, and  sent them to educate the nation on the need for a National Initiative.

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By 1977 People's Lobby had convened Senate Judiciary Hearing on implementing  a national Initiative process.

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The national initiative idea produced 647 pages of public comment during Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the US Senate during the 95th Congress. Senate Joint Resolution 67 generated much comment: 

Joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States with respect to the proposal and the enactment of laws by popular vote of the people of the United States.

 It did not, as you know, give the nation a national initiative process.  David Brinkley, in an NBC Radio news commentary of July 29, 1977 summed up some of the reasons some Americans want a national initiative process and why America still doesn't have one.

"Well, as one who is and always has been distrustful of large, self-serving organizations such as government bureaucracies . . . and as one who is sick and tired of pious, self-righteous, patronizing rules and instructions from Washington.., of heavy-handed bullying of the public about how much of their own money they're allowed to keep... I must say Abourezk's (sponsoring Senator from South Dakota) idea does have a certain appeal. There are many serious questions to be asked. And some aspects of it are highly dubious. But I do believe we need some way to get a rein on government and bureaucracy.

"This idea may not be it. But even if it were, Congress would never pass it. It would have to give up some of its power. Nobody should hold their breath waiting for that. David Brinkley, NBC news, New York."

Today the national Initiative idea lives on in large part due to the efforts of one of the supporters of those 1977 hearings.  Former US Senator Mike Gravel (Alaska 1969-81) say, "I'd like to dedicate the rest of my life to making the national Initiative process a reality."  With that goal in mind, Senator Gravel chairs the Philadelphia II Board whose goal is to promote and implement a National Initiative Process for the nation. As of December 1999, Philadelphia II  awaits publication of a law review article regarding the constitutional and political issues surrounding the implementation of a National Initiative process.

Much more can be learned about Philadelphia II and the National Initiative proposal and process from the video tapes (NI9801-05) available for review and purchase on our Educational Products page.  The book being worked on, and chapter excerpts from it, is also available from that page.  It will provide historical and contemporary information on National Initiative issues.

To read a summary of what the four for-sale video tapes contain on the National Direct Democracy Initiative proposal click here:

So what’s in these National Initiative tapes anyway?...

To review Philadelphia II's work-in-progress National Direct Democracy Initiative click the hyperlink below:

Working draft of: National Direct Democracy Initiative

To review Philadelphia II's work-in-progress regarding Frequently Asked Questions on the

Working draft of FAQs:  FAQs on National Direct Democracy Initiative

To register your opinion on the need for a  National Direct Democracy Initiative process, click the link Opinion on DDI or use the tabs "Opinion on DDI"  found on the above pages.