People tried to get this power from Congress, both in 1907 and 1977, with no success. Gravel adopted the Founders’ solution: rather than beg the existing 13 Legislatures to ratify the Constitution, the Founders had delegates of The People ratify the Constitution at the Constitutional Conventions. James Madison said “The people were in fact, the fountain of all power, and by resorting to them, all difficulties were got over.” (His 2nd response in the 1787 Debate)

For 10 years, from 2002 until 2012, Gravel  resorted to you to read and vote to ratify the National Initiative, but never got enough attention and votes, to make real the promise of “government by the people.” The National Initiative consists of the brief Democracy Amendment and the more detailed Democracy Act.


  • The Founders would agree! George Washington said “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.” More Founders’ quotes.
  • America’s best Constitutional expert agrees. As Yale’s Akil Reed Amar says in
    Popular Sovereignty and Constitutional Amendment “We the People of the United States have a legal right to alter our government–to amend our Constitution–via a majoritarian and populist mechanism akin to a national referendum, even though that mechanism is not explicitly specified in Article V.”
  • Our endorsers agree: Patch Adams to Howard Zinn “Participation, that’s what’s going to save the human race.” -Pete Seeger
  • The Economist Magazine agrees: in 17articles!

This vote is no poll. It’s as legal as the conventions which ratified the Constitution. Senator Gravel keeps your email, registered address, etc., with your vote so it can be verified, but will share this data ONLY with the government when ratification is complete: when more than half the people who voted in the previous Presidential election vote for the Initiative. You can change your vote at any time until then. This will take several years.


  • Initiatives put the people in the drivers seat. Responsibility brings more responsible people: more people vote in States with initiatives. In Switzerland, national initiatives since 1891 result in the highest newspaper readership in the world. The mental health benefits are incalculable.
  • US states with much initiative use are happiernew research shows!
  • Initiatives are competition for legislators. The National Initiative will break the monopoly Congress has on national legislative power.
  • People are less swayed by money than representatives are. This study and book show that people favor “grassroots” initiatives over “big money” initiatives while the Associated Press shows Congress usually votes the way big money wants. Buying Congress is the world’s best investment, paying off at 1000 to 1 or more. See what jailed lobbyist/bribesman Jack Abramoff says in this Washington Post article (3rd paragraph).
  • “No one misunderstands the public as much as its representatives.” See this study from the U. of Maryland
  • When legislators make mistakes they cover them up –to protect their careers. Citizens lack the coverup incentive but have incentive to fix mistakes: regular people suffer more than the privileged. Thomas Jefferson said “The will of the majority is the natural law of every society and the only sure guardian of the rights of man; though this may err, yet its errors are honest, solitary and short-lived.”
  • Large, diverse groups of independent people make better decisions. The award-winning book The Wisdom of Crowds shows how and why.
  • Even animals practice democracy! NY Times article



The National Initiative makes these improvements over state ballot initiatives
based on a century of state initiatives and 160 years of Swiss initiatives:

  • More deliberation: Randomly-selected “Deliberative Committees” would hold hearings, take expert testimony, and negotiate amendments. Their reports would be disseminated by all media. Oregon is now using the similar Citizen Initiative Review
  • Easier: Initiatives could qualify by poll, as well as by petition: if a majority polled want to vote on an initiative, they get to.
  • Less influence of money, by allowing only individual contributions to initiative campaigns. No corporate or union donations. The Deliberative Committee reports seen everywhere would make big-money ad campaigns much less important.

Thanks to Evan Ravitz for this content. For more on this topic and voting issues visit