One hundred and twenty five years ago, South Dakota did something no other state in the nation had done. They affirmed a process for people to have direct lawmaking powers. Soon other states followed in allowing for ballot initiatives and referendums.
A key leader in this movement was Father Robert Haire, a Catholic priest, and a socialist. He initially called for getting rid of elected representatives altogether. This effort failed, but he continued to be a leading advocate of what we call direct democracy. This was enshrined by South Dakota lawmakers in 1897 and approved by voters the following year. Today, slightly less than half of US states, 24, allow for some form of direct democracy.
Ohio is one that does, and yesterday Ohioans voted to support reproductive rights and decriminalize marijuana.
We’re a week past All Saints Day, but to the cloud of witnesses we can add a South Dakotan socialist priest who helped launch direct democracy in our country, Father Robert Haire.