By Joe Mathews
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In a majority-vote system, the Democrats would have been accountable for the state’s budget problems. S. House of Representatives in 1994. But in a two-thirds system, no one could fairly say that a budget belonged to one party or the other. Both parties had their names on the birth certiﬁcate. And so Republicans couldn’t gain politically by rallying against the budget status quo. Instead, they clung to the two-thirds system for the leverage it provided. In this way, the minority party had Empowering and Shackling Sacramento / 49 a “Stockholm syndrome” relationship with the supermajority requirement; they loved what kept them in political prison.
Some surveys of the time suggested that direct democracy had been discredited among a war-scarred generation by the plebiscites of dictators like Hitler, Stalin, and Nasser. California’s desire for direct action also may have been tempered by three popular governors: Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, and Pat Brown. But a more important barrier to using the initiative, referendum, or recall was the huge surge in the state’s population. The standards for qualifying measures for the ballot were based on percentages.
So Riley, citing no law and no authority because there was none in such matters, called a convention to ﬁgure out what to do. He suggested that some sort of civilian government be drawn up, based on Mexican law. Ten delegates showed up on Saturday, September 1, 1849, at Colton Hall in Monterey. By the following Monday, twenty-eight delegates were present. Forty-eight people, elected to represent the state’s regions, would eventually take part. They were strangers to each other, and in many cases to California.