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For national political outfits, Super PACs, zillionaires and assorted bounders itching to hustle outlandish ideas into law with the least amount of money and sweat, Alaska is a cheap date. Always has been.
With such a small electoral base to influence — 581,075 registered voters — special interests’ dollars stretch much further in Alaska. Hence, the Frozen North is a magnet for those who would use the initiative process to achieve policy aims while dodging legislative messiness.
It is a nifty way, warned the late Washington Post political columnist David Broder, to have something constitutionally unimaginable: laws without government. Instead of hearings, debate, public testimony and vetting by the people’s representatives, complex public policy questions are stripped of detail and nuance, and reduced to simple yes-or-no propositions in a taste of the direct democracy the Founding Fathers so abhorred.