Over the last year, California has witnessed a new form of direct democracy. This has been a technocracy writ large. Utilizing overwhelming charisma and popularity, Arnold has rammed a wedge though the notoriously tardy California legislature, forcing bureaucrats to take action or suffer ballot initiatives by his unstoppable political machine. Quickly, other California politicians took up, what can be called, Arnold's Way - notably Gavin Newsome in San Francisco.
Based on Boxer’s survey, it seems she is trying to tap into that vibe and go national with his people-first tactics. However, lacking Arnold’s charisma or approval rating, Boxer is forced to combined the old with the new, polling Californians to gauge what they want and then, we assume, will take her poll driven "mandate" to drive the policies home. This can be called the “let-them-eat-cake” approach and just as in 1793 it will not work.
With the advent of the Internet and high speed communications real direct democracy is possible but before California, and inevitably the county, buys off on Boxer's Survey-to-Policy government we need to ask ourselves want we really want or need? Boxer may believe she is acting more like Arnold by asking the people for her policy but she is not. Arnold, through his publicity campaigns, uses technology and the media to build, or sell, a consensus for his own pre-determined policies. Some, like the Indian Gaming deal, have been extremely unpopular before he started the sales job. Boxer is doing it backwards, looking for the consensus, first, and then pursuing “the peoples” policy. This is the Democratic way of thinking on everything and it is a big problem.
Today, Republicans act like salesman (sell, sell, sell) while the Democrats act like marketers, gauge response, then act accordingly. Boxer and politicians like her do not seem to understand why the Republicans are killing them. The Republicans win because they sell their constituents on what they should believe and control the fridges of the party by dolling out carrots (anti-abortion legislation, Christian Judges or Attorney’s General) when they can. Democrats should not ask what their constituents want, we already know they want, it's a big loser called socialism. Instead, progressives need to be told what to do. That is what the Republicans do, they lead their party, and it obviously works.
Democrats need politicians to guide them along the way as we seek a more perfect union. Victories will follow as long as trade-offs can be found between the politically aggressive far left and the apathetic center, but first we need to be sold on giving up some of our wackier ideas (no guns, heavy taxation, etc.). But we will never get to that point by polling and reacting. Boxer's approach is a recipe for cake, an ultimately unfullfilling lowest common denominator government our Founding Fathers specifically sought to avoid.