California politics did not lack for full-throated policy debates yesterday when protestors turned out in Sacramento to oppose SB 277, the vaccination bill for school children, and in Los Angeles to oppose the proposed route of the high -speed rail through the San Fernando Valley.

Whether the protestors in either case will ultimately disrupt the policy decisions that they opposed is yet to be determined.

If political persuasion fails, in California there is always the question if the protestors can use direct democracy to achieve their goals?

There have been rumors that legislators backing the vaccination bill could face recall efforts from opponents. That would be a difficult course to follow even if only a couple of legislators are targets.

What about a referendum to pull down the bill? Such a move would appear to be more likely, but still extremely difficult. There may be some well-off opponents of SB 277 in the West Side of Los Angeles and elsewhere, but can those opposed to the bill raise the funds needed in a short time for a referendum effort?

Once on the ballot the chances of such a referendum passing looks doubtful when looking at the recent PPIC poll. When asked what they thought of the mandated vaccinations, 67% of Californians said they approved. Support for the position of mandated vaccinations crossed all regions and demographic groups. A campaign could reduce that number but it is a tough position to start from for opponents of the bill.

Referendum on the high-speed rail is also out of the question, although an initiative could be put together to stop the bond funding, or to test alternatives to high-speed transportation like Elon Musk’s hyperloop, stalling the project so that a comparison could be made. Neither of these alternatives seem likely.

An initiative could be drafted to deal with moving the route of the rail, but that issue is regional. Who would fund it? Even if the high-speed rail concept is not embraced by a majority of Californians now, would a measure on the route of the rail really have a chance for success statewide?

Whether the vaccination bill is defeated or the route of the rail is altered will most likely depend on the opponents and protestors changing the hearts and minds of the governing authorities. California’s fabled direct democracy doesn’t appear to have a role in these disputes at present.