Populism of the “right” or “left” is not the disease, it is the symptom. I write “left” and “right” in quotation marks because they are misleading simplifications of reality,
Why does the US have Trump? Why Brexit? because representative democracy failed. The failings of representative democracy cause populism.
You can call Trump any names you want. You can insult those who voted for him. But if you do that, you cannot find out why Trump became President.
The rational way to deal with Trump’s election is to understand the voters who elected him.
In the US, and in the UK and other democracies, the elected representatives have distanced themselves from the citizens. The distancing has been gradual but deepens as time goes by.
I do not know why this happened. Perhaps it is because the lobbies have too much influence on lawmakers. But it could also be because elected representatives should serve only one term. Many other factors can play a role. Who knows to what extent political polarization has made it more difficult to look at the issues objectively, with less ideological “load”?
If the US had direct democracy, the distancing between the voters and the elected politicians would not be so wide.
Why direct democracy would prevent such polarization?
One possibility is that direct democracy gives the voters the power they need. This enables the people to stop politicians from passing laws they do not support. This means direct democracy keeps the politicians closer to the people.
Politicians also know it is foolish to pass laws the people will reject. Politicians are not stupid; they do not want to work for nothing.
The influence of the people is more effective if they also have the power to make laws and change the constitution.
The lobbies know this too. Therefore, it makes no sense for them to lobby the politicians to pass what the people will not support.
In direct democracy the people decide. People hear the arguments from all sides; they make up their minds and vote.
Swiss local, cantonal and national politics work the same way.
Sometimes Swiss voters go “right” sometimes go “left”. I use these words because they are familiar to most people. I already said I consider them simplistic.
For example, Swiss women could not vote in federal elections until 1972.
Most readers consider this decision by the Swiss unjust and a mistake, but that is how democracy works. The good side to this story is that Switzerland changed peacefully.
On other issues, the Swiss vote in a very different direction. For example, they were the first nation to approve of gay marriage by a national referendum.
“Right” or “Left”, when something has been decided by the people it is very hard for politicians to undo the decision. It would be political suicide.
No politician in Switzerland will try to undo gay marriage. It would be suicidal, unless the thinking of voters changes. One option is for politicians to persuade the public to change its mind. Of course, those opposing those politicians will campaign to the contrary.
It is clear cut; the people have decided, end of argument.
In representative democracy it is the politician who decides. The people may not like the decision. The only options they have are agitating the street or wait for the next election. This creates more division, the arguments go on forever. One way to put a stop to the madness is to let the people decide.
If the American people approve gay marriage, abortion on demand, etc., by referendum those who disagree can not say such laws are contrary to American values. How could they if the American people spoke?
Generally, direct democracy reduces political polarization also. It is also necessary to be in tune with the majority; in direct democracy politicians work to pass laws supported by the majority. In representative democracy often that is not so.
Remember, if you do not like Trump, that in a direct democracy Trump would not have happened. If you like Trump, think direct democracy also, because he would have not been necessary.
Inform yourself, research direct democracy. I believe you will conclude direct democracy will deliver. Switzerland is the best “school” we have for direct democracy.
But the people have to ready for direct democracy. Your country is probably not ready for direct democracy if it is not a stable representative democracy.
If that is the case, the first job is to spread the word about the benefits of direct democracy. The second job is to align individual and social values and behaviours with those that make direct democracy possible and sustainable.
All stable representative democracies are ready to introduce direct democracy. They can start at the local level.
If you support direct democracy, do something every day to spread the word. If you do not, I suggest you learn more for and against it.
As always, your comments will enrich the site, even if you are critical.