Why representative democracy is not “government FOR the people”

“FOR the people”. This is the third part of Lincoln’s famous words at Gettysburg.

Remember: “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

In the last two blogs we showed that representative democracy is not “government OF the people” and “government BY the people”.

Just in case this is the first time you visit: I do not question representative democracy.

Representative democracy is light-years ahead in human capital of any authoritarian or totalitarian regime.

All those regimes belong to a more primitive social state. Even if they are technologically advanced, they are humanely primitive.

The blog is about promoting direct democracy. Direct democracy is the next logical stage for established and stable representative democracies.

We do not have many such democracies.

This small group includes only the Northern European countries, Canada, the US (even with its never ending state of tension), Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and perhaps China (Taipei), South Korea and India. I might have left one or two out.

So, if representative democracy is not “OF the people” and “BY the people”, there is no way it can be FOR the people.

Credible opinion surveys show many people do not feel represented in representative democracies. Representative democracy is not FOR them. More than a few feel representative democracy is for the representatives themselves and the lobbies.

But you do not need the surveys to know that representative democracy is not for us. We know it from our personal experience, from others in our family, from our friends and from colleagues at work.

People to not have a high opinion of their elected representatives because of the behaviour of the representatives. That is the reason.

We all know how what people associate to the word “politician”, it is not pretty.

How can people hold politicians in high esteem?; they make promises they can’t or won’t keep, they lie, they manipulate, once elected they pass laws and make decisions, or look the other way, even when they know most people are against.

They do it because they make the rules and play the game. It is time citizens do that.

Politicians also lead far more privilege lives than most voters

As a result, their personal and collective priorities are very different from those of ordinary voters.

Too often they only put themselves in our places to fool us.

This is why so many people do not feel represented in “representative” democracy, and never will.

Elected politicians also often have to listen to the rich and the lobbies. Sometimes they have to because they need their money to run election and reelection campaigns. They also listen to  because those with the money can offer politicians very well paid jobs after they leave politics, if they are nice to those with the money while they “serve”.

In short, if the people do not govern it is logical that representative democracy not be FOR the people.

There are many other signs that representative democracy is in trouble because it has lost its way.

For example, many ordinary people look at those they elect as people with superior status. This makes no sense.

Makes no sense that we treat the people, who have the job of representing us because we gave it to them, and whose salary we pay, end up being treated as if they have superior status to us.

We refer to permanent government employees “civil servants”. Politicians should be called “elected civil servants”, it is good enough.

One first good step, only a first one, is to do what the Swiss do.

The Swiss, have and use, the power to approve or stop the laws the elected representatives make. At least we have to have that in all established and stable representative democracies.

A better step is that the people, directly govern.

Until we do that, “government of the people, by the people, for the people” are nice words, not facts.

To make then facts we have to DO things.

Thanks for your comments.


Victor Lopez

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