The American Revolution inspired the democratic movement in Switzerland. From France, the Swiss adopted the practice of the popular referendum.
Sadly, both “masters” have fallen behind the “pupil”. I am not sure if it is because the “masters” forgot what they knew, or if it is because the “pupil” kept moving forward. I suspect there are elements of both.
The French have forgotten about the referendum as the instrument for the people to exercise their power.
The Americans never practiced the popular the referendum. The American Constitution is supposed to be a “living and breathing” document. Unfortunately, the American people have no say in the life and breath of the Constitution.
In the United States, only politicians can change the Constitution. Ironically, the US Constitution states that the American people gave themselves the Constitution, but now they have no power to change the document they gave themselves, makes no sense.
The Americans went backward also when they tolerated that the Supreme Court judges have power over the people and the elected representatives. The Supreme court of the United States decides if a law is in accordance with the Constitution or not. In this regard, the US Supreme Court has more power than the people and their representatives together; makes no sense either.
The 9 judges of the US Supreme Court can decide what is or is not Constitutional and, therefore, what is good or not for the Country. That should not happen in a democracy.
Politicians appoint the US Supreme Court judges, after much argument in the US Senate, the hearings. We all have seen how “calm”, and “rational” the hearings have become.
In the US, whatever party has the majority in the Senate decides who will be the next Supreme Court judge. The fights are vicious, perhaps in part because the US Supreme Court judges are there for life and have huge power.
US Supreme Court judges can not be removed from office unless the Senate votes to do so by a two-thirds majority; it has never happened. The appointment for life makes no sense for people with immense power.
In the US, you have politicians with more power than the people. You also have the politicians appointing Supreme Court Judges who also have more power than the people and even the politicians. The American people have zero power over Supreme Court Judges. The judges interpret the Constitution and the people have to shut up.
In France the situation is even worse; the Constitutional Council is the highest court in France deciding what is or is not constitutional. Hold on to your seats now! In the current Constitutional Council, the following people serve; Laurent Fabius, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Claire Bazy-Malaurie, Corinne Luquiens, Michel Pinaut, Dominique Lottin, Alain Juppe, Jacues Mezard, Francois Pillet.
They are all former presidents of France or people appointed by Presidents of France, by the President of the French National Assembly or by the President of the French Senate. Former French Presidents also have the automatic right to serve in the Council. More control of the Council by the political establishment is not possible.
It is absurd that politicians and political appointees decide what the Constitution means; the people should decide that.
Democracy is supposed to be “government by the people”, but all the people can do in representative democracies, not just in France and the US, is elect the politicians. After the election, the people have zero power over the politicians and over judges. The people can demonstrate and scream, but that’s it. The media, the lobbies and the editorialists have more power of influence over the politicians and the judges than the people.
The people should decide what the Constitution means and should also decide if it needs changes. But should do it, not by i riots or demonstrations, they should decide via a calm, free, deliberate, and deliberative public debate, followed by a referendum.
The Swiss, once again, show the way. In Switzerland, the Supreme Court is expressly barred from ruling on Constitutional matters. The politicians can not touch the constitution without the explicit consent of the majority of the people. The people are the ultimate authority on the Constitution.
If in a democracy, the people give themselves the Constitution, it is obvious the people must be the final authority on the Constitution; the people must have the power to change it and to approve or reject any change proposed by the politicians.
Changing the constitution is not rocket science or neurosurgery, it is much more complicated, that is why the people have to decide. I am convinced the common sense required to make democracy work is a far deeper intelligence than the intelligence required for rocket science or neurosurgery. It is because Common Sense takes into account many more variables.
It is time democracy be ruled by the common sense of the majority; not by elected or appointed elites. It is time for direct democracy.