Our current representative democracies are a huge step forward from absolute rulers, but another step is necessary.
Unfortunately, in a representative democracy the elected officials hold all the power. The voters only have power at election time. Between elections, the voters are mere spectators. It is time to change that; the people should have always the final say on any decision or law the people consider important.
Fortunately, we have in stable representative democracies the tool to exercise that power orderly; is called voting.
The change involves expanding voting, from just voting to decide in elections to voting on issues, and to also give voters the power to present issues to binding referendums.
Today, we only have one nation with a proven record doing that; Switzerland, but the current is starting to flow that way in other places.
Switzerland is almost a full direct democracy because the people have the power to propose laws, to stop and reject laws proposed by their elected representatives, and also to change the constitution. Switzerland is not a full democracy because the Swiss still have elected representatives, nothing wrong with that, but all decisions and laws proposed by the representatives are subject to explicit voter approval or rejection.
I refer to Switzerland as the only direct democracy because it is the only country with direct democracy at the national, cantonal (cantons are like states or provinces) and local level.
If there is direct democracy at the local or state level, but not at the national level, there is no direct democracy, particularly if the national politicians hold most of the power, it is impossible.
Introducing direct democracy at the local and at the state-province level may be important as a sort of training ground, but it must only the first step.
Because the idea of direct people’s power on issues is catching on, there are groups promoting direct democracy all over the World; it is quite likely you have one in your country, look it up in Internet.
The interest in direct democracy is growing due to growing disenchantment with representative democracy. This is because in a representative democracy the elected representatives have too much power. This allows them to make all decisions, including those that give them progressively more power and leaves voters with less and less power; no wonder many become voters disenchanted.
The ordinary citizens who still believe representative democracy is a real democracy are being naive.
To make direct democracy happen, it requires persuading our fellow citizens that direct democracy is a better system.
Although direct democracy is a logical advance, it will not happen just like that; the Greeks had to persuade fellow citizens and fight the elites to get direct democracy 2600 years ago. Almost two centuries ago, the Swiss had to do the same; you will have to do it too.
But the task is not easy; most “experts” living in representative democracies do not trust the people to be able to make political decisions, and they write and speak about that, although not openly in many cases.
They do not say they do not trust the people, they say they fear “mob rule”.
In fact, direct democracy is a safeguard to prevent the discredit of representative democracy and its collapse into mob rule or dictatorship.
We saw it happened in Nazi Germany, in Cuba, in Venezuela, and we see it in many countries now. Switzerland proves direct democracy is a guarantee against mob rule or dictatorial rule. The Ancient Greeks also proved that.
Representative democracy is suffering in the United States, something unthinkable a few years ago. We will see it the American people take the opportunity to react, and peacefully push to bring direct democracy to themselves.
But the “experts” are not the only ones who do not like direct democracy; most politicians in representative democracies do not like direct democracy either. It happened in Switzerland too.
Politicians in representative democracies know direct democracy brings a drastic reduction in the power they now have, and that they feel need for the country to function “properly” (according to them) socially, economically, politically, legally. They may be honest, but they are wrong; direct democracy is better on all counts.
What is even more important is that many ordinary citizens in representative democracies do not seem to trust the ability of their fellow citizens (of themselves, really) to vote competently on issues; we have to inform them about direct democracy and hope they will change their minds.
Those of us who know direct democracy is better, must do all we can to bring it about. Let us go from the idea to reality.