Representative democracy gives voters only one established tool to change the behaviour of those in power; they can vote for someone else at the next election. It is no longer sufficient. Perhaps it never was.
Finally, we are waking up; politicians and those with direct access to them, have too much political power and they push government further and further away from the interests of ordinary people. It has to be stopped because it is a threat to political stability.
The tool voters have in a representative democracy, voting for another politician or another party is not effective because all it does is shift the power to another party, other lobbyists, etc., it does not bring government closer to the interests of the people. Of course, all parties put out many clever messages and political marketing tricks to distract voters one more time, but the game has become too obvious.
Other than show their anger or riot, in representative democracies voters have no power to control the actions of the executive or the legislative, no matter who governs.
The famous “checks and balances” between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary are only checks and balances among the three powers; there is no “check and balance” the people can execute on any specific issue; they do not have the power.
No wonder citizens lose confidence in their elected representatives; the people know what the politicians do or don’t do, but the people do not have the power to change specific decisions made by the politicians, they can not stop the laws the politicians pass, they can not control over spending, they can not stop grandiose and ruinous projects, they can not stop laws passed to help this or that business or social lobby, etc.
Direct democracy fixes the problem; direct democracy gives voters power to stop what the politicians want to do, or to force them to do what they do not want to do.
That is what they have been doing in Switzerland for over one hundred years! Hard to believe, right? It is time for the rest of representative democracies to catch up, to switch to direct democracy.
Representative democracy was an enormous improvement over rule by the Church and the Kings. In representative democracy, the people choose those who would occupy the place of the King, the Bishop” and the “Nobility”. In absolute monarchies, in dictatorships or in theocracies, the people can not do that, and it is terrible.
The sad part is that in a representative democracy, those elected to parliament and to the executive have almost as much power as old the royalty and aristocracy. The result is that in representative democracies the people are still “ruled from above”; we do not rule ourselves, we just vote, it is not the same thing.
This is why the next step for representative democracy is to remove the final decision-making power from the elected representatives, and give that power to the voters; as it always was meant to happen in a democracy.
The Swiss have done it; the people there are the final authority. Swiss elected representatives still develop laws, treaties, budgets, etc.; the key difference is that the voters can intervene to stop the politicians. Voters can also propose and approve laws and changes to the Constitution.
The people of the well-established representative democracies have the information, they know what is wrong. Just as important, we have the individual and collective social skills to make direct democracy work. But we have to act forcefully, peacefully, relentlessly, like the Swiss did, until politicians agree and accept direct democracy.