Let my people decide!, not just vote!
Regardless of what country you live in, you do not have the freedom to decide issues. If you live in a representative democracy, and if it is not corrupt, you have the freedom to elect those who govern, but you do not have the freedom to decide over what the politicians decide.
If you do not live in a representative democracy (or in a direct democracy) you do not even have political rights, you do not count, only the “great leader”, “the great party”, “the great priest” count, that is a much worse condition to live your life.
I do not care in which representative democracy you live, you do not have the right to decide issues or to choose the issues you want to decide.
If you live in the UK, you don’t, if you live in France, you don’t. You don’t if you live in Germany, in any of the Scandinavian countries, in the Mediterranean countries of Europe, in Canada, in Japan, in the US, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Chile, in Mexico, in South Korea and in any of the other representative democracies, even in those with a strong and stable tradition of direct democracy.
The only democracy, besides Switzerland, who is seriously introducing direct democracy, inspired by the Swiss, is… surprise! Taiwan! Unfortunately, Taiwan just started to practice direct democracy, it is too soon to use Taiwan as reference, that is why I use Switzerland. Besides, Taiwan has a scary, not very democratic dragon, breathing its very hot breath down the spine of the Taiwanese people… who knows how long Taiwan’s democracy, or even the country survive? Although I am sure that sooner or later the big dragon will become a democracy, a direct democracy too, because the other system is no way to live.
Some of the representative democracies mentioned above practice a little of direct democracy. For example, some of the US states do.
Unfortunately, no state in the US has real direct democracy. They do not for two reasons; the courts can overturn the results of popular referendums. This negates democracy, democracy is “government by the people”, not “government by the people, unless the courts decide otherwise.”
The second reason is that the US has no direct democracy at the national level. How could we say there is direct democracy in the US if there is no direct democracy at the level of government with the most influence over the lives of Americans?
There is no direct democracy in the US as long as there is no direct democracy at all levels of government, and as long as the courts can overturn the decisions of the voters. In fact, there is no real democracy anywhere as long as there is no direct democracy; no matter how many American politicians, “influencers”, university professors, etc., go on about the “great American democracy”.
In a direct democracy the people decide any issue, law, treaty, etc., which they want to decide and no court can overturn the decision of the people, not even the Supreme Court of the country.
For direct democracy to work, the process to have the people decide issues also has to be simple. For example, the number of signatures required to call a referendum has to be small, around 1% of the voters, perhaps even less, not 4, 5, even 10%, as it is in some places, it is ridiculous!
In a direct democracy the people have the power to decide issues such as;
- Laws and by´laws
- Taxation levels,
- Treaties with other countries,
- Changes to the constitution,
- Road building,
- Hospital building,
- To have or not, universal health care,
- Building a swimming pool,
- Setting a minimum wage,
- Decide if there will be a universal basic income,
- The building of a new shool,
- Stop laws and policy decisions proposed by the executive and parliament, regional and local government
- Increase or reduce the size of the armed forces,
- If the country, the region, the municipality should be unilingual, trilingual or bilingual,
- The education system,
- If Taxpayers will fund if universities and is student will have to pay university fees,
- If the multinationals based in the country will be held responsible before the courts if they break laws abroad,
- If certain religious practices, many voters may consider offensive, will be permitted,
- If homosexual relationships will be accepted as marriages, etc.
The freedom and the right to decide is the pending civil right people still do not have in representative democracies.
Direct democracy is not when the government, or parliament, decide to hold a referendum either. Direct democracy is when the people decide on what to hold a referendum, decide the wording and decide when, even if the executive and the parliament, the regional or local politicians, oppose the citizens, even if they do so unanimously.
By the way, Brexit was not the practice of direct democracy. When a California court, or the US Supreme Court, overturn a decision made by the people of California, that is not direct democracy either, it is not even democracy.
Direct democracy improves everything; the economy, education, the health system, etc. It does because the collective intelligence and knowledge of voters, who also know they are responsible for the effects of their decisions, is superior to the intelligence and knowledge of the executive and the legislative, and their experts.
Among the voters there are many experts on any issue, many more than in any government. In debates, social media, etc., preceding popular referendums, their opinions reach many other voters, particularly if there is still some media still interested in real democracy, in that what really concerns voters be discussed.
Governments and their advisors, not only have less knowledge than the people collectively, they do no feel as responsible because their bad decisions because they are not, particularly for the long-term bad decisions. The consequences will not affect their lives; they will be retired or in the cushy jobs they get from their colleagues in power, the grateful lobbies and pressure groups.
How many times voters will turn their heads and pretend they don’t see the dynamics of politics in representative democracies because they are scared to act, or because the media, who often uses selective news and commentary as very effective blinders shines its attention on superficial issues? For how long will this go on?
Direct democracy is a great advance, it is not the “promised land”, there is no “promised land”, but if you want direct democracy you will have to pressure your elected politicians. It will not be easy because most of them dislike direct democracy. They will give you all sort of explanations as of why representative democracy is better than direct democracy, but among the reasons they will not give you are: “because we think we know better, that the average voter is not capable of decidin issues, and because we hate to lose power and influence…”.
V ictor Lopez