Some people say: “one danger of direct democracy is the tyranny of the majority.”
For example, Wikipedia, says “the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own objectives at the expense of those of the minority of factions. This results in oppression of minority groups comparable to that of a tyrant or despot, argued John Stuart Mill in his 1859 book On Liberty,” Wikipedia”.
John Stuart Mill wrote that in 1859. Wikipedia should know that since 1867 Switzerland practices representative-direct democracy, John Stuart Mill fears have not materialized. In fact, Switzerland has a far better history of respect for minorities than the UK and any multicultural representative democracy.
Swiss elected politicians work as in representative democracies, but there is one crucial difference; any issue, any law, the Swiss people want to reject they can reject. They do it by a popular referendum, they do it regularly. In this way, they ensure the politicians do not stray from the interests of the majority.
Another argument against direct democracy is that it may lead to excess centralisation; “when the centralized power of a federation makes a decision that should be local, breaking the commitment of the subsidiarity principle.”. “Subsidiarity”, Wikipedia says: “is a principle of social organisation that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution.”
No country respects lower governments more than the Swiss Federal Government, no national government anywhere has fewer powers than the Swiss national government.
But many of the Framers of the US Constitution feared direct democracy. The elites of the US, and of all other representative democracies, still fear direct democracy.
The Framers were against the King of England. They felt the American people should rule themselves…, up to a point.
The Framers felt “ordinary” people lacked the wisdom to make big political decisions. As if among “ordinary” people there were few extraordinary, but not famous, people.
The Framers for the US Constitution also set the US in such a way that direct democracy is not possible at the national level.
In the US the people only may elect the President (indirectly) and the right to elect the people in Congress, but the American people have no direct decision-making power on laws and policies.
All the decision-making power in the US lies in the hands of the politicians. It lies in the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. Among them, there are some checks and balances. But the people can not “check and balance” on any of their decisions. From election to election, the American people have zero decision making power to stop laws and policies. The Swiss people have that power, and they use it.
For the US, and the rest of representative “democracies” to become real democracies, they will have to introduce the final “check and balance”; the people must be the ultimate authority on anything they want to decide.
Such power is not mob power. Mob power is what the crowds have when they have been driven insane by elected leaders who do not govern for the majority, who govern for themselves and for those near them, because of business ties, campaign contributions, political affinity or family ties.
In a direct democracy, the mob does not have power at all, power is exercised in the voting booth, not on the street. In a direct democracy, the majority prevails, but only after ample orderly discussion of the issues, and orderly voting.
Mob power can happen in representative democracies because the elected politicians do not really govern for most people. As a result, the anger of the majority grows steadily, until it explodes. Regularly we see the riots in the US, France, the UK and other representative “democracies”. The riots are the tip of the iceberg; even if the majority does not side with the rioters, the majority is also fed up with the politicians, although, in most cases, for different reasons.
The majority in the US, France, etc., but are unhappy with politicians. It is from such environment that people like Hitler rise if a deep economic crisis arises and the faith of citizens in the system collapses.
Direct democracy makes for assertive majorities, for the will of the majority to prevail, as it has to be in a democracy. This prevents the alienation of the majority. When the majority feels and knows their will is respected, they become more self assured, more respectful, more willing to accept minorities.
Direct democracy is the best insurance against mob rule and against centralisation.
Direct democracy offers the best protection for the majority and minorities.