Direct democracy is the shot in the arm and the vaccine representative democracies urgently need

The concept of democracy is so powerful that even dictatorships say they are “democracies”. Other dictatorships use “cute” expression like “people’s republic”.

All these shenanigans show the rulers of such societies consider “people power” (democracy) the right thing to do, that is why they use the word to deceive people. Sadly, such leaders lack the maturity and the confidence in their own peoples to practice democracy.

The Ancient Greeks developed democracy to its highest form; direct democracy. Even today we have not caught up with the Greeks. The only nation that comes close is Switzerland.

The reason?, simple; in a direct democracy the people decide the laws and policies of the land, and they also elect other ordinary citizens to run government. In a direct democracy, those citizens also go home to their regular jobs after they serve in government for one or two years only.

In a direct democracy there is nothing like the professional politicians who spend years, decades even, in politics and around government. In a direct democracy there is nothing like former politicians appointed to other public jobs, or working as very well-paid lobbyists for private interests in order to influence other politicians.

In a direct democracy, there are no political parties because they center politics on concrete issues, not in political philosophy and vague generalisations. Political parties are political religions; like religions, they have dogmas, they have “prophets”, they claim to have the answers to deliver voters to the “promised land”. It is all a fantasy, but it seduces many voters, for a while. Eventually, voters realize the elected representatives are all talk for the people and all action for themselves and their friends. This is happening in representative democracies now.

Switzerland is the only modern country who comes close to practising direct democracy. While the Swiss still have professional politicians and political parties, in the 1800s they introduced an innovation that brings them fairly close to direct democracy.

What they did is quite clever; they removed from politicians the power to pass laws and make policies unilaterally; from then on the Swiss people have the power to stop any law or policy approved by the politicians.

The Swiss people also gave themselves the power to change the constitution and made sure the Swiss Supreme Court can not overturn the decisions of voters.

By removing the power of the politicians to decide laws, regulations and policies, the Swiss people achieved something unheard of in representative democracies; that politicians govern according to the wishes of the voters after they are elected, all the way till the next election; no fake political promises in Switzerland.

Another positive effect is that the major parties, the parties voted by about 75% of the population, govern together in coalition. The coalition decides by consensus, this almost always ensures politicians govern as the majority wishes them to govern.

The fear Swiss politicians have of of popular referendums that the people, not the government, call, has had the effect of creating a system of government in which the people rarely have to stop the decisions of government, although they still do sometimes.

Direct democracy freed Swiss democracy from the wear and tear of representative democracy. This wear and tear happens in all representative democracies because the politicians have practically all the decision-making power; they can not resist deciding some important issues ignoring the will and the values of most voters.

We all know in most representative democracies millions of citizens are tired of politicians who do not govern for the people. To fix that we, the citizens, have the answer; demand direct democracy now.

We must not wait until our “representatives” create a big economic mess, like they did in Germany in the 30s, and everything goes to Hell. The Germans were, and are, a hard-working, disciplined, intelligent, civic-minded people, but it was not enough to protect them from their elected representatives, they messed the country so badly that, in desperation, Germans made the mistake of falling for Hitler.

What happened in Germany can happen anywhere. In a serious crisis, nations can turn to the “magic promises” of Fascism or Communism. We know from history that crazy ideas can be seductive if cleverly said, just like millions of consumers buy cleverly promoted inferior products.

Direct democracy is the shot in the arm to re-energize democracy. It is also the vaccine to avoid fascism or Communism.

Victor Lopez

 

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