Habit is stronger than progress; why direct democracy takes time

When I speak to people about politicians in representative democracies, most people on the Right, Left and Center, young and old, men an women, say they are tired of politicians and political parties.

They say they are tired of the way they spend the taxes they pay, of the level of taxation not reflected in services, of the state of education, of health care, of pensions, of involving the country in foreign wars, of election promises not kept, of doing things they never talked about during the election campaign, of how lobbies for business, unions and other groups get their way at the expense of the will of the majority. of the privileges politicians enjoy, on how the elected politicians, instead of serving the people, serve themselves and the lobbies, of how elected politicians claim to have the “leadership” and “vision” to lead the country but things do not improve, etc.

I could go on but, it is obvious there are many problems of lack of representation of the will of the majority in representative democracies.

Then I tell those people that there is another system, the system of direct democracy that gives the people the means, the authority, to make sure elected politicians do not go astray with their “vision”, or the “vision” of the lobbies and other non-elected people.

Not only that. I tell them that if the country becomes a direct democracy, the citizens will have the power to introduce legislation and to change the constitution.

At this point, many of those unhappy people start to get cold feet. They tell me things like; “we pay the politicians to make decisions”. My answer: “you just told me you are not happy with their decisions, how are their decisions going to change if our reaction is just to say we are not happpy”.

Otlers respond; “well, if the party I vote for was in power things would be better”. I say: “but both parties have been in power and we are were we are, somehow, neither party seems able to govern for the majority, that is why they get voted out regularly”

“Alternancy in power is much better than one party always in power, and ligh-years better than any totalitarian regime controlled by one party, one religion or one person, but what would you say if instead of alternancy, the parties that represent 70-80% of voters governed in coalition AND if the voters have the power to stop them, right then and there. when they pass a law or adopt a policy the majority of the people do not agree with?”

At this point, most people choose habit over progress. It is a normal reaction; unless people are desperate, they are reluctant to ditch representative democracy and go for direct democracy, for the unproven unknown (to them).

I speak to them about Swiss democracy and its combination of representative and direct democracy.

At this point, the people who live in large countries say things like: “Switzerland is much smaller”. If their country is more or less like Switzerland in size, they may say: “our culture is very different”.

Others say; “such system could become the tiranny of the majority”. I tell them, in Swtizerland they have four founding cultures; the minority cultures in Switzerland have more power and rights than minorities have in any other country”.

As you guess, practically nobody among those unhappy with politicians and parties says to me: “you know, the Swiss system is interesting, how can I learn more about it ?”.

It is logical that very few react that way; bringing to people the power of direct democracy is a huge change, even if in most representative democracies it can happen without violence, like the Swiss did.

Reluctancy to change is logical, it is prudent, it is intelligent. The trick is: how to bring change without scaring people and without making things worse.

This is why all those who are convinced direct democracy is the next logical advance for democracy, have to sort in their minds this question: “Do I want to prove to others I am right, or do I want to help them persuade themselves direct democracy is the way to go?”

If your emphasis is on showing you are right, then direct democracy is light-years away for obviuous reasons.

I am convinced that when the first human decided to put meat over the fire, cooked it and ate it, and said to himself or hersel#: “this is much better than raw”, and then told others, many reacted with expressions like: “we neved did it like that”, “it may make you sick”, “raw meat is the natural way to eat it”, “no other animal cooks meat”, etc.

I hope you will accept that the evidence to eat meat cooked is far clearer than the eveidence in support of direct democracy.

So, let us work hard to show others the facts about direct democracy, and let them decide what they want. I have no doubt that as people know more about direct or semi-direct, Swiss-style democracy, they will reach a point when most will DEMAND direct democracy, and direct democracy will happen.

Victor Lopez

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