If we had direct democracy the likes of Trump or Biden would not be presidents of the US, Trudeau and Harper, prime ministers of Canada, Boris Johnson PM of the UK, Macron or Holande presidents of France, Merkel chancellor of Germany, Orban president of Hungary, Bolsonaro president of Brazil and others who by their personality or their policies, or both, polarise their nations.
In a direct democracy we would not have parliamentarians and media who deepen and expand the polarisation to the whole population.
In a direct democracy it is not possible to elect people with such profiles, people who polarise the nation with their lies and exaggerations to discredit rivals; we all see how rival politicians treat each other as incompetent, dishonest, stupid, etc.
Such behaviours that representative democracy generates in politicians ends up discrediting politicians, politics and representative democracy itself.
What kind of country can you have if the people themselves are polarised?, certainly democracy will not be sustainable in such countries.
Such political degeneration is not possible in a direct democracy because in a direct democracy the people have the right to introduce issues and decide them. They also have to right to to veto decisions, laws, regulations, policies and treaties made by the politicians. This removes most critical power from politicians, and their power to polarise every issue.
If politicians have less power to fight over, there are fewer fights and less intensive fights. Furthermore, because politicians know that the people can stop anything they do, in a direct democracy, politicians of rival parties are forced to cooperate to draft laws, regulations, policies, etc., because they will not pass if they do not have the support of a clear majority of voters.
Furthermore, in a direct democracy, only the people have the authority to change de constitution, the politicians, even if all of them agree, can not change the constitution.
Because of their power and the practice of making the most crucial decisions for the country, the people of a direct democracy does not need presidents, prime minister or chancellors with the “vision”, “character” and other foggy marketing tricks to seduce voters.
Come to think of it, the concept of the “opposition” is irrational too; no organisation should be based on the idea that more or less half of it has to have an overall view of issues that is contrary to the views of the other half. It is not logical; the logical thing is that each issue be considered on its merits by the people.
No country should be based on that idea idea either because it weakens the country. The idea of opposition automatically creates division. If unity creates strength, division creates weakness.
Direct democracy fosters unity among the people, as it should be. It does not impose fake unity from above, as all authoritarian and other absolute power rulers, religious or atheist, do.
For example, on the issue of health care, it is likely most ordinary voters prefer universal health care, regardless of individual means, or if a person is unemployed or working, regardless if the person is self-employed, works for a small local business or a successful corporation.
This means that on the issue of universal health care, “progressive” and “conservative” voters will agree it is necessary.
The reason why many voters on the “right” oppose universal health care is not because it not logical to have universal health care, it is because the lobbies that now make a lot of money in health care have convinced many voters on the “right” that universal health care is “socialism”. Such voters have been “herded” into the “conservative” herd.
Likewise, many “progressive” voters oppose border controls and limits to immigration because they have been herded into the “progressive” herd; “progressives” are for open borders because to oppose open borders is something only conservtives, even only fascists would do.
It is likely that most voters support immigration and border control but the political “herds” representative democracy creates makes it impossible for many “progressive” voters to favour such controls.
But even with the polarisation representative democracy creates, if the people had the power to decide by popular referendum on health care, borders and immigration, it is likely that a majority of voters on the “left” and the “right” would favour universal health care coverage and would also favour border and immigration controls.
In a direct democracy, congress , parliaments or chambers of deputies do not encage in the theatricals, posturing and verbal aggression we see every day among politicians and parties in representative democracies, because such fights are not worth it, if winning does mean winning a lot of decision-making power.
In a direct democracy, the executive and the legislative learn to cooperate because they quickly know that only pleasing the majority of voters they together represent, and that includes voters on the Left, Right and Center, will the politicians be able to avoid that the people stop dead their laws, regulations, policies, treaties, etc.
Citizens also learn, that when they use their power to organise referendums to decide issues, change laws, to challenge what the politicians do, they must make proposals supported by the majority of voters. If they do not do that, their proposal will be rejected and they will not achieve their goal.
The power voters have in a direct democracy to decide, also forces the proponents and organisers of referendums to make moderate proposals, because only such proposals will get the support of the majority of “conservative” and “progressive” voters, who always are moderate when they have the responsibility to decide.
Direct democracy enhances political diversity because it does not simplify politics to “right” or “left” or “center”; it creates many other shades.
In a direct democracy, the people do not have to vote for a large party, they do not even have to vote for any party because it is not necessary; in a direct democracy, even a small group of citizens can launch a referendum on any issue if they collect the required (and relatively small) number of signatures.
Of course, in a direct democracy, even the smallest party, even a party without representation in parliament, can launch a referendum.
This is why in a direct democracy people can not “be herded” into one of two large parties.
Another effect of direct democracy is that makes all decisions by government and by the people, real democratic decisions.
In a direct democracy, in most cases, the people do not challenge the law, the regulation, the policy or the treaties, politicians introduce, in so doing they give tacit democratic approval to the politicians.
Exceptionally, but regularly, enough citizens disagree with what the executive or the legislative have done or want to do, that they sign up in enough numbers and a binding referendum must be held.
The polarisation wo see in representative democracies is the result of the polarisation the system of representative democracy creates, it is not inevitable, it is not because of culture either, it is because representative democracy places too much power in the hands of politicians (and the lobbies who help them win campaigns), naturally, they fight like hell to get that power.
How do we know that in a direct democracy things work very differently, and for the better?, because that is what they have been doing in Switzerland for more than 150 years.
As you probably know, Switzerland is, overall, the best country and the most democratic country in the World. By the way, ignore the fake yearly “Democracy Rankings” by the Economist “Intelligence” Unit, which ranks Switzerland behind 10-12 (depending on the year of publication) representative democracies.
How can Switzerland not be number one democracy every year, when it is the country that by far comes closes to the definition of democracy, which is “government by the people”?
Too many voters in other countries still do not feel comfortable saying to themselves: “wait a minute, if we pay for everything, even the salaries and pensions of the politicians, why do the politicians have power over us and have the power to make all the decisions that affect us, why should the politicians decide what we can or can’t do, must or must not do? It is time for us to have more power than the politicians”.
Until a clear majority of voters shake off the believe that they need leaders, often almost “messianic” leaders, (even members of parliaments see themselves as special) and start to believe in their intelligence, character and common sense, they will still need to be ruled by the elected aristocracy they now have, the elected and re-elected caste of professional politicians who now rule the most important, most developed, most humane and civilised countries of the World, but they shouldn’t.
When that change of mind set happens, direct democracy will come to those countries because the people will demand it. From them, it will spread to the rest of the World and dictatorial, totalitarian regimes, atheistic or religious, will join the waste basket of history.
To Americans and others, let me say this: what they have in California, and other states, is not direct democracy.
In California they have some of the formalities of direct democracy, but California voters do not live in a direct democracy because the most important decisions affecting their lives are made by the US executive and legislative, and there is no direct democracy at all at the federal level in the US.
Furthermore, the democratic decisions the people of California make can be overturned, and have been overturned, by the courts; the California Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court have overturned decisions made by the voters of California. In California they have fake direct democracy because the people are not sovereign, the politicians and the courts rule over them
As you probably suspect, what happens can not happen in Switzerland. Not even the Swiss Supreme Court can challenge the results of a popular referendum. In Switzerland, the Swiss Supreme Court can not declare the results of any referendum “unconstitutional”. In Switzerland, the courts can only intervene if laws have been violated in the process of collecting signatures, voting procedures, etc.
Each of us who believe in direct democracy must do all we can to help convince people that “yes, we can now, (because we have the power to decide)”.
We have to leave political marketing, catchy slogans and other shenanigans behind, we must demand the right to decide. Freedom to vote without freedom to decide issues is not real democracy, it is a step towards democracy.