The devil is in the details; that is why a direct democracy works better than a representative democracy

Let me make one thing perfectly clear; representative democracy, represented and represents a huge advance over the old absolute rulers and also over the new one person dictators, one party dictators or rule by religious dictators.

Those other regimes are morally illegitimate but, sadly, in many societies the majority of the population seem to lack the values that make democracy possible, even representative democracy.

Direct democracy is a huge improvement over representative democracy because it delivers a huge improvement to the freedom, and therefore the dignity, of ordinary citizens.

In a representative democracy the people are free to discuss issues and to vote (if the particular democracy is working reasonably well and has not fallen yet in the hands of an entrenched political caste and the lobbies who support them, as is the case now in the United States), but direct democracy delivers more; besides being free to discuss issues and to vote, direct democracy gives people the freedom and power to decide which are the real political issues and the power to decide them, as well as the power to prevent the elected representatives from making laws and policies that the people oppose.

Let me also say that a country only has direct democracy, and benefits substantially from it, if it practices direct democracy in all leveles of government; local, regional, state, provincial and national.

It is particularly critical that direct democracy be in place at the national level because it is the nation that must decide its destiny.

This is why in the US it does not really count for much that there is direct democracy at the state or local level only. Furthermore, the direct democracy practiced in a number of states in the US is flawed because the lobbies have too much power raising issues. Another problem is that in the US the decisions of voters in referendums are not final; the supreme courts of the states and the Supreme Court of the US, have the power to overturn the decisions of the people. To give such power to the courts makes a mockery of democracy.

But the Swiss have introduced another element that makes their country better, and it is not just direct democracy.

What the Swiss have done is extremely clever; besides the power the people have to decide issues and in this way control the government, they decided something else; they did away with the one elected person one elected party rule.

In Switzerland the major parties of the left right and center, who represent approximately 70-80% of the voters, govern in coalition. This ensures that the majority of the population is represented in the executive.

But the Swiss have gone beyond that, the Swiss realized that a team has more intellectual power and knowledge that one single individual. What they have done is set up a team of 7, representing those major parties, that is the Swiss national executive.

The governing team makes decisions as a team, and by consensus.

This system, besides ensuring better analyisis of issues, because seven heads think better than one, it also produces better decisions for the same reason.

In the Swiss system, the presidency of the national executive is a job that rotates every two years among the seven members. The person occupying the position of president does not have any more power than any of the other six members; he or she only represents the seven in foreign trips. When a foreign head of state of goverment visits Switzerland, he or she is received by the seven together.

Besides the advantages of better decisions, the system also has another huge advantage over the system of government centering the executive in one person.

For example, in Switzerland, if one of the team of seven shows bad judgement or loss of mental faculties, the effects on the discussions and decisions would not be crucial; in a way, the seven members control each of the seven.

The system also eliminates the dependance of the president on advisors appointed by him or her and subservient to him or her. Such advisors are limited in what they can tell him or her for obvious reasons.

This means that, unlike the governments of the US, Canada. UK, France, Germany, Japan, etc., it would not be critical if the head of the executive loses mental faculties or makes an error in judgement; there are another six people equal to him or her, not appointed by him or her, that can ignore or stop whatever he or she proposes.

In the US, it would not have been important the mental condition of President Reagan towards the end of his presidency, or the mental condition of President Biden now, or the character and skills of the Vicepresident who would substitute the President if the President has to resign.

Issues of character are not as important either; if a member of the Swiss executive is corrupt or shows a flawed character, such a presidents Nixon and Clinton, he or she can be removed without national trauma.

The Swiss executive system could be adopted in representative democracies, but it would not work well because in a representative democracy, the seven would have too much power. In a direct democracy, such as Switzerland, the people, if they so decide, have the power to keep in check anything the national executive does or proposes to do.

As you see, Switzerland is the best run country in the World because of direct democracy but also because of the seven member executive and their collective decision making.

Well, direct democracy is about collective decision making; we all decide the present and future of the country, not just the elected politicians, the elected aristocracy.

Decision making by teams of equals is superior to decision making by one individual. One extraordinary individual can make some great decisions but to make good, sound decisions decade after decade, a team is better.

One of the decisive strengths of Toyota over its rivals, is its decision making process; at the top, the decision is collective and by consensus, at the bottom and middle the system involves every employee in decision making on the job.

Toyota is more profitable and more stable than any other car company. In case Tesla comes to your mind; Tesla is a very innovative company but its money does not come from profits, it comes from investors who believe in the future of Tesla. But it is obvious that without Musk, Tesla is nothing, if Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyotd, dies or quits, Toyota will barely notice his departure.

This helps explain why Toyota, in its more than 80 year history, has only lost money in two years; 2008 and 2020. Toyota is not a direct democracy but shows that collective decision-making is superior to the “Great Executive with Vision” system.

I hope this helps you support, and act, to bring direct democracy to your country.

Direct democracy is about you having the power to decide the present and future of your country because it puts the politicians under the control of the voters.

Victor Lopez

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