One of the worst aspects of elections in a representative democracy is that during elections, politicians treat voters like children, and between elections they often ignore the voters but pay great attention to the lobbies and pressure groups.
Sometimes the politicians try to get elected by making promises that will produce short term gain but terrible long term pain, that can even destroy the nation.
Politicians make promises like: “if you vote for me, if you vote for my party, we will:
Build new roads.
Make health care free and available for all.
Make our military more powerful.
Make university education free.
Have great research institutions.
Increase unemployment benefits.
Ban gasoline-powered cars.
Do a lot of space exploration.
Increase taxes to the rich and to corporations and reduce taxes to most voters.
All parties say nothing about how to pay for all those wonderful things. No major party complains too much because they know millions of voters fall for those promises.
The path to the not-promised of misery and destruction of the currency and the country is set. Germany’s politicians followed it the twenties and the “rewards” they collected in 1945…
The Germans did it to pay for the war they lost in 1918, the US is doing it because politicians tell the people that everything is possible, that the US can spend trillions in all sort of wars, provide people with more and better “free” services and also more and more in weapons, space exploration, etc.
One party promises one thing, and the other promises what appears to be the opposite, but it is just another way to drive the country into a debt hellhole. while portraying the proposals of the rival parties as bad, absurd, unfair, irresponsible, etc.
This happens because politicians hold all the power in representative democracies; no matter which party wins, all power lies in the hands of politicians. The party in power can do almost anything it wants if it has the majority in parliament.
One of the things it can do, and does. Is use taxes to bribe people with the people’s money so that they will vote for them.
The politicians in the opposition have fake power to control the power of government, all they can do is make noise. You can also be sure that the opposition will do all it can to hurt the government so that the party in power will lose the next election, even if hurting the government hurts the country.
The party in power is interested in doing things that will get it re-elected, particularly as the end of its mandate approaches.
You saw that with Obama and the Democrats, with Trump and the Republicans, and now you see it with Biden.
Once elected, the politicians in power in representative democracies are compelled to pass laws, regulations and policies that will please the lobbies and pressure groups that helped them get elected; the big campaign donors, big media, big business groups, professional groups or unions, etc.
But they do not do that in any straightforward way. They don’t because they know that if they do ordinary voters will get angry as they would see how those in power help those lobbies and pressure groups.
To disguise helping the rich they will tell the nation that reducing taxes to corporations will create jobs. The other party will tell voters exactly the opposite: “we will increase taxes to corporations to have more money for pensions, for education, etc.”
In their desperate fight to get elected, politicians make it impossible for voters to rationally look at the facts behind the issues, and to the long-term effects of the measures.
The voter truly does not know if reducing taxes to corporations will produce more jobs that will make the life of many better and will also generate more taxes to pay for public services, or if the corporations just pocket the bigger profits.
The voter can not truly know either if stronger civil service unions and better paid civil servants and politicians will really produce better government or just take more tax money for the benefit of civil servants and politicians.
The debate is always so hot and antagonistic during elections, and also in parliament and the media, that most voters end up voting along party lines, along their “political faith”; they vote for the party that more matches their values, the issues are secondary because the voters do not understand them. How can they, with all the shouting and screaming among politicians.
Of course, adopting the position that “I vote Liberal, Conservative, Republican or Democrat, is a catastrophic mistake voters make. It is catastrophic because it makes it prevents voters from demanding real understanding of the issues. It is as if they voted blindly.
Because politicians essentially want to fool “their” voters with their promises, politicians will stress the benefits and minimise or ignore the costs of their measures.
Other times politicians brazenly try to bribe voters with goodies that produce an immediate “high” in the voter.
For example, to win the next election, politicians will throw taxpayer money at the issues and at the taxpayers. This was clear with Trump’s reduction in corporate taxes “to strengthen American industry and create well-paid jobs”.
Biden is doing exactly the same; throwing taxpayer money at the taxpayers “so that they will buy electric cars to prevent global warming”. Biden does not really care much about global warming, he cares about being re-elected, he will not look at the most rational ways to prevent global warming, he cares about the ways that will give him more votes.
I write often about the US because it is the country that if it collapses it will pull other representative democracies down in its wake and also because authoritarian regimes will get the upper hand.
Direct democracy forces voters to understand the issues because in a direct democracy the voters decide the issues and they know they are responsible for the effects of their decisions on themselves and their children. In a direct democracy, voters do not think in terms of the next election because voters do not run for election or re-election.
If you want your country to have sound finances, stability and long-term prosperity, you have to do all you can to turn representative democracy into direct democracy.
Direct democracy is not something thought up by some academic his head firmly stuck in the clouds, or by a messianic demagogue with the crazy idea of a “promised land”. Direct democracy is down-to-earth politics. We know it because that is what Swiss politics are about; direct democracy that delivers economic, political and social stability and prosperity like no other country has.