Swiss-style Direct Democracy, not California-style direct democracy, is the system Milennials all over the World need! Let them know why!

Millennials are the people who are now in their twenties, thirties and forties.

These people less likely to vote, they are the most educated and also the most disillusioned and distrustful of the political system.

The Harris, Pew and Gallup polls say those things about Millennials, however, from my personal interactions with people of all ages, I also see that many people younger and older than the Millennials, are disillusioned and do not trust the political system.

But let us not fool ourselves; Millennials and the rest are disillusioned with the politicians, they simply do not trust them. Unless you are blind and deaf, a fanatic of a political party or make a living from politics in the form of work, grants, etc., you know most of the reasons why so many citizens do not trust politicians in most democracies. Of course, in dictatorships, they have no choice but to say that they trust the government; no “self-respecting” dictatorship will allow anyone not to “trust” it. You only have to look at the “polls” about China and the likes of it, to know that.

In representative democracies many people do not trust politicians because the system of representative democracy itself generates those problems.

This is how it happens:

In representative democracies, politicians once elected they have all the power they need to do anything they want. They do not have it when they are in the opposition, but once in power they do and behave essentially like their predecessors; removed from the people and ignoring the people.

In representative democracies, once the people elect the politicians, the people have no say on any law, policy or treaty the politicians decide it is good for the town, state, province, region or country. In a representative democracy, the people are mere spectators; they can scream, demonstrate, burn cars and garbage containers, etc., but in representative democracies the people do not have the power and the tools to control the decisions politicians make.

Because they have all that power corruption is a logical consequence; the lobbies, all of them, know that they do not need to persuade the majority of citizens to have the politicians (who supposedly represent the majority) pass a law that favours those who pay the lobbyist. All they have to do is figure out how to gain influence, even control, over the politician.

It is a lot easier to influence the politicians than the majority of people; to gain influence over the politicians all you have to do is figure out the professional, sometimes the personal, priorities of the relatively small group constituted by the politicians.

Even the honest politicians can not escape the influence of the lobbies. One of the reason is financial; the politicians and the political parties need money to compete in elections. If they refuse money, in the form of donations and other commitments from big business, unions, professional associations and others, it will be very difficult for a politician or political party to win. If donations are not so important to win, then bank loans are. Naturally, banks do not lend money to a political party in the way they lend ordinary citizens money to pay their car loans, their mortgage or small business loan. This is because the politicians, once elected can pass laws, hand out contract, increase or reduce taxes, lower or increase tariffs, etc., affecting the banks and their big customers.

This is why lobbyists often help the major moderate political parties on the Left or the Right. The lobbies know that a lot of the positioning of political parties on social issues is not reflected in the hard facts of money.

For example, in the US, it does not really matter if Democrats or Republicans win, most big companies win, no matter who wins. We saw socially progressive Barack Obama rescue capitalist General Motors, we saw Trump reducing taxes benefited big companies and the rich.

Year after year we see how the middle class, the working class and the poor are screwed by “the system”, by the politicians. That is why the rich become richer and the middle class and below, poorer. It happens no matter who wins: what more proof you want politicians of major parties do not really work for the majority of the people.

They give demagogic speeches about “serving the people”, “justice”, “fairness”, “opportunity”, etc., but at the end of the day, economically they do not do much. They distract the majority of citizens with measures that do not cost big business much; LGBT rights, women’s rights, injustice with minorities, changes to the educational system and so on, but big money remains untouchable.

Many big business have also discovered that instituting socially progressive measures deflects attention from excessive profits and from the income of executives.

In other cases, politicians also know that if they “behave” while in politics, once they leave politics because they lose an election, or because they retire from politics, very well paying jobs will be waiting for them at universities (who also depend on rich donors), foundations, big business or even as lobbyists to “persuade” their former colleagues in the executive and the legislative to do pass this or that law, etc.

Sometimes, the politicians starts already with a flawed character and become easy target of legal blackmail; the lobbyist does not have to say anything, the politician knows that the lobbyist knows.

Direct democracy gets rid of most legal and illegal corruption of the democratic system because it turns the tables on the lobbyists. In a direct democracy, the people have more power than the politicians. In a direct democracy, the people still elect politicians, but the people have the power to stop any law, policy or regulation tha politicians want to pass or have passed if it does not serve the interests of the majority of the people.

In a direct democracy, the people have that power at any time after the election. In this situation, the politicians know it makes no sense to pass a law that the majority of the people oppose. They soon learn “we better pass only laws, policies or regulations that do not get the majority annoyed because they will kill it”.

As  a result, the lobbies are “defanged”, they stop having power over the politicians because the people are the ones having power over the politicians. Why spend millions donating to politicians, why give big loans to politicinans or parties, if they can not deliver? In this way, direct democracy redically cuts the influence of the lobbies on the political decisions the country makes and, automatically laws, policies, regulations or treaties that help the lobbies and not the majority of citizens.

In the end, direct democracy is better for everyone because it produces a healthier, more stable democracy. We all know business needs a healthy and stable democracy because instability is bad for business, it can even be dangerous.

How do we know this? Because in Switzerland, the only country practicing direct democracy in all levels of government, politicians enjoy the highest level of trust anywhere and the country is the most stable (that is the main reason for the rich keep their money there, it is not bank secrecy laws. The reason for Swiss stability is obvious; Swiss politicians have to govern in tune with the majority of the people.

This means that when we speak of “corrupt politicians”, we should stop focusing on the politicins and more on the system. There is no way to stop political corruption, legal and illegal, as long as politicians have more power than the voters.

If Millennials want to regain trust in the system, they will have to act. They will have to mobilise until the politicians agree to change the system to direct democracy. In a direct democracy, the politicians will keep their jobs but they will lose a lot of power. In the end, even the politicians will enjoy the change, even if they may en up not as wealthy as they may now; it can not be fun for politicians to have to bend to the pressures of lobbies.

Millennials would do well to learn from Switzerland instead of from the never eneding stream of papers coming out of American and other universities about democracy. Those institutions are not interested or are ignorant of direct democracy. This is why they propose superficial changes such as proportional representation, participative democracy, deliberative democracy, etc. None of those changes deals with the root problem; politicians with too much power, much more than the people.

If Millennials want to fix the system they will have to act, just like the Swiss did; Swiss elected politicians did not want direct democracy either, they enjoyed the power it gave them.

Millennials will become illusioned with politics if they change the system from “we vote, they decide” to “we vote, we decide”

Victor Lopez

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