Direct democracy is democracy without the middle men; less costly, more efficient, real democracy

The reasons why practically all democracies are representative democracies, and not direct democracies, are not considerations like “the country is too large”, “it is not practical for ordinary citizens to decide issues and laws”, “many issues are too complex for people to understand and decide competently”, etc. The real reason is that most people do not believe ordinary citizens are capable of deciding the destiny of their countries, that somehow they need “guidance” from “leaders”, people with special qualities. Sometimes people even believe that to properly run a country, they need to follow holy books, holy men or specially wise people.

The Ancient Greeks rejected such ideas. Those smart Greeks decided they could run their nation themselves, that they did not need special people to lead them, holy books, prophets, etc. They decided that by using freedom, reason and deliberation, humans, the people themselves, could would make all important political decisions.

Unfortunately, the beautiful stories of various religions proved more seductive for most humans than the Greek ideas and history. The result was that direct democracy, that extraordinary Greek invention, gradually disappeared.

Fortunately, the seed of democracy did not completely died out in Europe; in the Renaissance, Europeans reconnected with the classical World, the rest is history; holy books, holy men, special leaders, etc., gradually yielded to the will of the people to have a say in the governing of their countries.

Finally, with the French and the American revolutions; the “divine” kings, the religious leaders, were pushed aside; the people decided that they would elect their leaders.

It was a great advance; for the first time since the Greeks, humans had freedom of expression and could also elect the rulers.

But they did not catch up with the Greeks; the Greeks had no elected representatives, they themselves made all important political decisions, and, crucially, they decided which were important.

During the French Revolution, some of its leaders warned that a democracy in which the people elect representatives is not a democracy, that representation is incompatible with democracy. If they lived today, they would say: “representative democracy is an oxymoron”.

Berhaps by luck, in 1867, the Swiss people decided that the elected representatives would not be the ones to decide laws, pass regulations, sign treaties, rise or lower taxes, etc., that the people would have the final word on all those issues and on any issue the people decided they wanted to decide. Not as direct as the Ancient Greeks, but pretty good compared to representative “democracy”; representative democracy is no democracy; it is clever political marketing to present as democracy what really is an elected aristocracy.

The Swiss have come closer than anybody else, since the Ancient Greeks, to have “democracy without intermediaries”. They did not fully not catch with the Greeks, because the Greeks had no intermediaries, but they surpassed all representative democracies by severly clipping the power of the intermediaries, and they have not looked back.

Direct democracy shifts the responsibility for the major decisions affecting the present and future of the country, to the citizens and away from the politicians.

The Swiss clipped their wings of the elected representative to such an extent that the elected representatives and their parties have an important, but secondary, role in the running of Switzerland.

This makes Swiss democracy far more efficient; they do not have hundreds of politicians and their staffs working the whole year drafting legislation, preparing debates, preparing news conferences, interviews, speeches, etc. In Switzerland, even the in the national parliament, most politicians are part time politicians, they hold regular jobs. That is why they meet only four times during the year, each time for just three weeks.

The direct savings are huge, but there are more savings because when politicians have less power, business, unions, environmentalists, etc., spend far less money on them; all lobbies quickly realise that in a direct democracy it does not make sense to invest millions, even billions, on politicians who can not deliver because the people are the final decision makers.

Direct democracy also does away with the endless debates in parliament and through the media about right-left, conservative-progressive and on and on. It does that because when the people debate the issues directly, and are the ones to decide the issues, it does not make a lot sense to have all those parliamentarian and media fireworks. It does not make sense either to look at issues through a political “religion”, with a preconceived notion of how to solve issues. Direct democracy forces voters to look at the practical details of each issue, ideology take a back seat.

The debates take place among the public instead. In a direct democracy, the people inform themselves of the issues because they know they will have to decide, that they can not shift the blame to the politicians.

Some people say that direct democracy is slower than representative democracy, that is not true, in a direct democracy there are provision for the politicians to quickly make emergency decisions. But there is a huge advantage direct democracy has; because the major decisions taken in a direct democracy are truly democratic decisions that truly represent the will of the majority, those decisions are sounder.

They are so for several reasons; one of them is that being clearly democratic, they find more acceptance among people who did not vote for them.

Direct democracy is also more efficient; the Swiss, the only almost direct democracy we have, is more efficient than any other democracy, that is why Switzerland is the best run, more stable, more prosperous democracy in the World.

With Internet and its various technologies, ordinary people can now quickly become acquainted with the essential details of any issue even the most complex ones. This happens because the many experts among the population explain to ordinary citizens, in a language they can understand, each issue.

Furtehrmore, direct democracy leads to better decisions because it involves in decision-making the brain power of many more individuals than what political parties, think tanks, etc., can bring to the issue.

Ordinary people can also understand any issue if properly explained, just like politicians, who also have no expertise on most issues, can understand them thanks to the explanations of the consultants and other experts.

With all the information available today, voters do not need the middle man, the elected politician, to decide for them, they can decide themselves.

If you want the democracy in your country to work better, push for direct democracy, democracy without the middle man, or with middle men but with their wings clipped.

Direct democracy is the system that guarantees to voters that politicians will do what the people want them to do.

Because the people decide by themselves, in a direct democracy there is no need for leaders with “vision”, “mission”, “leadership qualities”, “character”, etc. Like in a representative democracy, in a direct democracy the people are free and the also vote they vote to elect but, mostly, they are also the ones who decide; the executive decision makers.

As a result of direct democracy, the Swiss government has not permanent leader because it does not need one, the president of the country is the first among seven equals. They decide as a group and each holds the president for one year. But even in that post, the President can not make any decision by himself or herself, the 6 other members of the Council have the same power as the President has and all decisions are made my consensus.

So, if you want a democracy without the middle men, or want the decision -making power of the middle man severely reduced, demand direct democracy. The Swiss got it that way; Swiss politicians did not want direct democracy either, they preferred representative democracy because in a representative democracy, the politicians have much more power than in a direct democracy.

Victor Lopez

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