Direct democracy is necessary to save us from representative democracy

Just in case you are not familiar with the essence of representative democracy, this is what it is. The politicins decide every issue and law, voters only elect them.

First of all, it is the system of national government of the countries we normally refer to as “democracies”. There are only two countries we consider democracies that do not use representative democracy at the national level as the main form of government; Switzerland and Taiwan. In both countries direct democracy is an important tool, but in Switzerland, history shows, it has transferred so much power from the elected representatives to the people that Switzerland is, on all major issues, a direct democracy approaching Ancient Greek democracy.

Taiwan is a very interesting country because it has been able to show you can go from authoritarian government to representative democracy, to direct democracy in only a few decades. Perhaps their fellow Chinese from the continent will decide they are capable of direct democracy too. But Taiwan’s experienc is short; for now, the credibility of direct democracy in the modern era, has to be based on the great success of the Swiss experience of more that one and a half centuries. Although even Switzerland is not as democractic as ancient Greece. It is amazing, but until the Renaissance, democracy was dead in the World; once Ancient Greek direct democracy became extinct, the West took a huge leap backwrds in human development, never mind the dominance of Judeo-Christianity.

Before anyone jumps: “wait a minute, in Greece women and slaves were not allowed to vote”. That is correct, but we are looking at democracy more than 2500 years ago. Anybody with a little bit of common sense will realise that if Greek democracy had continued it would not take till the late 1800s to give women the vote and to abolish slavery.

This does not make Ancient Greece direct democracy right, but it does not invalid the main point of democracy; that ordinary citizens directly make the decisions and do away with professional politician-rulers, in this, not even Switzerland has caught up to the Greeks.

I am sure you have noticed that for practically all the existence of Judaism, Chistianity, Islam and many other beliefs, slavery was accepted, same goes for women not voting, or counting for much in public life, except for a certain “profession”. So, even centuries after the Greeks, slavery and women suppression carried on, in spite of the claims to moral superiority all those groups make, claims and dogmas the Greeks never fell for.

Why direct democracy is the way to save us from representative democracy and the progressively growing mess it creates in all countries where it is the system of national government? Because of one crucial cause; representative democracy gives all power to formulate and execute policies and laws to the elected politicians and cero executive and legislative power to the voters.

The politicians, logically enough, use that power to do what they believe is good for the country, but to do what is good for the country they need to win the election. To get the voters to vote for them, politicians make promises, and carry out actions, which are often bad for the country. Th system forced, even people with good intentions, to to bad things.

Politicians also compete among themselves. They compete individually and also as parties. Parties are organisations that get politicians together to better compete for power. When a politician belongs to a party he or she benefits from the resources of the party; money, knowledge, experience, etc. Already at this stage, the politician often has to submit to the will of the party and forget, in whole or in part, the people who vote for him or her.

I do not know if politicians form parties because of shared ideology with other politicians, of if the parties create ideologies to persuade voters of the importance of ideology, of beliefs, to persuade voters to vote for their beliefs. What it is clear is that, even if they do not create ideology to get the backing of voters who sympathise with the particular political ideology, parties an politicians exaggerate the importance of ideology. It is as if parties discovered that it is important to turn political ideas into modern religions or sects.

The result is that parties use ideology to persuade voters that other parties have leaders and candidates who are incompetent, corrupt or unpatriotic, or the three at the same time. Naturally, such reasoning polarises politicians, and also polarises voters. The voters of each party have come often to consider voters of other parties as incompetent, stupid, lunatics.

The polarisation has also contaminated the media. It has reached a point where polarized voters are no longer interested in objective information or balanced points of view; voters tune in to the media that reinforces their own opinions. This sets the country in a spiral of polarisation.

This is very obvious, and well known, in the United States, but it happens in all countries with representative democracies, even countries that until recently resisted polarisation, for example Sweden, a country now deeply divided.

In representative democracies, politicians make promises because they have the power to fulfill many of them if they win the election and their party wins control of the executive and the legislature. If they do not win, they can always say that it is unfortunate voters were deceived by the winning party with promises that can not be fulfilled or a bad for the country.

If there is no clear winner, the party who wins the executive can always say “we can not do this and this because the legislature is partisan, they stop us because of narrow party interests, even if it is bad for the country”. The legislature, in the hands of the other party, says the opposite; “we have to stop the executive because it will take us down the wrong path”.

Parties and politicians make promises to get elected; when they are in power, things often become worse; they use power to, basically, buy votes with public money, the money of the voters. They will never say that, they are astute enough to buy the votes with money disguised as “fairness”,”rights”, “employment”, “the environment”, “national defence”, “street safety”, “good jobs”, “entrepreneurship”, “better pensions”, “better education”, “strong borders”, “better health care” and on and on. All parties play the game; the differences are only on the emphasis and on some, not most, policies.

Because in representative democracies voters only have power to elect, not decide policies or laws, what voters do is “I think I will vote for this candidate/party because I like what they promise, or I like this initiative”.

The end result is politicians find ways to buy votes; they raise pensions, so pensioners will vote for them. They do many other things so that ordinary voters will vote for them. For example, they will give rebates to people who buy electric cars, or who install energy efficient home heating or home cooling equipment. Such initiatives are geared, not to the people who need to save most on gas or heating, but to the people most likely to vote; more or less the middle and upper middle class. Such people can afford to buy a new electric car or a new high efficiency heat pump or air conditioner, the poor can not.

But even leaving that aside, the people who benefit from such programs, are the ones who also pay for them. Voters can not resist being bribed because it provides them with an immediate benefit. Even if they know they are being bought with the taxes they pay, they can not say no because “if I do not take advantage of the program someone else will”. Voters cave in to such manipulation, often even if they voted for another party.

But there are more problems with representative democracy; to win elections, politicians, parties need to set up competitive campaigns. Such campaigns reuire lots of money. In some countries the money comes from lobbies and from banks. So, you have a situation in which politicians need the money of the rich individuals and corporations to win; without lots of money you can not set up a competive campaign. The politician or the party might have the best policies for the nation, for the short term and fro the long term, but there is no money, voters will not know about it much. But even if they know about it, massive negative campaigning bu those with money will drown the campaign.

This is not unlike the commercial world; a small company might have the best product or service but, if the potential buyers do not know about it, the company will not really be able to compete with the “big boys”.

So, with representative democracy, regardless if the Right or the Left, or the Center or a coalition govern, they never can keep in ming the good of the country, even for the short term, much less fro the long term.

One way politicians buy votes is by making sure there is enough money, created by easy credit and massive paper printing, so that there is economic activity, people can buy houses, cars, etc.

Unfortunately, that creates inflation, which means the average citizen becomes progressively poorer, even if he or she erans “more” money.

But becayse representative democracies removes all responsibility for the fate of the country from voters, voter do niot feel thay are to bale when politicians of all parties print more money to win elections. In the US you see it clearly; it does not matter if Republican or Democrats govern; Obama, Bush,Trump, Biden, all fo the same thing; work to get elected or reelected by put in place policies voters and lobbies like, even if, as often happens, the interest of the lobby and of ordinary citizens, for the short and long term are incompatible.

In some representative democracies, the state finances most of the political campaigns of parties. This eliminate or reduces the pressure of money lobbies on elected politicians, but does not diminish the pressure of the lobbies who help the parties with non-monetary contributions, or who can deliver lots of votes.

By removing direct responsibility for the fate of the country, for short term and long term policies, for laws, from the voters, voters can not do much about what the politicians do about the key economic and fiscal policies of the country, as all parties are forced to basically do the same thing, keep voters happy at any cost.

Eventually, the country starts to deteriorate, as fiscal and economic policies based on growing private and public debts and mlkney printing are not forever sustainable. That is why all currencies not backed assets independent of government control, such as gold and, it seem now, bitcoin, end up collapsing. When that happens, anything can happen, as history shows, but is never good.

To top it off, representative democracies put in the hands of judeges sekected by the politicians, the fate of major laws andmajor policies.

All this means that to have voters that are forced to vote responsibly, it is essential for voters to demand the the power to decide policies and laws, and to have veto plower over any law or policy politicians want to approve or have approved. Likewise, it is also essential to limit the power of supreme court justices to deciding civil and criminal cases, and to remove from the power to decide if a policiy or law is “constitutional”.

When voters really decide issues, not just elect polticians, voters force themselves to inform themselves of the details or issues. They also listen to assorted experts to explain complex issues. As a result, the country makes sounder decisions because voters are froced to consider the good and bad, short term and long term effects of the votes.

That what direct democracy is about; “responsible government by voters who have no choice but to vote responsibly”. That is why Switzerland is the best governed country in the World. Swiss voters have removed all key decision making power from elected politicians.

Because in a direct democracy the politicians have much less power than the politicians, it doe not make much sense to “donate” millions to political campaigns. Other lobbies, like large unions or professional groups, do not put so much emphasis either into suggesting to members to vote for this that party, because theknow the members will have to vote as individuals to decide issues, specific issues, not as a herd. On some issues, union members and others may vote “right”, on others “left”. In a direct democracy, voters have more power and are also freer and mone autonomous than in representative democracies, Switzerland has been and continues to be an amazing pioneer and success.

That is what the citizens of Canada, the US, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, India and all other reprsentative democracies have to do too, deman direct democracy. Direct democracy is the system grown up voters demand and that also makes voters grow up further.

I do not even write one line about non-democratic countries because such systems are illegitimate; they are all inhumane. It does not matter is one party, one person, one religion, one ideology rules, they are all oppressive.

If you want to rescue your country from the clutches of lobbies, of polarization, of the elected aristocrats, which is what politicians are in representative democracies, you have to push for direct democracy, now.

Victor Lopoez

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