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Why not direct democracy?

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posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 05:22 PM
As I sit here thinking about how our representative government here in the United States predominantly represents those who can afford to pay for their campaigns, something I assume is true in many other nations, I've been spending a few days trying to offer up a viable alternative. Not wanting to take the enlightened despot path that always ends in blood and a poorly chosen successor, I've been genuinely wondering if technology and mass literacy makes it possible to consider a much more direct democracy.

What I would propose would not be a system where any person could submit a bill directly and then everyone would be required to vote on it. Rather, building on the separation of powers, I think we could include the best parts of a republic, of limited government, and have a much greater public voice. I'm thinking in American terms, but will speak abstractly because I think the idea works anywhere with a relatively united citizenry, ease of access to technology, and a democratic background.

There would have to be an established and inviolate bill of rights, clearly defining what rights people had that could not be voted away. Basic freedoms such as speech, assembly, etc. I'll leave the details for discussion if people are interested.

But for most things beyond that, what I am considering if there would be elected advisory councils who would have the power to consider major issues, and draft laws. I think it would be better if they included a mix of people who understood the particular subject area as well as public representatives, and they would submit their programs for public approval.

Since unity is important, I'd argue 60% approval from the public should be required (with non-voting not counted for or against in the total percentages) after a period of one month they get to review any proposed law, and this would be for all basic bills.

For bills designed to amend the basic rights, I would say that 80% approval be required, plus they cannot violate or restrict an existing right.

Such a system would incorporate the advisory capacity of the brightest minds and seek public input, but it would also prevent a small group of people from being ever able to simply force through an unpopular policy against the public will.

While there would obviously need to be special consideration of foreign policy and war issues, which I'm leaving aside for the moment just to touch on the concept, I wanted to see what ATSers thoughts about the idea of bringing more direct democracy into the mix.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 05:50 PM
Good thoughts.

The internet means there is no longer a need of the current system of representative democracy.
Not that there wouldn't be people to run things, but decisions can now be made easily, and directly.
That's what people don't get about the internet. It will fundamentally change what democracy is.
Politically this may take a hundred years to transform, but realistically, it could be implemented today, and it will be implemented at some point in the future.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 06:05 PM
The problem has often been described as "bread and circuses." The idea is that if you leave people up to their own devices, they'll never (or rarely) do things that are difficult but for their own good. They'll only respond to things that give them food or entertainment. It's not that they're stupid. Just too busy in most cases to directly study and respond to all the various issues that arise when you try to organize a large number of people for the common good.

That's why people love monarchy so much. It removes from them the responsibility of having to become educated on a lot of subjects that have honestly become so complicated you need to have a four-year college degree to understand anymore. You can always blame the King if things go wrong. Chop off his head. See what a new King can do. That's a lot easier than having to study land usage statistics to decide won an area of farmland is okay to be rezoned for commercial or residential property, or if a trade tariff needs to be rewritten because a country has changed its primary export.

You want to do it? Great! You're what we around these parts call a "politician." Good luck.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 06:08 PM
Think of 10 people you know. Do you want them to run your life?

Democracy is tyranny. Tyranny by the moron mass.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 06:17 PM
I agree, good thoughts.
Of course we would probably have to get American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, NFL, NBA, MLB, and a host of other shows off of TV so people would read the bills and vote on them.

I don't believe that our current system is all that bad, it is The Peoples lack of intrest that is truly hurting this county.
Most people I work with can't even name the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader, but they can tell your the MVP in every Super Bowl for the past ten years.
It's sad really.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 06:20 PM
reply to post by Blue Shift

Star for you because we seem to think alike on this one

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 06:44 PM
I like the idea. The constitution and the republic would still stand. The only change would be congress. Instead of representatives anyone who wanted would cast their vote.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 10:35 PM
I definitely have my doubts about letting everyone decide, but there's a funny way that the weight of having such a large opinion tends to drown out the extremes. Monarchies, tyrannies, or dictatorships are certainly effective, but that's their main problem. If you view government as a necessary evil, a set of powers to be exercised only where they need to be applied, the inefficiency of the mass would be a promising aspect.

I don't think they should write the laws, per se, but I do think since we all pay, we should have a greater choice and say.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 10:44 PM
Honestly, how is this any different than what we have now?

...Other than the required to vote part

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 10:46 PM
reply to post by cassandranova

I think one of the positive things would be that when a group gets the word out for either side of an issue that it would mean something instead of the word getting out and the majority wanting one thing and the representatives doing the opposite. "Too big to fail" being a perfect example.

edit on 4-10-2011 by daskakik because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 10:56 PM
Like daskakik said, you'd have more accountability against obviously bad programs passing, as you would seriously disempower the 1%.

But beyond that, you'd shift how money was spent. It's easy to buy off 535 members of Congress. Buying off the American people is much harder and much less predictable.

The people who are very involved would serve a good role in this system as they would be the ones getting information out about bills during the month long public review period. But they would lose the power they have to elect extreme and polarizing candidates out of the primary systems they control on both sides.

I'm not claiming it is the best system, but I think it is an upgrade that could not help but improve public confidence, lessens the role of money in politics, and would actually fundamentally increase the ability of those who care about politics to have an impact on a principled, issue by issue basis. Parties would matter less, and ideas would matter more.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 11:05 PM
reply to post by cassandranova

Like daskakik said, you'd have more accountability against obviously bad programs passing, as you would seriously disempower the 1%.

I think this sentence above fairly demonstrates all that is wrong with the idea of a direct democracy. Those who advocate it want more say in the "programs" government bullies the people with.

The only "programs" government should be concerned with are those they were Constitutionally mandated to be concerned with, like the protection of rights. There's a program the government has failed miserably at administrating. Another "program" would be the protection and defense of our borders. There's a program the federal government has failed at miserably. Instead, they created a new "program" called empire building, and to hell with protecting the borders. After all, that is just a Constitutional mandate.

You cannot expect to create a direct democracy and then have a limited government. There are far too many people who gleefully partake in plunder when it has been legislatively declared legal plunder.

Limited governments do not foster plundering programs.

posted on Oct, 4 2011 @ 11:55 PM
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux

I think you are wrong. Alot of people hold the idea that the US should bring the troops home and should secure the border. It's the representatives that keep going against the will of the people and forcing big government upon the people.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 12:01 AM

Do you have time in your day to pore over every single proposal that comes through your chamber of commerce, town hall, city hall, state capital, national capital? Can you do so and make informed decisions about it all? 'Cause you need to do all that before it comes up for discussion. Then do you have time to kick it around with everyone else you know, come to a decision, and pass it up the ladder to an open vote? Do you then have time to vote on all of these?

Direct democracy barely works at a summer camp. It's not going to run a country.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 12:04 AM

Originally posted by daskakik
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux

I think you are wrong. Alot of people hold the idea that the US should bring the troops home and should secure the border. It's the representatives that keep going against the will of the people and forcing big government upon the people.

All governments exist by the consent of the governed. No exceptions. People get the government they deserve.

When Congress attempted to impose - against the will of a majority of people - a prohibition on alcohol, the People didn't take to the streets and cry for direct democracy. Instead, they collectively flipped their middle finger to the federal government and drank anyway.

Congress, just 13 short years later, was forced to repeal the 18th Amendment, not because of any direct democracy, but because People, as members on a jury, refused to convict booze distillers and manufacturers.

Non acquiescence is far more powerful than voting.

Further, I am not wrong that the "programs" the federal government has been mandated to administrate by Constitution are examples of failed government, while their invented progressive programs that require expansion of government and are not at all mandated by Constitution just keep coming at us.

A direct democracy will not put an end to this wave after wave of progressive government expanding programs.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 12:27 AM
I agree that a direct democracy without built in limitations would be an invitation to disaster. This is why I suggested certain fundamental rights would need to be laid out in the construction of this government, akin to the Bill of Rights, and also that would clearly delineate the limitations of government.

As far as the complaints about who would participate in said democracy, any system you devise that eliminates people from consideration will prove highly problematic. For instance, I may feel I'm qualified to make decisions where ten others are not. But, how am I to properly deny them their say as they are impacted just as I am, without resorting to force.

The ugly truth is force is used by governments to impose upon people for not fitting into the social compact. For some things, we accept this gladly, such as blatant sociopaths. For others, reasonable people wonder, such as recreational drug users. I feel a system designed with the protection of rights and popular sovereignty would encourage a minimalist state (because it is easier to vote against something than for it, and I suspect it would be easier to get people organized to prevent things from happening), keep government from doing things just to keep busy, and while it wouldn't be the best organized, it would have the potential to be the least damaging.

If you jumped in midthread, that might have been lost.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 12:34 AM
reply to post by Jean Paul Zodeaux

Direct democracy would have been a more efficient way of keeping those laws off the books to begin with instead of waiting 13 years. How many were convicted during those 13 years?

Never said you were wrong about the programs that the federal government has no business administrating. Just that direct democracy wouldn't necessarily keep those programs. I think that the constitution would probably be followed more closely under direct democracy than under the system in place.

edit on 5-10-2011 by daskakik because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 05:37 AM
I am all for it. It offers much more benefits than harm compared to representative system. And with the internet, this is the first time in history true direct democracy is efficiently possible on the scale of nation states. Representatives are simply redundant.

The only problem is that pure direct democracy may increase the likehood of bad decisions not from people being malevolent, general populace is surely less malevolent than corrupt politicians, but them being uneducated or ignorant. Do we want to allow ignorant majority to beat wise minority? Populism may not dissapear with politicians.

Thats why the best system would be direct democracy with some technocratic/sofocratic elements (different vote weights based on education, expertise in the field the law relates to etc..). That way you have best of both worlds.

edit on 5/10/11 by Maslo because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 06:00 AM
reply to post by TheWalkingFox

Direct democracy barely works at a summer camp. It's not going to run a country.


Seems to work well enough in Switzerland.

I believe that some form of direct democracy in the UK is imperative if people are to have a real say in how their lives are governed.

However I think it's imperative that the civil liberties and well being of minorities are protected which is one of the reasons why I would also abolish the party political system with all elected officials being soley accountable to the electorate and their constituents who would also have the power of recall.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 06:10 AM
Switzerland is a direct democracy.

Walking the streets you will often see billboards urging you to vote on way or the other on issues, sometimes this has led to controversy since some of the proposed issues are...complex, especially ones around immigration.

Some towns actually vote on individual applications for citizenship. This has caused potential applicants for citizenship ( already a VERY hard process) to make sure they become involved in their local communities and most importantly to integrate.

Direct Democracy in Switzerland means that people feel involved and responsible for their communities. It works very well. Sometimes it can seem unfair, for example, the Swiss are not known for their friendliness to foreigners. But no system is perfect.

Switzerland is consistently in the top ten on quality of life surveys. I think its direct democracy plays a role in making life better for a community.

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