oh and for the record - there are some states have some things like it.
Arguments for direct democarcy (and against rep. democracy):
* Non representation. Individuals elected to office in a representative democracy tend not to be demographically representative of their constituency. They tend to be wealthier and more educated, and are also more predominantly male as well as members of the majority race, ethnic group, and religion than a random sample would produce. They also tend to be concentrated in certain professions, such as lawyers. Elections by district may reduce, but not eliminate, those tendencies, in a segregated society. Direct democracy would be inherently representative, assuming universal suffrage (where everyone can vote). Critics counter that direct democracy can be unrepresentative, if not all eligible voters participate in every vote, and that this is lacking voter turnout is not equally distributed among various groups. Greater levels of education, especially regarding law, seem to have many advantages and disadvantages in lawmaking.
* Conflict of interest. The interests of elected representatives do not necessarily correspond with those of their constituents. An example is that representatives often get to vote to determine their own salaries. It is in their interest that the salaries be high, while it is in the interest of the electorate that they be as low as possible, since they are funded with tax revenue. The typical results of representative democracy are that their salaries are much higher than this average, however. Critics counter that salaries for representatives are necessary, otherwise only the wealthy could afford to participate.
* Corruption. The concentration of power intrinsic to representative government is seen by some as tending to create corruption. In direct democracy, the possibility for corruption is reduced.
* Political parties. The formation of political parties is considered by some to be a "necessary evil" of representative democracy, where combined resources are often needed to get candidates elected. However, such parties mean that individual representatives must compromise their own values and those of the electorate, in order to fall in line with the party platform. At times, only a minor compromise is needed. At other times such a large compromise is demanded that a representative will resign or switch parties. In structural terms, the party system may be seen as a form of oligarchy. (Hans Köchler, 1995) Meanwhile, in direct democracy, political parties have virtually no effect, as people do not need to conform with popular opinions. In addition to party cohesion, representatives may also compromise in order to achieve other objectives, by passing combined legislation, where for example minimum wage measures are combined with tax relief. In order to satisfy one desire of the electorate, the representative may have to abandon a second principle. In direct democracy, each issue would be decided on its own merits, and so "special interests" would not be able to include unpopular measures in this way.
* Government transition. The change from one ruling party to another, or to a lesser extent from one representative to another, may cause a substantial governmental disruption and change of laws. For example, US Secretary of State (then National Security Advisor) Condoleezza Rice cited the transition from the previous Clinton Administration as a principal reason why the United States was unable to prevent the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Bush Administration had taken office nearly 8 months prior to the attacks.
* Cost of elections. Many resources are spent on elections which could be applied elsewhere. Furthermore, the need to raise campaign contributions is felt to seriously damage the neutrality of representatives, who are beholden to major contributors, and reward them, at the very least, by granting access to government officials. However, direct democracy would require many more votings, which would be costly, and also probably campaigns by those who may lose or gain from the results.
* Patronage and nepotism. Elected individuals frequently appoint people to high positions based on their mutual loyalty, as opposed to their competence. For example, Michael D. Brown was appointed to head the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, despite a lack of experience. His subsequent poor performance following Hurricane Katrina may have greatly increased the number of deaths. In a direct democracy where everybody voted for agency heads, it wouldn't be likely for them to be elected solely based on their relationship with the voters. On the other hand, most people may have no knowledge of the candidates and get tired of voting for every agency head. As a result, mostly friends and relatives may vote.
* Lack of transparency. Supporters argue that direct democracy, where people vote directly for issues concerning them, would result in greater political transparency than representative democracy. Critics argue that representative democracy can be equally transparent. In both systems people cannot vote on everything, leaving many decisions to some forms of managers, requiring strong Freedom of Information legislation for transparency.
* Insufficient sample size. It is often noted that prediction markets most of the time produce remarkably efficient predictions regarding the future. Many, maybe even most, individuals make bad predictions, but the resulting average prediction is often surprisingly good. If the same applies to making political decisions, then direct democracy may produce very efficient decisions.
* Lack of accountability. Once elected, representatives are free to act as they please. Promises made before the election are often broken, and they frequently act contrary to the wishes of their electorate. Although theoretically it is possible to have a representative democracy in which the representatives can be recalled at any time; in practice this is usually not the case. An instant recall process would, in fact, be a form of direct democracy.
* Voter apathy. If voters have more influence on decisions, it is argued that they will take more interest in and participate more in deciding those issues.
Arguments against direct democracy:
* Scale. Direct democracy works on a small system. For example, the Athenian Democracy governed a city of, at its height, about 30,000 eligible voters (free adult male citizens). Town meetings, a form of local government once common in New England, have also worked well, often emphasizing consensus over majority rule. The use of direct democracy on a larger scale has historically been more difficult, however. Nevertheless, developments in technology such as the internet, user-friendly and secure software, and inexpensive, powerful personal computers have all inspired new hope in the practicality of large scale applications of direct democracy. Furthermore ideas such as council democracy and the Marxist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat are if nothing else proposals to enact direct democracy in nation-states and beyond.
* Practicality and efficiency. Another objection to direct democracy is that of practicality and efficiency. Deciding all or most matters of public importance by direct referendum is slow and expensive (especially in a large community), and can result in public apathy and voter fatigue, especially when repeatedly faced with the same questions or with questions which are unimportant to the voter. Modern advocates of direct democracy often suggest e-democracy (sometimes including wikis, television and Internet forums) to address these problems.
* Demagoguery. A fundamental objection to direct democracy is that the public generally gives only superficial attention to political issues and is thus susceptible to charismatic argument or demagoguery. The counter argument is that representative democracy causes voters not to pay attention, since each voter's opinion doesn't matter much and their legislative power is limited. However, if the electorate is large, direct democracy also brings the effect of diminished vote significance, lacking a majority vote policy.
One possible solution is demanding that a proposal requires the support of at least 50% of all citizens in order to pass, effectively meaning that absent voters count as "No" votes. This would prevent minorities from gaining power. However, this still means that the majority could be swayed by demagoguery. Also, this solution could be used by representative democracy.
* Complexity. A further objection is that policy matters are often so complicated that not all voters understand them. The average voter may have little knowledge regarding the issues that should be decided. The arduous electoral process in representative democracies may mean that the elected leaders have above average ability and knowledge. Advocates of direct democracy argue, however, that laws need not be so complex and that having a permanent ruling class (especially when populated in large proportion by lawyers) leads to overly complex tax laws, etc. Critics doubt that laws can be extremely simplified and argue that many issues require expert knowledge. Supporters argue that such expert knowledge could be made available to the voting public. Supporters further argue that policy matters are often so complicated that politicians in traditional representative democracy do not all understand them. In both cases, the solution for politicians and demos of the public is to have experts explain the complexities.
* Voter apathy. The average voter may not be interested in politics and therefore may not participate. This immediately reveals the lack of interest either in the issues themselves or in the options; sometimes people need to redefine the issues before they can vote either in favor or in opposition. A small amount of voter apathy is always to be expected, and this is not seen as a problem so long the levels remain constant among (do not target) specific groups of people. That is, if 10% of the population voted with representative samples from all groups in the population, then in theory, the outcome would be correct. Nevertheless, the high level of voter apathy would reveal a substantial escalation in voter fatigue and political disconnect. The risk is, however, that voter apathy would not apply to special interest groups. For example, most farmers may vote for a proposal to increase agricultural subsidies to themselves while the general population ignore this issue. If many special interest groups do the same thing, then the resources of the state may be exhausted. One possible solution is compulsory voting, although this has problems of its own such as restriction of freedom, costs of enforcement, and random voting.
* Self-interest. The voter will tend to look after his or her own interest rather than considering the needs and values of a society as a whole. Thus it is very difficult under a system of direct democracy to make a law which benefits a smaller group if it hurts a larger group, even if the benefit to the small group outweighs that of the larger group. This point is also an argument in favour of Direct Democracy, as current representative party systems often make decisions that are not in line with or in favour of the mass of the population, but of a small elite group. Making it difficult to enshrine laws that benefit the small minority of the ruling class will level the playing field and provide a fair voice for all members of a society. It should be noted that this is a criticism of democracy in general, but is particularly acute for direct democracy. "Fiscal responsibility", for instance, is difficult under true direct democracy, as people generally do not wish to pay taxes, despite the fact that governments need a source of revenue. One possible solution to the issue regarding minority rights and public welfare is to have a constitution that requires that minority interests and public welfare (such as healthcare, etc) be protected and ensures equality, as is the case with representative democracy. The demos would be able to work out the "how" of providing services, but some of the "what" that is to be provided could be enshrined in a constitution.
* Suboptimality. Results may be quite different depending on whether people vote on single issues separately in referendums, or on a number of options bundled together by political parties. As explained in the article on majority rule, the results from voting separately on the issues may be suboptimal, which is a strong argument against the indiscriminate use of referendums. With direct democracy, however, the one-vote one-human concept and individualism with respect to voting would tend to discourage the formation of parties, and it could be constitutionally required that each human vote his or her conscience and would not therefore be required to "toe the line". Further optimality might be achieved, argue proponents, by having recallable delegates to specialized councils and higher levels of governance, so that the primary focus of the everyday citizen would be on their local community.
* Manipulation by timing and framing. If voters are to decide on an issue in a referendum, a day (or other period of time) must be set for the vote and the question must be framed, but since the date on which the question is set and different formulations of the same question evoke different responses, whoever sets the date of the vote and frames the question has the possibility of influencing the result of the vote. Manipulation is also present in pure democracy with a growing population. Original members of the society are able to instigate measures and systems that enable them to manipulate the thoughts of new members to the society. Proponents counter that a portion of time could be dedicated and mandatory as opposed to a per-issue referendum. In other words, each member of civil society could be required to participate in governing their society each week, day, or other period of time.
· 9 years ago