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Forum Post: Direct Democracy – When you really look at it…

Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 24, 2011, 10:11 a.m. EST by FivePercentForNothing (190)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Putting issues directly into the hands of the people sounds like the fairest way of determining whether or not to pass certain laws. What the majority of the people want is what is best for everyone right? The problem is that direct democracy can actually undermine, rather than promote, good governance and accountability. It can also lead to unfair decisions regarding minorities.

Direct Democracy is a fundamental part of Switzerland's political system. The recent decision of the Swiss electorate to ban minaret construction is a case in point. Critics have likened this to the ban on conspicuously religious synagogue buildings in Europe in the 1930s.

In the United States we already have direct democracy on many issues. Just about every very ballot has referendum questions. In California, the rights of minorities to marry, in the case of gays; to get basic services, in the case of immigrants have been removed by referendum. California is experiencing the worst financial crisis of all 50 states largely because of a 1978 referendum capping property taxes and requiring a super- majority to pass tax increases. Time after time referendum ballot questions lead to items that mandate an increase in government spending, however when voters often vote against higher taxes to pay for them.

Because of a poorly written referendum question, Colorado’s so-called “English for the Children” initiative in 2002 came close to eliminating ESL in the school systems an important program for children of immigrants.

Direct democracy lead the citizens of Arizona contaminate their own water. They did not trust their politicians who said that the water brought in across the desert needed to stored underground for a period to remove hardness and demanded a referendum for immediate injection into the main water supply. The water was so bad that people would not even bathe in it let alone drink it or cook with it. You could not wash your car with it, as it would eat the paint off your car. It was good, actually, only for watering your lawn, and very few people in Tucson have lawns.

Votes on initiatives are frequently very close. One possible reason is that the electorate doesn’t really know which way to vote. In other words, confusion over initiatives leads to a toss-up outcome that doesn’t reflect the voters’ true will.

Participation is another issue. I vote in every election. I always vote after dinner near the close of the polls. I always ask “what was the turn out” and the volunteer always tells me something like “we are up to 3,243 out of 15,250 so that’s about 21%. It is always near 20% except for every fourth year, the presidential year. And that is only 21% of registered voters so the turnout is actually lower.

Referendum has become a special interest of its own, replete with lobbyists and money and the corruption those can bring. Leaders elected to take hard decisions with long-term consequences are often side-lined by short-term interest groups and majorities are ruling on the rights granted to minorities.

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[-] 4 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Direct Democracy is mob rule and absolutly positively undeniably hurts minorities.

November 2009: 57% of Swiss vote to ban minarets The referendum by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party labeled minarets as symbols of rising Muslim political power that could one day transform Switzerland into an Islamic nation.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/30/57-of-swiss-vote-to-ban-minarets/

[-] 1 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

Thanks. When I was reading your original post I was thinking that it would be even more compelling with references.

[-] 1 points by HarryCrew07 (433) 2 years ago

Direct Democracy = Libertarian Anarchy

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Libertarians are for the system laid out in the constitution. They are happy with three branches of government, Executive, legislative and Judicial with a bicameral legislation.

Libertarians are not anarchists; they believe government is very important.

Direct Democracy = mob rule.

[-] 1 points by HarryCrew07 (433) 2 years ago

Oh I wasn't suggesting that ALL libertarians were anarchists. I was discussing the term "libertarian anarchy" which is a specific branch of libertarianism which in essence looks exactly like direct democracy. Its similar to the difference between moderate and conservative republicans or democrats. Different branches of a similar idea system.

But I have since changed my opinion: Mob rule would certainly not be direct democracy. Mob is the opposite of democracy. In a mob, all parts are acting as the same whole. In direct democracy, all are individuals acting alone on an individual basis. So mob rule and direct democracy are almost opposites.

But I am speaking idealistically, not practically. And since I was commenting on a practical example, I think that my ideas might not quite fit.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

It is quite easy for Direct Democracy to become mob rule. There is evidence time and again that it does. I believe the system we have set up in the US constituion provides the checks and balances we need to preven one branch from becoming too powerful. When they do overstep their bounds we need to elect new people. We are free to put knew people in. If you argue that we cannot because people will not chose a third party than why would you think they can make decisions in a Direct Democracy environment.

Referendum in the US, which is a form of direct democracy, has become a special interest of its own, replete with lobbyists and money and the corruption those can bring. Leaders elected to take hard decisions with long-term consequences are often side-lined by short-term interest groups and majorities are ruling on the rights granted to minorities.

[-] 1 points by HarryCrew07 (433) 2 years ago

Yes, but when Direct Democracy becomes "mob rule" its no longer direct democracy. In practice, you are correct, as there is no actual line between forms of rule and one type can easily slip towards another. I was merely thinking theoretically.

In other news, I turn to Thucydides:

“When will there be justice in Athens? There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are.” ― Thucydides

[-] 2 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

I hypothesize that on Presidential election years, there is even more noise in referendum results. Consider all of the people who went to the polls to vote "Obama", and that was all that they were focused on. How many of those people voted on referendums that they read for the very first time in the voting booth?

[-] 2 points by IslandActivist (191) from Keaau, HI 2 years ago

This is actually what I have been pondering. See, the vast majority isn't necessarily educated enough to run or vote for anything. (I am speaking about ignorance.) Which is why they end up electing idiots to run everything. Democracies are doomed to fail unless everyone is individually educated and up to date on every single policy and issue.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Which will never happen.

People really do not care to be educated on history or current events unless it is football stats or American Idol results.

[-] 1 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

People waste a significant amount of time arguing about simple objective facts that you can just look up. Which means in every case that at least one person failed to research present reality properly, much less complex hypotheticals about the future. That's an epistemological proof that a fully informed electorate is impossible.

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[-] 2 points by ImaDreamer (82) 2 years ago

I think any rational, objective person would have to agree that pure democracy would result in mob rule and chaos. But the people must have a means of directly affecting the functioning of government at every level to prevent the situation we have now where everything is controlled by a few elite with money and power.

The solution is an Informed Democracy and a system of power that works both from the top down and the bottom up. We elect managers to run the daily operations of government, but their decisions can be overruled by direct vote of the people, who can also create laws directly. The problem of mob rule is dealt with by requiring voters to demonstrate knowledge of the issue they are voting on by answering questions that appear on the ballot, which also contains the answers, and arguments both for and against the proposal. Voters are allowed to change their answers till they get them right, the object being that they simply must be aware of what they are voting on.

A detailed explanation of how voting would operate in an Informed Democracy is provided at the link below.

http://thedreamers.org/essays/democracy.html

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Actually youare describing the system we have now. We elect managers to run the daily operations and we can overrule by direct vote any laws they create.

[-] 1 points by ImaDreamer (82) 2 years ago

Wrong. Many of us want to see a national health care system like the rest of the industrialized world has. Most of us want the Patriot Act repealed. Many want to end the war on drugs. Only 9% of us approve of what's happening in congress but we can't get rid of those people till the next election, and then the media makes it appear that we only have two choices, both affiliated with corrupt political parties. If we could change these conditions with the present system, we would, but we can't.

The system described at the link above would let us change things, quickly, anytime we didn't like what our "representatives" are doing.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

LOL you certainly are a dreamer.... and yeas I know you are not the only one.

[-] 1 points by Democracy101 (54) 2 years ago

Really interesting analysis, FivePercentForNothing. What type of democracy, then, do you think we would see if we follow Noam Chomsky's prescription? He gives it in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se-Nq_rBQHk.

[-] 1 points by KofAIII (234) 2 years ago

No one wants to vote FOR a tax increase...

Direct democracy is alive and well, right NOW...outright rejecting bond issues, one after another.

The problem isn't that voters don't have enough stuff to vote on, the problem is their apathy.

Last month, in my home county, out of the 23,000 potential voters, a mere 3,800 showed up. 1,900 out of 23,000 refused to fund a bond to refurbish our local community college.

That's "direct democracy" in action. No one wants to show up and vote for increased taxes... Well almost never, anyways. Ask California how it's working for them.

My solution is to "Vote Smart, or not at all." :)

[-] 2 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

Everybody thinks that they're the smart ones. Even the stupid ones.

[-] 1 points by KofAIII (234) 2 years ago

Well, we have to convince people to get more informed before they vote, or just stay home. Or voter problem is really two-fold. First no one cares enough to vote as a whole, so getting the majority of them to agree on something isn't gonna happen. Second, Even the ones who care enough to show up, do a shit job. Their decision is based on how that vote will personally affect them, and not what is good for the community, or worse yet it is a vote for a letter or a name they recognize.

If we want 'different' election results we have to change who votes, and how they vote.

"Vote Smart, or not at all."

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

In a non presidental year on average 20% of registered voters show up. That is about 15% of the population.

[-] 1 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

When I was picking on young people for not voting, my research said 23%.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/vote-or-else-this-will-all-be-a-pointless-exercise/

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Yes, It is always near that number.

My point is that people do not care. People complain but do nothing about it when it counts. They do not think it is as important as the Football Score or the American Idol results.

[-] 1 points by TechJunkie (3029) from Miami Beach, FL 2 years ago

I agree and that was what my post about voting was all about, but I'm pretty sure that you and I have both failed to make a dent. Because to a lot of people, what Occupy is all about is rejecting the entire system, not working with it. To a lot of people, the whole point is that they don't trust the system and they don't believe that it's possible to work with it to make government more responsive to their concerns.

The Tea Party is clear proof that those people are wrong.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

The Tea Party started out as a great movement. The current Tea Party movement started in social media with a call to "send a Teabag to Congress" to protest G W Bush and the TARP program. It grew into a loose collection of several thousand small groups connected by an open web site Tea Party Patriots. I participated and loved the movement. Then the Republicans formed the Tea Party Express and hijacked the movement and brought in their right wing religious morality should be legislated crap.

I see the same thing happening with this movement. It started as a group of people upset about bank bail outs and crony capitalism. It appears the left wingers are grabbing hold of this movement. The talk has become more about eliminating capitalism, a resource based economy, communism, direct democracy. These ideas are put forth by people that have been around for years. They are not new ideas for a new movement, they are old ideas injected into the movement.

[-] 1 points by Algee (182) 2 years ago

That is why as the institutions and system change, so do the people. No revolutions can work if the people do not change themelves. For direct democracy, people are completly different from the people of today, and in my opinion the people of a direct democracy will be very knowledgeable compared to today. So involved will they be that they will be able to fight corruption and resolve problems themselves. You talk of the minorities being left out, that is valid but you do not notice that a learned people would go about to change this. The problem with many persons today is that they look at things in the simplest manner, when I envoke direct democracy I also say that I am putting my trust into the people. If I trust the people and say that revolutions do not work if people do not change then that must mean that there is more to my idea of Direct Domocracy. Openning this debate is good, it is important for all to understand this concept. I personally (after seeing what Representative Democracy can do) would prefer to put my faith in the people. If you look at the world now, how many countries are actually democratic in every sense of the term?

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

It is fine to have that dream of and educated paricipating society however many people do not want to learn or vote.

I vote in every election and there are referrendum (direct democracy) questions every time. On average 20% of registered voters vote in a non presidential election AND only about 75% of the population is registered.

[-] 1 points by Algee (182) 2 years ago

No I mean referandums in which the decisions are made by the people. It may be a dream but it must become a reality if humanity is to become better. How would you know what the people want? The problem is that you lack belief in the people. How do you know they do not want to vote? If the people do not vote it is either because they are misled by the system or that they see no need because all the politicians follow those who pay their campaigns. That is what I see.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

There are referendum questions on every ballot that I have voted on. There are usually two or three questions sometimes four.

People do not vote because they do not believe it is important enough. They might miss the football game or American Idol...

[-] 1 points by Algee (182) 2 years ago

Your lack of faith is derranging, no wonder the country isn't doing so well. The people are never that easy to understand, you should perhaps consider taking a closer look at the people. The people do not know, that is a problem, we will fix this problem and the revolution will happen. I am not so sure you are right about this aspect of them not voting. They simply do not vote because the voting system and the politicians in the country are both si corrupted inside and out. You may not be able to see the corruption but does that mean it isn't there, hidden from the public eye. If they hide from the public it must be because they know that the public would react against them, the people are not so dumb they have just been misled. Now they are coming towards the right path, the path that shall lead them all to unity, equality and freedom. With your words you reduce the population to mere machines bound to there television sets as if they were food. Do not underestimate them, for it has already been done and that was a really big mistake. Football or American Idol will not hold them off for long and when that barrier of false idols fails, what will you do? Who will help you? I can answer that: naturally the people.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

My faith on this topic has been ground down by 30 years of wanting people to care. The people do not care. We think we can educate them but they do not want to be educated. Even the folks who go to college do not go to be educated. They go to get a degree. That is not the same as wanting to be educated.

We talk about OWS as the 99% but it is actually the 0.0152% Sad but true, Even if we got a million people together that is only 0.312% There were more people in line at one Wallmart in NJ on Black Friday than were camped in Zuccati park. There are thousands of Walmart. I don't mean to be a downer but I am a realist

[-] 1 points by Algee (182) 2 years ago

We can only experience the world in our own personal way, but we must also open our minds to other experiences. You have lost faith in the people, my faith is still intact but that may be because I am only 18. I see the truth of this world and am a realist. It is good of you to say that we are not really the 99% because it is true, this movement is young and few are activley part of it. But that is not what we advocate in my opinion, the role of this movement is to enlighten the people and wake them from their sleep that you are so sure they wish to stay in. The people are waking up, I see it everyday, this movement is proof of this. With all the capabilities and money the 1% has they still can't make us fall into a deep sleep. There may be more people in front of Zuccati park and many people may be fooled by this but I am not, movements always start small or else they are not real people movements but groups funded by the non-people, the 1%. Keep looking and look hard at what is happening, you will see the truth. If people did not want to change why would any of this be happening? You are talking about numbers only, but it is time we use less numbers and start to feel about people, a person for their personality and their ideas not for the amount they have in the bank account. People are not numbers or statisical data, they are living beings.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

This post is about Direct Democracy which I believe is a flawed system even when people get up and vote.

There are examples in Switzerland, California, Arizona, New Mexico all in which the majority voted to take rights away from the minority. All of the other reasons I gave above hold as well.

[-] 1 points by AFarewellToKings (1486) 2 years ago

Ultimately neither direct democracy or representative democracy are reliable enough to arrive at correct answers to the many questions facing humanity. With 7 billion people, headed for 9 billion, we need technical solutions that can update and self correct on the fly. But that's WIP, meanwhile...

I'm a farmer. I know a good machine from a crappy one (read Egypt). But a good machine in the hands of a lousy operator leads to damaged equipment and loss of crop leading to debts and hunger. We're coming out with better machines all the time but keeping the machine I have running productively means I can acquire a state-of-the-art machine sooner. So let's fix the machine we have (the ballot box is your tool box) while we discuss the new machine.

http://www.the99declaration.org/

nice username, you a drummer?

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

No not a drummer, I play guitar but I like good precussion. I was playing on the percent thing and Bill Bruford is awesome. Neil is pretty awesome too by the way.

I am more into Jazz these days Pat Metheny, Jean Luc Ponty, John Abercrombie, Arild Andersen...

[-] 1 points by infonomics (393) 2 years ago

In essence you seem to argue that the masses do not know what's good for them. Why? Well, you seem not to answer this question. Are they stupid and/or lacking for knowledge? If so, then they are subject to manipulation and deceit, right? So we need to change that deficiency. Indeed, we need to change it regardless of our form of representation. If we are able to change it, then what is your resistance to people voting on their own affairs.? If we are not able to change it, which is better, being manipulated and deceived because you are stupid and lacking knowledge or committing poor choices via your own will? Sounds like a toss up to me, so why not choose freedom over dominion? Hey, look what representation has done for us now.

  • Unsecure borders, even now
  • 20 million illegals
  • 100% leverage (debt/GDP)
  • Budget deficits through 2019 with the lowest being the highest in history
  • Trillion dollar wars of choice
  • Near trillion dollar stimulus that did little for unemployment
  • Housing crisis that damaged our international relations (think Iceland who almost ran to Russia for help)
  • Of 35 developed countries, America is number 34 in the acceptance of evolution
  • Of 35 developed countries, America ranks in the bottom half (despite the enormous sums spent trying to educate)
  • Scores of books and at least one movie (Idiocracy) that mock the intelligence and knowledge of the average American (my favorite book is Susan Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason)
  • Google stupid Americans and you will find a bounty of examples on the subject (my favorite is comedian Sherri Roberts. She is unsure if the earth is flat or not.)
  • Here's a jewel: A Georgia School System Loses Its Accreditation - NYTimes.com. Nation's first in 40 years.

I could go on and on (and I have on my website) but, frankly, the litany bores me.

One more reason why direct democracy is preferable over representative democracy: who is easier to bribe, 535 in the Capitol where lobbyists freely roam or 300+ million voting online in the comfort of their own homes (that is, when they get them back)? So, I ask, which is better, honest dumb asses or lying, deceiving self-proclaimed know-it-alls? For me, I will go with the people because I think we can dummy it down for them. It is much harder to deal with those on the take.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

I am not sure you actually read my post.

There are a lot more flaws in DD than those that I listed. The big one for me is that based in the turn out on current referendum ballots, about 80% of the people do not care.

I will address you issues with the current system which I agree is not perfect.

• Unsecure borders, even now
I do not believe it is possible or practical to secure the borders. We could make them more secure but there are more than 8,000 miles of borders, and even more miles of coastline. More than 40% of illegals have overstayed their visa so securing the border is not going to completely eliminate illegal immigration.

•20 million illegals

The reason they are coming here is because it is better than where they are. I personally would not deport them all.

•100% leverage (debt/GDP)

This is a problem that we need to fix. If you read my post above you would see that California is worse off than most states because of referendum.

•Budget deficits through 2019 with the lowest being the highest in history

It is only 2011 and you can see the future. We need to fix this as well. Social Security, Medicare and Defense make up 70% of the budget so we will need to make changes to all three.

•Trillion dollar wars of choice

We need to stop policing the world. I believe most Americans would have voted for the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Definitely Afghanistan.

•Near trillion dollar stimulus that did little for unemployment

We can agree on this and we need to cut that spending. The problem is, as stated above, most Americans vote for things that require spending and against the taxes that fund them so DD does not help here.

•Of 35 developed countries, America is number 34 in the acceptance of evolution

That is a ridiculous statistic probably from a blog.

•Of 35 developed countries, America ranks in the bottom half (despite the enormous sums spent trying to educate)

I believe our current system has flaws but in my humble opinion it is better than what we would have with Direct Democracy.

[-] 1 points by infonomics (393) 2 years ago

On the subject of Americans and evolution. Do you trust National Geographic? If so, go here:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060810-evolution.html

I'm anxious to hear your response.

20 million illegals "The reason they are coming here is because it is better than where they are. I personally would not deport them all." Classic Straw man argument. They could still have a better life by coming legally. That aside, should we adopt every person on the planet who wants a better life?

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Yes I trust National Geographic.

I find it hard to believe that only 40% of Americans believe that evolution is true however I found it hard to believe that 20% of Americans believe the sun goes around the earth. That is more reason to be against direct democracy. 60% would be voting for teaching creationism in school.

20 million illegals. There is nothing strawman about saying I would not deport them all. I do not think it is practical. I also don’t think it is possible to watch the entire border. What would be great would be bringing folks in Central America up to a better standard of living. Central American countries have some of the largest income disparity on the planet. The richest person in the world, Carlos Slim, is from Mexico.

[-] 0 points by Kite (79) 2 years ago

FYI: Mexico IS in North America.

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[-] 1 points by Marxlust (6) from New York City, NY 2 years ago

Democracy is held camptive by WallSt. Occupy WallSt, liberate democracy.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

I think we are doing pretty well for ourselves as a nation when you look at the world and the history of mankind. Sure there are some problems but our system of representative government seems to be working very well.

[-] 1 points by Marxlust (6) from New York City, NY 2 years ago

The Swedish model looks much better and they even have a king.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

The Chineese are buying up their companies i.e. Volvo.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 2 years ago

Very well put.

I believe our founding fathers understood this and we are very lucky they came up with the three branches of government we have. They were even wise enough to make the legislature bicameral.

[-] 0 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/23/happiness-world-index-oped-cx_hra_0423happy.html

"Taking all things together on a scale of one to 10, how happy would you say you are?" With that question and global surveys, the folks at the World Database of Happiness have ranked 95 nations on a happiness scale.

Switzerland's citizens closely trail the Danish, each reporting an average happiness level of 8.1 (out of 10), followed by Iceland (7.8), Finland (7.7), Australia (7.7) and Sweden (7.7), all the way down to grim Moldova (3.5).

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Well why wouldn't they be happy they are rich. They are the 0.01% The majority is happy to screw the minorities around them.

They are a bunch of rich elitists dating back hundreds of years. Ever hear of a Swiss Bank Account? Do you know why the 0.01% keeps their money there?

The Fins and Sweds own a large portion of the worls oil reserves although China is buying up their companies i.e Volvo.

Not sure why anyone would be happy living in iceland, a frozen volcanic rock but hey to each his own.

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

Switzerland has been a direct democracy for 100+ years.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

And the majority has treated minorities in thier country like crap for 100+ years.

Switzerland has long been a haven for people with money - the 0.01%.

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

Have you ever been there? I haven't but I have read Direct Democracy in Switzerland by Greg Fossedal. Here's an excerpt

19 Diversity

"In Switzerland, minorities are not tolerated. They are favored." A. Togni

As the country eases into social peace and unity, it is easy to forget that, for most of its life, Switzerland was gripped by Europe's grudges. Alexis de Tocqueville summed up the Swiss situation in 1835 as follows:

One people, composed of several races, speaking several languages; with several religious beliefs, various dissident sects, two churches both equally established and privileged; all religious questions turning into political ones, and all political questions turning quickly into religious ones - in short, two societies, one very old and the other very young, joined in marriage in spite of the age difference. That is a fair sketch of Switzerland.

Even today, Switzerland suffers from natural divisions any one of which would severely strain national solidarity in most countries. The Swiss have three major languages, each of which is the home language to a powerful nation and culture on the Swiss frontier. Those national cultures along the Swiss border - in many cases less separated by natural boundaries from their affinity group than the three major Swiss language populations are from one another - have been an entropic magnet, always urging the country apart. "Nature has hindered movement and exchange within the country," as American sociologist Carol Schmid observes, "more than with the neighboring countries of the same language group."(1)

Ethnic Italians, Germans, French, Jews, and Arabs - groups that haven't been able to get along anywhere else for centuries - swirl together within a work force more than one-fifth foreign born. The country has long been home to two of the sternest Protestant sects in the world, the followers of Calvin and Zwingli, and to a highly orthodox Roman Catholic population in the Forest Cantons. For hundreds of years these sects have held sway in various cantons and communities not merely as the religion of preference, but as state-sponsored churches. Scholars and historians comparing Switzerland to such multilingual nations as Belgium, Canada, India, Nigeria, and South Africa are intrigued at the degree to which the Swiss have managed to form a bona fide nation.

It is tempting to call the result a melting pot. Yet this would not be accurate. The Swiss system is held together by something, but it does not homogenize its members. In the United States, ethnic groups tend - when not burdened by perverse incentives - to learn English, adopt American customs, and thus, gradually, become one people in many practices. The Swiss blend together on some customs, but tend to retain their mother tongue. They learn to cooperate with others who speak a different language, and, to an extent seen in few other countries, tend to learn one or more tongues outside their first.

Visiting Switzerland today, one remarks at the smoothness with which the Swiss handle their three-way language barrier. At first you notice it everywhere. And then, after a while, you hardly notice it at all.

Riding from Bern to Geneva, the train crosses over an invisible cantonal border - and the conductor shifts effortlessly from German to French. The P.A. announcements continue to be in both languages, but now French is first, and is spoken by the same voice with a nearly perfect accent.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Direct Democracy is mob rule and absolutly positively undeniably hurts minorities.

November 2009: 57% of Swiss vote to ban minarets

The referendum by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party labeled minarets as symbols of rising Muslim political power that could one day transform Switzerland into an Islamic nation.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/30/57-of-swiss-vote-to-ban-minarets/

[-] 1 points by wn030 (56) 2 years ago

listen, right now quite many people are dancing on my nose, acting as the one and only elite to be able to decide for me. what they actually decide cannot present itself as policy for minorities, when I take a look at decisions made on the budget plan. listen, US is a country where people still have no free education granted (up to master). instead, when I take a look at the dollars that flow into the military sector, ... -fill in a sceptical emoticon here-.

so I doubt that the swiss case is enough to serve as an argument.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

You co not need direct democracy to have free education and may not get it.

The problem is that people vote for great ideas like that and against the funding to support them.

If we had direct democracy I would not be surprised if we voted away the income tax, property tax, sales tax, and 100 other taxes and fees...

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

Why would you trust the people to pick a ruler but not the rules?

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

When you have 320,000,000 people deciding things it is difficult to debate each item before bringing it up for vote. When they are put on a ballot there are really two options yes or no. When an item comes up before congress it is debated for days or weeks and modified accordingly.

I believe that we have some standards for the people that we elect to represent us. They are vetted before Election Day. All their accomplishments as well as their faults and mistakes are laid out before us. So yes I trust the people to pick representatives. Yes we are fooled sometimes but I think for the most part we do OK.

I believe there are flaws in our current system no doubt. I wish that politicians had to pass a test on history, philosophy, law, and the constitution before being allowed to run. While that is not the case, most of our representatives are lawyers, doctors, and entrepreneurs.

"I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature and that power, whether vested in a few or many, is ever grasping, and like the grave, cries, 'Give, give.' " -- Abigail Adams

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

Direct democracy does not forbid representation. In truth it makes it more reliable.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

Our current system has a process for direct democracy. It is called referendum and there are questions on every ballot that I have voted on. The problem is most people have no idea what the hell the question is asking.

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

I have never seen nor heard of a nationwide referendum.

[-] 1 points by FivePercentForNothing (190) 2 years ago

That is how we ammend the constition.

That is how a change was made on how senators are elected rather than apointed. There was a nationwide refferendum to change how Senators are slected.

[-] 1 points by bakerjohnj (121) 2 years ago

What country do you live in? In the US, the constitution is not amended by referendum. It is amended by congress and state legislatures.

[-] 1 points by FrogWithWings (1367) 2 years ago

well, plenty think if one asks the same question, which Obama is shown directly and clearly answering in this video, that you are a wing nut extremist and neo-confederate racist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxYDnYgQ5MQ

Carefully note his answer and qualifiers

The original one WITH the Civil War Amendments.

Many scholars agree the Civil War Amendments were not applicable to the "original one". I think Obama does agree as well, regardless if he'll step up and speak the enlightening truth to the masses. I believe he expects them to learn the truth just like he did.

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