Posted 6 years ago on Jan. 1, 2012, 9:11 p.m. EST by Nanook
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
The focus of this topic is to discuss the pros and cons of Direct Democracy and, hopefully, to find solutions for the cons.
Direct Democracy is the process of having each citizen directly present their viewpoint or vote on an issue. One alternative, usually called a "republic", allows voters to elect representatives who present viewpoints and votes, supposedly as a summary for those who elected them. The whole question of Direct Democracy comes up now because of the blatant and corrupt behavior of representatives who voice the narrow opinions of their financial supporters rather than the population. It also CAN be brought up at this time because very recent developments of electronic communication technology make it practical to do. The simpleminded view is that people just get on the internet and vote.
I wish Direct Democracy was as easy as it seems. It isn't. Here are two reasons why it isn't.
Why do the presidential elections always come so close to 50 / 50? This isn't an accident. The votes of 200+ million people in the country are psychologically herded by the political parties through the media. When a party is behind in votes, it pours money into advertising, most of it deceptive, until enough people get confused and change their position. As soon as the party gains the advantage, they stop that campaign. So, the public gets pulled back and forth around the 50% point. Direct Democracy will not change that political pressure. So, political manipulation must still be eliminated.
Second, what would happen if we brought every citizen into the process of creating and voting on bills brought before congress? How effective do we think the American people could be developing and voting on complex issues? For example, establishing operating rules for nuclear power plants? How about chemical factories? How about air traffic control systems? How about weapons procurement or pharmaceutical drug production? Most people don't have a CLUE how complex modern society has become. Most people do not have the background to contribute to such issues.
( Unfortunately, most elected representatives are just as clueless! Why? Because the system we use to elect them picks people who are fast talkers with good looks and personalities. Their ability to understand and organize very complex technical issues is never tested. We then put them in a governing structure that was never designed to address the modern world. So, they are useless as well. But that's another topic. )
Here are 10 problems that need to be addressed to make Direct Democracy work:
Not all people would be willing or able to vote on all issues. It would just be too much work for most people. Others don't have access to the internet and would have to travel long distances to vote. That means, issues that are subject to votes would often be decided by less than the full population, or even very small portions of the population.
Many issues which come before government are complex. Not all people are able or willing to do the research to adequately comprehend the detailed principles involved. Yet some elements of the outcome may strongly affect them.
For those willing to become informed on some issue, the internet provides quick access to an almost limitless source of information. But that raises the problems of relevance, accuracy and efficiency. Using the internet in its current form would be a tragedy. None of the search engines, or even all of them in combination, can effectively produce a comprehensive collection of "relevant" information on any topic. There are too many items found that are poorly organized and contain inaccurate, irrelevant or even fraudulently distracting material. Any attempt to bring human judges into the process brings human bias along with it.
Even with good organization, human society has still not been able to solve the issue of TRUTH.
What if the problems being presented to Congress for voting are not solvable by tweaking our existing processes because the fundamentals of those processes are completely outdated and irrelevant? Then giving the general public that flawed knowledge for them to vote on will still not generate adequate solutions.
Due to human psychology, and the inability of most people to comprehend society broadly, most people make choices that are very self-centered. This leads directly to suppression of minorities.
We know that self-interest and greed exist and that many people will vote only thinking of themselves. Naïve economic policies that are widely accepted, claim that "market dynamics" will resolve the apparent irony, i.e. that many wrongs will average out to many rights. So, the tendency of individuals to self-interest and greed still needs to be addressed.
The same naive economic policies that fail to restrain greed also result in huge market swings and market failures.
The whole issue of direct pressure on voters will still exist. Voters would still be subject to the pressure of authority or the draw of money or reward to sway their votes.
And, of course, fraud in gathering and collecting direct votes still needs to be addressed.
The problems of Direct Democracy listed above are discussed at length at http://www.a3society.org/TyrannyOfTheMajority and http://www.a3society.org/FixDemocracy . Some solutions for these problems are also suggested. Please jump in here. List out any other problems that you are aware of. If you also have solutions, please list those as well.
(This post is part of a collection of posts aimed at launching a new process called the National Opinion Collection System (NOCS). For more information on the process, see http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupytheconstitution-introduction/ )