My understanding is that back in the day, before the internet, there
was no way for everyone to gather around, and vote on a bill, so we
would have representatives do it for us.
If your inquiry is isolated to the United States it must be noted that the U.S. is not a democracy and never was intended to be. The U.S. can at best be described as a representative republic. The electoral college determines the President, not the popular vote.
It is not clear how the Internet is relevant to the subject matter of voting, democracy or representative republic forms of government. The Internet is inherently insecure.
But I sense that people don't have a lot of faith in each other.
That is correct. Not only do people not trust each other, they do not trust elected or appointed officials, and elected or appointed officials do not trust the People, or each other.
This topic was well considered in the Federalist Papers, at length, under the subject matter of interests. In brief, the Founding Fathers did not trust each other; they had competing interests. The Founding Fathers, some of whom considered themselves "natural elite", did not trust the People either. The Colonies, being first and foremost monopoly capital enterprises, were chartered to make profit, not to promote any concept of democracy; the People were there to make profit for the owners of plantations, not to give those People a vote which could get them out of bonded labor or indentured servitude.
The lack of trust for each of the representative officials of the Several States and for the People therein was for good reason. The vast majority of the People in the Colonies and later the fledgling U.S. were
- children taken from the streets of Britain and shipped to the Colonies
- prisoners shipped from Britain to the Colonies
- prisoners of war (so-called "slaves") shipped from Africa to the Colonies
- prisoners of war shipped from the Colonies to the Carribean and back to the Colonies
See White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America by Don Jordan and Michael Walsh.
But I sense that people don't have a lot of faith in each other. It
appears that the primary concern is that, if everyone got to vote on
everything, we would make stupid decisions. And so, like children that
need adult supervision, we elect adults to take care of us. Does that
sum it up?
It is not due to a "need for adult supervision", but rather, a need for ultimate control of the policy decisions of the government.
What is little known is that black Africans, or "Negroes", though mistakenly popularly considered as having arrived in the Colonies or the later U.S. exclusively as "slaves", not having the right to vote, it was not until 1723 that Virginia Colony officially took the vote from so-called "free blacks".
Of importance when examining the concept of "democracy", or the idea that each individual vote counts in the Colonies and the U.S., is that during certain periods the so-called "slave" population exceeded the so-called "white" population in several regions, for example, South Carolina; see South Carolina – African-Americans – Slave Population
Growth of South Carolina's Slave Population
South Carolina had a clear black majority from about 1708 through most
of the eighteenth century. By 1720 there were approximately 18,000
people living in South Carolina – and 65% of these were
African-Americans slaves. For example, in St James Goose Creek, a
parish just north of Charles Towne, there were 535 whites and 2,027
The following table shows how South Carolina's slave population grew
in accordance with the success of its rice culture. Whereas in 1790
there were slightly more whites than blacks living in South Carolina,
by 1860 the non-white population (which also included Native
Americans) had grown to nearly 60%.
- White 140,178
- Black 108,895
- White 237,440
- Black 265,301
- White 259,084
- Black 335,314
- White 291,300
- Black 412,320
South Carolina's slave population compared to other states
South Carolina had a tremendous number of slaves, especially given its
small size. In fact, by 1860 the only other states that had as many
slaves were Georgia and Virginia – both of which were at least twice
South Carolina's size!
South Carolina's giant slave population was largely due to the
lowcountry's suitability to rice culture. Rice was both incredibly
labor intensive and incredibly profitable. So not only did rice
planters need more help than other planters, they could afford it.
A simple conclusion can be drawn that the majority of a slave population would certainly vote for themselves to be liberated from slavery. It follows that if so-called "free blacks" had a vote, they would vote for their brethren and family to be liberated from slavery. Therefor the vote was taken from "free blacks" and so-called "slaves" were not allowed to vote at all.
This brings into light the raw political reality of votes both being meaningful and meaningless, depending on ones perspective and ability to objectively evaluate political power. Where the minority ruling political class can deny the vote to political prisoners of war it makes no difference what their potential vote would or could be. The majority population can wait (potentially for centuries) for the "right" to vote to be "granted" by the ruling political class, though that "granted" "right" does not equate to political power and effective change of the policy objectives of the ruling class: the ruling political class rules by force, not by votes.
The reason for this is that the vote is of no significant value to the ruling class and its enforcement agents, where force is the primary instrument of the ruling political class, not votes for or against their interests or policy.
When the vote is contrary to the ruling class' interests and policy objectives, the ruling political class suppresses or directly denies the right to vote for specific classes; or, pursues their interests in spite of whatever the People voted.
For these reasons, votes should not be valued as a means to an end within the realm of political power, but rather, an accepted form of expression by the People which does not affect the ruling class' political power - whether that vote be within the scope of a so-called "democratic" or "representative republic" form of government.