Direct democracy

Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative democracies. The theory and practice of direct democracy and participation as its common characteristic was the core of work of many theorists, philosophers, politicians and social critics, among whom the most important are Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, and G.D.H. Cole. Direct democracy

Never before could a direct democratic republic work as well as what it could be worked today.

It could solve the problem of conflicts of interests and corruption.

People could vote on everything with their online ID, from local affairs, to national affairs, and do away with the need for expensive politicians to act on behalf of others.

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    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill – SurpriseDog Aug 2 at 3:52
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    Who decides what gets voted on? Or does every voter have the right to propose legislation whenever the mood strikes? – doneal24 Aug 2 at 17:44
  • As a programmer, using technology to vote on stuff is a nightmare. You're one 0-day exploit away from voting for a ban on pants with 100% of the votes - and there will inevitably be security flaws. – Morfildur Aug 4 at 6:34

Direct democracy is not a panacea. Take California's Proposition 13 - a nice gift to themselves by taxpayers*, but not matched with a similar restraint on spending and also deeply unfair to people moving around, which has economic implications for job mobility.

Policy and budgeting by popularity contests has a number of risks when it comes to unpopular, but effective, programs like perhaps prisoner rehabilitation programs which look "soft on crime". Pet shelters may, for example, be overfunded at the expense of less popular subjects.

As we are struggling through coming to terms with the George Floyd affair (and similar issues in other countries, like for examples the treatment of natives in Canada), you also need to take into consideration the risk for direct policy initiatives to be at the whim of a country's ethnic/religious majority - i.e. tyranny of the majority.

Finally, as a voter, I would not want to have to spend a lot of time researching every single new initiative requiring decision-making, nor would I necessarily be competent at doing that across a broad swath of subjects. Even less would I trust that all my fellow citizens would be competent in doing so. I am happy with choosing political representatives that do study and evaluate policies thoroughly as part of their job and roughly implements policies in line with my values and preferences. I can switch my votes if I feel they did not perform in line with expectations.

* Prop 13 is basically a strong brake on increasing property taxes while you remain the owner of a property. when it changes hands, the taxes can be reassessed.

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  • Can you describe Prop 13 for us non Californians? – Azor Ahai -him- Aug 3 at 20:18
  1. Many people quite prefer the British Parliamentary system to the Republican model.
  2. Your idea merely transfers political power to people who know how to to do targeted advertising via the web. People are much more easily led around by Internet direct-influence campaigns than they are by mass media methods. The great political innovation of the past 15 years or so has to apply targeted Internet communications to political communication. Result: look at the USA now. Nobody wants that. Terrible idea. Better they actually talk to each other about stuff. If you have to convince your politicians that your position is better then you need to talk to people.
  3. Politicians themselves are not very expensive. Salary of a USA congressperson is ~185K, it's not a huge expense.
  4. The Internet is too insecure for important matters. Whatever system was constructed for voting and reporting votes would be immediately attacked by every serious actor on the planet - and most people in the voting public are insufficiently tech savvy to prove when there is a problem. Paper ballots, OTOH, are really really easy to understand.
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Well, first of all, the internet isnt secure, and thus voting cannot be ensured valid. It would be corrupted by foreign and domestic interests. Sites can be hacked, identities can be stolen. In order to ensure that every citizen - and only citizens - vote, its best to protect the system with in-person, signed, and ID-enforced voting booths.

Two, you cant ensure that everyone has access to the internet. Or that those who do will have during the open polls. And what does it mean for the future of our country if the internet goes down for whatever reason (EMP, for example, we wouldnt even have the infrastructure to revert)

Three, we require representation for a multitude of reasons. The most practical of which is that we cant call on the People to vote every time a minor decision comes up... and we surely cant wait on the People when an emergency comes up. And who has the power to enforce the outcomes of a democratic decision anyway, when there is no centralized power? How do we hold civil public debates about policy when every one of the 700 million citizens are equally welcome and equally qualified to voice their opinion? But there is the obvious other reason few talk about, which is simply that direct pure democracies are a horrible idea, with horrible, evil outcomes. Two wolves and a sheep voting on whats for dinner... it doesnt matter that it's democratic; that doesnt make it "good". The sheep still has rights to be protected and defended. The shepherd is the representative that steps in and says to the majority 'no!, the People are crossing the line'. Representation is about protecting the minority FROM the majority, under Constitutionalism.

On a side note, I fear that any military leader or bureaucrat, etc., who answers solely to the democratic People rather than to a singular elected official could easily commit a coup... I cant imagine any individual citizen or group stepping up to the plate to fight such a thing the way elected leaders with the responsibility of their office would. A vague mass of "the People" cannot be at the top of government operation. In our government the elected officials answer to the People, yes, but military and bureaucrats are beneath them rather than immediately beneath the People. There would simply be too little direct accountability. There is no consolidated power of the People except through their leaders, and should those leaders not give up power there is little the People can do. Thats why a tapered pyramid of power is vital, with officials accountable to those above them, and those at the top (not a single individual) to the people.

Fourth, representatives who make decisions are usually pretty informed. They hold hearings, read reports, get the statistics, listen to experts, and for better or worse, assuming they arent malicious or corrupt, will make the best possible decision. Do you honestly trust the People of your nation to be able to vote the same way? Can you trust them not to vote purely by emotion, especially when social and mainstream media paints false narratives and fails to report honest facts? Do you trust your fellow citizen to do and comprehend the research? When individuals are in a group there is something called the diffusion of responsibility, as well as peer pressure, and the frequently incorrect "wisdom of the crowd".

On a side note again, some of the information our politicians are privy to are of a confidential matter. National security. Do you trust all 700 million citizens with this information? To keep secrets, and wont be bought out by foreign enemies, compromising the lives and citizens and military and the freedoms we all enjoy?

That said, I do appreciate the idea of putting ones ballots online so that the voter can verify that his or her vote was counted, and counted correctly. Though Id be wary of breaching peoples anonymity and having neighbors and employers "punish" people for voting "wrong". Anonymity is important, but being able to verify your own ballot and that no "extra ballots" are associated with your residence when they shouldnt be. We dont need dead people and pets voting democrat. I do believe that every citizen registered to vote should negotiate with the registrar a location to vote, and not have "options" come voting day, where they can drive around and have their vote counted more than once. Everyone should have a designated booth where their one and only cast is anticipated.

I understand that the democrat left would push for something like this... but if you are against foreign interference, corruption, voter fraud, and you want to protect minority groups (regardless of race or religion) from oppressive majorities (regardless of race or religion), and you honestly believe that some demographics lack the privilege of internet access, if you dont want to be responsible for decisions that could cost lives, and dont trust the general public to cast the most informed votes, then you kind of have to go the other way on this...

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    No, I dont. As a rule. For the same reason I would never gamble at a computerized (programmable) slot machine. The software of voting machines is not available to the public "for security" (they say), but because of that there is no oversight as to how they are programmed or how they behave. I wont trust government to design voting machines competently or efficiently. But when organizations (and not government) design the machine instead, you have to question their motives. Some of them are highly biased and political. – CogitoErgoCogitoSum Aug 2 at 4:20
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    @CogitoErgoCogitoSum - My SO works with inner-city kids. Some of them don't have internet access at home. And with libraries and schools closed, there's far fewer places they can go to get online. I agree that it's absurd - but until internet access is considered a necessary utility like electricity and running water, there will be people who don't have it. – Bobson Aug 2 at 16:18
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    @Patricia Shanahan: Secure in what sense? That it's impossible to hack them? Of course not. That it's much less easy for one party to do so than for say late 19th/early 20th party machines stuffing paper ballot boxes? – jamesqf Aug 2 at 16:52
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    @jamesqf Paper-based systems allow for relatively small scale hacking, and need a lot of people to cooperate. Voting machines allow very precise large scale hacking. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 2 at 17:06
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    @PatriciaShanahan On the topic of voting machines, I recommend watching John Olivers video on it: youtu.be/svEuG_ekNT0 – Morfildur Aug 4 at 6:39

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