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Direct Democracy

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Charles Mason
February 8, 2021

Change is in the air and for some, they have no sight on any goal; they believe that any change is better than none. This idea is dangerous for the republic, indicating that its voters no longer are grounded in a political theory, nor do they care what approach is better for the nation and only vote for the next meal or vote for the candidate who promises the most free stuff. Accordingly, the clamor for Direct Democracy has gone out across the country; we see calls to federalizing elections, which takes away the local people’s power and gives it to federal bureaucrats. Also, there is a call to remove the electoral college. But I must say, getting what you want is not always what you need.

America is becoming more democratic and less of a republic and that will be its downfall. Pure democracy is rulership by the mob, the majority, which in America resides in the cities. This action will drown out the voices in rural America. We currently have checks and balances, but civics is no longer taught in most schools; this shows up in the lack of knowledge of how our system works. Some will say that the citizens of America are much more educated than ever. I would counter that it is more like indoctrination than education. America is a large nation, unlike Switzerland, which uses direct democracy as its political system. Sure, direct democracy permits the people to convey their views on the federal government’s judgments and recommend changes to the National Constitution.

However, we have just gone through two national election cycles, which seemed mired by real or unreal influences on the voter or plain voter fraud from both sides of the political aisle. After this last election, we saw citizens storming the Capital buildings. This action proves that social media has a vital role in our personal and political lives. What are we to do? We are not alone in this world; the world is watching; therefore, we must consider the push by outside forces to corrupt our election system from abroad.

Therefore, if that is true, then the republican system of governance is adept at weeding out the false rumors and outright lies that can push people to join mob-storming buildings or other extremist groups. As our nation shifts from a republican capitalist system to a more Marxist socialized system, we all will have to learn to adapt. Some will say that we can rely on science and education to move us forward through the challenges we now face. However, part of the problem we all face is the politicization of science and education by all parties involved. The exploitation of science for political gain is nothing new. This act generally happens when an administration, corporation or activist group uses political or financial force to sway scientific study results or how these results distributed, reported or inferred. This lobbying of science could also adversely impinge on the intellectual and systematic independence of higher learning institutions. Traditionally, these parties have overseen numerous operations to promote their opposition to scientific accord and seek to control public policy.

Nevertheless, we have safeguards in place for now. In Florida, the House consists of 120 representatives, each chosen from a single area with 157,000 residents. This, in turn, consists of 78 Republicans and 42 Democrats who serve for 2 years. At the federal level, Congress, there are a total of 535 Members. The U.S. Senate consists of 100 senators and the remaining 435 serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. California is a more extensive state that has 53 of those representatives in the House. Therefore, a single elected official represents the aspirations of many citizens. By performing a reduced number of national elections, America, with its representative republican system, saves time and money, which can be committed to other public desires.

Suppose, for some reason, those representatives of the people neglect to meet their residents’ hopes. In that case, the constituents can replace them in the next election. However, when news organizations from both sides politicize the election results, this leads to mayhem. Confident citizens who believe they have a voice in their government’s decisions are more apt to vote to make their opinions on their issues heard.

Direct democracy can provide for the residents’ interest when the majority of the people participate in it. However, there is considerable time needed to debate issues before actual voting begins. There has to be a debate on the problems several times before the issues can be sorted out; as this type of voting increases, people’s attention and involvement in the process promptly declines, leading to choices that did not genuinely mirror the people’s will. In the end, small clusters of individuals frequently gain control of the government. It is of note that anarchists and left-libertarians favor direct democracy. Finally, America is broad and distinct. There is little possibility that every citizen will ever enthusiastically approve of or at minimum peaceably agree with decisions on substantial concerns.


Author: Charles Mason MPA is a Doctoral Candidate at Walden University in Public Policy and Administration with a Specialization in Criminal Justice. He has over 30 plus years in local law enforcement, state corrections and military service. He is currently a leadership and development coach at Mason Academy. He can be reached at [email protected]

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DRCharlesMason

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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