Every country has its own unique take on how people are governed. With similarities that unite countries together, these forms of governing create broad categories from which we broadly classify types of governments. A popular form of government in both the United States and abroad is the democracy. Created by the people and managed by the people, this form of government ensures representation of the people.
However, representation does not always occur. Because every country is different, some democracies have evolved over time to better reflect the needs of the citizens. A direct democracy is one such form of democracy, where individuals take front and center to everything going on in the government. Lets take a moment to review exactly what a direct democracy is. After that, we will consider the pros and cons of such a system.
What Is A Direct Democracy?
A direct democracy is a kind of democracy where people are given the freedom to decide things on their own. In a way, the US presidential election can be seen as a direct democracy, in that we as individuals can help elect our party’s nominee, and then also vote for the person we want to be president. While the name may not be on the ballet, it is still possible to write in enough people’s names. A direct democracy is where this kind of voting happens for everything involved in the government. Instead of having people be appointed or having people in the Senate or the House of Representatives vote for you, you will instead vote.
A direct democracy makes a lot of sense for smaller countries where there are fewer citizens who have a greater stake in how their countries operate. For democratic countries with a larger population, like the United States and India, problems of logistics begin to arise. Lets get into the pros and cons of a direct democracy.
List of Pros of Direct Democracy
1. A Direct Democracy Promotes Transparency
One of the biggest problems with an indirect democracy is transparency. Things may happen in government that individuals have no awareness of. If corrupt, the indirect democracy can allow corruption to spread, helping individuals play the system for their own purpose. Having a direct democracy means that individuals have to vote on all laws, meaning that it will be harder for a few people to pass legislation that only benefits themselves. Increased public involvement will create a transparent system that is more difficult to corrupt.
2. A Direct Democracy Reminds Us of Our Civil Responsibility
Voting is a right that every citizen starts with. However, in the United States, voter turnout numbers are always very low. More often then not, people do not turn up to elections. By making a democracy a direct democracy, individuals feel like they have control over what laws exist and what laws do not exist. Now people will feel more accountable, take more interest in politics, and be a part of the system that can both positively and negatively affects them.
3. Creates an Incorporated Society
A direct democracy allows people to speak their own opinions. Instead of choosing a person to represent them, a direct democracy allows people to directly speak what is on their own mind. This is a level of participation and accountability that is rarely seen. When every person has the responsibility to be heard and to construct a meaning and rational argument when being heard, a direct democracy can lead towards a more incorporated society. And, as people have their sides heard, there is less chance of disharmony and derision among citizens.
Promoting transparency, civil responsibility, and pushing towards a unified and incorporated society, direct democracy has a number of beneficial qualities that are hard to argue with. As many of the problems seen in the current US elective process can be solved with direct democracy, it is no wonder that direct democracy has gained momentum among citizens. There are however a number of reasons why a direct democracy may not work. Lets review some of the cons.
List of Cons of Direct Democracy
1. Some Votes Require Expertise and Understanding
Very few issues are black and white. More often then not, they involve a complex set of benefits and losses that must be carefully examined before a vote goes out. This is where indirect democracies shine. With an indirect democracy, we citizens elect a person to answer these complex and challenging questions. We provide them the time and effort we would otherwise have to spend ourselves. While we are not the ones who are voting, if the system is working as it should, then the person voting on our behalf is making the same choice we would make it we spent the time to carefully consider it.
2. Room for Manipulation and Corruption
With a direct democracy, each person votes directly. However, just as there is manipulation and corruption in an indirect democracy, so to can there be corruption and manipulation in a direct democracy. Given the complexity of some issues, it is easy for one side or the other to flood the airways with promotional materials trying to influence how people decide to vote. It is not to hard to imagine this happening, if say, the United States suddenly changed its voting style.
3. Slows Down Progress
On advantage of a indirect democracy is that progress can be made quickly and easily. In addition, it is significantly easier to reach a consensus among a small group of elected officials then it is to find a consensus among a population. Given that every person is balancing his or her direct responsibility in the government with his or her full time life, legislation would move very slowly in a direct democracy when compared to an indirect democracy. With an indirect democracy, you can take the time to read these words while people you elected help pass necessary and immediate legislation. As a result, direct democracy can sometimes slow down progress.
4. The Fear of Instability
There have been a number of times in the past when the consensus, popular vote was not the right one. Civil rights in the United States immediately come to mind. Until later in the movement, civil rights for everyone would not have passed a popular vote. However, by having an indirect democracy with individuals who are capable of seeing the bigger picture, there is a great deal more security and continuity in the voting process. There is also a greater continuity of legislation passed. While an indirect democracy may hinder quick change, it also stops instability from quickly growing.
The major cons regarding a direct democracy are that some votes require a great deal of expertise, there is still room for corruption, progress in passing bills is slowed, and there is a fear of instability. Whether these cons will come to light however requires that a country make the switch to a democracy. Depending on the problems facing the democracy at the moment, the will of the people, and the logistics involved, a direct democracy may be the best way for the people to be represented in their government. How you view on this matter is ultimately up to you.