After writing my article about semi-direct democracy i’ve heard the usual spiel about i’m an idiot who wants ‘crowd rule’ which almost everyone has heard of – even if the problem is you have places like Switzerland that are not currently experiencing mob rule and other places that are not currently in complete chaos. What I meant was that every person sees representative republics as the only way to rule any type of civilization and any attempt to give people a direct say will instantly turn into people trying to between-destroy.
Well I hate to tell people this but at least at the state level many states already have some degree of semi-direct democracy that allows people to have referendums and ballot measures at least at state level! The horror! Seriously, as the image above shows, there are places like Michigan, Ohio, Mississippi and Nevada where people have ways to suggest changes and ways the state is run directly while having reps running regular day-to-day events and keeping things on track! Some will say that Switzerland is small – only 8.7 million people – and that it might not work at the national level. Ok, maybe that’s a point, Switzerland has a larger population than Virginia – the twelfth largest state in the Union – and semi-direct democracy at the state level seems to be working for our republic in places like Maine and Massachusetts. Similar systems should be able to work in other states and give people more of a say in the government of their state, which gives them a sense of autonomy and can – in a limited way – affect things at the federal level.
The United States may be a representative republic, but things can change and be put in place to give people a more direct voice. If we lived exactly the way America did in the 1700s and 1800s, we would be living in a country where sole white Protestant landowners could vote and only people who worship the “right way” as determined by officials. Things have changed and led to a slightly better America without everything falling into complete chaos – in fact a lot of the chaos happening now is probably because people feel like they don’t really have a voice in a country that is increasingly becoming a civil oligarchy and the only choice we have is between people from two political parties who only want enrich themselves!
Now, I know it’s hard with the way we’re politically divided, but don’t think liberal or conservative or left or right…think people. What people seem to forget is that mobs don’t just form because people want to burn everything down. Of course, sometimes there are a minority of people who cause chaos like a mob, but many mobs happen like this:
- A large group of people want to propose a law to help improve their state or society. That, or someone in a high position of power passes a law that could reduce people’s ability to vote or further violate people’s rights to self-defense. This makes people angry, but they might want to peacefully protest and suggest things to their local statesman.
- However, the statesman ignores everything, and peaceful protests turn potentially violent when people enforcing the will of the state beat up protesters.
- This angers people who just want a say and want to have a say without having to wait years to vote for a representative who might not even represent them or even care about the issue – so people get angrier without having a voice and slowly the once peaceful protests turn violent! This happens until those responsible listen – not necessarily give the perpetrators what they want, but at least listen – or until the community is badly damaged and the status quo is maintained. .
The point of things like representative direct democracy at the state level is just something that gives people a limited say on the state level while still keeping representatives around so that people – whatever their political preference – can feel like they have a say and potentially reduce the risk of things blowing out of proportion. Some of these forms of direct democracy are not even that radical – look at the status affirmation in Nevada which allows citizens to affirm permanent state law and prevent a state legislature from quickly changing it in the near future, for example or the initiative process in Massachusetts which allows people – if they can get a supermajority to sign the petition and bring it to a subject other than religion or restrict the bill of rights in the state constitution – to have an initiative sent directly to the attorney general’s office of Massachusetts where it can at least be considered.
Obviously that won’t fix everything, but having things like that at the state level and then reminding people that they have more options for change than rioting in the streets or violence helps both Republicans and democrats, white and black, west coast and east be able to feel they have more say in their government and reduce the number of people who feel pressured to form a mob in anger just to be heard…