Red light cameras in Houston…marriage equality in California…independence in Scotland…all share a common thread - they were addressed by way of direct democracy. Which is to say The People - not “representatives” - but The People made the ultimate decision on these issues.*
Now I hear that some mid-term elections are on the horizon; pardon my indifference toward them. But the cynical attitude that many proletarians have toward voting can be directly attributed to the style of democracy most widely practiced (in the West); representative democracy. When the ballot reads a list of names – names of promising politicians, names of imperfect, sometimes sinister human beings susceptible to bribery and corruption – that’s an election in which working people have no business participating. However, when an issue is on the ballot instead of a name, when the voter becomes the policymaker, the resulting people power is a truly beautifulsituation™.
Imagine single-payer healthcare or a Public Option being put to a referendum. What if marijuana legalization were on the ballot? How about if the people weighed in, directly, on GMO labeling? Or combating climate change? Polling data suggests that on each of these issues, under a system of direct democracy, public policy would likely be the exact opposite of what it currently is. Think about that. Whereas, representative democracy yields exactly what we see in these United States - plutocracy at its finest.
For humans to eventually flourish into our full potential, our organizational evolution must continue. The status quo, however preferable than its predecessor, does not suffice. Outsourcing our political decisions, selecting another person (or group of people) to govern our lives is not only outdated; it is irresponsible. No congress, no parliament, no president, no prime minister can address our interests better than we can ourselves. That is why free people do not vote for other people. Free people (who vote) vote on issues. A sentiment expressed in good company . . .
“A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.”
* That the Scottish independence referendum was allegedly rigged speaks to the struggle it is translating theory into practice.