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Is it time for Direct Democracy to make a comeback?

Reccesoldier

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I believe the Internet has the potential to return us to direct democracy. 

If every bill were published on line along with all the information for and against it, would it not be a relatively simple thing to enable individual citizens to cast their votes for or against any legislation?

I know not everybody has a computer or Internet access but for those people access could be made available at the post office or a similar government office.

I know that some (most?) people would not be terribly interested in most of the goings on in government and would not bother to vote, but no-one would be forced to vote and the opportunity to vote on issues that ARE important to you would be worth it.

My idea for the process of voting would look like this:

I sign in and log on to a government website and find the topic du jour...

Lets say that the issue is capital punishment... 

The issue is posted on the web a week or more in advance of the vote for all to read. This also counts on the usual suspects in our political plural system (interest groups, media, social leaders, trade unions, religious figures) to get the information out

A window of opportunity is given to vote for the issue (couple of Days?)... I vote for it

Now lets say that less than 50% of the constituents in my riding vote online.  That leaves the deciding vote in the hands of my elected MP.  If on the other hand more than 50% of constituents vote then the MP's vote is the same as any constituents, a single vote.  Either way the votes of all from my riding only count for one vote in the HoC

From there the normal rules apply in the HoC Carried or not.

Think it would work?

It seems to me that this idea offers a significant improvement on individual choice and liberty.  It also means that if the government is out to lunch on a confidence issue the people would have the power to vote non-confidence.  Can you say accountability?

Now I know, who is going to vote for tax increases?  Well this system would also demand a more educated, active and rational approach to politics and government from all the citizens of the country as well.  Not a bad thing IMO. 

Seriously though, do you think that unless a ridiculous piece of legislation was being put to a vote that the majority would bother to vote?

I believe this could be done with current technology, the real question is should it be done, do we want it to be done?

Personally I say yes.  Democracy should be characterized by an orgy of choice, not an absence of it.
 

GAP

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That's too much too soon....it won't fly because of ingrained politics and fear, and the politician and others with agenda's will instill fear.

Edge into it. Try referendums/municipal/school trustee elections and let people get comfortable with it first.
 

vonGarvin

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It would not work.  Democracy would stagnate as people would vote on each issue based on knee jerk reactions, vice informed opinion.  Stability would be a thing of the past, much like it would were proportional representation be implemented (vice the current working system we have here in Canada).

So, ironic as it would seem, I vote "no" via the internet to an internet voting scheme.
 

GAP

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Captain Sensible said:
It would not work.  Democracy would stagnate as people would vote on each issue based on knee jerk reactions, vice informed opinion.  Stability would be a thing of the past, much like it would were proportional representation be implemented (vice the current working system we have here in Canada).

So, ironic as it would seem, I vote "no" via the internet to an internet voting scheme.

Have a vote on the environment issues right now, and watch how it turns out based simply on garbage in - garbage out..
 

vonGarvin

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GAP said:
Have a vote on the environment issues right now, and watch how it turns out based simply on garbage in - garbage out..
Exactly.  "We have to reduce CO2 emissions!"  Ummm...what about CO?  What about Acid Rain?  Does anyone remember Acid Rain?  Or was that TOO a fallacy?  Sheesh, though the idea of the Philosopher Kings makes me shudder, so does everyone voting on everything!  Cripes, the working people (those who contribute most to society) don't have time to vote on every squibbily issue.  Only the bums and the loons (left and right) would end up voting!
 

Reccesoldier

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I'm already surprised by the prevalent pessimistic attitude.  Do you seriously think that people can't handle it or won't bother to try to make informed decisions?  In spite of what some might say the majority of Canadians do care about the issues of government and democracy is all about having the freedom to make all the wrong decisions

Wow, you guys are depressing.
 

vonGarvin

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Reccesoldier said:
I'm already surprised by the prevalent pessimistic attitude.  Do you seriously think that people can't handle it or won't bother to try to make informed decisions?  In spite of what some might say the majority of Canadians do care about the issues of government and democracy is all about having the freedom to make all the wrong decisions

Wow, you guys are depressing.

In a word: yes, I DO think that people won't bother to make informed decisions.  Heck, in spite of everything, the Liberals managed to form the government (albeit minority) in the 2004 election AND it took the best run campaign EVER for the conservatives to eek out a minority in 2006!  It would be "Rule by Public Opinion".  Just check out the latest polls on ANYTHING.  They swing so rapidly that stability would be lost and special interest groups would be even more successful at hijacking the national agenda.  They would use guilt (as they already do) to sway opinion, and then, in this case, the vote into law.
 

Bane

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On the surface I like it, and have even though off systems like this myself.  Generally, I think more input (in terms of voting) is good and in a way required, one needs to, however, be very mindful of the complexities of public issues. Having experts in issues in the form of representatives and their staff is not only a good idea, it is often required by certain issues.  Politicians don't always 'get' what the people want - which your direct democracy addresses, but sometimes what the people want is A) not correct B) out right bad for them.  Also, to pick up on what the good Captain mentioned, this kind of system has little mechanism for debate, dialog and consensus building.  An instant neverendum-referendum would kill this country faster than you can blink.
 

FredDaHead

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Direct democracy is utopic, like communism, the never-ending story, and the female orgasm.

In reality, direct democracy would turn to demagogy faster than you can look it up in the dictionary. It wouldn't be a matter of informed votes, it would be a matter of who can convince the most people that their side is wrong, and damned the facts. There's a reason the great thinkers who lived in a direct democracy (as far as Citizens were concerned, anyway) liked the idea of philosopher kings: what the people think they want is rarely what they need.
 

xena

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Frederik G said:
In reality, direct democracy would turn to demagogy faster than you can look it up in the dictionary. It wouldn't be a matter of informed votes, it would be a matter of who can convince the most people that their side is wrong, and damned the facts. There's a reason the great thinkers who lived in a direct democracy (as far as Citizens were concerned, anyway) liked the idea of philosopher kings: what the people think they want is rarely what they need.

Which is why kings and emporers ruled over the filthy, uneducated rabble of peasants in the first place.  :D
 
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I think it could work on some issues. If you had it for major issues every once in awhile people would take an intrest and find out. If you had it for every bill only a small group of people would vote.
California really messed themselves over with DD, people will often vote for things that feel good now (and now look at the state of Californias public education system, used to be one of the best in the world).
I agree you would have to start small, I think it could work at the city and town level first.
 

Cdn Blackshirt

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Good Lord no....

Nothing disappoints me more than the willful ignorance of our population.  They have no idea how Kyoto actually works but want us to spend billions, but can tell you all the competitors on American Idol, Survivor and what just happened in the last episode of Sex in the City.

Thanks anyway. 


Matthew.  :blotto:
 

FredDaHead

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Cdn Blackshirt said:
Good Lord no....

Nothing disappoints me more than the willful ignorance of our population.  They have no idea how Kyoto actually works but want us to spend billions, but can tell you all the competitors on American Idol, Survivor and what just happened in the last episode of Sex in the City.

Thanks anyway. 

+1

Colour me cynical, but I have no faith in the masses, as I said earlier. Not only would you get the idiots who'd vote while having no idea what they're voting on, but you'd also have the "I'm anti-everything" crowd voting for/against various things just to antagonize others and sound "kewl."
 

Adrian_888

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If the populace were prefect enough for direct democracy, why not go a little more perfect, and go true communism.  Too many people care about themselves more then there country.
 

warrickdll

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No Proportional Representation.

No Regional Representation.

Leadership determined by questionable party memberships.

Head of Government only actually elected by plurality in their own riding - and not voted for at all from the remaining ridings.

And now, apparently, a population too stupid and selfish for Direct Democracy.

If our goal was to set the minimum standard for democracy, I think Canada has accomplished it.
 

Brad Sallows

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People would basically vote themselves something for nothing until the "system" collapsed.
 

Infanteer

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There is a reason representative democracy has managed to make the cut; it provides a buffer between the end product and the masses.

I don't trust the average Canadian to deal with the day to day legislating of this country; hell, many can't even manage many of the simple requirements of good citizenship as it stands right now....
 

warrickdll

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Infanteer said:
There is a reason representative democracy has managed to make the cut; it provides a buffer between the end product and the masses.
...

Then we should ensure that we actually do have a representative democracy.
 

vonGarvin

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Iterator said:
No Proportional Representation.
No Regional Representation.
Leadership determined by questionable party memberships.
Head of Government only actually elected by plurality in their own riding - and not voted for at all from the remaining ridings.
And now, apparently, a population too stupid and selfish for Direct Democracy.
If our goal was to set the minimum standard for democracy, I think Canada has accomplished it.
Then we should ensure that we actually do have a representative democracy.


I think that proportional representation would be the end of functional democracy in Canada as every single-issue party in Canada would clog the House of Commons with their respective agenda.  Just look at the Green Party: one agenda.  Not very effective.
Regional Representation?  I thought we had that with our local MPs?
How party leadership is gained, well, some are indeed questionable (*cough* Dion *cough*)
Head of Government, you're right, from "plurality in their own riding".  So what?  You want separate leader of gov't from the House?  Then you're talking about a US style of government, no?
It's not that Canadians are too stupid and/or selfish for Direct Democracy, it's the same with people everywhere.  People ARE indeed selfish.  That's why communism doesn't work, that's why people expect their governments to do everything for them, complain about taxes AND services (or lack thereof).
 

Reccesoldier

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Iterator said:
No Proportional Representation.

No Regional Representation.

Leadership determined by questionable party memberships.

Head of Government only actually elected by plurality in their own riding - and not voted for at all from the remaining ridings.

And now, apparently, a population too stupid and selfish for Direct Democracy.

If our goal was to set the minimum standard for democracy, I think Canada has accomplished it.

+10


Seems that many of the people here wouldn't trust anyone anywhere to make an informed decision ... But wait, although they don't trust anyone to do anything they seem more than willing to empower a group of 308 individuals, many of whom have no more intellect or qualifying skills than ANYONE ELSE in the country to run the show!?!?!? WTF????

For all of you who believe (it seems) that Joe and Jill Canuck couldn't be trusted to choose their own breakfast cereal in the morning let me ask you one thing... A simple Yes or no answer will suffice.

Are the majority of people whom you personally know incapable of making an informed decision?

Yes or No?

It's a trick question, your answer isn't really important, but it does illustrate that not a single person on this forum can assume to know how smart, stupid, caring, callous, self absorbed, altruistic, charitable, stingy, savvy or dull "the average Canadian" is.

The pessimistic egoistic, not to mention irrational position that many of you are espousing is in my opinion a direct result of the system I’m talking about.  

For the entire history of this country (and most of the history of Democracy for that matter) someone has been telling you that we lowly plebs are in charge… We decide the direction of government, but we are only qualified to start the car.  

“Leave the driving up to us” they say because… you can’t handle it.  

“Oh don’t worry” they add, “It’s still your car…”  

Yeah Riiiiiight…

But lo and behold, those that have been indoctrinated and told not to trust their fellow citizens hand over the keys each and every time…

And then whine about how it’s all gone wrong, gone to hell and not what “the people” want.  And the next time they hand over the keys again

What’s that definition of insanity again?  Something about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
 
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