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With Direct Democracy, Who Needs Representatives?

I think we are at the eve of an era of direct democracy.


A system where public opinion on any issue can be measured right this very moment, directly and always. Where you have news media, main and alterstream, that keep the population informed of what actions are being taken, and you have polls and petitions and forums to vote and influence decisions.


All you need to add are elected public officials and a civic workforce that do governance, coordination and spending. The officials report on the different fields they oversee, and enact what the population decides.


In that era you will completely do away with costly, often misguided and now useless so-called representatives. You'll get rid of a full layer of government, the one where most "special interests" are lobbied and funds are tweaked below the public radar. A layer that thrived on hijacking politics and policies will have been rendered completely obsolete.


In that era of direct democracy, information and opinion will rule the political scene. Some very interesting algorithms will be required and devised, I'm sure.


I don't think I'll ever see that transformation happen, but some of you very well might. But I do think we should start looking for ways to get rid of these parasites of the political machine.

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Yes, maybe it is time to try this idea.   I think we should try it first on a small state or province just to iron out the bugs.   BTW, that is a great looking image!

The artist is Sid Mead. An amazing visionary.

Oddly enough it comes from a portfolio he did for Monsanto, of all people.

This would work on any scale, I think.

Condo, neighborhood, city, county, state, province, country & beyond.

Well, the elected public officials that do governance will be the new "representatives", correct? They will still need to pass laws, or would the laws be passed always by plebiscites? It's an interesting idea, but for it to work we will need participation. Perhaps participation (voting) should be obligatory.

They would not be elected to represent a specific group or locality, they would be elected to do specific tasks. Some would be law designers, others, law enforcers.

Everything would be decided by plebiscites. But I don't see how you can have obligatory participation. The level of response would surely be pondered when weighing the results.


In such a world, I'd like to own an Opinion Brokerage Agency =)


In my native country of Uruguay, voting is obligatory (of course, there are exceptions justifying not to go vote); they track whether you voted or not; if you don't vote, then when you lose certain benefits as a citizen, I forget what right now, but it basically a great incentive to have everyone participate. You can always vote "blank" if you do not have an opinion. But voting is taken as a duty just like paying taxes or needing insurance to drive a car. frankly, is not a bad idea. People get used to it and the whole country is much more engaged and informed politically than most countries I've lived in.

Yes pretty much only staunch libertarians and conspiracy theorists would object to obligatory voting.

I think the device will set itself up.

When all so-called representatives are shown to be nothing but what the twitterverse (and polls and petitions) tells them to be, when their machinations are exposed one after the other, when the job becomes less attractive because of the pervasive scrutiny, erosion will prevail. It will begin with small communities and eventually grow.

The hijacking without checks and balances, the loss of long term vision are happening right now.

A system of direct global (and simultaneously fractal) democracy would provide more protection, I think.

I share Jeff's concerns, in a way. I, like doone, would like the experiment done in a smaller scale, like a small town or city, to see how it goes first. But in principle, I would make sure the society in which this happens has very good, solid educational opportunity. We would need thinking people for this to work (representational democracy also ideally should require thinking people; we can clearly see the consequences when that doesn't happen).

This embryo of an idea would need to be nurtured in an information culture. Free-flowing news and opinions easily available to all. Education would certainly need to include how to search for information, and how to ponder these opinions.

A system of direct global (and simultaneously fractal) democracy would provide more protection, I think.

The problem I see is direct global democracy is the easiest way to tyranny of the majority. You'll need strong safeguards that can't be plebiscited against.

Jaume brings up a VERY important point: civil rights never happen because of plebiscites; usually civil rights get taken away by plebiscites, like California Proposition 8. Civil rights gains happen because of the courts. We may never have had any results from civil rights movements if it wasn't for the courts, or representatives. NY marriage equality may have happened by plebiscite but I doubt it. I'm glad the NY congressmen and senators voted the way they did.


Yes, strong safeguards would be needed to protect the rights of minorities. Excellent point, Jaume.


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