Why settle for representative democracy?

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PeaceTreaty
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Representative democracy, which I like to think of as pseudo-democracy, is when people vote for officials to decide how our country is run. It suggests that we don't know what's best for ourselves and we should be babysit by those who apparently do. An alternative would be direct democracy where people vote for policies themselves rather than voting for people who may do the exact opposite of what they say. What do you think, should people have power or representatives?
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The Lost MC
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You want to give power directly of the electorate? Have you seen these people?! I'm not saying the current political class are any better, but come on! It would be a disaster, every **** and their dog having a say in every government desicison would cripple the UK, and any other world power. The Swiss manage it because who cares what they do as long as the money is safe.

Plus, think of all the **** that people would introduce. Representative democracy is ****, but it's the least ****.
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Drewski
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It would take forever, cost billions and end up with horrendous decisions being made because of a majority of people either not caring or not understanding what they're voting on. An absolute non-starter.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by PeaceTreaty)
Representative democracy, which I like to think of as pseudo-democracy, is when people vote for officials to decide how our country is run. It suggests that we don't know what's best for ourselves and we should be babysit by those who apparently do. An alternative would be direct democracy where people vote for policies themselves rather than voting for people who may do the exact opposite of what they say. What do you think, should people have power or representatives?
People don't know what's best for them. Most of them can't even name their MP let alone understand the economic effects of a policy.

The only real flaw with representative democracy today is that a lot of MP's are not experts in their fields. I mean Cable is i think the only person in cabinet with a PHD (and he's not even in the Treasury which is where his PHD is relevant). A lot of them have done little no work outside of PR.

Not only that but since only 40% turned out for an AV referendum, i don't think there's much demand for such a radical change even if i'd like to partake in such a system myself.
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Fizzel
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(Original post by Rakas21)
People don't know what's best for them. Most of them can't even name their MP let alone understand the economic effects of a policy.
Why bother with our current level of democracy based on that, surely we'd be better off with a Chinese pyramid system?
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russellsteapot
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People are, on average, incapable of making major political decisions. I appreciate the obvious "hurr hurr, neither are politicians" joke is waiting to be sprung upon that statement, but it's true.

I'd be surprised if you found more than 1% of the population who had sufficient knowledge of any political function to articulate a reasonable for/against argument about it. I'd rather not have people guessing what the best option was based on what the Sun, Guardian or Times tells them. It's bad enough at elections time.

I'm happy to elect 'experts'. They're imperfect but preferable to however many million voters blindfolded, swinging wildly at the piñata of ignorance and dressing it up as a good democratic thing.
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gladders
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Most issues are too complex for 60 million people en masse to legislate on them. You need a professional elite to make the decisions, but be periodically accountable to the people for these decisions.

It would be lovely if direct democracy were in any way possible, but it just isn't.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by gladders)
Most issues are too complex for 60 million people en masse to legislate on them. You need a professional elite to make the decisions, but be periodically accountable to the people for these decisions.

It would be lovely if direct democracy were in any way possible, but it just isn't.
You could probably have referenda every month on a simple question and then have delegates work out the small print.

I couldn't support that kind of system with universal suffrage though, most people are not engaged or educated enough.
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gladders
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(Original post by Rakas21)
You could probably have referenda every month on a simple question and then have delegates work out the small print.

I couldn't support that kind of system with universal suffrage though, most people are not engaged or educated enough.
That would be extraordinarily expensive, and for a lot of matters the devil really is in the detail. The matter of secondary legislation is an urgent problem for Parliament which does a fairly okay job of scrutinising them, and that's with a network of professional committees weekly considering and reporting on instruments and then getting backbenchers to put pressure on the government to explain themselves and/or make changes. I can't see referendums on such things being at all effective.
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TurboCretin
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Anyone see Twitch plays Pokemon? I can imagine this being kind of like that, except most of the players aren't aware of the existence of most of the controls and only vaguely understand the objectives.
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Reformed2010
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Always trust student room to be the forum for progressive thought.

I find it hilarious to suggest UK citizens are good enough to make the decision to join the military and risk our lives for a cause. But not good enough to have a direct say on whether the cause is one worth fighting. Young people are allowed to raise children but they are not good enough to have a direct say on the type of schools being built for their child to attend. We are entrusted to work and pay our taxes but we are not worthy enough to have a say over how our money is spent.

The indifference to UK & even EU politics is not a result of a stupid electorate. But one that has grown weary of the group of representatives put before them every measly five years. But just because people are turned of by the party political system doesn't mean they are against politics and democracy.
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ChaoticButterfly
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All the same arguments would have been given to the peasants who marched down to London. Or any other group of people who were being trodden on that try to get themselves in any decision making process.
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The Socktor
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(Original post by PeaceTreaty)
Representative democracy, which I like to think of as pseudo-democracy, is when people vote for officials to decide how our country is run. It suggests that we don't know what's best for ourselves and we should be babysit by those who apparently do. An alternative would be direct democracy where people vote for policies themselves rather than voting for people who may do the exact opposite of what they say. What do you think, should people have power or representatives?
Consensus democracy is better as it allows people who strongly disagree with the majority to veto their decisions or go their seperate ways.
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Катя
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(Original post by Rakas21)
People don't know what's best for them. Most of them can't even name their MP let alone understand the economic effects of a policy.
In that case, why bother with "democracy" at all?

(I agree with you by the way, but surely the answer to that would be to improve political literacy across the country - make politics compulsory in schools, or something - rather than just saying "nah damn it, you're all too stupid to understand this anyway"?)
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gladders
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(Original post by Reformed2010)
I find it hilarious to suggest UK citizens are good enough to make the decision to join the military and risk our lives for a cause. But not good enough to have a direct say on whether the cause is one worth fighting.
I'd be interested to see how you could organise a referendum on a war, especially one which might come down to split-second decisionmaking, and especially given there's tons of different degrees and strategies of what armed combat can be.

Young people are allowed to raise children but they are not good enough to have a direct say on the type of schools being built for their child to attend. We are entrusted to work and pay our taxes but we are not worthy enough to have a say over how our money is spent.
Who said anything about this being about young people? This is about recognising that decisionmaking on the scale of a nation of 60 million cannot be done, as a matter of routine, by direct democracy. It's slow, unwieldy, and not very accountable.

The indifference to UK & even EU politics is not a result of a stupid electorate. But one that has grown weary of the group of representatives put before them every measly five years. But just because people are turned of by the party political system doesn't mean they are against politics and democracy.
It's not about the public being too 'stupid'. It's that collective decisionmaking among 60 million people would not be very successful at all. You need a nimble, professional body to offer close-up scrutiny and argument with the executive to get justification for policy and decisions, which can then be used at periodic elections to inform the public on the government's record.

The most direct-democracy nation in the world, Switzerland, has a lower voter turnout than the UK. So the idea that voter turnout in the UK being poor is down to a lack of power in their hands is wrong; something far more complex is at work.
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Reformed2010
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(Original post by gladders)
I'd be interested to see how you could organise a referendum on a war, especially one which might come down to split-second decisionmaking, and especially given there's tons of different degrees and strategies of what armed combat can be.



Who said anything about this being about young people? This is about recognising that decisionmaking on the scale of a nation of 60 million cannot be done, as a matter of routine, by direct democracy. It's slow, unwieldy, and not very accountable.



It's not about the public being too 'stupid'. It's that collective decisionmaking among 60 million people would not be very successful at all. You need a nimble, professional body to offer close-up scrutiny and argument with the executive to get justification for policy and decisions, which can then be used at periodic elections to inform the public on the government's record.

The most direct-democracy nation in the world, Switzerland, has a lower voter turnout than the UK. So the idea that voter turnout in the UK being poor is down to a lack of power in their hands is wrong; something far more complex is at work.
You took my comment way too literally and seriously. I wasn't proposing to use direct democracy for every single decision.
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gladders
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(Original post by Reformed2010)
You took my comment way too literally and seriously. I wasn't proposing to use direct democracy for every single decision.
Well excuse me, it's difficult to detect sarcasm online but you have hit on the nub - it depends on the form of 'direct' democracy. But the OP implied that that PeaceTreaty would consider anything short of absolute direct democracy to be a flawed compromise.
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DarkWhite
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(Original post by PeaceTreaty)
Representative democracy, which I like to think of as pseudo-democracy, is when people vote for officials to decide how our country is run. It suggests that we don't know what's best for ourselves and we should be babysit by those who apparently do. An alternative would be direct democracy where people vote for policies themselves rather than voting for people who may do the exact opposite of what they say. What do you think, should people have power or representatives?
In theory, representative democracy is about electing people to represent the views of their constituents. This should mean that if my MP has 70,000 constituents, her job is to best reflect the views of those 70,000 people, and should therefore proactively consult them and abide by their wishes in her actions.

In practice, we call it representative democracy but it's more like a loose delegate democracy, where the delegates are empowered with decision-making on our behalf. I have a fantastic local MP, but I suspect a lot of our Conservative or Green voters feel otherwise.

Direct democracy is ideal, but it needs safeguards. For example, referendums need a quorum so that decisions can't be made by vocal minorities. Sides of debates need to be given equal opportunity to present their views. There needs to be strict checks on facts so that the population isn't misled into making uninformed or misinformed choices.

I would love more direct democracy, but it's not perfect.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by Fizzel)
Why bother with our current level of democracy based on that, surely we'd be better off with a Chinese pyramid system?
While i don't believe democracy is perfect (arguably it would be better if you abolished universal suffrage and restricted voting) it's still not as bad as an unelected system. We need somebody accountable at the helm so that after a few years the electorate can decide whether their pleased with the result. The UK of course goes much further with individual MP's rather than a president.

(Original post by Reformed2010)
Always trust student room to be the forum for progressive thought.

I find it hilarious to suggest UK citizens are good enough to make the decision to join the military and risk our lives for a cause. But not good enough to have a direct say on whether the cause is one worth fighting. Young people are allowed to raise children but they are not good enough to have a direct say on the type of schools being built for their child to attend. We are entrusted to work and pay our taxes but we are not worthy enough to have a say over how our money is spent.

The indifference to UK & even EU politics is not a result of a stupid electorate. But one that has grown weary of the group of representatives put before them every measly five years. But just because people are turned of by the party political system doesn't mean they are against politics and democracy.
What! I'm not really sure what to say here other than no, just no. People in the UK have no understanding of the strategic implications of decisions and often take the attitude that it's not our problem or have some naive pacifist view that dictators will leave their people alone. Giving the people a say on military matters would be a disaster.

That be true.

(Original post by Катя)
In that case, why bother with "democracy" at all?

(I agree with you by the way, but surely the answer to that would be to improve political literacy across the country - make politics compulsory in schools, or something - rather than just saying "nah damn it, you're all too stupid to understand this anyway"?)
Because representatives are still acting in the best interests of the country, the electorate should at least have a chance to say 'i'd prefer Labour's approach' or 'carry on'.
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Reformed2010
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(Original post by gladders)
Well excuse me, it's difficult to detect sarcasm online but you have hit on the nub - it depends on the form of 'direct' democracy. But the OP implied that that PeaceTreaty would consider anything short of absolute direct democracy to be a flawed compromise.
Understandable. For the record i advocate a more participatory form of democracy underpinned by compulsory politics lessons for 11 - 16 year olds. Progressively studying local, British, European and eventually global politics.
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