A Critique of Direct Democracy

There appears to be a legitimate public push to introduce more elements of direct democracy into our existing system on the basis of being an unfulfilled moral obligation. This requisite seems suspicious at best, considering the original system established by our founders.

One may be inclined to learn, that the United States has actually expanded upon its original limitations of democracy already. Senators, for quite some time, were appointed through individual state legislatures rather than through popular vote. This was initially constructed to create a balance between an appointed, elitist chamber-being the Senate; and an elected, localist chamber being the House. This original vision was discarded in 1912 – when the seventeenth amendment incorporated the election method to apply to the Senate as well. Many scholars since have correlated this paradigm shift in American politics to its ever-growing divisiveness. The original system was revered in its ability to balance local, populist desires with the more national, elitist considerations. Any fray from a bicameral system that has these ideological checks and balances, is a considerably useless bicameral system. What utility does having two distinct institutions serve, if they are to inevitably perform the same political function? As we can see in nations such as Canada and Britain, deviating from the original intent of bicameralism has only led to a neutered and vestigial chamber, where a once meaningful body inhabited.

It is important for conservatives to exacerbate then, that bestowing further innumerable responsibility on the public is bound to the similar circumstance of warping bicameralism and its duty towards the Republic.

Take for instance, the movement to adopt popular sovereignty on the basis of ‘fair say’ in our election system. America currently utilizes the ‘electoral college’ – a representational system that is proportioned according to state population, where points are granted to each state and levied according to population. Despite an abortive attempt after the 2000 election, the movement nonetheless revived itself after 2016. After a volatile year in 2016 where one candidate won the electoral college but lost the popular vote, the calls spanned coast to coast (coincidentally omitting the interior) to abolish the electoral college system as undemocratic and falsely representational. The first of these critiques is correct, and you should feel quite comfortable in that. The system can be best understood as the ultimate expression of the ‘ordered liberty’ that our founders envisioned; where the elitist and populist desires neutralize.

Less convincing is the proposition that the concurrent system is falsely representational. This misunderstanding comes from the assumption that the election system is meant to represent the singular individual, but this is simply not the system in which was established. The entire declaration set forth by the constitution is that of a union of states, and this is exactly why they are at the forefront of the electoral process. The popular sovereignty of the individuals within a state, not nationally, is utilized by the electoral college as to represent the diverse interests of each region. This concept of localism is essential to ordered liberty, and vastly undervalued; as it realizes natural divergency, yet reminds of an encompassing order.

The way that states in the electoral college are proportioned also adds to this idea. Smaller states such as North Dakota will receive an electoral vote for a compacted amount of citizens compared to larger states; proportioned 1 electoral vote per 174,000 citizens (not including the minimal 3). Imagine that we equivocate this proportion in a larger state such as California. In this case, California would end up with around 224 electoral votes. This reality proves that such a system can be both undemocratic inherently, and still fairly representational- albeit dependent that you hold the same federalist, ordered liberty view of representation as our founders.

If we understand the real purpose of this national popular vote movement as the disenfranchisement of rural individuals, then the intentions of it appear more clairvoyant. American society can be increasingly divided into the two basic extremes of living – rural and urban. These distinctly opposite lifestyles, unsurprisingly, produce distinctly opposite policy positions. Coincidentally, there is a larger and ever increasing concentration in urban areas contrary to that in rural areas. Predicated solely on the mob rule of the more numerous living in urban conditions, the interests of the rural heartland would be intentionally drained out. In doing so, the popular vote would eliminate not only the union of diverse state interests, but also the union of America’s polarized lifestyles.

The illustrations ascribed above do not accord a full concept of the ingrained problems of civilizational direct democracy-an entire system dependent on popular sovereignty of every decision-merely, it criticizes adopting ratable amounts of it. Still, the ultimate goal of the American left since the progressive era, has continued to be the transition to this vision of civilizational direct democracy. This conversion, unsurprisingly, would result in the dismal introduction of tyranny. That which appears in a different manifestation than monarchical despotism, where a distinct minority dominates the majority lives. Instead we witness the opposite situation, where tyrannical authority is bestowed on the majority to dominate the minority.

I would like to query, why exactly any group domination is considered moral? Surely majority rule is as immoral as minority rule. Greater numbers have never justified actions throughout the countless indulgences of statesmanship. it is unfortunate then, that many have grown inclined to believe that despotism and liberty are binary options, a third way remaining nonexistent.

Yet, there is a third way, and it just so happens to be the one which in which America was founded upon. The synthesis of the Representative Republic – incorporating elements of both extremities to create an ordered liberty, is ultimately the only safeguard throughout the waning persuasions of history. By electing educated individuals dependent on fixing issues-both short and long term-we faithfully eliminate the stressor of ignorance, allowing us to focus on our own endeavors.

This prospect of faith in representation is its pitfall too many, but that is exactly why a moral population is necessary. By abandoning the atheism so persistent in our modern, hackneyed system, and adopting providence as its conductor; the faith in the Republic will restore to its past confidence – and the countless calls for more direct action will render dispensable.

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