4.1 – DD is a political system where the rules of governance are decided by the majority of concerned citizens by referendum, with equal power of one person, one vote.

No individual representative or political party can possibly represent all the people on all the issues. Only DD can represent the choices of the majority of voters on any issue.

DD, in principle, is not a new idea. It has been tried as a political system since the Athenian democracy. It was developed around the fifth century BC, exclusively by and for an elite class of citizens: ”White, male, property owners.”

Also, November 19, 1863, USA President Abraham Lincoln, called for a “Government of the People, by the People, and for the People”; again, a system exclusively for the dominant class of citizens of that time: “White, male, property owners.”

What is new in DD today is that it shifts the legislative power from being the exclusive authority of a few elected representatives to being a universal responsibility of all citizens, regardless of gender, race, and economic status.

In DD the majority of citizens chose the legislation by referendum.

4.2 – Components of D.D.

The rising of direct democracy by referendum depends on four factors: Full Information, Debate and clarification, Computer Technology, and the people’s Willingness to Participate.

Full information is Indispensable to DD. Without it, and especially when partial information is misused with an ill intention of confusing the issue, the outcome of a referendum can become skewed.

Debate and Clarification – can generate publicity, can educate others, can clarify the issue, and can encourage a sense of solidarity and personal satisfaction.

Although, protest demonstrations and civil disobedience alone have achieved social change in some cases, just protesting, in most cases, has not necessarily brought social change.

Michael Nagler in his book, “In Search for a Nonviolent Future” says: “The tail of protesting wrongs would never wag the dog of building a society.”

Computer Technology has enabled DD in recent times. It would not have been possible, fifty years ago, to propagate information to millions of people and tabulate the results of referendums instantly, as we are able to do now with computer and internet technology.

Willingness to Participate is the Essence of DD

We can have all the information necessary to form an opinion; we can endlessly debate, protest and clarify the wrongs of our governments; we can have the ultimate computer technology to gather and tabulate our collective choices, but if we don’t participate in a referendum, selecting what we want, social change will not come automatically from above.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

4.3 – DD puts the responsibility for our actions on ourselves.

Based on the information we consume, we react in protest and debate, often blaming the elected representatives for their wrong policies.

Nevertheless, when we participate in “justified” wars, or we ignore social misery with apathy, instead of blaming the elected representatives, we need to take the responsibility of our own doing.

John Holloway says,
“We participate in the breaking of our own doing, the construction of our own subordination.”

DD proposes to securely register our opinion on a referendum system, so our choices can be counted, so we, not the politicians, can legislate and materialize our vision into social change.

4.4 – DD Prevents the Concentration of Power

Historically, legislative power concentrated in the hands of monarchs, dictators, or a few political representatives has inherently corrupted. Potentially, it will continue to corrupt in the future unless DD decentralizes political power.

In other words, Direct democracy with a diffused political-decision-making power in the hands of all citizens would prevent the few selected politicians from being co-opted or coerced by economic interests.

Baron Acton (1834 – 1902)

“Power corrupts;
absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

4.5 – DD Is an Ongoing, Perpetual Activity.

It is relatively easy for many people to be temporarily fooled during a short electoral campaign period. It is also relatively easy for a few self-interested representatives to be conveniently confused for a longer period.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time“.

Abraham Lincoln
1809 – 1865
16th U.S. president

With citizens perpetually debating social policies, it would require the media and influential lobbyists to perpetually having to multiply their propaganda efforts, rather than just to promote the personalities of their individual representatives, every four years. DD would empower all the people, all the time to address all the social issue.

4.6 – DD Measures Human Values of Society.

DD will show whether or not most people are ready for, and want to practice a fair allocation of natural and human resources, as Karl Marx manifested: by contributing according to people’s abilities and distributing according to people’s needs.

Effectively, DD will reflect people’s commitment to the most fundamental human values: empathy, equality, justice, security, and ecological conservation.

DD will measure the depth of people’s moral values in legislation that complies with ethnic, gender and religious rights, granted to all minorities.

4.7 – DD suggests a gradual and peaceful shift away from “parliamentary representation”.

Historically, some political and social changes have been achieved through violent revolutions: USA independence from England, the Bolshevik independence from the Tsar of Russia, and the Maoist Cultural Revolution in China.

DD implies a peaceful political evolution. However, it will not come from political leaders like Gandhi in India, or Martin Luther King in America. DD will come from you and a significant number of people who are ready for it. It must be clearly articulated, discussed by all concerned citizens, and decided by the majority on a referendum.

4.8 – DD Requires a New Constitution.

The constitution, currently ruling the Canadian parliamentary system, is based on a hierarchical power from above, whereas DD requires a system of legislative power originated from the people below. Therefore, the constitution requires structural changes and the rewriting of new laws.

Republics who wanted structural political changes like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iceland, sought to create a new constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826)

The draftsman of the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Father of the United States said that the constitution should be rewritten every 19 years.

We can figuratively interpret it as our perpetual responsibility to amend our constitution as often as needed, so each generation should define for itself how it should be governed.

4.9 – We have outlined the context and evolution of democracy; we have offered a simplified view of the political ideologies of Canada; we have listed a few issues where the government’s policies are in conflict with the people’s visions, and we have described what DD means. On the next chapter we want to show some of the chronological, Canadian examples of plebiscites and referendums, and mention other countries where DD is being practised.