My name is Melissa and I am e-mailing you concerning direct democracy. Can you give me an exact definition of direct democracy and what would be its effects? Thank you for your time

January 10, 2003

DDC Response (to a student inquiry):

Hello Melissa,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding direct democracy.

The basic definition of democracy is: Government by the people, usually through elected representatives.

The simple definition of direct democracy is:
Government by the people, directly, rather than through elected representatives.

To understand the effects of direct democracy, the origin of democracy should be understood. Democracy was created in Athens, Greece over 2500 years ago. Athenian democracy was direct democracy, however, they did elect representatives to manage their government. The Athenians had a constitution, they made all major decisions regarding their government, directly, and they voted every one or two years to either retain their elected representatives or replace them with new representatives.

Our vision for direct democracy is much like the Athenian model. Fully (and truthfully) informed voters would make all major decisions regarding government, such as taxation and public policy. There would be elected representatives to micro-manage government. However, the elected representatives would be nonpartisan professional government managers rather than partisan professional politicians, and they would be subject to confirmation by the voters every one or two years.

Therefore, the effects of direct democracy would be revolutionary compared to the way government operates today. Of course, it would take a constitutional amendment to enact direct democracy. In my opinion, if we had direct democracy over the past few decades, society, government, education and the economy would not be in crisis. The fact of life is that the people, with all their faults, should be able to decide what is best for each of them individually, and collectively, what is best for all of us. Indeed, we are the only ones in a position to do that.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Best regards,
Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center