In an era when one political party is daily accused of promoting Fascism, the other of promoting Socialism, and neither is allowing Democracy to evolve and flourish, America's claim to being "The World's Leading Democracy" is highly suspect. Democracy implies that the Citizenry plays a major role in their own governance. By that standard, America is centuries behind the Swiss and decades behind the European Union.
Beginning in 1848, the Swiss were allowed to vote on constitutional amendments proposed by their congress and to demand revisions. In 1874, the Swiss constitution was rewritten to allow the Citizenry to challenge any law by referendum, and as of 1891, the Swiss Citizenry may propose its own constitutional amendments.
Since 1848, the Swiss have conducted over 500 referendums on public policy issues. Since 1776, there have been zero referendums on public policy issues in America.
In 1993, several European nations held a referendum on whether to establish the European Union. In 2016, England held a referendum on whether to remain a part of the European Union.
This past year, the European Union took another step toward participatory democracy. Some 800 citizens were randomly selected to serve on European Citizen Panels that met in five cities (and virtually). Their task was to draft policy proposals in nine key areas. The experiment was not entirely successful for a number of reasons:
* Both the number of people involved and the scope of the task was too great to
allow in-depth consideration of the issues.
* The chosen moderators were also overwhelmed by the complexity of the event.
* Technological complexity gave rise to privacy and security concerns.
* The resulting recommendations were not binding on E.U. legislative bodies.
All of these issues were anticipated and addressed in the model for an enhanced democracy presented in "The Democracy Saga". In Volume I, the U. S. Constitution was amended to establish The Citizenry as the fourth and highest branch of government. A body of seven randomly selected citizens called The Caucus was created to consider policy issues and present them for a national referendum. A new Caucus meets every three months. In Volume II, I illustrated the inner workings of The Caucus to show that such deliberations could be professionally conducted in a secure environment. And, in the third volume, it was shown that the Citizenry could be trusted to make wise decisions on major policy matters.
Direct Democracy in America is feasible. The attitude of the ruling oligarchies, however, is that Americans are not ready for such responsibility. They claim that we pitifully ignorant voters, if given the power to set national policy, will do nothing but demand more and more government services while giving ourselves corresponding tax cuts until the country is brought to ruin. Pardon me -- but isn't that what the Republocrats are doing to us already?
We the People can make better decisions. We don't owe favors to any lobbyists. We don't have to raise millions of dollars to ensure our re-election. Our allegiance is to something greater than a party, and we really would like to see America resume a leadership role in the realm of Democracy. But -- we will have to demand the binding policy referendum. Washington's elite will never give it to us.