The Problem with Direct Democracy Is That It Sucks

We live in a fantastic society. It’s one in which it’s not possible to leave a Target store without someone trying to get you to sign a petition for something or other. See? Fantastic.

Direct democracy and referendums are bad. Aside from the Target hassles, here’s why:

We already have a government. Several of them in fact — federal, state, county, city, school district. Plenty of levels of government. Direct democracy (those neat “ballot measures” that seem particularly exciting to us self-important Californians) constitutes yet another level of government. Only this one cannot be easily trumped, doesn’t have to make decisions unless it feels like it wants to, never gets held accountable for what it’s done, doesn’t even have to *pretend* to understand the decisions it’s making, and can’t be voted out of office no matter what kind of crap it does.

Further, direct democracy panders to idiots. “Everyone” hates taxes. “Everyone” wants someone else to give them stuff (like a free education for their kids). Therefore, everyone wants to have laws that lower taxes and increase entitlements (read: government spending). Therefore, wily states like California end up with referendum-mandated laws that both restrict the state government’s capacity to tax while at the same time requiring minimum levels of spending.

I hate taxes. But even more damaging is a government that writes checks it has no capacity to cover. Everyone loses — yes, including the suckers that voted in favor of these referendums. Uniformly brilliant.

Vote NO on everything.



  • Game Dame

    Excellent treatise. My husband and I have always voted NO on everything. Never phrased it as eloquently as you — nicely done.

  • bkdunn

    Thanks! I probably should’ve done some research to come up with some other stunning examples of direct democracy in action, but heck, the tax thing works…

  • telkontar

    Cicero said the same thing. Marx (Karl, not the Brothers Marx) said democracy would die when citizens learned that they could vote themseves money. Alas, Cali-Babylonia — your weather was so fair.