Essential Knowledge Needed to Grow a Democracy part 25
A More Perfect Union
America could not have a more perfect Union (Constitutionally speaking). Well, they could if they had Recall, Referenda and Initiatives at the Federal level of government, as they do at the State level. And if they used these tools of democracy more frequently at the State level to keep the leaders as servants. Mark Twain said, “I’ve discovered how to tell when a politician is lying….every time he opens his mouth (ba boom). And things are much worse now than in Old Mark’s time, so surely there is much more reason to keep the politicians in check and honest. Hey, our politicians have made our democracies a joke, on both sides of the US/Canada border.
And America could have been a more perfect Union if they had Switzerland’s history and the pivotal people in power in Switzerland, that made Switzerland, what I argue, the best democracy on the planet. And before anyone decided to argue with me, do you, in your country get to vote on the yearly budget and it does not pass until it is accepted by the majority of the people, I repeat, the people, not by the politicians who are merely servants of the people. The Swiss also have 3 – 4 referenda during the year, just to keep things moving smoothly.
A Piece of History of Switzerland
In 1847 there was a brief civil war between the Catholic citizens of part of the country and the Protestant citizens in another area of the country. The Swiss did not see it sensible for Swiss citizens to kill their fellow citizens, so they negotiated a settlement to their grievances. In 1848 the Swiss people held a referendum on their constitution. Their Constitution was heavily influenced by the democratic mechanisms of 24 American States. The mechanisms of Recall, Referenda and Initiatives were central to the Swiss Constitution. While the American States could lay claim to the genius of these tools of Direct Democracy, the Swiss greatly improved on the American system. Whereas Americans were given access to these tools of democracy, the Swiss improved their system by institutionalizing Direct Democracy.
The Swiss Constitution neutralized the power of the leaders and representatives to make sure that it was the people that held the power and remained sovereign and that the government would administer Referendums to the people with perhaps advise, but without pressure. As said before the Swiss people a given 3 to 4 Referendums a year, so that it is the people, and not politicians that make the decisions for the country. And to make sure the power remained with the people Initiative would allow the Swiss people to reverse any ill conceived laws implanted by politicians. Also, due to the fact that the Government remains neutral there is no need for the Swiss to have Recall to discipline politicians out of control.
Although I have not found evidence for it, for I can only imagine it, that the leaders that lead the negotiations to peace from the civil war saw the wisdom of the Swiss people and trusted the Swiss people themselves with the power of decision-making. This is what the American leaders lacked in the American people, a trust in the American people to make good decisions.
But this was a point of debate in America at the time of the founding of the nation. Jefferson stated “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”Jefferson argued to give decision-making to the people, but apparently he lost the argument. Sadly, due to the disbelief of other American founders, America did not achieve the ideal of a more perfect Union .