Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Direct Democracy In Practice

William Saletan does not phrase it as such, but he gives an excellent additional reason to oppose direct democracy in his article about why many states might find it hard to pass gay marriage approval bills. Even though gay marriage is more popular than ever, the shift in popular opinion might not help pass bills:
That can't happen in California, Virginia, or the other 27 states where constitutional amendments forbid gay marriage…The question now is whether the new majority will get its way. To undo the constitutional amendments of the past decade, supporters of gay marriage will have to pass ballot measures in those states. In Nevada, they'll have to do it twice. Passing ballot measures is hard. People tend to vote against them out of suspicion and fear, particularly when you're messing with the constitution.

As our experience with the U.S. Congress in the early Obama years can confirm, people have a terrible status quo bias. So it’s a bad idea to make people’s whims one year binding upon the settled discussions of a few years later. Nevertheless, this is what twenty-nine states have done and the gay people of those states will find it much more difficult than necessary to enjoy the right to marriage that they always deserved in the first place.

Besides the obstacles posed by previous years’ bloat, there’s the thought that people’s human rights shouldn’t be up to a popular vote. Nor should technical issues. And yet, glancing at the ballot every year, these two types of questions predominate year after year. It’s a sign that direct democracy in practice is not a good thing and we should end it.

No comments:

Post a Comment