Brexit, or evidence that direct democracy doesn’t work



This a brief post as my point is obvious but somehow David Cameron failed to realize this when he authorized the British electorate to determine whether or not the UK should remain in the EU. Simply put, a direct democracy  almost always leads to much worse decisions than a representative democracy when the problem involved is complex and important.

From all the information at my disposal, a Brexit is a terrible outcome. But, what is much clearer to me is that there shouldn’t have been a public vote on this issue in the first place. In fact, allowing people who have no training in economics or policy-making to decide whether the UK should remain in the EU is akin to allowing non-engineers design the wings for Airbus’ next passenger carrier. It’s just a terrible idea.

Perhaps, you can allow the British electorate decide what the color of the next British flag should be, but determining geopolitical policies for the UK is a complex and nuanced issue. Even the educated masses don’t have the ability to analyze this issue in any depth.

This is all I have to say but if you’d like to read more I can recommend the following article which argues that David Cameron could have learned something from the Founding Fathers. In fact, it concludes with exactly what I’m trying to say:

There is an inherent danger coming from direct democracy when combined with an uninformed and manipulated public that has to decide the policy of a country, as we saw on June 23 when 36 percent of eligible voters in the UK chose to exit the European Union. Again, this should not come as a surprise. In one sense, the Brexit referendum illustrates as much the failure of the experts and elected politicians as it shows that relying on the masses and populism can lead to suspect and potentially damaging decisions. In that sense, we have to guard ourselves against direct democracy being hijacked by demagogues and populists lest we have to endure the “tyranny of the majority” at the expense of wiser policies.





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