What are the benefits and drawbacks of a direct democracy vs a representative democracy?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are benefits and drawbacks to direct democratic and to representative democracy. In a direct democracy, the people make all the decisions. They discuss proposed laws and vote on them. They may also be involved in some executive and judicial processes. The advantage to this is that the people make the decisions themselves. They don’t have to rely on an elected official to do this for them. They don’t have to be concerned that the elected official is being controlled by big donors or by pressure from the political party. One disadvantage of a direct democracy is that the citizens must be knowledgeable about all the issues surrounding a proposed law for which they may vote. If they don’t have the time to do all of this work, they could make a poor decision. Also, it could be very difficult for millions of people to be involved in voting for a law. Sometimes, in a direct democracy, there also are limits on who is able to vote, meaning some people may be excluded from the voting.

In a representative democracy, people elect leaders to make decisions for them. The elected officials are supposed to make decisions based on what the majority of the people want them to do. One disadvantage of a representative democracy is that a person might not be able to get the elected official to vote how he or she would have voted. Also, the elected official could vote the way big donors want or the political party wants that person to vote instead of what the majority of the people being represented want. One advantage of a representative democracy is that the elected should have a good knowledge base about proposed laws that will be discussed. The official should have a staff to research each issue to help the official cast a wise vote. This also allows the official to be able to explain things to the people the official represents. Another advantage is that it is less cumbersome to vote because only 535 people are involved in the voting process at the federal level.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each form of democracy.  Which form of democracy do you think is better?

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