Scotland, Democracy and the US


The Scottish independence referendum, set to take place next week. raises many issues. One topic infrequently discussed is the referendum process itself. Scottish citizens will be voting directly for independence. Not elected representatives. But the people themselves.

US citizens have no counterpart. On big questions — going to war, entering international trade agreements, amending the constitution — citizens have no direct role. “Executives, “Representatives” and “Courts” have all the authority. No provision exists in the US Constitution for direct democracy on issues. The only form of direct democracy contained in the original US Constitution was direct election of federal representatives. Senators were chosen by state legislatures and the President by the Electoral College. But when it comes to substantive issues, policies or foundational governing rules, citizens have zero direct input.

So much for the US being the “greatest democracy in the world.”


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