Direct Democracy

Michael Allman and ‘Direct Democracy’

Eric Andersen Eric Andersen 3 Comments


When I am elected to Congress, I am going to vote on issues the way my constituents tell me to vote …” – Michael Allman, Candidate for the 52nd Congressional District.

Allman hopes to bring his success from the tech world to the 52nd Congressional District by implementing a political “operating system” dependent upon the will of the majority. Absent is any mention of the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. His “operating system” stands in sharp contrast to Locke and our Framers who held that the role of government was to secure inalienable rights.

The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.” –John Locke, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government

Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into what is right. In order to be considered truly free countries must have a deep  love for liberty and abiding respect for the rule of law.” –Margaret Thatcher 

Allman is in a Democrat leaning district. What if voters tell him to remove 2nd Amendment protections or to increase the role of government in healthcare? What if they tell him to vote for law in an area not enumerated in Article 1, Section 8?  Where is the “check and balance” in Allman’s system that upholds the Republican ideal of limited government? 

No doubt Michael Allman’s intentions are pure but can they deliver? I say ‘no’. They cannot because his political philosophy, ‘direct democracy’, stands as an antithesis to the ideas constituted and put into legal form by our Founders. 

Direct Democracy
What is direct democracy? Majoritarianism. Rule by majority social opinion. Also known as “Two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch.” The belief that the people should be in direct control of the laws being passed by their representatives without regard for inherent rights. Rule by the “general will”. 

At first glance “direct democracy” and “returning power to the people” appear attractive, but is that what our Congressmen are asked to uphold? As an elected member of the San Diego County Republican Party that is not what I took an oath to uphold. What happened to being a government of laws and not of men?

What sets our nation apart is are our exceptional ideas about law. Laws dedicated to a set of propositions derived largely from British philosopher John Locke. Men and kings were to be under the law, not sitting over it and applying it arbitrarily. Locke’s ideas stand in direct opposition to the “direct democracy” platform of Michael Allman and the man responsible for direct democracy, French philosopher and father of the French Revolution, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Locke’s ideas led to freedom, the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. Rousseau’s led to the guillotine.

John Locke 
Self-evident truth. Law of nature, natural rights, limited government. The purpose of government is to secure God given rights. 

“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”Locke, Second Treatise

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
Rousseau’s ideas about property and inequality inspired the French Revolution, Marx, the 20th century communist movement, and the modern American liberal movement. Rights become privileges granted by the State. The purpose of government is to execute the majority opinion, what Rousseau call the “GENERAL WILL”. The general will is sovereign not higher law.

“Just as nature gives each man an absolute power over all his members, the social compact gives the body politic an absolute power over all its members, and it is the same power which, as I have said, is directed by the general will and bears the name sovereignty.”Rousseau, On the Social Contract

There is an irreconcilable divide between the ideas of Locke and the ideas of Rousseau. Each sees the role of government differently. For Locke our inherent rights are sovereign. For Rousseau the “GENERAL WILL” of the people is sovereign.

I’ll close with the words of Voltaire, a peer and antagonist of Rousseau. Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his book, The Social Contract, in which Rousseau describes his great philosophical jiu jitsu move to the ideas of Locke sixty years previous. Real freedom, Rousseau wrote, comes from submission to the “general will.”

Voltaire responded,“I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. No one has ever employed so much intellect to persuade men to be beasts. In reading your work one is seized with a desire to walk on all fours. However, as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel, unfortunately, that it is impossible for me to resume it…”


Comments 3

  1. I think this is overly critical. I’ve heard Michael speak, and he describes this as “his version” of direct democracy. He is essentially using technology to gauge where, we the voters, stand issue by issue. I think this idea should be applauded for trying to reduce special interests, increase transparency and increase political participation in my district.

    I’m just sick of what is going on in Washington, so this seems like a fresh of breathe air for me personally.

  2. Post

    Josh L – “sick of what is going on in Washington”? So am I.
    This post makes the case for Locke and inherent rights. It’s not about
    A. Taking power from special interests or
    B. Giving power to the people

    Both ‘A’ and ‘B’ misdiagnose the issue. I’m making the case for ‘C’.

    C. The Constitution, Limited Government and natural rights

    If you find Michael’s plan consistent with ‘C’ please reconcile it with direct democracy.

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