Direct Democracy

The majority of elections in the United States are held to facilitate indirect democracy. Elections allow the people to pick representatives to serve in government and make decisions on the citizens’ behalf. Representatives pass laws, implement taxes, and carry out decisions. Although direct democracy had been used in some of the colonies, the framers of the Constitution granted voters no legislative or executive powers, because they feared the masses would make poor decisions and be susceptible to whims. During the Progressive Era, however, governments began granting citizens more direct political power. States that formed and joined the United States after the Civil War often assigned their citizens some methods of directly implementing laws or removing corrupt politicians. Citizens now use these powers at the ballot to change laws and direct public policy in their states.

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