Shannah Sexton: Direct democracy might be next step

In light of recent political events such as the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements, it is more than clear that both sides of the political spectrum are just a teensy bit annoyed with our government officials.

That’s a pretty big understatement.

The moment is right for some serious conversations about whether or not we should make drastic changes to our political system.

While we might not all agree on what is best for our country, I think it is safe to say that we all want a voice in the matter. We’re constantly pointing fingers at who’s to blame for one issue or another, when we fail to realize that it may not be necessary for much longer; a direct democracy might be the next step in an ever-evolving society.

In this day and age, we are more connected than ever as a nation by means of the Internet and the rise of social media, and we simply don’t have the same need for representation that we once did.

For the first time ever, a direct democracy is possible. Why, then, are we still stuck in the past?

Before you call me crazy, let me assure you that I am well aware of what would have to be achieved in order for this idea to work, if it has the potential to work at all. The point is not to bring about a revolution, only to get an undoubtedly necessary conversation started.

As for an idea of what a direct democracy might look like, the possibilities are endless. Some of our options might include continuous voting, or moderated public forums where people could give suggestions at any time.

Of course, with privilege comes a greater sense of responsibility. Considering the U.S.’s low voter-turnout rates, we would definitely need to invest more of our time and energy into educating ourselves about current events in order to take a much more active role in government.

One negative aspect of this might be a general lack of interest in small-scale issues, of which isn’t exactly reprimandable. It’s completely natural to have priorities that go beyond potholes.

On top of that, would we trust ourselves enough to do the right thing in the face of national crises? Would we willingly vote to increase our own taxes in order to avoid an economic disaster, like a turkey voting for Thanksgiving? It’s hard to say.

The idea of a direct democracy certainly brings up many more questions that could not be answered this early in the game. With so much energy and unrest floating around, it’s evident that many people have good ideas but are not getting the representation they need.

Shannah Sexton is a junior at Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an email to