I've been away, so I've only just found a moment to post something I've been itching to say for days. And I know modesty should forbid me saying so, but the events of the past week have underlined just how important my odd obsession with direct vs representative democracy is, and how mistaken anyone who has downplayed this question has been.
This week, it has been demonstrated that politicians that are in more contested seats have voted differently to those that aren't. They have, effectively, allowed themselves to be mandated on a massive issue.
There is a world, somewhere, where it's possible to argue that liberal democracies will benefit from the stalling of US Congress earlier this week, but I really don't understand it's inhabitants at all. I understand those from the left who don't mind watching capitalism come crashing about our ears. I also, despairingly, understand that there is a libertarian perspective that says that all we need is even more medicine. But I don't think that most of the voters who have been jamming the switchboards of Congressmen are from either camp.
Politicians who have allowed themselves to be mandated by their voters have made a decision that they know to be damaging and wrong. Unless the principle of representative democracy can be widely sold and re-established (and it's on the wane over here as well), we have seen that this democratic failing has the potential to seriously damage - and perhaps, ultimately to destroy - liberal democracy.
The US has - demonstrably - more of a direct democracy than anywhere in the EU. Politicians are routinely stalked and triangulated by single issue pressure groups, and voters can have no confidence that their representatives are adding anything to the quality of public governance.
No wonder no-one trust their politicians.
Anthony has offered a much milder view than mine here - but he illustrates just how impoverished the understanding of the word 'democracy' is - even on a site like OpenDemocracy.
So. Advocates of a more direct democracy within our current framework, and advocates of Thatcherism: Both proved to be utterly stupidly wrong in the space of a couple of weeks!