Is the Internet a Viable Threat to Representative Democracy?

By: David M. Thompson

The Internet, despite its relatively recent advent, is critical to millions of Americans’ way of life. Although the Internet arguably opens new opportunities for citizens to become more directly involved in their government, some scholars fear this direct involvement poses a risk to one of the Constitution’s most precious ideals: representative democracy. This iBrief explores whether the constitutional notion of representation is vulnerable to the Internet’s capacity to open new vistas for a more direct democracy by analyzing statistics and theories about why voters in the United States do or do not vote and by examining the inherent qualities of the Internet itself. This iBrief concludes that the Constitution will adapt to the Internet and the Internet to the Constitution, such that even if there are advances in direct democracy, representative democracy will not be unduly threatened.

Cite: 2008 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0001

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