One thing I've noticed is that people often speak favorably of referendums. I used to do so as well. My thinking was, what could be
bad about an election that allows the people to directly vote on a particular issue? Whatever the majority wants, that's what'll happen.
Isn't that what democracy is all about?
But recently, I've been thinking that referendums perhaps aren't a good idea at all. Because democracy isn't something as simple as a
majority ruling. It's about a healthy system of collaborations and compromises which represents all agents of society, and especially
including those who do not happen to belong to some majority group.
With that perspective, referendums seem to come off as inherently anti-democratic. After all, referendums are often binary, so imagine
if 51 % of voters lean one way, and 49 % lean the other way (something we see quite often, see e.g. Brexit). Does it seem fair
that 51 % get to dominate the other 49 %? How is that democratic?
These problems do not occur with ordinary political processes which are more inclusive and representative. Even if 51 % of voters
manage to vote some party into taking the government, the other 49 % are still represented through various processes, be it a
congress or a parliament or what have you.
So to end my question, what are the benefits of referendums that outweigh this inherent lack of democracy that they seem to promote?