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Debates Forum

  1. 12 May '10 04:50
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2009/12/when_too_much_democracy_threat

    I was reading this article and thought it might be a good topic for discussion.

    As the article points out, many of the Founding Fathers were very wary of a "true democracy". Such individuals included James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, that is why they formed a Republic rather than a Democracy. This is understandable since most democracies historically have not had a good track record in terms of longevity. The article states:

    "A quick glance across the globus reveals that the relationship between democracy and freedom is quite complicated. There are "illiberal deomcracies", and free societies that lack democracy. Even within America, deomcracy can threaten, rather than abet, liberty, as I explain in this weeks issue of the Economist. Indeed, the founding fathers would be horrified by the "direct democracy" that two dozen mostly Western States in America practice today. And so am I, who happen to live in one of them, California."

    The auther then goes on to use an example of "Prop 13" which capped property taxes in California and also required a 2/3 majorities in both houses of the state legislature to raise any future taxes. Then voter initiative industries sprang up in various states that churn out ballot measures as though by conveyer belt. In fact, California's constitution has been amendended 500 times compared to 17 for the federal government. The author argues that the result has been dysfunction in these liberally democratic states and points to their daunting budget deficits as evidence for his position. The author goes on to say:

    "But the problems with democracy go beyond budgeting. By usurping the job that the founding fathers envisioned for elected (and informed) representatives, voters infringe upon and impair representative democracy. In California, voters have regulated Indain casinos, set prison, terms, banned wildlife traps and gay marriage, given chickens bigger coops and much else. In many cases, there is no evidence that voters have studied the issues or even comprehended the intiative text (which can run to thousands of words). Instead, those who vote are likely to rely on attack adds by special interests or sponsors on TV, or celebrity endorsements."

    This reminds me of a quote from Winston Church Hill, "..the best arguement against a democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.."

    Of course, even the federal system today is more democratic than originally designed. An example of this is that now the populuce is allowed to elect Senators instead of only members to the House of Representatives after the Cosintution was amendended. Other safegaurds, such as the electoral college, remain in place for now.

    So what is the answer? Is there an answer? After all, we all like having a say in who tells us what to do. By in large we trust ourselves more than anyone else around us. In fact, "W" proported to have attempted to spread democracy around the world through in efforts in "Messapotamia". He proported to do so with the assumption that democracy was universally recognized as the answer to freedom and liberty around the globe. Assuming this was really a goal of his in mind, was "W" correct? Is democracy the holy grail to freedom and liberty?
  2. 12 May '10 06:01
    Well, first off: Democracy doesn't exist. When American leaders talk about exporting democracy, it's a bit ingenuous. The democratic republic form of governing simply won't work in many parts of the word.

    "W" wouldn't want to have anything to do with democracy. In a democracy he would not have been elected. But I would suppose that Bush is incapable of understanding the distinction between true democracy and the form of government that exists in the USA, and even if he does know he does not care. He got elected and I'm sure that's all that mattered to him.
  3. 12 May '10 06:31
    Democracy, as in "for the People, by the People" is not the most efficient form of government nor is it the most productive, nor does it provide the most benefit to the people. However, if things don't work as planned, you have only yourselves to blame. The true beauty of democracy however is the fact that if you don't like it, you can change it.
    There are other systems that can work, that rely on a minority - who have the peoples best interests at heart - making the decisions. One of my favorite forms of government is the benevolent dictator - however these are very rare.
    However such systems almost invariably do not last as they are subject to take over by selfish interests. Democracies are equally at risk to selfish interests - and almost invariably suffer from them - but there are limits to how far those selfish interests can go without it ceasing to be a democracy (Zimbabwe for example, is no longer a democracy).
  4. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    12 May '10 08:56
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Democracy, as in "for the People, by the People" is not the most efficient form of government nor is it the most productive, nor does it provide the most benefit to the people. However, if things don't work as planned, you have only yourselves to blame. The true beauty of democracy however is the fact that if you don't like it, you can change it.
    There a ...[text shortened]... an go without it ceasing to be a democracy (Zimbabwe for example, is no longer a democracy).
    A system which relies on the benevolence of its leaders will eventually be dominated by some of its less scrupulous members.
  5. 12 May '10 09:31
    Direct democracy is not "too much" democracy. It's "wrong" democracy.

    By the way, the U.S. is a democratic republic since representatives are elected. Why is the word "democracy" so controversial to whodeyesque Americans? I've asked this question before, but never got a satisfactory answer.
  6. 12 May '10 12:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Direct democracy is not "too much" democracy. It's "wrong" democracy.

    By the way, the U.S. is a democratic republic since representatives are elected. Why is the word "democracy" so controversial to whodeyesque Americans? I've asked this question before, but never got a satisfactory answer.
    Possibly because it is not the abstract concept 'democracy' to which they feel alienated, but its misnamed manifestation in the shape of the 'Democrat Party' in American politics (shades of 'Peanuts Carter'?
  7. 13 May '10 01:58 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Direct democracy is not "too much" democracy. It's "wrong" democracy.

    By the way, the U.S. is a democratic republic since representatives are elected. Why is the word "democracy" so controversial to whodeyesque Americans? I've asked this question before, but never got a satisfactory answer.
    Because the word democracy is thrown around like terms like conservative and capitalism. These tersm are thrown around with a certain degree of truth but are often times misued and abused. As for politicians throwing around the term democracy, I think they avoid the term republic for a very good reason. The reason is that they don't wish to reflect the fact that they are making all the decisions for us whether we like it or not. Its all psychological. As for "W" not knowing that we live in a democracy, that is simply absurd. He is simply playing the mind games before mentioned. No doubt he would also refer to himself as a conservative. LOL.
  8. 13 May '10 01:59 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    A system which relies on the benevolence of its leaders will eventually be dominated by some of its less scrupulous members.
    Well said. So what form of government are you partial to?

    As for myself, I am almost tempted to say that voting should be restricted to those who have proven that they are knowledgable about the issues at hand and/or the issues that each politician is advocating.

    If you want a good laugh, google YouTube and Howard Stern asking voters in down town New York who they are going to vote for right before Obama was elected. It was in a black section of town so he knew they would all be voting for Obama. When he went to interview them as to who they were going to vote for, he goofed on them by switching McCains political positions with Obama and vice versa and then switched back from time to time. Not one person interviewed picked up on the fact that he was doing this as each person interviewed predictably said they would vote for Obama regardless of what he was saying.
  9. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    13 May '10 02:52
    Originally posted by whodey
    I am almost tempted to say that voting should be restricted to those who have proven that they are knowledgable about the issues at hand and/or the issues that each politician is advocating.
    You'd support such restriction until They struck you off the list - not for the well informed or thoughtful things you sometimes say here (for instance) - but for the asinine and gullible and sometimes downright dishonest things you say here. You'd support restriction on your opponents because you'd frame your support in terms of you being more knowledgable about issues than those who disagree with you.
  10. Standard member menace71
    Can't win a game of
    13 May '10 04:24
    The problem I have is you assume all voters are stupid it seems. Some are educated and can read and comprehend the ballot and make an informed vote. The USA is not a direct democracy anyway. Given some of the alternatives I'll take the USA's form of
    government any day. We can burn our flag and trash our country yet not have to worry about being put in jail or killed for it. Try that in some other places in the world and see what happens!! LOL Democracy=friend


    Manny
  11. 13 May '10 05:04 / 4 edits
    Originally posted by FMF
    You'd support such restriction until [b]They struck you off the list - not for the well informed or thoughtful things you sometimes say here (for instance) - but for the asinine and gullible and sometimes downright dishonest things you say here. You'd support restriction on your opponents because you'd frame your support in terms of you being more knowledgable about issues than those who disagree with you.[/b]
    Of course, we would no doubt get into an arguement as to who is misleading who and who thinks asinine and gullible things. Clearly you have an issue with the likes of me and people who are conservative like me on this site so you attempt to assassinate their character, each and EVERY one.

    Having said that, perhaps a simply multiple choice test regarding reading comprehension regarding issues on the ballot or a mutliple choice questions regarding basic knowledge of the positions candidates proport to hold would suffice. That way you would leave political opinions at the door and simply determine if you knowh what is going on. In short, if I am voting on an issue or for a candidate I am not fully informed about then shame on me. I should have no right to vote in that instance.

    Of course, that would probably favor the conservatives. After all, according to a New York/CBS Newspoll, 23% of those who attend have college degrees as opposed to only 15% of the general public. It would also discriminate members from ACORN dragging homeless people to the polls to have them vote for their candidate.
  12. 13 May '10 05:20
    Originally posted by menace71
    [. We can burn our flag and trash our country yet not have to worry about being put in jail or killed for it. Try that in some other places in the world and see what happens!! LOL Democracy=friend


    Manny[/b]
    Err....um.....I hope you have medical insurance.
  13. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    13 May '10 05:23
    Originally posted by whodey
    [...]you would leave political opinions at the door and simply determine if you knowh what is going on. In short, if I am voting on an issue or for a candidate I am not fully informed about then shame on me. I should have no right to vote in that instance.
    You sound like one of your fabled "statists" gone slightly ape. Fortunately, as far as I can see, this idea of yours to disenfranchise citizens has no chance whatsoever of gaining any traction in the public domain. What happens when people smarter than you insist that you don't know what is going on, and so you don't get to vote? whodey, people having different levels of intelligence, general knowledge, literacy and political passion is just how life is. That fact that the clueless or the clinically paranoid or the racists or the people with abnormally low reading age get to vote too, is a feature of democracy and free speech that is one of the warts in 'warts and all'.
  14. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    13 May '10 05:28
    Originally posted by whodey
    Of course, we would no doubt get into an arguement as to who is misleading who and who thinks asinine and gullible things. Clearly you have an issue with the likes of me and people who are conservative like me on this site so you attempt to assassinate their character, each and EVERY one.
    Your "character" here at RHP is entirely your own doing, whodey. I've never accused you of supporting terrorism, or being anti-semitic, being a nazi, or condoning genocide. These are arrows from your forum quiver, not mine.
  15. 13 May '10 05:38
    Originally posted by FMF
    Your "character" here at RHP is entirely your own doing, whodey. I've never accused you of supporting terrorism, or being anti-semitic, being a nazi, or condoning genocide. These are arrows from your forum quiver, not mine.
    What you do is twist and contort what I say. Who have I accused of being a nazi? Who have I accused of being a terrorits etc.? Was it you FMF? If so, show me where. Nuff said.