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Democracy   -   2003/10/08Viewed 408 times this month, last update: 2004/04/16


Democracy is a wonderful thing, tricky to implement, but when done right, the effect is that in general, the will of the people is done.

We've made some tricky decisions in implementing our democratic system, mostly in relation our adoption of a representative democracy. However, thus far, our senators, congressmen, electoral college members, and others elected to represent the wishes of the people have done a fair job representing us.

So, as democracies go, ours, here in the USA is a fairly good one.

The problem arising of late, is that while our democratic system is working, by executing on the wishes of the people, the people are wishing for the wrong things.

To be blunt: The utter stupidity of the general population of this country has trickled up the chain of power to those people holding guns, writing laws, and pushing buttons.

It's unbelievable to me that more than half of my fellow Californians would elect the "Terminator" to the governor's office. It's unbelievable to me that enough of my fellow Americans would vote for a slow, uneducated, racist, failed businessman to the office of President. It's our fault that the economy is in the toilet. It's our fault that the middle east hates us more then ever. It's our fault the UN is ineffective. Everything Arnie does in office will be our fault.

Our fault.

Comments:
Jeff (2003-11-12): Ummm... just a thing i noticed in what you've said, i agree almost entirely except the UN part, the United Nations is an INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION, americans dont seem to think so.

Erik (2003-11-12): It certainly is, but I think you would agree that the UN is greatly, perhaps overly, influenced by the US, and our representatives to the UN have done a great deal to make it ineffective and internally combative.

Kindigulous (2003-11-13): The United States is not a Democracy--it is a Republic. The "general population" was spared a true democracy because the elect felt we couldn't handle it. Maybe so. But it's not the elect I'm worried about--it's unchecked corporate power!

Erik (2003-11-15): Is a Republic not the same as a Representative Democracy? What the founders of this country were thinking is up for debate, but my understanding was that a Representative Democracy was chosen for practicality. The citizens could hardly be expected to live full lives if they were needed to vote as often as the members of the senate and house do.I know you, and a great many other people are worried about powerful corporations, but you're thinking too narrowly in my opinion. Corporations are no more evil (or good) than a mom-and-pop operation, or a single person alone. Look at the current white house. They're using corporations like Halliburton to execute their agenda, but that doesn't make Halliburton evil, just George, Cheney, et al. Corporations are just pieces of paper. People, and their self-centeredness and greed are what you have to worry about.

Des (2003-12-09): Hi, I have browsed your site a bit and enjoyed some of the various musings on coding, politics, hiking, and the like. On the subject of democracy, I really encourage you to check out the presidential campaign of Howard Dean: http://www.deanforamerica.com
I totally sympathize with your frustration about the catastrophes of the last three years, but we have to keep hoping that there is some shred of redeemable virtue in this country and its people, and that if we give ordinary people a reason to believe in politics again, they might even overcome their ignorances and prejudices.

RedBeard (2003-12-21): Actually, a representative democracy is not necessarily a republic. In the case of the United States, the individual states themselves are representative democracies while the nation as a whole was a republic until passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. Up until then, Senators were elected by the legislative bodies of their respective states. If the people of a state weren't satisfied with their representation in the Senate, their recourse was to vote for change in their state legislature.

Since the Senate has become a body elected by popular vote, campaign financing has become vitally important to them, since they must convince millions of the "unwashed masses" to vote for them, rather than having to convince a couple hundred people who tend to have better than average education, more familiarity with the law, and a broader view of current issues in relation to the state's interests. Whereas the Senate was intended to be the "upper crust" of the federal legislature, it has degenerated into a house of bottom-feeders who sell legislation to the highest bidder and gobble up campaign contributions and "gifts" from special-interest lobbyists like a kid in a candy store. Because their campaigns must reach the voters of an entire state rather than a single congressional district, their appetite for these campaign finance dollars is far greater.

Another effect of the 17th Amendment has been the erosion of public interest in their state governments and a general apathy toward the same. How many people can you name who actually voted the last time there was an election for state legislators? Personally, I can think of only one. I see him in the mirror every morning when I shave and brush my teeth. Democracies and republics can function well only when the people participate.

You're right. The United States is no longer a republic. This is not, however, good for the nation, the states, the people, or the planet.

THE MAN (2006-06-12): I think your right and all but we are the world power and we do make alot of influences on the UN but thats international we dont control it enough to ruin it it is just as effective as it needs to be (yes i no this is 3 years late :P)

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