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O54 Waller Final Exam Essay 11 / 30 / 06 A democracy (literally meaning “rule by the people”) by definition is the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, usually practiced by electing representatives of the people by the people. It is the ideal belief of democracy that government is created for the sole purpose of serving all of the people. Meaning in the end, no one but the people themselves can be expected to know and thus act in a way reflecting their own values and interests. The people voice their opinion and are equally heard by our leaders (the ones we elected). For without us, they would have no power. People of a democracy are also expected to not just vote for candidates but also on bills and pending laws, making the people a key component in this form of government. A democratic nation is a country with a government that has been elected freely and equally by all its citizens. Although our country is not perfect, we continue to strive to get as close to perfection as humanly possible. Since democracy is not perfect, as with all things, there are several advantages and disadvantages to this governmental system. The advantages of democracy span from protecting human rights, to involving society’s average people. Many political scientists will say democracy protects human rights more so than any other form of government. The reason for this is because, democracy is the only form of government based on the realization that all humans are created equal and, thus, are of the same worth and should be treated as such. In a democracy, elections are free, fair, and open to everyone. Since democracy makes its decisions based on the knowledge and opinions of society’s entire population, it is the most likely to reach rational decisions. From its original Greek name: Demos (people) and kratia (power), democracy allows the everyday “Joe” to play a role in politics and therefore feel more involved with his or her government and the decisions that are made. Democracy needs a majority vote (majority-rule) in order for decisions to be made. This in turn, helps eliminate a single person from holding too much power (tyranny) and possibly taking advantage of it (“power corrupts all”). Democracy simply allows the people to rule themselves, (but not to the extreme point of anarchy) and quite simply who would not want to make his or her own decisions. Democracy allows for a broader sense of freedom, thus putting humans in the best mindset to develop their natural abilities and talents. Democracy also creates more opportunity for the average person and provides a higher level of education. It produces the most encouraging environment to economic growth and “material well-being.” democracy tends to be more stable and lasts longer than other forms of government. This is due to the fact that the leaders are elected by the very citizens they will be working for, thus enjoying a powerful sense of legitimacy. Democracy (and republicanism) goes together with Capitalism (at least in our country) which in turn creates competition and motivation for people to worker harder to live better. While it is true this same competitiveness can force others out, thus creating a larger poverty line, when compared to countries such as China, our
poverty level does not come close. Popular sovereignty is also a major plus of democracy since the government does the people’s bidding and not the other way around (the government is there for you). Democracy was built on the beliefs that every human being was given at birth certain inalienable rights that by law could never be trudged upon. These rights were the right to land, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; it is these rights that continue to play a major role in democratic countries today. The down sides to democracy vary; with one of the main problems being people’s lack of respect for the freedom they have. By taking their freedom for granted, they neglect their responsibilities to vote, they do not educate themselves about the issues or keep up to date with current events. If people do not participate in public affairs, democracy begins to lose meaning. Another problem, which is not the fault anyone, is the issue of all ballots for an election being counted. Many ballots go uncounted whether by human or mechanical error. Many of our founders also found problems with this new form of government. They feared that majority rule would undermine freedom and threaten the rights of individuals and minorities. While the Bill of Rights did help to aid problems such as these, new issues have begun to arise. These factors have come to pass with minority groups, as many are looked over and ignored during the voting process as the majority will always rule (majority tyranny). Another negative trait to keep in mind is that you have living, breathing people voting and so you will also always have “popular passions.” People will vote because of what they think feels right even if growth-wise is completely wrong. This way of thinking can also create a serious divide amongst the people. If half the country thinks one way and the other half thinks another and you have two utterly opposite idealistic beliefs possible implications are definite. Humans are also very impressionable and at times gullible. If a person is not educated and simply votes because of what someone said or did or maybe even because they think that candidate is “cool,” they are in fact making an uneducated vote. This, in the end, will hurt our government and eventually turn elections into a popularity contest instead of an election based on who is the better candidate. This has proven true in many instances; many people simply do not want to take the time to educate themselves about the issues in order to make an intelligent vote. By educating yourself you are in essence contributing to democracy, but even still problems remain. The biggest factor against democracy is its biggest strength, its people. People tend to be “irrational” and “incompetent,” along with completely apathetic. What is worse is trying to gauge what the public is thinking or what it wants. Public opinion is very volatile and changes with the wind, it is next to impossible to know exactly what the people want all of the time. Gauging public opinion is possible but not completely successful. People are not perfect, no one can change that, all that can be done is to calculate that and all the other flaws we have and try to move on. America reflects democracy (and vice-versa), but we are not always shinning examples. While many of our values and elements reinforce our democratic ideals, there are some that detract. These democratic elements and values of American political culture are reinforced through the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects our inalienable rights and insures that they are never impeded upon. Civil Rights also play a huge role in protecting minorities from being taken advantage of by the majority. Basically one must
try to keep a balance of power at all times never given anyone too much. One of the biggest reinforcement to democracy is majority rule; this one element is practiced more than any other. Ranging from every election, to every kindergartener wanting play the game of their choosing, majority rule is everywhere and always being practiced. Elections are free and fair; our government respects our rights and acts accordingly. America is based on popular sovereignty, even with limitations; government always makes decisions with what the people want in mind. America is a Free Market Economy and Capitalistic, therefore our government promotes people’s natural desire for success and growth. Through public accommodations, American citizens are guaranteed equality and accessibility. Constitutionalism limits government by law and empowers the people by promoting their individual rights. In the United States loyal opposition has been upheld (at least since the Civil War). There is a clear separation of powers enforced, dividing powers into separate branches so that neither one group nor person never holds too much power. We have limited government, which is good for stopping anyone from getting too powerful. Our greatest achievement though, in America, is our liberty and equality; we live in a free and equal country. The civil liberties we hold are by far one of the main reasons democracy is alive and well in the United States. By developing and protecting civil liberties we are in essence improving upon democracy, thus bettering our country. America truly is the land of opportunity even to this day, it remains one of the only countries you can truly go from rags to riches. Many things such as Social Security and Welfare aid to the reinforcement of democracy since they truly show the government taking a personal role in helping its citizens. “Super Fund Sites,” while requiring a lot of time and money give democracy a reaffirming boost showing that our government actually does care about the environment around us. Many reinforcements come in the form of Acts, those being the Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and Shield Laws. These Acts give protection and equality to the people and enforce our rights as Americans. International trade and interaction reinforce democracy as they promote international relations thus increasing trade and diplomacy. The Press also reinforces democracy by acting as a watchdog for the people and keeping them informed about the truth. This trust though can be manipulated in the press becomes bias and begins to gives listeners false information. The Electoral College, in my opinion, detracts from Democracy since it is this institute that stops us from directly deciding our president. The Electoral College is an outdated device that should be retired. The Electoral College is not the only institution that should be removed, Interest Groups are another. Interest Groups, while in theory are for a good cause, have been warped into corrupt groups bent on getting only what they want no matter what the cost. The introduction of lobbying by them shall forever poison our government with greed. PACs and the soft money they use are nothing more than a cheap trick to exploit a loop hole. PACs use soft money and other methods to give a desired political side an unfair advantage, in the hopes of fulfilling their own goals. It is when people are willing to go to any length to get what they want that our democracy is truly at stake. Labor Unions have also outgrown their usefulness; groups such as the Teamsters have become far too powerful and equally corrupt. With the Teamsters influence so prevalent, it is only natural that their corruption be carried over into our own government.
Even some government funded corporations should be expelled, one such being the F.C.C. The F.C.C. is a power hungry group that seems to do whatever they believe is right. I believe in order to make this more democratic every decision they make must be voted before hand by the people. The F.C.C. exceeds its boundaries when it tell us what we can and can not listen to and watch, it is my belief they are intruding on our rights, we should decide what we do and do not want to see/hear. A problem with the Constitution and government comes in when the government and the people can not clearly define a part of the Constitution as being constitutional or unconstitutional. Many of the articles are broad or use very easily manipulated wording. Opinion Polling is actually something that detracts since it gives insight to the people’s votes this in turn may lead to others voting that same way. It is true though the polling can also reinforce democracy since it is one of the better ways to collect Public Opinion, so really it is more or less a double edged sword. Another element that can go either way is the media. The media can convince people to vote a certain way due to the fact that they are everywhere and so many people listen to them. In order to stop this, the media must remain neutral; there cannot be any bias what-so-ever. Plus economic and social policies are no where near where they should be. All in all there are numerous reinforcing and detracting elements in our country (some even hypocritical) so much so it seems very unlikely we will correct them all. An honest effort to right our wrongs must be presented, to avoid corruption, and once again be dedicated to working for the people as our founding fathers intended. Speaking of the founders of America’s national government, they never once said this government was perfect. They did say however, it was as close to perfect as they could get. While many could say that is a copout, one must remember that these men at the time were the brightest, most prestigious individuals living in America. They were highly educated, very wealthy, and held a great deal of power and respect; it is very unlikely they just got tired and gave up! They knew what was at stake and how generations to come were depending on their decisions. The Founders express time and time again how the government can not be all powerful, that the people must play a major role. At the same time, the people could just as well hold too much power and so must be limited. They did not want another king, they did not want the people to make all the decisions, but they also didn’t just want a single group of elites to make decisions either. The founders wanted the average person to be protected, but also feel free and safe. They tried to find a middle ground, something as close to perfect as humanly possible. After much debate and discussion the Constitution was formed, but even still there were doubts. People like James Madison believed this document would undermine freedom and threaten individual rights, thus the Bill of Rights was created. The Bill of Rights was formed to defend people’s rights from its own government, something none of the founders had under British rule. Finally after months of hard work, several Amendments to the Constitution and the addition of the Bill of Rights later, the U.S. Constitution was ratified and became our form of government. The founders stated that the document was, not perfect but it was sound, conventional, and as close to perfect as they could get. They believed it was a good document, and a great start to an even greater country. In the end, they decided to leave this document in the hands of the future generations to come to perfect it.
The document itself, the U.S. Constitution (“the rule book to American politics”), both reflects ideal democracy and at the same time goes against it. The constitution was formed to create a republic (not a democracy), with some democratic elements (being fearful of majority tyranny). Democracy was supposed to be held “in check” but through the years, as our country evolved, the Constitution has transformed into a more democratic document than it ever was supposed to be. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, are by far the most democratic encouraging practices in the Constitution. It is these ten Amendments that come together to protect the average citizen from tyranny of any sort by giving them certain unalienable rights, those of which being impossible to impede upon. These rights include the separation of church and state, but the right of free exercise of any religion. The first Amendment also included freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and of the right to peaceful assembly and petition. The second Amendment states the right to bear arms. This Amendment is the most controversial in today’s day and age; since there is no longer a militia (the National Guard being the closest equivalent) the fact that an average citizen can buy a firearm is simply a manipulation of our Constitution, taking it completely out of text. The third Amendment prevents the mandatory quartering of any soldier during a time of war. This Amendment exercises the average citizen’s right to free choice and thus empowering him and democracy. The Fourth Amendment prevents unwarranted search and seizure. This amendment protects us from our government simply walking into our homes and tearing everything apart. The fifth disallows self-incrimination, “double-jeopardy,” and provides due process of the law. This law protects people many might think not worthy of it, indicating that the farmers honestly wanted the Constitution to be a fair document towards all. The sixth allows for a speedy trail and counsel. This amendment is a mockery to the United States and its people, there is no such thing as a speedy trail and the counsel you are given (Public Defenders) are the least paid (and usually the worst, and least experienced) lawyers available. This amendment, while democratic, has not been upheld as such and has fallen through the cracks of our government. The seventh gives the accused the right of trail by a jury of his/her peers. This amendment gives the normal citizen a major active role in the court system, a person put on trial is judged by other people that are no different than him or her. This setup (though most people find it annoying) truly shows citizen’s involvement in the government processes. Not only is it a jury of your peers, but to reach a verdict, the vote most be unanimous. The eighth prevents excessive bail and fines being required or imposed and the condemning of cruel and unusual punishment. This amendment protects not just human beings but criminals, people considered scum of the earth, but that are still in fact, human. In the United States we hold human rights in high regards, we do not believe in torture (usually…) of any sort and try to act as humane as possible. This amendment shows an effort of trying to keep all humans equal in the eyes of the government. Just because they made mistakes does not mean that they are any less human than you or me. The ninth stops amendments to the Constitution as being construed to deny others kept by the people. Think of this amendment as a type of insurance for the people. This promises that under no circumstance will their rights be denied. The tenth and final amendment in the Bill of Rights states that the powers not represented to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by the states, are set aside to the states, or to the people. This amendment takes
power from government and gives it to the states and/or the people, a classic textbook example of democracy. From even the preamble the first words are “We the people of the United States” not “We the government of the United States” or “We the United States.” The framers, who were the most powerful figures in the U.S. at the time, right from the beginning considered all people in the U.S. equal. This of course included themselves; the framers did not think themselves higher or better than anyone else, they were all (every person in America) simply “the people.” The framers and the farmers, all were the people, all were one! Amendment XI forces the judicial system to acknowledge citizens, so that none can be simply ignored and “stepped on.” The Fourteenth Amendment says that all states shall grant to all their citizens equal protection and due process. This amendment shows yet another Democratic example of our Constitution looking out for individual’s rights! The Seventeenth Amendment created a Senate that must be directly elected by the people. Even the Supreme Court has extended several rights in order to further protect and expand civil rights. One of the biggest flaws to the Constitution (in my opinion) is the Electoral College, though it might have been needed at one point, it has outgrown its usefulness. The people should be able to directly elect their president; while it may be true many voters are not educated. It is my belief that all humans have an honest desire to make a right decision. I feel having the people vote just to have an elected representative make the decision in the end is a joke and an insult to American people. The VicePresident is basically powerless (unless the President dies), and has no real authority besides a replacement to the president. The Legislative Branch is very complex and has many kinks (such as getting things done fast) but as stated about our government it is not perfect, but until a better way is found it is all we have. The Impeachment process is long and filled with loop holes. Quite simply, the Constitution is not perfect nor has anybody said it was; it has some holes here and there. You can find fault in anything, the Constitution is no exception, it has problems, but at the same time has been a constant guide for our country since 1791. It is my belief that yes; this document is the closest, most realistic definition of democracy available in the present world. Since the document was made to establish a republic and all republics are representative democracies. Though it is true, like pure Communism, true democracy is a complete impossibility due to humans’ natural flaws. I believe this document though, comes closest to achieving true democracy with all our errors in mind, without sacrificing rationality. It was created by some of the greatest minds that while under British rule, saw just about every wrong committed against human rights and liberties. Thus when it came time, they knew exactly what measures needed to be taken in order to protect the people from the government. As everyone knows, a democratic system of government depends heavily on the involvement of the entirety of the population. Without it, democracy soon begins to lose meaning and starts to unravel. In America, sadly, many people take this liberty for granted and most the time choose to be apathetic about participating in politics and providing input to policy makers. This act in turn hurts our government, if the people do not tell government what they want how is government supposed to know. In fact in the
last forty years, voter turnout has dropped steadily. In the 2004 Presidential election, a little more than half the population (55.3%) voted, this number is an insult to our founding fathers that fought for our rights and put so much effort into making this country as close to perfect as possible. What is even more discouraging is the average turnout for non-presidential elections being only a mere 35% while local elections pulling in a depressing 18% (25% high, 15% low). Quite simply Americans do not measure up in terms of political participation. Most people do not want to be bothered with such issues, many do not want to make the time, and others do not even care. Many people feel as though it does not affect them, others think their vote does not count. The problem with this way of thinking is if everyone thought this way no one would vote and eventually the minorities would become the majority. The truth of the matter is EVERY vote counts, no matter who you are or what you are doing, make it a key part of your day to show up to vote! It is our job to bring political participation up, because the way things are going now in a couple decades there may not be any politics left to participate in. If the people stop voting, the government will be forced to take other measures to elect officials, thus putting us out of the loop (this is, of course, all hypothetical). According to statistics people between the ages of 45-65 vote the most (parents and retirees), while people between the ages of 18-24 vote the least (college students). This statistic makes perfect sense mainly because people between the ages of 45-65 have a better grasp on their affect, while people 18-24 do not. The 18-24 year olds either believe they do not have the time or simply that their vote does not matter (wisdom with age). It is sad, but one of the first things a politician will learn when running for office, is to NEVER count on a student’s vote! Students tend to be very unreliable, and though they may feel strongly about an issue, for some reason are not likely to show up at the polls. Public opinion, it changes frequently and can rarely be predicted, yet it does matter. In fact it matters a great deal, without it politicians would constantly be second guessing themselves wondering what the public wants. Public opinion usually is the key role in every type of election. By supposedly stating what the majority’s thoughts are, they give candidates and other voters an idea of what’s going on in everyone’s minds. The problem is polls and other such means of collecting public opinion tend to be tainted, the majority of the time unintentionally. Polls and surveys have told us who is going to win an election before they even win. The problem is they are not always right, of more concern is the bias and other related problems involved when measuring public opinion. In reality public opinion can go either way. It can be a really good predictor, giving people a basic guide to what their peers are thinking, or it could just as well be counter productive. Forcing a false opinion and manipulate the public into thinking a desired way. Public opinion is powerful, so powerful that not only does it affect how politicians act, it shapes it. Even though a survey taken in 2000 showed that 77% of presidential appointees, 80% of senior civil servants, and 47% of members in Congress thought the public as “Not knowing enough about the issues to form a wise opinion about what should be done.” Most politicians still religiously follow public opinion, not wanting to make a gamble on whether or not they will be elected. Mainly because public opinion is essentially possible votes and is the only real guide politicians have to go on when trying
to see what the public wants. I believe that the strength of public opinion has grown so great that there is no longer a limit to what a politician will do for those votes. Since Vietnam and Watergate the mass media, have turned from a watchdog into a pit-bull. It is my belief though that the mass media can both encourage and inhibit democracy, reason being that some of the media tells people how to think (Nixon vs. Kennedy). While, alternatively the media informs people so that they can make an educated decision. It all comes down to the fact that for the media to encourage democracy it must be non-bias. The media must be present to force people to ask question and learn about what is going on around them. It is there to act as a teacher and an informant, keeping people up to date with every new piece of non-partisan information. This is the only way that the media can truly become a beneficial factor to democracy. With the introduction of computers into everyday life (in some cases running everyday life) it is a no surprise that they would take a major role in promoting (or contaminating) democracy. Computer use in my opinion has greatly contributed to democracy, because of the internet people can go online and research candidates to find out more information on them. The computer is convenient for people to use and can be accessed at anytime. A person can see all sides of a story and thus eliminating bias (if you are willing too that is) and enabling them to make an educated decision. The only way computers could negatively affect democracy is through people’s own errors such as laziness or immorality. For example a person being too lazy to fully research a political party or candidate or worse someone hacking into government voting sites and changing the votes. I believe technology is the way of the future and that in the end if we take advantage of it, it will greatly contribute to democracy growth and expansion. The major political parties present today are the Democrats and the Republicans. Since the United States is bilateral these two parties fit perfectly into the broad scheme of things. For with just one political party nothing much would change, with too many the same will also occur due to never ending quarrels and disputes. The problem arises when other smaller political groups put candidates on the ballot, when this happens votes are essentially put to waste. Instead of just voting between two parties, you are now looking at scattered votes some going into the major two parties and other falling into dozens of minor parties. While it is true that we are a free country and people do have the right to elect whoever they want, they should also keep if mind that by not voting for either major party their vote literally will not be counted, thus resulting in decreasing votes and hurting democracy. Another problem in recent elections is the amount of mudslinging and less than proper methods to assure victory. Not to mention huge amounts of money that could be better used for schools, the environment or the poor. This is sadly, not the only group that wastes money for irrational reasons (irrational because if both candidates agreed to have a fair and equal election and to let the better man win for the sake of the American people, the amount of money spent would cut in half). Interest groups also collect mass amounts of money only to be used to coerce politicians to do what they want to be done! If our founding father had ever seen the interest groups that are around today they would be utterly disgusted (but as Madison said “Government is to faction like air is
to fire”). Interest groups are a group of people dedicated to accomplishing their own goals no matter what the means. Even though it is illegal for interest groups to give money directly to candidates, they find ways around it through manipulation of loopholes in the system. With interest groups introduction of lobbying, they would forever deal democracy a major blow. Lobbying is basically the legal form of bribery, thus it leads only to the escalated levels of corruption. They have too much influence in shaping public policies and act almost as Elites, putting their needs above everyone else’s. While one should fight for certain interests and goals, it should be done as a whole not a separate select group! Social movements on the other hand are not as bad as interest groups usually because in order for a social movement to take place minorities rights must seriously be in jeopardy. Social movements are usually informal groupings of individuals or organizations that try to resist, undo, or to bring about political or social change. Unlike interest groups, social movements are very difficult to organize (not to mention, difficult to even achieve their goals) and usually are created by minorities. Usually circumstances must be truly bad in order to have an effective movement start and make a difference. Social movements are usually more justifiable, being less about money and more about a cause (for example the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King Jr.). Social movements are very democratic since they encourage people (particularly political outsiders and the “politically powerless”) to speak out for their rights and force government to act (sometimes…). These movements allow the “unknowns” to be heard; they let individuals gain a hearing for their problems. Once they have an audience they can work to win over the majority of their fellow citizens and then hopefully encourage elected leaders to take action. Social movements give us the ability to change decisions and tell our government what seriously needs to be done. They allow us to join together, and help aid in our never ending struggle to ensure total equality and the defense of our individual rights. The United States has many different “parts” in our system of government; some of them are extremely democratic, while others are simply not. The presidency, though the framers did not want it to be (thus Electoral College), has become one of the most democratic institutions in America to date. The people greatly influence the President’s decisions, since it is the people who chose him. The presidency (Executive) is the only office that is voted directly by the whole of American citizens. Speaking of which, the House of Representatives and Senate are also both democratic institutions. Both are elected by the American people, though not by the whole of the American people. This is because both Senate and the House represent only states and congressional districts not the entire nation as a whole. None the less, they are all elected by the people! Congress (Legislature) is another part of government elected by the people and in my opinion best represents them. The federal bureaucracy on the other hand is completely undemocratic. Bureaucracies are full of unelected members who play an important role in government making key decisions that affect the lives of the American people. The federal bureaucracies are becoming out of control, intruding further and further on average American lives. It is understandable to help better and protect this great country but it should be done by elected officials chosen by the American people! The Supreme Court (Judiciary) and the military are both undemocratic yet both are the two most respected
institutions in American government. The reason for this is hard to understand since the members are not elected by the people and most of what they do is shrouded in mystery. Everyday political leaders make decisions, sometimes they reflect democracy and other times they do not. These instances political leadership do reflect the principles of democracy when ever they keep the American people in mind. They make democratic decisions when they make them based on public opinion and outcry. Leader’s decisions should be based on civil liberties and rights. Democracy is based on what the people want; it is the people who make the decisions government just carry them out. While this is true to some aspect it is not one-hundred percent true, many times government will go against or do something that greatly troubles (even takes advantage of) the public. Whether it is the majority or the minority, any one can be taken advantage of by their government. If the people are not educated and do not play an active role in politics, government can not properly represent them. They are human and, just like every other human; they can be greedy and corrupted. As a Country, and one of the founders of democracy, we set the standard for other nations. When decisions are made to promote and protect human rights, they are reflecting democracy. When decisions are made without the people or against their wishes, the government is choosing to be undemocratic. When it comes to foreign policy and national security policymaking, Americans tend to care more about what is happening in the United States and not issues in distant places. American citizens both care less and know less about foreign affairs than about domestic ones. When providing foreign aid to poorer countries, it is true that it is faster to simply do it without the consent of the people. The problem is the people should know and if need be held someone accountable for it. The types of policies that are expected to be produced from a democratic system are ones that are fair and equal. Policies should respect and promote human rights, but at the same time enhance our country’s level of growth. They should reflect exactly what the people want. Economic policies should be made to increase GDP, keep our balance of payments positive, and avoid negative externalities. Macroeconomic policies should be used wisely and only to seriously increase the performance of the economy. Of course, this also goes relative with fiscal policy (which should be kept down) and monetary policy (which should be kept up). Policies should promote majority rule and helps the average American, always keeping them informed and up to date. The question remains do the policies reflect these standards? The answer is … sometimes. With economic policies, there is no perfect policy and all have consequences for the American people. Though policies are very difficult to make perfect, this makes pleasing everyone even more strenuous. Many people are never satisfied, it is our nature, and always want more. Not being satisfied, the people simply complain about government even more! Elected officials seriously try constantly to lower taxes, and in this effort you see the democracy behind policy making. Government makes an honest effort to keep the people in mind when making new policies, thus meeting democracy’s criteria. Many times what people want is contradicting to itself for example wanting a free-market but also consumer safety and protection of the environment. You can not please everyone! The public’s expression of discontent comes from the fact that when it
comes to policy making (many will say having a lot to do with federalism, making it hard to blame a single person) the government does not come anywhere near what the people want! Many elected leaders listen to the public, while other look where the money is and listen to the special interest groups. When this happens, policies begin to tilt to the side of the interest groups and away from the American people. When it comes to foreign policy and national security, most Americans have little to no knowledge, and so the government does things without the people’s consent. This in no way reflects how democratic foreign policy and national security should be. In conclusion, I believe as a whole we are much more democratic than the framers ever wanted us to be. In the beginning the farmers created a republic, instead of a democracy, because they feared the possibility of majority tyranny. Thus, they wrote into the Constitutions a system of checks and balances to include the separation of power through the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. This was to prevent any single branch from holding too much power. Yet democracy is a very hard thing to keep “in check.” Over time democracy transformed the original Constitution, through decisions made by all branches and simply tide of events (“formal amendment, judicial interpretations, and changing political practices”), government began to depend more on the feelings and opinions of the people. Congress, Senate, the Supreme Court, and the President has been, in past couple years, more attentive to public opinion. Cutting taxes, helping to improve the environment, promoting civil liberties and rights, protecting human rights and recently try and end the Iraqi War and get our troops home as soon as possible. In present day it is safe to say that the people get what they want! A great example of this is the expulsion of the draft. Though there have been talks about reinstating the draft, Congress and other key players have been trying to avoid it by all means possible. For if the draft were to be reinstated it would create an enormous public outcry, and destroy the chances of any of the people involved with it from getting reelected. Government heeds the voice of the people; even the Supreme Court has increased civil rights empowering many minorities. When speaking about democracy, one must remember that popular sovereignty, political equality and political liberty are impossible to obtain in perfect form. They instead are to be ideals which our country may aspire to and set a standard for. We are a government founded by every day citizens, true they were highly educated, but they were all equals. None of them were royal, divine, or chosen by God. They were all just people (as stated in the Preamble) trying to find a way to make a better government, a place where they could be truly free. The reforms that could be taken to make us more democratic begin and end with the American people; we must take a more active role in today’s politics. As long as people remain apathetic and uneducated about politics, nothing will change. The saying “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” comes to mind, well our government may not be broken but it is breaking. Our government is more corrupt than ever, not only that but our priorities have become twisted and lost! It is the responsibility of the people to watch our government and react to their actions. There are some things, that once our level of involvement raises, needs to be done. One thing that needs changing is the Constitution (a small amount), such as getting rid of the Electoral College, and having just a popular vote. Second would be to increase people’s education of politics by getting them
interested at a younger age, thus raising people’s involvement in government. People must not take their freedom and liberties for granted. These are gifts given to us, they were not meant to be simply tossed away! People need to vote, they need to ask questions and stay up to date with current events. Another contributing fact to making us more of a democracy is the engagement of citizens to help our government decide on all major policies (such as a “War on Terror”). On issues involving the media, it needs to stay neutral and avoid bias. The spin needs to stop! A better way to measure public opinion must be found, one that takes for account the bias involved. We, as Americans, also need to be more involved with foreign policy and national security, but first we need to know more about it. We must eliminate special interest groups, labor unions and PACs. We must limit campaign spending and the amount of minor parties. As Americans, we need to focus more on human rights and new ways to promote and protect them. Corruption needs to stay out of government, for if it does not we may follow the way of Rome. This can be accomplished by stopping lobbyists and keeping an eye on all those in office, with the help of the media. We must improve on our policymaking and become more involved in the process. We must focus first on our own country, than on others (“How can you help other when you, yourself are not perfect?”). We need to tell government what we want; we need to go to them, we need to seek them out, not the other way around! Only then can we begin to make the more complicated decisions to actually start to become a perfect democracy. On the issue of whether or not the system should be more democratic or not, I believe it could not hurt and that several aspects need to be. The people are what run this country and, therefore, deserve to have the biggest say in what happens. Issues such as the War in Iraq should be presented to the American people before they are even considered. While actually declaring war should be left up to the legislative and executive branches, something like the Iraq war (not a real war) deserves the confirmation of the American people (since we are the ones who will be fighting in it). Of these, foreign policy and national security are the most important. The reason being because we should know what is going around us. There is more to this world then simply the United States. By focusing closer on foreign policy and national security we can stop a “war” like the one in Iraq from ever starting. We can help the poor and diseased of all countries instead of spending money on election campaigns. It can never hurt to be more democratic, we can prove we are competent and rational. By educating ourselves and learning about the issues we can then move to help educate others. With a more democratic system, I believe we could stop things like Watergate and the Iraqi War from ever happening. It is not us versus them; it is all of us and them, and with all of us working together as one, we can over come any obstacle and become a great nation!
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