Democracy... how many flavours it really has...

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mischief, Sep 2, 2006.

  1. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #1
    I've recently taken to diving into Wikipedia. I was just reading through the section on political systems and got into the section on Totalitarian Democracy. Fascinating and all too familliar.

    I began by looking into Libertarianism, as the few Libertarians I've met have been rather repugnant individuals I wanted to understand more about why one would couch their narcisism in politics. I digress.

    The many flavours and facets of the democratic meme are a fascinating read and it left me wondering what system of hybridized democracy will eventually win out. It's very clear that as better infrastructure widens cultural identities and brings economies together the role of governance will change dramatically in the developed world in my lifetime.

    This begs the question: How does one design a Democratic system for two to twelve billion citizens?

    Arguably, the system of overlapping republican models used in the USA serve more as an illibral democracy ruled ultimately by an aristocratic class of the wealthy and well known.

    Shall we then strike out for something bolder and more driven by the technology we all rely on for so many other essentials like banking and navigation? Or will we continue to trot out models that were new some two hundred plus years go?
     
  2. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #2
    Seems to me that any system which exerts power over such huge numbers of people is bound to be hijacked sooner rather than later by a clique or individual with ulterior motives. Small is beautiful.
     
  3. mischief thread starter macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #3
    So you'd prefer a system like that proposed by communist anarchists? community sized subunits, ruled by pure democracy and associated by federation?
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #4
    i learned a new term today. thanks for that.

    i guess i'm not understanding you, 'cuz i don't see what's wrong with our 200 year old notion of democracy. aside from the slavery, child labor, disenfranchisement, that is. but i'm not getting your technology slant.
     
  5. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #5
    This whole idea applies to me, being a Democratic Socialist. I think that Democracy, a government which is supposed to be 'by the people, for the people', would work best with an economic system that follows the same general rule, Socialism.

    Democracy and Capitalism are two oppposing ideas, and like "mischief" had said in his first post, leads to a system run by the aristocratic and ultra-wealthy. When certain people or certain groups of people weild enormous power in the economic system, it's bound to run off into the whole political system as well, which has already happened in this country.
     
  6. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #6
    The thing is, we don't live in a real democracy, and we never have. Democracy means everyone gets a vote. Who got to vote in 1785 - white, male property owners. We had to ratify a constitutional amendment to verify that women could vote, and that was in the 20th century. We had to have a huge piece of legislation to make sure black people could vote, and that was only 50 years ago or so. If you're a felon, you're stripped of your voting rights. Additionally, a large segment of those who could vote just don't.

    Even today, we still don't vote directly at the federal level. When you cast a vote for President, you're really voting for an elector to vote for President, and in some cases, the elector is under no obligation to listen to what you want (it's happened before).
     
  7. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #7
    my understanding is that no elector is under any obligation to vote any particular way. There are state laws which specify how an elector must vote, but those are IMHO unconstitutional, since an elector is a federal officer, and no state official can instruct a federal officer how to vote. The governor of a particular state, for example, cannot tell a Senator from that state how to vote on a particular bill.

    can anyone clarify?
     
  8. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #8
    Sounds familiar to me. :rolleyes: In fact, except for the "elected representatives", it seems a lot like a "benevolent" dictatorship or monarchy.

    I don't know that there are too many other really good choices beyond our own. We are a representative democracy, but the question obviously is, representative of whom? Right now the "whom" is unethical corporations, religious fanatics and other miscreants. Even if you could financially and legally "de-couple" their lobbyists from the elected officials, I'm still not sure the aforementioned miscreants couldn't try to manipulate elections (as they already seem to be) to get the results they want. We'd probably see even more business executives running for office than we already do...and they'd have the money and media connections to all but assure their victories and, once in office, manipulate policy to their liking.

    It is becoming technically feasible to convert this country into a participatory democracy, in which every citizen has the chance to vote on every issue. But aside from the really big challenge -- having to convert the Constitution from a representative model -- the system would still be corruptible. Again, who controls the media controls people's minds to a large degree, and if corporations or the so-called religious right want you to vote for something, they will be willing to lie in order to get you to do so.

    Not to mention, with so much for every individual to vote on, you'd probably have an even lower participation factor in voting than you do now. You'd have to have a method for delivering simple, factual and complete information on each issue. And you'd have to be extremely watchful for manipulation of the voting method (presumably internet and/or phone).

    Is there a perfect system? I don't think so. I believe even the best can be perverted (and that we are seeing it happen before our eyes). In the end, it's always up to the electorate to make sure that the system does not become corrupted and, unfortunately, popular uprisings seem to be more common in true totalitarian states than in democracies like ours.
     
  9. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #9
    It seems I was only partially correct:
     
  10. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #10
    What we have is a republic, I dont understand the constant spin from the president about democracy. The U.S. isnt really a democracy by any stretch now is it. What he should be saying and pushing are Republics. How else does your sorry ass get elected president without the majority vote ?
     
  11. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #11
    ah...interesting. It is constitutional. Apologies for my faulty understanding.

    EDIT
    I scanned around just for kicks, and found this link. So I wonder what the outcome would be if an elector failed to vote as pledged. Seems it would technically be a violation of state law, but it would not (not yet anyway) be unconstitutional. Odd...

    Are electors required to vote for the candidate who win his or her state's popular vote?
    There is no constitutional provision or federal law that requires electors to vote according to the results of the popular vote in their states. Some states (currently 24 plus the District of Columbia) require electors to cast their votes according to the popular vote. These pledges fall into two categories -- electors bound by state law and those bound by pledges to political parties.

    The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not require that electors be completely free to act as they choose and therefore, political parties may extract pledges from electors to vote for the parties' nominees. Some state laws provide that so-called "faithless electors" may be subject to fines or may be disqualified for casting an invalid vote and be replaced by a substitute elector. The Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the question of whether pledges and penalties for failure to vote as pledged may be enforced under the Constitution. No elector has ever been prosecuted for failing to vote as pledged.
     
  12. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #12
    As with so many things these days, it sounds better:

    1) Vote for the guys who will vote for me. (you stinkin' peasant)
    2) Vote for me -- I'm just like you, remember? We both put our pants on one leg at a time.

    Which would you rather hear?

    As a people, we've done a fabulous job of separating ourselves from our own government. We don't even limit it to ourselves, either. I heard a piece in the car on NPR Friday afternoon, something about Iran. It was a two hour drive, so I heard the same bit more than once as I went out of range from one station and into another. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of "we don't have a problem with the people of Iran, we have a problem with the government of Iran. It got me thinking.
     
  13. mischief thread starter macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #13
    I think I'd rather...

    I was thinking in terms of a hypothetical government for the future. We're obviously looking a global society in the face so what's the most sensible format?

    It looked to me, based on the models presented on Wiki that there's real potential to be had in combining Sortition selection in some areas (like Congress for example) with a popular vote in others. Using a hybrid of parliamentary and republic models.

    The goal being to get separation of powers, sortition in the right places to get the citizenry represented and elected officials in the right places for good economic growth and moralle. I also feel that there's something to be said for having the experts select their own high officials. For example: it makes more sense to me to have Judges elect candidates for the hight courts than to have them selected by a partisan fop. I feel the same about the FCC and the FDA.


    Thoughts?
     
  14. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #14
    this can lead to undesirable results. Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" has several good examples about what can happen when someone from the beef industry (for example) takes control of an agency that inspects beef. It'll make you want to start eating fish, believe me...

    In theory it makes a lot of sense to have someone familiar with the issues that affect an industry to oversee federal regulation, the idea being that they would have a better feel for workable solutions. But the reality is that those guys end up lining the pockets of their friends either through de-regulation or favorable legislation, and after the administration leaves office they wind up on the board of some corporation that they helped get rich.
     
  15. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #15
    If it is in the future, it's in the far, far distant future. Just look at the US - roughly 300 million people who can't seem to agree on anything, and that's just 5% or so of the planet's population. Can you really imagine getting 20 times that figure all in one boat? I can't. I also can't fathom a significant portion of humanity willing to forgo all thoughts of nationalism and putting the power to affect us all in some faraway, distant government. So far, the closest thing we have is the UN, and their effectiveness (or lack thereof) speaks for itself.

    Judges aren't partisan? You're kidding, right? While we're at it, let's have the doctors that work for drug companies start choosing who runs the FDA. They're the experts. We can also have media moguls decide who oversees them at the FCC. They're the experts, too.
     
  16. mischief thread starter macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #16
    On the first point: believe it or not I'm only looking ahead fifty to a hundred years.

    On the second: At this point in history it all appears partisan, though I'm sure that Judiciary choices would look better if the judges were electing the seats of their higher fellows.

    Second point, first sub point: The doctors who work for the drug companies are experts but it would be the entire field of practicing MD's voting, as the FDA has more than just drugs as it's mandate.

    For food-relevant elections it'd be food industry people and MD's doing the voting (mostly restaurant workers IMHO, as there are likely more of them than anything else...)

    The point was to open a dialog, not a diatribe.
     
  17. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #17
    well, it makes sense in theory, but the danger is you might (the cynic in me says it's a virtual certainty that you would) have people voting for someone who represents the best interests of the industry, as opposed to someone who represents the best interests of the public. In terms of federal oversight, that's not exactly a good thing.
     

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