Does democracy work?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by R.Youden, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. R.Youden macrumors 68020

    R.Youden

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    #1
    Now this is a thread that I have been mulling over for a long time now. Please don't take it that I am opposed to freedom of speach etc... Currently I am very disturbed by the polotics not only in my country (UK) but also all over the world.

    Anyway, here is my point.

    What is democracy? As far as I am concerned it is no more than a popularity contest. All this nonsence about wanting the best for the country is pure rubbish, all a political power wants is to get into office. I am currently a student so maybe I have more reason to voice my concern but it is simple: If you have 750,000 people un-employed and 500,000 students you are going to take money away from students and give it to the un-employed to get more votes, even if it is not for the good of the country.

    And also why should I be associated with a country that illegally invades another? What gives the UK and US the right to tell the people of Iraq how to live? Why would Tony Blair and George W. Bush want to spend more money on anyther country than ensure the structure of the health and education services in their own?

    Freedom of speach is a great thing and for one minute I would not want to live in an oppressed society but my fear is this:

    When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

    I am sure a lot of people wont agree with what I am saying but I am really getting concerned about the way global politics is heading. I am going to hide in the corner to keep out of the way of the barrage of insults I will get now.
     
  2. wonga1127 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Well the system you described is a democratic republic, which is, in my opinion, a very bad form of government. Pure democracy would only work in small towns, villages, etc. Even then, in order for democracy to work, someone has to lose, and that's when people get unhappy.

    "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
    -Winston Churchill
     
  3. x86isslow macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    In Plato's The Republic, he talks about the ideal society in which each member would have a chance to try his hand at holding power. I firmly believe that the only way to have a democratic society is one in which the people constituent are willing to exercise their full rights- not complaining about jury duty, and running for office no matter what age or race or gender they are. Only in such a society will we never run into a situation where Guantanamo Bay takes away the right to a trial by a jury of peers, or a situation where contested elections are decided by the Supreme Court, and most races are uncontested.

    Democracy can work. In the US, it doesn't.
     
  4. calculus Guest

    calculus

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  5. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

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    #5
    You live in (as most of us do) a representative democracy, where we hand power to a small group of people, voting them in to power every few years on the basis of a package (e.g I oppose the foreign policy of the party, but approve the economic policy and like parts of social policy, but not others, but on balance I prefer them to the next party). Then we have no influence on what they do until the next election. By it's nature you get lowest common denominator politics where the parties try to satisfy everyone, or at least as many people as you need to get elected. In Ireland they're falling over each other at the moment to tell you how much they're going to cut taxes if they get into government, rather than focusing on the pitiful state of our health services, and huge classroom sizes. Stick in a corporate owned media constantly pushing a capitalist message and gradually shifting society to the right and you have a natural rightward drift in political parties. This can be seen in the US, Ireland and the UK in particular, but also in many European countries.

    Does changing government change anything? Did the last few elections really change anything in the UK? The labour government has stripped away so many freedoms that have been sacrosanct for centuries, such as the right to silence. In Ireland, this week we had a journalist arrested allegedly at the behest of the Department of Justice for daring to speak the truth, and our Freedom of Information Act has been gutted by the party in power due to embarassing revelations. In the US the Patriot Act virtually creates 1984-style thought-crime. At the moment, if you support freedom of speech, democracy seems to be your worst enemy.

    "If voting ever changed anything, they'd abolish it" - In the current system your vote is merely a sop, creating the illusion that you hold power, while your opinions are gently manipulated behind the scenes through the media and information management.
     
  6. thugpoet22 macrumors regular

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    #6
    Being a college student and a teacher i truly understand where your coming from. A democracy is an attempt to put power in the hands of the people. Now of course our more modern democracy's are very selective in which people actually have that power. But from my studies i have concluded that the best way for modern powerful nations to have control is to ensure stability. Now due to our modern modes of transportation and communication, the world has become a much smaller place. And while the common person sees the middle east as a far away place, the powers to be on the other hand understand how troubles abroad can cause troubles at home. I don't say this in full support for what Bush is doing in Iraq but i understand why there is such a focus on foreign policy.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say that Democracy is the worst government, but i would say that Democracy requires much more attention from more of its citizens. From the doctor who works in the hospital to the retail worker in Macy's, all citizens must have a place and understand or at least feel important in this type of government. The USA is a Democracy and a Republic, it a government of the people with elected officials who's duty is to serve the people. Now in order for this type of government to thrive the people must understand their whole and understand the weight of their decisions. A Democracy is just a few steps from a oligarchy or autocracy all it needs is a lapse in attention from its citizens.

    If we;re mad at what our elected officials are doing shouldn't we as citizens hold a small piece of fault for what is occurring? How many people have voted for these leaders who are make such poor decision. How many people have voted for these members of the House of commons or the US Congress. Democracy is simply a word until action is applied to it. Don't blame the word or what that word naturally stands for, blame the people who fail to adhere to its definition. The blame goes to both the elected and the common citizen.
     
  7. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #7
    I'm not sure that democracy really works either. One thing that does really need to be done to help it work better is to change the voting system here in the US so that someone cannot get most of the votes and still lose.
     
  8. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #8
    Isn't there a saying that democracy is the worst form of government...except for all the others?

    Unlike most other types of rule that have existed throughout history, a democracy is what you make it. We elect guys like Bush and Cheney and Clinton, we get what we deserve, whether that is quasi-fascism in B&C's case, or squishy centerism in Bill Clinton's.

    The problem democracy faces is its own self-contradiction: you've thrown representative power into the hands of the people, but are they always smart enough to use it properly? As we've seen a lot (especially in the last quarter century), often they are not.

    The other part of the self-contradiction is that the prospect of powerful office appeals mostly to people of ambition. (This is true of executive and managerial positions in business as well.) And people of ambition very often forget (or don't care to begin with) that they are there to serve the people, not themselves. We'd like to believe in that humble "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" stuff, but in fact it rarely happens.

    The best defense against the ruthlessly ambitious, of course, is a well-informed populace. But several things work against this. One is that people in power who have weak morals think nothing of spreading disinformation and propaganda in order to bolster themselves and to ruin others. Another is that a fair number of people are too lazy or unwilling to find the truth for themselves.

    So yes, democracy is a clumsy, flawed way to govern a group of people. But nobody has been able to come up with a better, more socially acceptable one.
     
  9. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #9
    Democracy can work and it use to until the Govt was taken over by Big Business and the corporations. What we have in the U.S. is a Republic and the elected leaders now represent the corporations. The fact the people elect these politicians gives us an illusion of a democracy. Look at Bush & the Congress, they still refuse to admit the U.S. is a sovereign nation just by their inaction on our border so in essence the Corporations are borderless and so are we. The Corporations Own Govt and im sure the same is true in the U.K. Thats why they are so pissed at Venzeula, imagine a govt that doesnt answer to the Oil corporations?
     
  10. zap2 macrumors 604

    zap2

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    #10

    Churchill said it....it was talked about in the thread before your post



    Person I don't think we'll ever get a perfect government. There are things that could be fixed in the USA..the popular vote should make the president.(Al Gore would have bet Bush, and I don't think we'd be in Iraq)

    What it comes down to is people, if we'd stop fight, and only caring about ourself then these "big" governments would be there. If there weren't power hungry people, we'd never have a crazy man in charge of the USA(and Blair to go along with him makes him crazy)


    The reason society fight is because people care about themself's most, and everyone a distant secound.
     
  11. BoyBach macrumors 68040

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  12. thugpoet22 macrumors regular

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    #12
    True socialism is considered a Utopia. Now do get that socialism confused with what we see today in China, North Korea or Cuba.
     
  13. pianoman macrumors 68000

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    #13
    i think the type of democracy (democratic republic) here in the U.S. is great. what other system would you like to see? a dictatorship? communism? those lead to even greater problems.

    it's difficult to be the leader of a group of people, let alone a country, and let alone even more the most powerful country in the world. it's easy to look at the current situation in Iraq - and elsewhere - and say how bad it is, but nobody's really offered a viable solution. withdrawing troops would lead to political, economic, and social disaster for Iraq, which is what we're trying to avoid. regardless of the circumstances that led us to invade that country, we are there and it makes no sense to leave it in worse shape when we know we can do better.

    as for democracy, it is difficult to take into account 300 million peoples' views. that's why the U.S. has a congress. that's why the UK has a parliament. we rely on these elected officials to make decisions in our collective best interest.

    democracy may not work the way you want, but it's a heck of a lot better than the alternatives.
     
  14. Apemanblues macrumors regular

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  15. j26 macrumors 65832

    j26

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    #15
    Think outside the box. Is a large centralised state necessary?
     
  16. pianoman macrumors 68000

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    #16
    I don't believe a large centralized state is necessary. But I do believe that a centralized state cannot be eliminated, especially in a country with so many people (I'm talking specifically abou the U.S. but this could apply to others). The United States tried a weak central government and strong state power (the Articles of Confederation) and failed. The system we have now is stable and provides effective government for many. Is it perfect? Far from it. But, like I said before, it's much better than the alternatives.
     
  17. Peterkro macrumors 68020

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    #17
    Or any sort of state for that matter.:)
     
  18. Queso macrumors G4

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    #18
    The problem with our modern democratic republics is political parties. Without the parties, each representative we send to Government would be fully accountable to their constituents. At election time we would also get more candidates to choose from, and each candidate would be required to explain their personal stance on issues rather than a party line, so we could better choose the person we think is going to more closely represent our own views.

    At present, at least in the UK, the parties choose their candidates. They are often people not even from the local area, people with no connection to their constituents. So the candidate's first loyalty is always to the party rather than the locals who vote them into office. Is there really a choice when three or four candidates are imposed on you by a very small electorate before you even get the chance to choose yourself?

    This does of course bring up other issues, such as how effective Government can be achieved and how ministers are appointed, but it would be a start.
     
  19. pianoman macrumors 68000

    pianoman

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    #19
    Without parties, there would be no sense of identification. It would be much more difficult to elect someone who represents your true values if you didn't know what they believed in. Even if you abolish official party names, you're still going to have people identifying with certain beliefs that are more in-line with the nameless parties. You can strip a person of their political party affiliation (i.e., don't call them a Democrat or a Republican) but they would still hold the same beliefs.
     

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