The Return of Populism...sort of (the new threat to our Democratic system)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by blackfox, Jul 15, 2004.

  1. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #1
    Editorial from Wash. Post
    So I found this quite interesting, especially in the context of the debate (at least within this forum) on the Bush Administration and their attempts at governance by fiat, that there would be this development taking a different tact.

    It would seem, at least as I took the article, that Arnold has used his popularity as a celebrity and at least initially former Gov. Davis's unpopularity to borrow money (15B) to address the state's budget shortfall, by the use of a voter ballot initiatives. It then seems that some of this money is being used to fund current and future programs/policies (which was not advertised) with the underlying debt increasing till when the bills come in 2006.

    Still, for the moment, he is wildly popular, and is using this popularity to lean on the State Legislature to do his bidding, or he will take it to the people through iniatives, propositions and ballot measures, which he has the popularity to move voters and fundraisers alike.

    This seems to violate the Constitutional stipulation that all states employ a Republican form of government. It would seems that in California, elected officials are in threat of becoming superflous...

    So what say you? Is this pseudo-populism good, bad, illegal? Is the California legislature and beauracracy getting what they deserve? Are the voters? Is this all overblown and a merely transitory phenomenon?

    I think it is a very unique situation deserving of some discussion...
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #2
    as an intellectual elite (i'm poking fun of myself here), i deride the idea of populism, because the people just aren't well enough informed. i like to think that's why we have representatives.

    so if schwarzenegger is using populism as a threat, it's probably an effective one. not only does it render representation irrelevant ("they should be part time"), it plays directly to that throw-the-bums-out bias.

    it's an interesting ploy. i suspect it will eventually catch up him, once people realize that he can be a bum, too. i do wonder how much of his popularity is propped up by the artificial high of spending borrowed money.

    yeah, i feel rich when i max out my credit card, too.
     
  3. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #3
    Just wait....


    Heh... Imagine the fun if somebody decided to convert a number of those "idle seats" in Sacramento into BSD servers. "It's more fiscally responsible to remove the legislature from the budgetary process altogether"

    The rest of the country would PANIC.

    On a more personal note: Your stance on professional representation makes you a republicist (not republican mind you) rather than a democracist. You believe in an intellectual hegemony of de-facto governing specialists that can't help but become family lines and subcultures. The problem with a Republic model is that it can't be prevented from becoming Feudal after a short time (say 200 years).
     
  4. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Yeah, mischief; I remember a bumper sticker from some years back, "Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but VOTE!"

    'Rat
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #5
    Will shoots wide of the target. The Medicare prescription drug program can't really be read as an act of "populism," at least as it used to be defined. It is in fact another large shift of public funds to corporations, dressed up in a thin veneer of populism. That's the real story here -- the way populism has been redefined, if not hijacked. Don't believe it? Consider whether it would be possible to pass a genuine populist program like Medicare or Social Security in today's environment. It would have to be designed as a huge corporate give-away, or it'd go nowhere in Congress. That's what's become of populism. It's dead and buried, no matter what George Will says.

    As for Gov. Ahhnold, he is only "wildly popular" because of the basket-case of a governor he succeeded. He's managed to accomplish a few things, and for that I give him credit, but insofar as job-approval numbers are concerned, the voters at this point are mainly giving themselves a pat on the back for turning out Davis and replacing him with a charismatic celebrity. Let's take another look at those numbers in 2006.
     
  6. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #6
    Populism isn't quite dead....

    It's just scarce.

    This Republic goes through periodic Populist backlash after a deep period of Republicist repression of Democratist ideals. We are nearing another of these pseudo-revolutionary periods. It seems to be a relic of the British political climate that has become the dominant patern... despite it's status as an anachronism.
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    i think agreeing on a definition of populism would be helpful at this point.

    i just did a dictionary.com on it: "A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite."

    i should adjust my understanding of it, as my comments above were made in the (now i see somewhat mistaken) view that populism meant that all decisions are made directly by the constituency.
     
  8. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #8
    That'd be a pure democracy. The irony is that a Pure democracy and a pure (non-bolshevic) communistic state differ only slightly.... One allows room for private enterprise and the other does not.

    I like Socialist Democracies... somewhat in the middle. Lots of good grass roots driven social programs and safeguards to prevent an oligarchic republic model.
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #9
    same here. i will revise my original statement: "i think americans are too misinformed for a pure democracy to work."
     
  10. blackfox thread starter macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Nice post IJ...
    I have to agree that the chickens will come home to roost come 2006.
    Still, I have to ask whether governance like this is even allowable under the Constitution. Should this be considered a Legal matter, aside from discussion of how it relates to, or has redifined Populism?

    It would seem to me that both the bypassing of legitimately elected Legislatures (or the threat of bypass) and the added role of special-interest money in funding ballot-iniatives walks a fine line of legality to me...it also sets a disturbing precendent...
     
  11. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #11
    I think that's a simplification of things. People tend to lump fascism, democracy and communism together. In practice, communism is more of an economic structure with capitalism, fascism, and socialism while democracy belongs with parliament/monarchy and dictatorship in groups of political systems. My attempt to split the groups is still an oversimplification; there are areas of overlap in any definition.

    For instance, the Soviet Union was a communist dictatorship, while Nazi Germany was a fascist dictatorship. They were both the same flavour of government; only the economic systems were opposite.

    So when you say a democracy and communist government only have a slight difference, that difference is only observed because of how each system has been used in practice. One could have a communist democracy, just as you can have a capitalist dictatorship. It's just that they're not likely to evolve.
     
  12. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #12
    But that's a HUGE difference.

    How are you defining a Socialist Democracy? You'll have to explain a little, if you don't mind, because over here in Geriatrically-Challenged Europe we define these things differently. :)
     
  13. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    #13
    He's probably thinking of Social Democracy, which is a democracy where an economic system of capitaiism is balanced with a measure of socialist structures.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #14
    OK. Social Democracy I can understand.
     
  15. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #15
    Bingo..

    I just love how often I can get a rise out of some folks here in the USA by using the term "socialist" in a positive light. After all, the term has been so demonized here that the only two examples Americans can bring to mind are the National Socialist Party of Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

    Oversimplification is a side effect of having a character-cap on posts. ;)

    It's also a bit difficult to get folks to follow a discussion about shadings of political structure when 90% of them don't know what the difference between a Populist, Social and Republican Democracy are.

    Americans have been thouroughly trained to see populism as kooky and Social Policies as a waste of money. Never mind that the Social Democracy (usually a Parliament) is the most popular form of Government in the developped world. Never mind that a strong base of Social Programs make for better moralle and better long-term national stability.

    For the benefit of our more isolated American bretheren could I talk one of you Brits into explaining a Parliamentary structure? It's been too long since I lived in Canada so I don't remember all the details.
     
  16. Neserk macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Considering the number of Christians in the USA it shouldn't be an issue. Jesus was a socialist after all. Maybe not in the sense of having it on his card in his wallet, but in practice.
     
  17. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

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    And you know what good God fearing capitalist Christians would say if someone like Jesus showed up saying the things he said... why, the pinko commie would be tossed in jail for something! Maybe if mob rule had ahold of the town they might even turn him over to the hordes of angry God-fearing souls just looking to discipline a Commie blasphemer.
     
  18. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #18
    Bravo!!


    Man, every time I see a WWJD? bumper sticker I think to myself: "Kick a lot of "Christian" and Judaic fundamentalist ass."

    The guy would be PISSED at how misrepresented he's become and he'd be appalled at what Peter wrought through his own prejudices.
     

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