WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Really, who knows?
DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM • Serves the “true interest of the people” yeah right • Cuba, China, N. Korea
DIRECT OR PARTICIPATORY • “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”– James Madison Fed #10 • Greece, NE town meeting
You asked for it….direct democracy creates…… • A dang mess, just a dang mess
REPRESENTAIVE DEMOCRACY • Direct is impractical • Direct leads to rule by the ignorant. Prop 13, cut property taxes, in Calif, lead to huge budget deficits. Now nearly broke. Good call guys! • Some call it elitist. How much do we get to influence policy?
So how do we explain democracy? • Pollyannaish • “My notion of democracy is that under it, the weakest have the same opportunities as the strongest”- Gandhi • Damn fine film by the way
“The ballot is stronger than the bullet”- Abe Lincoln (certainly stated prior to his visit to Ford’s Theatre)
PRACTICAL • “ Too many expect wonders of democracy when the most wonderful thing is just having it:- Walter Winchell • “The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy”- HL Mencken
Downright cynical • “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter”- Churchill • A politician will do anything to keep his job- even becoming a patriot-W R Hurst
And….. • “Democracy is not something you believe in or a place you hang your hat but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it democracy crumbles” Abbie Hoffman • Amazing, it took a radical hippy to get it right!
Well part of it is relevant • MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
So who has the power? Four theories: • Marxist • Elitist • Bureaucratic • Pluralist
Marxist Q.How many Marxist does it take to screw in a light bulb? A.Two. One to screw in the light bulb, one to lament Milton Friedman's laissez-faire economic policies Marxist theory- Power in the hands of those that control the means of production Problem- it does not account for social issues
Elitist • C. Wright Mills ( an elitist name if ever there was one) • Elite group with common backgrounds dominate • Military leaders • Career politicians • Corporate elite • Media
Bureaucratic • Max Weber- Bureaucracy is most powerful when laws are vague. The toilet!! • Bureaucracy can essentially create laws with Congressional mandate • Civil rights • Clean Air Act “The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organization.” – Max Weber
Pluralism • Influence is widely scattered- groups are in constant conflict • This explains the many interest groups in America. If they can not gain power they would never exist • But no one group always has the upper hand. • System is pluralist- Federalism- Federal, state and local powers and separation of powers
PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY Abbie Hoffman, yes the hippy: In my closing speech at the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial I quoted Lincoln’s famous inaugural speech: “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.”
Hoffman added: If Lincoln had made that speech in Lincoln park he would be on trial right here in this courtroom because that is incitetful speech. Kids must be educated to disrespect authority or else democracy is a farce”
5 democratic principles • 1. Power of government must be limited using checks and balances
2. The rule of law needs to be in written form. The people should have the right to change, do away with, or form a new government
3. The people must consent to what takes place. Yeah, right.
4. Each individual has certain rights “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” T. Jefferson
5. The majority makes the decisions but has to protect minority rights. Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight - Bob Marley
6. Every person is equal under the law. You, me O.J. and the 138 people since 1973 who were on death row and later found to be innocent.