Defining Democracy

Video discussing the characteristics of democracy

American Government
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Defining Democracy

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Video discussing the characteristics of democracy
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  1. Defining Democracy

    Slide 1 - Defining Democracy

    • An Introduction to Democracy and Democratic Values
  2. Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

    Slide 2 - Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.

  3. In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.

    Slide 3 - In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.

  4. Aristotle

    Slide 4 - Aristotle

  5. As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.  This expresses my idea of democracy.  Whatever differs from this, to the extent there is a difference, is no democracy .

    Slide 5 - As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent there is a difference, is no democracy .

  6. We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    Slide 6 - We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

  7. Abraham Lincoln

    Slide 7 - Abraham Lincoln

  8. Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.

    Slide 8 - Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.

  9. Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

    Slide 9 - Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

  10. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Slide 10 - Franklin D. Roosevelt

  11. Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.

    Slide 11 - Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.

  12. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    Slide 12 - The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

  13. Slide 13

    • Winston Churchill
  14. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

    Slide 14 - Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!

  15. Benjamin Franklin

    Slide 15 - Benjamin Franklin

  16. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.

    Slide 16 - Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.

  17. John Adams

    Slide 17 - John Adams

  18. The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.

    Slide 18 - The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.

  19. Barrack Obama

    Slide 19 - Barrack Obama

  20. What is democracy?

    Slide 20 - What is democracy?

  21. DEMOCRACY IS

    Slide 21 - DEMOCRACY IS

    • A form of government in which decision making, power and authority rests in the hands of the people.
  22. What  Differentiates Democracies from Each Other?

    Slide 22 - What Differentiates Democracies from Each Other?

    • 1. How that authority is exercised
    • 2. How those who exercise it are chosen
    • 3. To what level the people are allowed or encouraged to participate
  23. Slide 23

    • Forms of democracy
  24. Direct (Greek/Athenian) Democracy

    Slide 24 - Direct (Greek/Athenian) Democracy

    • Calls for every eligible citizen to participate directly in every decision (regardless how small or trivial).
    • The problem with this form is that it is impractical to practice effectively as the population of a country grows.
  25. Indirect (representative) democracy

    Slide 25 - Indirect (representative) democracy

    • Also described as a republic
    • Is a form based on representation rather than direct participation.
    • In this form of government, the people vote on others to represent them in making decisions.
  26. MODERN DEMOCRACY

    Slide 26 - MODERN DEMOCRACY

    • Most nations today can be measured by degrees or levels of democracy rather than practicing either of these two types of democracy in their purest forms.
    • In their 2014 report on world freedom, Freedomhouse.org identified 195 independent nations in the World and of those, 147 (75%) are considered free or partially free. Another 38 were considered “not free” meaning they showed little or no evidence of democracy.
  27. What Makes a Democracy Today?

    Slide 27 - What Makes a Democracy Today?

    • Robert Dahl Identifies 4 Characteristics:
    • Level of public control over the political agenda
    • Enlightened understanding
    • Effective Participation
    • Voting Equality
  28. Refers to the level to which the public has the opportunity to decide which political issues and initiatives should be brought up for deliberation by the government.

    Slide 28 - Refers to the level to which the public has the opportunity to decide which political issues and initiatives should be brought up for deliberation by the government.

    • Initiative and referendum = the ability to get an issue on the ballot for a DIRECT public vote.
    • Example: allowing voters to decide whether a new football stadium will be constructed in their community.
    • In our system of government, elected officials often make these decisions for us (because we are a REPRESENTATIVE democracy).
    • We participate by voting for the officials who will make the ultimate decision on our behalf.
    • Control of the Agenda
  29. Citizens must have ample and equal opportunity to discover and understand proposed policies and laws as well as their consequences, with full disclosure of all details.

    Slide 29 - Citizens must have ample and equal opportunity to discover and understand proposed policies and laws as well as their consequences, with full disclosure of all details.

    • Governments hold public meetings before putting a decision up for a vote.
    • But even in the United States, the public will may go unheard unless the people take it upon themselves to get involved, educated, and engaged in the political process.
    • The level to which citizens actually get educated and involved in their government has a great deal to do with the extent to which a nation practices democracy.
    • Enlightened Understanding
  30. Equal Opportunity to Vote

    Slide 30 - Equal Opportunity to Vote

    • Each citizen must have an equal opportunity to vote, with the assurance that his or her vote will be given equal weight.
    • This is often where the emphasis is placed when evaluating the level of democracy for a nation .
    • But (as we have seen) equal opportunity to vote is not the only factor that determines democracy.
  31. Slide 31

    • Practical Implications of modern democracy
  32. MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK

    Slide 32 - MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK

    • Most modern democracies combine direct participation with representative government.
    • Founding fathers felt the democracy was best instituted when placed within a republic.
    • Allowed for citizen participation but also allowed for checks and balances that would keep the “tyranny of the majority” from overshadowing the needs of the minority.
    • Called for a balance of majority rule with minority rights and protections.
  33. The answer is

    Slide 33 - The answer is

    • “YES …
    • AND NO …”
    • Nowhere is the word "democracy" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.
    • As we will discuss later, the Founders actually feared a purely democratic system of government. 
    • JAMES MADISON expressed this attitude in FEDERALIST #10:
    • ...instability, injustice, and confusion ...have in truth been the mortal disease under which popular governments everywhere perished...
    • Madison Feared what he called “the tyranny of the majority” which he saw as a side-effect of a purely democratic form of government.
    • So the founding fathers favored and proposed a Republic with a Constitution to keep all of the branches in check with each other and to keep government responsible to the people.
    • ISN’T THE UNITED STATES A DEMOCRACY?
  34. The Founding Fathers Basically Feared …

    Slide 34 - The Founding Fathers Basically Feared …

    • MOB RULE!
  35. WHY DIDN’T THE FOUNDING FATHERS ESTABLISH A PURE DEMOCRACY?

    Slide 35 - WHY DIDN’T THE FOUNDING FATHERS ESTABLISH A PURE DEMOCRACY?

    • In the late 18th-century, rule by the people was thought to lead to disorder and disruption. 
    • The fear was that a system based upon rule by the people would result in “mob rule.” 
    • And that is the complication of any democratic form of government – how to establish order and structure while still giving the people authority and control over their government. 
    • This is what political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes did not see as a possibility, given the conflictual nature of humans.   
    • Yet a democratically-based government was seen as superior to the monarchies of Europe. 
  36. Democracies have come in many shapes and sizes as reflected by the different answers to questions of how, when, and to which people power is given.

    Slide 36 - Democracies have come in many shapes and sizes as reflected by the different answers to questions of how, when, and to which people power is given.

    • And although it is not mentioned in the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution, democracy clearly links to "rule of law" to form a basic principle that profoundly shapes American government.
    • But since a pure classical form of democracy is impractical in nations with large and diverse populations, the United States practices a modified form.
    • This is best described as a Republican (or Constitutional) Democracy.
    • So What Have We Learned?