By John Seymour
Created 3 years ago
Video discussing the characteristics of democracy
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Tags: American Government
Slide 1 - Defining Democracy
- An Introduction to Democracy and Democratic Values
Slide 2 - Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.
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.
Slide 4 - Aristotle
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 .
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.
Slide 7 - Abraham Lincoln
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.
Slide 9 - Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
Slide 10 - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Slide 11 - Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Slide 12 - The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
- Winston Churchill
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!
Slide 15 - Benjamin Franklin
Slide 16 - Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.
Slide 17 - John Adams
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.
Slide 19 - Barrack Obama
Slide 20 - What is democracy?
Slide 21 - DEMOCRACY IS
- A form of government in which decision making, power and authority rests in the hands of the people.
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
- Forms of 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
- Practical Implications of modern democracy
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.
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?
Slide 34 - The Founding Fathers Basically Feared …
- MOB RULE!
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.
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?