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Democratic Theory

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  • 1. Democratic Theory Michael P. Fix
  • 2. What is Democracy? Photo from freerepublic.com
  • 3. What is Democracy?
  • 4. What is Democracy? Photo from whitehouse.gov
  • 5. What is Democracy? All pictures from www.nytimes.com
  • 6. What is Democracy? Picture from www.freefoto.com
  • 7. What is Democracy? Photo from supremecourtus.gov
  • 8. What is Democracy?
    • Certain basic principles are necessary in any definition of democracy.
      • Free and fair elections
      • Majority rule
      • Freedom of expression
      • Freedom of assembly and the right to protest
  • 9. 3 Types of Democracy
    • Direct Democracy
      • Aka Participatory Democracy
    • Representative Democracy
    • Elite Democracy
      • Aka Revisionist Democracy
  • 10. Direct Democracy
    • δημοκρατία – demokratia
      • Rule by the people
    • Built on the Athenian model.
    • Still present in US town hall meetings.
    • Is this practical on a large scale?
  • 11. Representative Democracy
    • Delegate representation
      • Citizens elected political actors who will represent their preferences.
    • Assumptions:
      • Voters are aware.
      • Voters are rational.
      • Voters are tolerant.
      • Voters are informed.
  • 12. Representative Democracy
    • Problems:
    • Tyranny of the Majority
    • Complexity of Issues
    • Utility of voting
  • 13. Elitist Democracy The Masses are Asses
  • 14. Elitist Democracy
    • Trustee Representation
      • Voters should select those most able to run the government and trust that they will make the best decisions.
    • Only elites should have any real power over government policy.
    • Most individuals are too ignorant, unaware, or apathetic to have an informed role.
  • 15. Critics of Democracy
    • Elite democracy serves those persons possessing a disproportionate share of money or power.
    • Marxists perceive that government is dominated by capitalists.
    • The power elite perspective holds that government is dominated by a few top leaders, most of whom are outside of government.
    • The bureaucratic view holds that the government is dominated by appointed officials.
  • 16. More optimistic theory
    • Pluralist view is the belief that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy.
    • No single group dominates the political process. Competing interests often check each other.
  • 17. Public Opinion
    • Is the United States a representative or elitist democracy?
    Public opinion shows that a majority of Americans believe that government serves the interests of a few elites.
  • 18. The American Creed
    • In the abstract, nearly all Americans support certain fundamental principles.
      • Freedom
      • Political Equality
      • Liberty
      • Majority Rule
      • Procedural Fairness
  • 19. The American Creed
    • When it comes to specific applications of the creed, support tends to fall off.
  • 20. Paradox of Democracy The paradox of democracy balances the principle of majority rule against the principle of individual liberty. Photo from www.time.com