Unit 1: Theories ofDemocratic GovernmentChapter 1: Introducing Government in America (p.p. 16-20) LEQ: Who really governs our country?
DemocracyHow do we define democracy?Is is synonymous with freedom,justice and peace?Lincoln’s eternal definition ofdemocracy as one “of the people, bythe people and for the people.”
Lincoln’s DemocracyDoes our government work “...of thepeople, by the people, and for thepeople.”How each of these matters is beingmet is crucial for evaluating howwell our government is working
Lincoln (cont’d)Always been a government of thepeople, framers forbid grantingtitles of nobilityBy the people is impossible with morethan 300 million AmericansFor the people?
TraditionalDemocratic TheoryAccording to Robert Dahl, what isneeded for an ideal democraticprocess?
TraditionalDemocratic TheoryAccording to Robert Dahl, what is needed for an idealdemocratic process? Equality in voting Effective participation Enlightened understanding/marketplace of ideas Citizens control the agenda Inclusion, citizenship to all
Traditional Democratic Theory (cont’d) What is majority rule? What are minority rights? What is representation? The closer the correspondence between representatives and their constituents, the closer the approximation to an ideal democracy
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy Theories of American Democracy are essentially theories about who has power and influence
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy (1/3) What is Pluralist Theory? Group politics Dahl: “all active and legitimate groups in the population can make themselves heard at some crucial stage in the process.” Public interest will prevail through bargaining and compromise Is “interest group” activity (lobbying) in Washington seen as a positive or negative? Why?
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy (1/3) (cont’d) What is Robert Putnam’s view on Pluralism Theory? Do you agree? What might critics say of Pluralism Theory?
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy (2/3) What is Elite and Class Theory? “Big business” 1/3 wealth is held by 1%, augment elections with funding
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy (3/3) What is Hyperpluralism? Too many ways for groups to control policy Groups have become sovereign and gov’t is their servant Courts become another battleground where groups try to bend policy to suit their purpose e.g. Ecologist preventing construction
Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy Agree or Disagree: Public interest is rarely translated into public policy
Challenges to Democracy (1/4)Increased technical expertise Average Joe needs to make informed decisions in a world of ever-extending knowledge
Challenges to Democracy (2/4)Limited participation in government
Challenges to Democracy (3/4)When democracy confronts the might ofmoney, the gap between democratictheory and reality widensEscalating campaign costs PACs: Political Action Committees, represent specific economic interests
Challenges to Democracy (4/4)Diverse political interests Policy gridlock e.g. Obama and Republican Congress
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