Democratic Theory & American Political Culture

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Slideshow prepared for a series of lectures on Democratic Theory and American Political Culture for PS 101 American Government (Fall 2007) at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Christopher S. Rice, Lecturer.

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Democratic Theory & American Political Culture

  1. 1. Democratic Theory A Christopher Rice digital file
  2. 2. “ DON’T NEED ELECTION” “ It seems to me that Vice President Al Gore is out of control. He is prepared to spend more than $40 million on a campaign that the American people don’t want. The polls clearly show that the people want Texas Gov. George W. Bush for the next president. Why would Gore put the country through all of the political ads and commercials when the people have spoken through the polls? I think Congress should take the message the American people have sent to them and appoint Bush as president. Then they could get back to issues that are important, like Social Security and health care. I know some people might say that we must have elections because the law says so, but this could put the business of the American people on hold for some time. Is that what we want? I say it’s time to appoint Bush and put this behind us.” – Randy Martin, Lexington. Lexington Herald-Leader (2000)
  3. 3. Demos + Kratia = “Rule by the People”
  4. 4. 3 Flavors of Democracy
  5. 5. Revisionist (Elite) Democracy Representative Democracy Direct (Participatory) Democracy
  6. 6. New England Town Meetings
  7. 7. Iowa Caucuses
  8. 8. Athens (Greece, not Fayette Co.)
  9. 9. ENLIGHTENMENT
  10. 10. HOW? (cc) 2006 by Flickr user tony.eckersley
  11. 11. More Informed (cc) 2006 by Flickr user Mathias L.
  12. 12. Sense of Responsibility Photo (cc) 2005 by Flickr user monkeyc.net
  13. 13. Political Tolerance Photos (cc) 2007 by flickr user That Other Paper (Austin, TX)
  14. 14. Mo’ Democracy Mo’ Problems
  15. 15. Scale
  16. 16. Leisure
  17. 17. Representative Democracy
  18. 18. “ Rule by the Few, Controlled by the Many”
  19. 19. Delegate Representation
  20. 20. 3 Fundamental Principles
  21. 21. Principle #1: Popular Sovereignty
  22. 22. How do we know it when we see it? (cc) 2007 by Flickr user Eduardo Cruz
  23. 23. 6
  24. 24. Policies reflect what the people want (cc) 2007 by Flickr user Cesar R
  25. 25. People participate in the political process
  26. 26. High quality info and debate available (The Jon Stewart Principle)
  27. 27. Majority Rules Photo (cc)2006 by Flickr user jjn1
  28. 28. Government Leaders Selected in Competitive Elections
  29. 29. Elections Are Free and Fair
  30. 30. Principle #2: Political Equality
  31. 31. 1 Person = 1 Vote
  32. 32. Assumes equal moral agency and reason
  33. 33. Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems “ That’s more like it…”
  34. 34. It’s a Distribution Problem…
  35. 35. Principle #3: Political Liberty
  36. 36. Political Liberty Basic freedoms in the formation and expression of the popular will & its translation into policy.
  37. 37. First Amendment Freedoms
  38. 38. Without Political Liberty, the other principles can’t function!
  39. 39. Why does your generation hate America?
  40. 40. Politically Tolerant Politically Active Informed (Delegate Representation) Rational Fairly Sophisticated Assumptions
  41. 41. Problems
  42. 42. Scale / Population
  43. 43. Complexity of Issues
  44. 44. Are High Quality Info & Debate Available?
  45. 45. Are people really rational and competent?
  46. 46. Majority Tyranny?
  47. 47. Revisionist (Elite) Democracy
  48. 48. Instability due to unrealistic assumptions
  49. 49. Downgrading role of masses Upgrading role of elites
  50. 50. Hedging on government responsiveness
  51. 51. The masses are asses
  52. 52. Irrational
  53. 53. Politically Intolerant
  54. 54. Low participation among the masses
  55. 55. Trustee Representation Delegate Representation
  56. 56. Limiting the impact of universal participation…
  57. 57. Constitutional Barriers
  58. 58. Apathy is A -O K !
  59. 59. Increased participation costs
  60. 60. The American Creed
  61. 62. Values of the American Creed
  62. 63. Individualism a commitment to personal initiative, self-sufficiency and material accumulation
  63. 64. Unity & Diversity
  64. 65. Unity the principle that Americans are one people and form an indivisible union
  65. 66. Diversity the idea that individual and group differences should be respected AND that these differences are themselves a sort of strength
  66. 67. E pluribus unum
  67. 68. Commitment to rule of law under a constitution
  68. 69. Aka, The Constitutional Strand
  69. 70. Commitment to rule of law under a constitution The idea that fundamental law should serve as a restraint on human behavior
  70. 71. America’s Core Political Ideals
  71. 72. Liberty the belief that individuals should be free to act and think as they choose, provided they do not infringe unreasonably on the freedom and well-being of others.
  72. 73. Equality the belief that all individuals are equal in their moral worth and are entitled to equal treatment under the law
  73. 74. Self-government the belief that the people are the ultimate source of governing authority and must have a voice in how they are governed
  74. 75. Fundamental ideas behind the “Core Values”
  75. 76. 17 th Century Protestantism
  76. 77. Primacy of the individual conscience
  77. 78. Close connection between the spirit of liberty and the spirit of religion
  78. 79. Role of the congregation as voluntary association
  79. 80. Importance of democracy within the church and its implications
  80. 81. 18 th Century Enlightenment Ideas (John Locke)
  81. 82. Equality as a basis for organizing society
  82. 83. Principal Elements of the American Creed Source of political power is the people All governments are limited by the law and the people Local government is to be preferred to national government The majority is wiser than the minority
  83. 84. Principal Elements of the American Creed Source of political power is the people All governments are limited by the law and the people Local government is to be preferred to national government The majority is wiser than the minority
  84. 85. Principal Elements of the American Creed Source of political power is the people All governments are limited by the law and the people Local government is to be preferred to national government The majority is wiser than the minority
  85. 86. Principal Elements of the American Creed Source of political power is the people All governments are limited by the law and the people Local government is to be preferred to national government The majority is wiser than the minority
  86. 87. Principal Elements of the American Creed The individual has sacred rights The Less Government the Better Competitive Individualism Free Enterprise
  87. 88. Principal Elements of the American Creed The individual has sacred rights The Less Government the Better Competitive Individualism Free Enterprise
  88. 89. Principal Elements of the American Creed The individual has sacred rights The Less Government the Better Competitive Individualism Free Enterprise
  89. 90. Equality of Opportunity NOT Equality of Result
  90. 91. Principal Elements of the American Creed The individual has sacred rights The Less Government the Better Competitive Individualism Free Enterprise
  91. 94. Private consumption over public provision Private over public initiatives
  92. 96. ?
  93. 97. The American Creed is NOT an ideology
  94. 98. Liberty vs. Equality
  95. 99. Problems
  96. 100. Nearly unanimous support when it is painted in broad strokes. Support falls off when we get into specifics.
  97. 101. Consensus is broadest among those most active in the system and who benefit from it the most
  98. 102. Populism Hostility of the common person to power and the powerful
  99. 104. 2 Flavors
  100. 105. liberal populism
  101. 107. conservative populism

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