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John Simkin

Is America a democracy?

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John, in helping you understand the important difference between a republic and a democracy you might find this essay by David Barton helpful:

Republic v. Democracy

by David Barton

We have grown accustomed to hearing that we are a democracy; such was never the intent. The form of government entrusted to us by our Founders was a republic, not a democracy.1 Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America and chose not to. In fact, the Founders made clear that we were not, and were never to become, a democracy:

[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.2 James Madison

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.3 John Adams

A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.4 The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.5 Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment

We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.6 Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution

[T]he experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.7 John Quincy Adams

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.8 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.9 Noah Webster

Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.10 John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.11 Zephaniah Swift, Author of America's First Legal Text

Many Americans today seem to be unable to define the difference between the two, but there is a difference, a big difference. That difference rests in the source of authority.

A pure democracy operates by direct majority vote of the people. When an issue is to be decided, the entire population votes on it; the majority wins and rules. A republic differs in that the general population elects representatives who then pass laws to govern the nation. A democracy is the rule by majority feeling (what the Founders described as a "mobocracy" 12); a republic is rule by law. If the source of law for a democracy is the popular feeling of the people, then what is the source of law for the American republic? According to Founder Noah Webster:

[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.13

The transcendent values of Biblical natural law were the foundation of the American republic. Consider the stability this provides: in our republic, murder will always be a crime, for it is always a crime according to the Word of God. however, in a democracy, if majority of the people decide that murder is no longer a crime, murder will no longer be a crime.

America's immutable principles of right and wrong were not based on the rapidly fluctuating feelings and emotions of the people but rather on what Montesquieu identified as the "principles that do not change."14 Benjamin Rush similarly observed:

[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.15

In the American republic, the "principles which did not change" and which were "certain and universal in their operation upon all the members of the community" were the principles of Biblical natural law. In fact, so firmly were these principles ensconced in the American republic that early law books taught that government was free to set its own policy only if God had not ruled in an area. For example, Blackstone's Commentaries explained:

To instance in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the Divine. . . . If any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it we are bound to transgress that human law. . . . But, with regard to matters that are . . . not commanded or forbidden by those superior laws such, for instance, as exporting of wool into foreign countries; here the . . . legislature has scope and opportunity to interpose.16

The Founders echoed that theme:

All [laws], however, may be arranged in two different classes. 1) Divine. 2) Human. . . . But it should always be remembered that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine source: it is the law of God. . . . Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is Divine.17 James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice

[T]he law . . . dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this.18 Alexander Hamilton, Signer of the Constitution

[T]he . . . law established by the Creator . . . extends over the whole globe, is everywhere and at all times binding upon mankind. . . . [This] is the law of God by which he makes his way known to man and is paramount to all human control.19 Rufus King, Signer of the Constitution

The Founders understood that Biblical values formed the basis of the republic and that the republic would be destroyed if the people's knowledge of those values should ever be lost.

A republic is the highest form of government devised by man, but it also requires the greatest amount of human care and maintenance. If neglected, it can deteriorate into a variety of lesser forms, including a democracy (a government conducted by popular feeling); anarchy (a system in which each person determines his own rules and standards); oligarchy (a government run by a small council or a group of elite individuals): or dictatorship (a government run by a single individual). As John Adams explained:

[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy; such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit, and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable [abominable] cruelty of one or a very few.20

Understanding the foundation of the American republic is a vital key toward protecting it.

Endnotes

1. An example of this is demonstrated in the anecdote where, having concluded their work on the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin walked outside and seated himself on a public bench. A woman approached him and inquired, "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have you done for us?" Franklin quickly responded, "My dear lady, we have given to you a republic--if you can keep it." Taken from "America's Bill of Rights at 200 Years," by former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, printed in Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. XXI, No. 3, Summer 1991, p. 457. This anecdote appears in numerous other works as well.

2. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, The Federalist on the New Constitution (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), p. 53, #10, James Madison.

3. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1850), Vol. VI, p. 484, to John Taylor on April 15, 1814.

4. Fisher Ames, Works of Fisher Ames (Boston: T. B. Wait & Co., 1809), p. 24, Speech on Biennial Elections, delivered January, 1788.

5. Ames, Works, p. 384, "The Dangers of American Liberty," February 1805.

6. Gouverneur Morris, An Oration Delivered on Wednesday, June 29, 1814, at the Request of a Number of Citizens of New-York, in Celebration of the Recent Deliverance of Europe from the Yoke of Military Despotism (New York: Van Winkle and Wiley, 1814), pp. 10, 22.

7. John Quincy Adams, The Jubilee of the Constitution. A Discourse Delivered at the Request of the New York Historical Society, in the City of New York on Tuesday, the 30th of April 1839; Being the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States, on Thursday, the 30th of April, 1789 (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839), p. 53.

8. Benjamin Rush, The Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press for the American Philosophical Society, 1951), Vol. I, p. 523, to John Adams on July 21, 1789.

9. Noah Webster, The American Spelling Book: Containing an Easy Standard of Pronunciation: Being the First Part of a Grammatical Institute of the English Language, To Which is Added, an Appendix, Containing a Moral Catechism and a Federal Catechism (Boston: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1801), pp. 103-104.

10. John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. VII, p. 101, Lecture 12 on Civil Society.

11. Zephaniah Swift, A System of the Laws of the State of Connecticut (Windham: John Byrne, 1795), Vol. I, p. 19.

12. See, for example, Benjamin Rush, Letters, Vol. I, p. 498, to John Adams on January 22, 1789.

13. Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 6.

14. George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1859), Vol. V, p. 24. See Baron Charles Secondat de Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws (Philadelphia: Isaiah Thomas, 1802), Vol. I, pp. 17-23, and ad passim.

15. Rush, Letters, Vol. I, p. 454, to David Ramsay, March or April 1788.

16. Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771), Vol. I, pp. 42-43.

17. James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), Vol. I, pp. 103-105, "Of the General Principles of Law and Obligation."

18. Alexander Hamilton, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Harold C. Syrett, editor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), Vol. I, p. 87, February 23, 1775, quoting William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771), Vol. I, p. 41.

19. Rufus King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Charles R. King, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1900), Vol. VI, p. 276, to C. Gore on February 17, 1820.

20. John Adams, The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, editor (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1977), Vol. I, p. 83, from "An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, with the Author's Comment in 1807," written on August 29, 1763, but first published by John Adams in 1807.

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Here is another interesting article discussing the differences between a pure democracy and a constitutional republic:

An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic

It is important to keep in mind the difference between a Democracy and a Republic, as dissimilar forms of government. Understanding the difference is essential to comprehension of the fundamentals involved. It should be noted, in passing, that use of the word Democracy as meaning merely the popular type of government--that is, featuring genuinely free elections by the people periodically--is not helpful in discussing, as here, the difference between alternative and dissimilar forms of a popular government: a Democracy versus a Republic. This double meaning of Democracy--a popular-type government in general, as well as a specific form of popular government--needs to be made clear in any discussion, or writing, regarding this subject, for the sake of sound understanding.

These two forms of government: Democracy and Republic, are not only dissimilar but antithetical, reflecting the sharp contrast between (a) The Majority Unlimited, in a Democracy, lacking any legal safeguard of the rights of The Individual and The Minority, and (B) The Majority Limited, in a Republic under a written Constitution safeguarding the rights of The Individual and The Minority; as we shall now see.

A Democracy

The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

This is true whether it be a Direct Democracy, or a Representative Democracy. In the direct type, applicable only to a small number of people as in the little city-states of ancient Greece, or in a New England town-meeting, all of the electorate assemble to debate and decide all government questions, and all decisions are reached by a majority vote (of at least half-plus-one). Decisions of The Majority in a New England town-meeting are, of course, subject to the Constitutions of the State and of the United States which protect The Individual’s rights; so, in this case, The Majority is not omnipotent and such a town-meeting is, therefore, not an example of a true Direct Democracy. Under a Representative Democracy like Britain’s parliamentary form of government, the people elect representatives to the national legislature--the elective body there being the House of Commons--and it functions by a similar vote of at least half-plus-one in making all legislative decisions.

In both the Direct type and the Representative type of Democracy, The Majority’s power is absolute and unlimited; its decisions are unappealable under the legal system established to give effect to this form of government. This opens the door to unlimited Tyranny-by-Majority. This was what The Framers of the United States Constitution meant in 1787, in debates in the Federal (framing) Convention, when they condemned the "excesses of democracy" and abuses under any Democracy of the unalienable rights of The Individual by The Majority. Examples were provided in the immediate post-1776 years by the legislatures of some of the States. In reaction against earlier royal tyranny, which had been exercised through oppressions by royal governors and judges of the new State governments, while the legislatures acted as if they were virtually omnipotent. There were no effective State Constitutions to limit the legislatures because most State governments were operating under mere Acts of their respective legislatures which were mislabelled "Constitutions." Neither the governors not the courts of the offending States were able to exercise any substantial and effective restraining influence upon the legislatures in defense of The Individual’s unalienable rights, when violated by legislative infringements. (Connecticut and Rhode Island continued under their old Charters for many years.) It was not until 1780 that the first genuine Republic through constitutionally limited government, was adopted by Massachusetts--next New Hampshire in 1784, other States later.

It was in this connection that Jefferson, in his "Notes On The State of Virginia" written in 1781-1782, protected against such excesses by the Virginia Legislature in the years following the Declaration of Independence, saying: "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for . . ." (Emphasis Jefferson’s.) He also denounced the despotic concentration of power in the Virginia Legislature, under the so-called "Constitution"--in reality a mere Act of that body:

"All the powers of government, legislative, executive, judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on the republic of Venice."

This topic--the danger to the people’s liberties due to the turbulence of democracies and omnipotent, legislative majority--is discussed in The Federalist, for example in numbers 10 and 48 by Madison (in the latter noting Jefferson’s above-quoted comments).

The Framing Convention’s records prove that by decrying the "excesses of democracy" The Framers were, of course, not opposing a popular type of government for the United States; their whole aim and effort was to create a sound system of this type. To contend to the contrary is to falsify history. Such a falsification not only maligns the high purpose and good character of The Framers but belittles the spirit of the truly Free Man in America--the people at large of that period--who happily accepted and lived with gratification under the Constitution as their own fundamental law and under the Republic which it created, especially because they felt confident for the first time of the security of their liberties thereby protected against abuse by all possible violators, including The Majority momentarily in control of government. The truth is that The Framers, by their protests against the "excesses of democracy," were merely making clear their sound reasons for preferring a Republic as the proper form of government. They well knew, in light of history, that nothing but a Republic can provide the best safeguards--in truth in the long run the only effective safeguards (if enforced in practice)--for the people’s liberties which are inescapably victimized by Democracy’s form and system of unlimited Government-over-Man featuring The Majority Omnipotent. They also knew that the American people would not consent to any form of government but that of a Republic. It is of special interest to note that Jefferson, who had been in Paris as the American Minister for several years, wrote Madison from there in March 1789 that:

"The tyranny of the legislatures is the most formidable dread at present, and will be for long years. That of the executive will come it’s turn, but it will be at a remote period." (Text per original.)

Somewhat earlier, Madison had written Jefferson about violation of the Bill of Rights by State legislatures, stating:

"Repeated violations of those parchment barriers have been committed by overbearing majorities in every State. In Virginia I have seen the bill of rights violated in every instance where it has been opposed to a popular current."

It is correct to say that in any Democracy--either a Direct or a Representative type--as a form of government, there can be no legal system which protects The Individual or The Minority (any or all minorities) against unlimited tyranny by The Majority. The undependable sense of self-restraint of the persons making up The Majority at any particular time offers, of course, no protection whatever. Such a form of government is characterized by The Majority Omnipotent and Unlimited. This is true, for example, of the Representative Democracy of Great Britain; because unlimited government power is possessed by the House of Lords, under an Act of Parliament of 1949--indeed, it has power to abolish anything and everything governmental in Great Britain.

For a period of some centuries ago, some English judges did argue that their decisions could restrain Parliament; but this theory had to be abandoned because it was found to be untenable in the light of sound political theory and governmental realities in a Representative Democracy. Under this form of government, neither the courts not any other part of the government can effectively challenge, much less block, any action by The Majority in the legislative body, no matter how arbitrary, tyrannous, or totalitarian they might become in practice. The parliamentary system of Great Britain is a perfect example of Representative Democracy and of the potential tyranny inherent in its system of Unlimited Rule by Omnipotent Majority. This pertains only to the potential, to the theory, involved; governmental practices there are irrelevant to this discussion.

Madison’s observations in The Federalist number 10 are noteworthy at this point because they highlight a grave error made through the centuries regarding Democracy as a form of government. He commented as follows:

"Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions."

Democracy, as a form of government, is utterly repugnant to--is the very antithesis of--the traditional American system: that of a Republic, and its underlying philosophy, as expressed in essence in the Declaration of Independence with primary emphasis upon the people’s forming their government so as to permit them to possess only "just powers" (limited powers) in order to make and keep secure the God-given, unalienable rights of each and every Individual and therefore of all groups of Individuals.

A Republic

A Republic, on the other hand, has a very different purpose and an entirely different form, or system, of government. Its purpose is to control The Majority strictly, as well as all others among the people, primarily to protect The Individual’s God-given, unalienable rights and therefore for the protection of the rights of The Minority, of all minorities, and the liberties of people in general. The definition of a Republic is: a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution--adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment--with its powers divided between three separate Branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Here the term "the people" means, of course, the electorate.

The people adopt the Constitution as their fundamental law by utilizing a Constitutional Convention--especially chosen by them for this express and sole purpose--to frame it for consideration and approval by them either directly or by their representatives in a Ratifying Convention, similarly chosen. Such a Constitutional Convention, for either framing or ratification, is one of America’s greatest contributions, if not her greatest contribution, to the mechanics of government--of self-government through constitutionally limited government, comparable in importance to America’s greatest contribution to the science of government: the formation and adoption by the sovereign people of a written Constitution as the basis for self-government. One of the earliest, if not the first, specific discussions of this new American development (a Constitutional Convention) in the historical records is an entry in June 1775 in John Adams’ "Autobiography" commenting on the framing by a convention and ratification by the people as follows:

"By conventions of representatives, freely, fairly, and proportionately chosen . . . the convention may send out their project of a constitution, to the people in their several towns, counties, or districts, and the people may make the acceptance of it their own act."

Yet the first proposal in 1778 of a Constitution for Massachusetts was rejected for the reason, in part, as stated in the "Essex Result" (the result, or report, of the Convention of towns of Essex County), that it had been framed and proposed not by a specially chosen convention but by members of the legislature who were involved in general legislative duties, including those pertaining to the conduct of the war.

The first genuine and soundly founded Republic in all history was the one created by the first genuine Constitution, which was adopted by the people of Massachusetts in 1780 after being framed for their consideration by a specially chosen Constitutional Convention. (As previously noted, the so-called "Constitutions" adopted by some States in 1776 were mere Acts of Legislatures, not genuine Constitutions.) That Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts was the first successful one ever held in the world; although New Hampshire had earlier held one unsuccessfully - it took several years and several successive conventions to produce the New Hampshire Constitution of 1784. Next, in 1787-1788, the United States Constitution was framed by the Federal Convention for the people’s consideration and then ratified by the people of the several States through a Ratifying Convention in each State specially chosen by them for this sole purpose. Thereafter the other States gradually followed in general the Massachusetts pattern of Constitution-making in adoption of genuine Constitutions; but there was a delay of a number of years in this regard as to some of them, several decades as to a few.

This system of Constitution-making, for the purpose of establishing constitutionally limited government, is designed to put into practice the principle of the Declaration of Independence: that the people form their governments and grant to them only "just powers," limited powers, in order primarily to secure (to make and keep secure) their God-given, unalienable rights. The American philosophy and system of government thus bar equally the "snob-rule" of a governing Elite and the "mob-rule" of an Omnipotent Majority. This is designed, above all else, to preclude the existence in America of any governmental power capable of being misused so as to violate The Individual’s rights--to endanger the people’s liberties.

With regard to the republican form of government (that of a republic), Madison made an observation in The Federalist (no. 55) which merits quoting here--as follows:

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another." (Emphasis added.)

It is noteworthy here that the above discussion, though brief, is sufficient to indicate the reasons why the label "Republic" has been misapplied in other countries to other and different forms of government throughout history. It has been greatly misunderstood and widely misused--for example as long ago as the time of Plato, when he wrote his celebrated volume, The Republic; in which he did not discuss anything governmental even remotely resembling--having essential characteristics of--a genuine Republic. Frequent reference is to be found, in the writings of the period of the framing of the Constitution for instance, to "the ancient republics," but in any such connection the term was used loosely--by way of contrast to a monarchy or to a Direct Democracy--often using the term in the sense merely of a system of Rule-by-Law featuring Representative government; as indicated, for example, by John Adams in his "Thoughts on Government" and by Madison in The Federalist numbers 10 and 39. But this is an incomplete definition because it can include a Representative Democracy, lacking a written Constitution limiting The Majority.

From The American Ideal of 1776: The Twelve Basic American Principles.

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http://66.218.71.225/search/cache?p=republ...&icp=1&.intl=us

The above article on the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic, interestingly enough, notes that the distinction did in fact play a role in the selection of George Bush as president in 200:

At the heart of a democratic form of government is the rule of the majority, unhindered by law. As the Florida Supreme Court, in support of its initial ruling extending the statutory deadlines for recounting the votes in the 2000 presidential elections, explained: “[T]he will of the people, not a hyper-technical reliance upon statutory provisions, should be our guiding principle in election cases….” By contrast, in Bush v. Gore, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, writing for himself and two of his colleagues, declared that the rule of the Constitution, in that case the power of the Florida legislature, prevails over any judicial attempt to vindicate the power of the people.

In summary, our founding fathers were men of the highest intelligence who crafted a system with checks and balances between the three branches of government and to make change to the system difficult. The founding fathers repeatedly expressed concern over a "pure democracy". From the above, one can make an argument that the Supreme Court in 2000 was careful to follow the law regarding voting and deadlines, regardless of which candidate was favored. The Florida Supreme Court, on the other hand, was willing to relax the constitution and statutes to ensure the selection of its favored candidate. That would have created a bad precedent. Laws ought not be cast aside so a court can favor its prefered presidential candidate.

A writer on another thread was correct: if America was indeed a democracy, Gore would have been president in 2000.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I'm glad you haven't retired from your political campaign yet John! Just as you point out - this song is more accurate than ever (and so are everal of the protest songs of the 60's and early 70's...).

To get back to the issue discussed on this thread - democracy is something you have to fight for - it's not something that will be given to you by your leaders. Power is always corruptive and the less we get engaged the longer we drift from democracy. Every generation has to earn it by struggle!  B)

I tend to agree with Leon Trotsky’s “permanent revolution” theory. Trotsky was of course referring to what happened in the Soviet Union. This theory can be applied to any political system. For example, it is generally believed that George Orwell’s Animal Farm was about Stalinism. However, Orwell made it clear in essays he wrote at the time that he believed this was also a problem for all political systems. Although he had been a life-long supporter of the Labour Party, he became very disillusioned with Clement Attlee’s post-war government. Orwell and Trotsky both believed that the Communist Party was the new ruling class in the Soviet Union. Orwell feared that the Labour Party might abuse its power in the same way. Orwell had been deeply shocked by the power of propaganda during the Second World War. While working for the BBC he had an inside view of this process. 1984 was based very much on this experience at the BBC where he was responsible for lying to people in India about the progress of the war.

Orwell was wrong about Clement Attlee. However, his fears have been realised by the governments led by Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. The problem for any “dictator” (and modern UK prime ministers have tremendous power over the political process) is that they rarely accept that they will one day have to hand over power to another. Some like Stalin and Franco die in the job but in modern democracies the leader is eventually ousted with arrange for a successor to continue with their work. Thatcher therefore ended up by destroying the Conservative Party. Tony Blair is a far more successful “dictator” in the sense that he can disguise the role he plays (Thatcher of course loved letting everybody know that she was leading a battle against the non-believers).

If a democracy is to remain true to its original ideals it needs to be constantly challenged and reformed. It is not in the interests of political leaders to reform our flawed political system. After all, it is this system that gave them this power. The real challenge is how do we find ways of forcing our politicians to make changes that will enable us to become a fully-functioning democracy.

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John wrote:

Is it really a judgement of my intelligence that I should have worked out all of this with your posting of the word “No”? What a strange mind you have?

John, I do not think I have ever criticized your intelligence but perhaps, as you once suggested to me, you need a break. I would remind you that on another thread you actually wrote that a joke that I posted (that Pat Speer acknowledged would indeed be funny if Ron Ecker had posted it) might be a sign I was losing my sanity! A ridiculous comment assuming as it does that I was ever sane. (SANE was, of course, a pinko pacifist 1960s organization!)

Now you have elevated my mental status from insane to strange, a sign of great progess, I would assume.

Seriously, John, you know I am intelligent and I respectfully submit that you got yourself in trouble by trying to infer a nefarious motive by my answering with the one word "No". As indicated by the preceding posts, which just scratch the surface, there has been substantial political commentary to the effect that the US is a republic not a democracy. Which is why I found it strange that you did not immediately recognize what I was getting at.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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John, in helping you understand the important difference between a republic and a democracy you might find this essay by David Barton helpful:

Republic v. Democracy

by David Barton

We have grown accustomed to hearing that we are a democracy; such was never the intent. The form of government entrusted to us by our Founders was a republic, not a democracy.1 Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America and chose not to. In fact, the Founders made clear that we were not, and were never to become, a democracy:

[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.2 James Madison

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.3 John Adams

A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.4 The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.5 Fisher Ames, Author of the House Language for the First Amendment

We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate . . . as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism. . . . Democracy! savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtuous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.6 Gouverneur Morris, Signer and Penman of the Constitution

The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.7 John Quincy Adams

A simple democracy . . . is one of the greatest of evils.8 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

In democracy . . . there are commonly tumults and disorders. . . . Therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.9 Noah Webster

Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state, it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.10 John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

It may generally be remarked that the more a government resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.11 Zephaniah Swift, Author of America's First Legal Text

Many Americans today seem to be unable to define the difference between the two, but there is a difference, a big difference. That difference rests in the source of authority.

A pure democracy operates by direct majority vote of the people. When an issue is to be decided, the entire population votes on it; the majority wins and rules. A republic differs in that the general population elects representatives who then pass laws to govern the nation. A democracy is the rule by majority feeling (what the Founders described as a "mobocracy" 12); a republic is rule by law. If the source of law for a democracy is the popular feeling of the people, then what is the source of law for the American republic? According to Founder Noah Webster:

Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.13

The transcendent values of Biblical natural law were the foundation of the American republic. Consider the stability this provides: in our republic, murder will always be a crime, for it is always a crime according to the Word of God. however, in a democracy, if majority of the people decide that murder is no longer a crime, murder will no longer be a crime.

Much of what David Barton is writing about refers to what we in Europe call a “representative democracy”. In this sense, there is little difference between the political systems in Europe and the United States.

Barton quotes people such as James Madison, John Adams, Noah Webster and John Quincy Adams to criticise democracy. For example, he quotes John Adams as saying: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Of course, at the time these people were writing there were few examples of democratic systems in existence. It is therefore not intellectually justifiable to use these people to support your arguments on democracy.

The one thing that marks out Barton’s arguments that makes them different from the debate that is taking place in Europe, concerns religion. Barton argues: “Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion. The transcendent values of Biblical natural law were the foundation of the American republic. Consider the stability this provides: in our republic, murder will always be a crime, for it is always a crime according to the Word of God. however, in a democracy, if majority of the people decide that murder is no longer a crime, murder will no longer be a crime.”

His example is not a good one. Murder was a crime before the emergence of the Christian religion. It is still a crime in all societies. However, in the case of warmongers like George Bush, murder has to be redefined as being part of a “Just War” (the original definition of a Just War has to be changed in order to justify aggressive acts of wars against other nations).

In truth Barton is referring to other political and social issues like abortion and homosexuality. That these laws should not be changed as it is said that the Bible makes clear what its view is on these subjects. This is not true of course as Christians can find quotations to suit both sides of the argument on these issues.

The view that you cannot update your laws to take account for changes in society is a bizarre one. The same goes for the democratic system. Murder will always be wrong but attitudes towards subjects such as abortion, birth-control and homosexuality will change over time.

I suspect what Barton is trying to justify is the inequalities that exist in America. A truly democratic system would deal with this problem. It is only when you have a deeply corrupt political system that these inequalities, that Jesus Christ was so much opposed to, can continue in the way that they do in America.

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And now, please, instead of all your criticism, which we all red about during the past a couple of years you could maybe start with these three points you so cleverly put down.

1) ….. it needs to be constantly challenged and reformed ……..  How?

2) ….. how do we find ways of forcing our politicians to make changes ……. of the democratic political systems I presume you meant. Yes how? Tell us.

3)…… to become a fully-functioning democracy.  Please tell us what do YOU see as a fully-functioning democracy without any misconduct whatsoever.

Since the time of Robespierre, Danton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraeli and all the other political thinkers and practitioners plus all by political matters interested philosophers (not to mention the honourable and from time to time in these debates useful Leon Trotsky) it’s up to you now to outline your own view of how the problem should be solved.

It is probably impossible to create a “pure” democratic system. Most countries have opted for a representative democracy. The main problem is how do you make sure that the elected member truly represents the constituents. In most cases, the elected member represents his party more than the constituents. The part is often under the control of vested interest groups. This control is gained by the use of money to fund the party. They do this in return for certain policies to be implemented.

One way of dealing with this problem is to break the chain between the politician and these powerful interest groups. One way of doing this is to have the state fund political parties. These decisions would then be based on ideology rather than financial pressures. If this is not done, those with the largest amount of money, will shape decision-making.

It is also necessary to look at the way that people with money shape political opinions. Currently, owners of the mass media are in a powerful position to control the outcome of elections. Currently television companies in the UK are forced to broadcast party political messages during election campaigns. I believe the same thing should happen with newspapers and other forms of mass media.

The amount of money a party gets from the state should depend on membership. This would encourage parties to become more democratic organizations. (One of the major reasons why political parties have lost members is that individuals have lost most of their power over recent years.)

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The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Hi Terry

Since persons of color and women were disenfranchised at the time of the Lincoln administration and for much of the nineteenth century eligible voters were bullied by machine politicians (Boss Tweed etc) or by street gangs, I don't see Lincoln's time or the rest of the 19th century as being a golden age of democracy. Civil rights were an issue during FDR and JFK's administrations so those examples don't really show us democracy at its best either. In fact, in terms of the population eligible to vote, the United States populace of today is probably best able to enjoy the fruits of democracy, although the flaws in the U.S. system with the electoral college and the inability to have a vote of confidence for lawmakers to call an election, unlike the British system, impair the ability to have democracy.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating. 

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't  enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active. At present, the large majority people in the U.S. populace believe they have no reason to become activists, and so many do not even vote for the same reason.

Best regards

Chris

"for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy"..."

is what I believe I stated.

"I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active."

To whom are you referring as, "living the good life and not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system"? and, "plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things." Surely you jest?

Have you been to South Central, Compton, or Carson, lately? Oh, I forgot. They've had crack cocaine supplied to them via Operation Watchtower for 15 or more years now, to help them view their surroundings in a much better light, and from a much better perspective.

If and when the supply is ever cut off, which I seriously doubt will happen, [otherwise how else will the huddled and weary masses be controlled, and thus contained?] and people are allowed to come off this grand illusion of an economic boom town, we're supposed to be living in and through, heaven help Nero when Rome really does begin to start burning.

Or, maybe what's needed is the reinstatement of another "involuntary" draft board to drag the kids away from their game boys? Hell, by now their hand and eye coordination should be exceptional after the many hours they've spent playing virtual war games! Of course, once faced with the reality and gore of real warfare, they might possibly get a "fire in the belly", especially after seeing their buddy's body blown to bits and sprayed all over them, in the interim. Then again, what are the drafts for in the first place? Not fighting for liberty and justice for all, that went the way of WW II. No, just think of it as another form of culling the herds of humanity aka "huddled and weary masses".

Warmest regards,

Ter

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I believe the biggest obstacle to the establishment of real democracy in western countries is the deepening but false ideological message that democracy is synonymous with capitalism. We are therefore left with a a market place view of democracy where elites compete for the people's vote in the context of a profoundly inegalitarian social and economic system.

Important  concepts of deep participation, political equality and responsive government, which should characterise what democracy really means, are at best marginalised and at worst lost for good - see USA and increasingly the UK for prime examples ;)

Very important point. In fact, capitalism, because it creates so much inequality, is at hear anti-democratic. I would like to think that capitalism could be tamed and therefore could allow for a fully functioning democracy to be achieved. However, the jury is still out whether this is possible. All the signs are not good. Except in the area of mass communications, power is concentrated more and more in a small riling minority.

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The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Hi Terry

Since persons of color and women were disenfranchised at the time of the Lincoln administration and for much of the nineteenth century eligible voters were bullied by machine politicians (Boss Tweed etc) or by street gangs, I don't see Lincoln's time or the rest of the 19th century as being a golden age of democracy. Civil rights were an issue during FDR and JFK's administrations so those examples don't really show us democracy at its best either. In fact, in terms of the population eligible to vote, the United States populace of today is probably best able to enjoy the fruits of democracy, although the flaws in the U.S. system with the electoral college and the inability to have a vote of confidence for lawmakers to call an election, unlike the British system, impair the ability to have democracy.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating. 

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't  enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active. At present, the large majority people in the U.S. populace believe they have no reason to become activists, and so many do not even vote for the same reason.

Best regards

Chris

"for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy"..."

is what I believe I stated.

"I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active."

To whom are you referring as, "living the good life and not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system"? and, "plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things." Surely you jest?

Have you been to South Central, Compton, or Carson, lately? Oh, I forgot. They've had crack cocaine supplied to them via Operation Watchtower for 15 or more years now, to help them view their surroundings in a much better light, and from a much better perspective.

If and when the supply is ever cut off, which I seriously doubt will happen, [otherwise how else will the huddled and weary masses be controlled, and thus contained?] and people are allowed to come off this grand illusion of an economic boom town, we're supposed to be living in and through, heaven help Nero when Rome really does begin to start burning.

Or, maybe what's needed is the reinstatement of another "involuntary" draft board to drag the kids away from their game boys? Hell, by now their hand and eye coordination should be exceptional after the many hours they've spent playing virtual war games! Of course, once faced with the reality and gore of real warfare, they might possibly get a "fire in the belly", especially after seeing their buddy's body blown to bits and sprayed all over them, in the interim. Then again, what are the drafts for in the first place? Not fighting for liberty and justice for all, that went the way of WW II. No, just think of it as another form of culling the herds of humanity aka "huddled and weary masses".

Warmest regards,

Ter

Hi Terry

The people of "South Central, Compton, or Carson," Watts, Harlem, poor Appalachia or poor Mississippi are another matter. I'm talking about middle America which makes up the majority of voters who are satisfied with the way things are and don't have a reason to want to change the system.

All my best

Chris

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I believe the biggest obstacle to the establishment of real democracy in western countries is the deepening but false ideological message that democracy is synonymous with capitalism. We are therefore left with a a market place view of democracy where elites compete for the people's vote in the context of a profoundly inegalitarian social and economic system.

Important  concepts of deep participation, political equality and responsive government, which should characterise what democracy really means, are at best marginalised and at worst lost for good - see USA and increasingly the UK for prime examples :(

Very important point. In fact, capitalism, because it creates so much inequality, is at hear anti-democratic. I would like to think that capitalism could be tamed and therefore could allow for a fully functioning democracy to be achieved. However, the jury is still out whether this is possible. All the signs are not good. Except in the area of mass communications, power is concentrated more and more in a small riling minority.

That's a very astute comment by Andy. Most take it for granted that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand but there's no reason why that should be so. Capitalism is so out of control in the west that it's become a rigid dogma itself. There's nothing democratic about it.

A true democracy is probably a utopian ideal, not because Governments of all political persuasions are so corrupt, but because people are basically corrupt. Why? Because power corrupts them.

Edited by Mark Stapleton

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I believe the biggest obstacle to the establishment of real democracy in western countries is the deepening but false ideological message that democracy is synonymous with capitalism. We are therefore left with a a market place view of democracy where elites compete for the people's vote in the context of a profoundly inegalitarian social and economic system.

Important  concepts of deep participation, political equality and responsive government, which should characterise what democracy really means, are at best marginalised and at worst lost for good - see USA and increasingly the UK for prime examples :(

Very important point. In fact, capitalism, because it creates so much inequality, is at hear anti-democratic. I would like to think that capitalism could be tamed and therefore could allow for a fully functioning democracy to be achieved. However, the jury is still out whether this is possible. All the signs are not good. Except in the area of mass communications, power is concentrated more and more in a small riling minority.

That's a very astute comment by Andy. Most take it for granted that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand but there's no reason why that should be so. Capitalism is so out of control in the west that it's become a rigid dogma itself. There's nothing democratic about it.

A true democracy is probably a utopian ideal, not because Governments of all political persuasions are so corrupt, but because people are basically corrupt. Why? Because power corrupts them.

"Capitalism is so out of control in the west that it's become a rigid dogma itself. There's nothing democratic about it.

A true democracy is probably a utopian ideal, not because Governments of all political persuasions are so corrupt, but because people are basically corrupt. Why? Because power corrupts them."

Exactly.

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The only eras in which America has been able to pass for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy" was during Lincoln's term, FDR's, and JFK's, that I am aware of. All other terms have been a paradox, due to the intentional extermination of the Native Americans, the slavery issue, and the equal rights issue, which have yet to be adequately addressed, and have always been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will either go away, or die away.

Hi Terry

Since persons of color and women were disenfranchised at the time of the Lincoln administration and for much of the nineteenth century eligible voters were bullied by machine politicians (Boss Tweed etc) or by street gangs, I don't see Lincoln's time or the rest of the 19th century as being a golden age of democracy. Civil rights were an issue during FDR and JFK's administrations so those examples don't really show us democracy at its best either. In fact, in terms of the population eligible to vote, the United States populace of today is probably best able to enjoy the fruits of democracy, although the flaws in the U.S. system with the electoral college and the inability to have a vote of confidence for lawmakers to call an election, unlike the British system, impair the ability to have democracy.

Your media and the European media portray America correctly, but the majority of Americans are unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and have been coerced pschologically into believing whatever is fed to them via NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Therefore, the impression that "the American people are not aware of what is happening..." is very much on the mark, but you can add to that, "nor do the majority want to know, but prefer to remain in the dark, as long as they're assured their most basic needs are going to be met." Case in point, I can only discuss what we're addressing here with a few people at my job. Three to be exact, out of fifteen, because the other ten are afraid to make what they believe to be waves in their lives, are fearful of what kind of a can of worms they may open up and find, and consider themselves totally helpless to change the pattern they feel has been allowed to evolve, because they view their vote as an exercise in futility. The two others are not citizens. I have heard only one of my colleagues mention remorse in casting her vote for Bush. And, that's probably because she never really listened to what my two like-minded co-workers and I were discussing until recently, and began observing inconsistencies in the Bush administration that ran counter to what she had been anticipating. 

The majority of the American people are more impressed by "showmanship" and the latest fashion, moreso than by content and quality. It's been successfully ingrained into their psyches by the media. Nor will they listen to something not presented as a sound byte, or a catchy slogan. They prefer everything pre-packaged, par-boiled, and easily consumable, with the minimum of effort required to read the fine print, or warnings on the labels. This is what I refer to as the dumbing-down of American, or of western intellect. And, they've bought it, wholeheartedly and accepted it, regardless of the consequences, or recognizing any responsibility their actions [in-actions] may have contributed to what they now find to be so inadequate.

They've allowed themselves to be led down a primrose path, and could care less about government policy, just as long as they're able to afford to send their kids to private schools, in order to avoid the stark and gutted realities of our inner cities' public school system. Those in California, who've voted for Scwartzenegger [sp.?] are finally coming to terms with his worthless promises. There aren't  enough textbooks to go around, and the ones that exist must be shared between students. People in California vote to keep their property taxes down, but as a result, shoot themselves in the foot, because their school system ends up taking it in the teeth. What about all those promises of Lotto money and the shot in the arm it would provide for the schools? Probably pocketed by the owners of the Lotto franchises. Let's face it, there's no pie in the sky scheme that's going to somehow miraculously come down and "amnesty" us out of this debacle. If people come to California, hoping to raise a family, they'd be better off looking to Oregon or Seattle to meet the educational needs of their children. Because, unless you're able to afford private schools, you'll be doing your children a grave disservice.

So, if we sound cynical, maybe we should heed the words of either George Bernard Shaw, or was it Noel Coward, or Oscar Wilde [pardon my lapse of memory here] who stated in so many words, "A cynic is not one to be thought of as a negative person, but one who is simply aware of his surroundings." Or, something to that effect. The majority of Americans are totally unaware because they choose to be ostriches and hide there heads in the sand.

A total embarressment before the rest of the world.

I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active. At present, the large majority people in the U.S. populace believe they have no reason to become activists, and so many do not even vote for the same reason.

Best regards

Chris

"for anything remotely resembling a true "democracy"..."

is what I believe I stated.

"I really think the American populace is complacent because they are living the good life and are not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system, plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things. The situation in the Sixties when college students were faced with the draft and when blacks were fighting for their rights shows that groups of Americans can become mobilized when they have a personal reason to become active."

To whom are you referring as, "living the good life and not faced with enough economic woes to want to change the system"? and, "plus the media and popular myth tell them the American system is the best in the world, that they are better off than anyone else in the world, so there is no fire in the belly to change things." Surely you jest?

Have you been to South Central, Compton, or Carson, lately? Oh, I forgot. They've had crack cocaine supplied to them via Operation Watchtower for 15 or more years now, to help them view their surroundings in a much better light, and from a much better perspective.

If and when the supply is ever cut off, which I seriously doubt will happen, [otherwise how else will the huddled and weary masses be controlled, and thus contained?] and people are allowed to come off this grand illusion of an economic boom town, we're supposed to be living in and through, heaven help Nero when Rome really does begin to start burning.

Or, maybe what's needed is the reinstatement of another "involuntary" draft board to drag the kids away from their game boys? Hell, by now their hand and eye coordination should be exceptional after the many hours they've spent playing virtual war games! Of course, once faced with the reality and gore of real warfare, they might possibly get a "fire in the belly", especially after seeing their buddy's body blown to bits and sprayed all over them, in the interim. Then again, what are the drafts for in the first place? Not fighting for liberty and justice for all, that went the way of WW II. No, just think of it as another form of culling the herds of humanity aka "huddled and weary masses".

Warmest regards,

Ter

Hi Terry

The people of "South Central, Compton, or Carson," Watts, Harlem, poor Appalachia or poor Mississippi are another matter. I'm talking about middle America which makes up the majority of voters who are satisfied with the way things are and don't have a reason to want to change the system.

All my best

Chris

"I'm talking about middle America which makes up the majority of voters who are satisfied with the way things are and don't have a reason to want to change the system."

Hi Chris,

So, in order to live happily within a fascist form of government, if one would move to middle America [the midwest?], one would find a more satisfying lifestyle within the status quo? I'm not sure I follow you here. Why would that be? What makes the people of middle America happier living under fascist rule, as opposed to living with social equity? Sorry to sound so dense, but don't they care about the rest of the world, or what effects the insatiable quest for fossil fuels to fill their SUV's has on less developed countries, who might not share our desire for "consuming mass quantities" [remember the Coneheads on the old SNL shows?] :) But then again, what do I know? The majority of white rules in middle America, I suppose. Or, maybe I live too close to the inner city to be able to find the yellow brick road, anymore.

Warmest regards,

Ter

:(:beer:beer:beer:beer

"consuming mass quantities..."

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Hi Terri

The end of your post relates more to my point than you think.

:offtopic:beer:beer:beer:beer

"consuming mass quantities..."

For the "Middle America" I mean is not just the geographic middle of the United states but more broadly, "The moderate, middle-class segment of the US population that comprises the largest consumer group."

Definition in http://www.motto.com/glossary.html

You ask: "What makes the people of middle America happier living under fascist rule, as opposed to living with social equity?"

-- They don't know they are living under fascist rule, thus their complacency.

You say, "Sorry to sound so dense, but don't they care about the rest of the world, or what effects the insatiable quest for fossil fuels to fill their SUV's has on less developed countries, who might not share our desire for 'consuming mass quantities' [remember the Coneheads on the old SNL shows?]"

-- No they don't care, partly because they are not told to care, or else they believe that the United States is doing its best in terms of bringing democracy to the rest of the world, and in terms of foreign aid, etc.

Chris

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Hi Terri

The end of your post relates more to my point than you think.

:tomatoes  :(  :beer  :beer  :beer

"consuming mass quantities..."

For the "Middle America" I mean is not just the geographic middle of the United states but more broadly, "The moderate, middle-class segment of the US population that comprises the largest consumer group."

Definition in http://www.motto.com/glossary.html

You ask: "What makes the people of middle America happier living under fascist rule, as opposed to living with social equity?"

-- They don't know they are living under fascist rule, thus their complacency.

You say, "Sorry to sound so dense, but don't they care about the rest of the world, or what effects the insatiable quest for fossil fuels to fill their SUV's has on less developed countries, who might not share our desire for 'consuming mass quantities' [remember the Coneheads on the old SNL shows?]"

-- No they don't care, partly because they are not told to care, or else they believe that the United States is doing its best in terms of bringing democracy to the rest of the world, and in terms of foreign aid, etc.

Chris

Don't you find that sad, or disconcerting? Or am I over-reacting? Maybe it's all a lost cause, and I'm the odd man out. I just always thought there was more to life than material acquisitions, especially when these acquisitions happened to create such a negative effect on our surroundings, and on the planet, itself. If we could put a shuttle in orbit, why haven't we been able to perfect another form of fuel or energy withwhich to power our vehicles, heat our homes, etc.? There's got to be another alternative source.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Ter

Definition in http://www.motto.com/glossary.html

Targetted consumers.

My Dad had been a commercial artist from the late 1920's until the day he died in 1983. He worked for Westinghouse, created the "7" in Seagram's 7 Crown, the Coppertone baby in 1947, Coca Cola, Kelloggs, Johnson & Johnson Sheer Strips.

I learned about subliminal advertising at the age of seven when I asked my old man why he was always drawing the word Kellogg's, to which he proceeded to answer me by pulling down a bunch of pieces of tracing paper he kept over the years, where he had re-drawn the word slightly differently, not so much as to change its appearance, but just enough to catch the consumer's eye as they walked down the cereal aisle. I told him I thought that was cheating because it seemed like he was trying to fool the people. But, he patiently explained that it was more like livening up the name in order to wake up the peoples' attention so that they'd notice it. I don't know about that... :)

Edited by Terry Mauro

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