Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
14-05-2014, 02:15 AM
Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
I am going to make a lot of claims here and I probably won't justify them. I will leave it to the people better educated to ultimately refute and confirm my observations. I am not fixed in my position and will go along with the side that makes the best arguments.

That being said, there are some very disturbing trends in the United States that seem so very anti-democratic. We have the structure of a republic, and in that respect our government has not changed much in the last hundred or so years. However the dynamics of american politics has changed pretty dramatically and the biggest different between america now and america in another time in history is the influence of money.

Now I wouldn't argue that America was better or worse a hundred and fifty years ago. In general we have a more educated and informative public do to cool stuff like everybody learns to read in public school and 24 hour news. Back in the old days the government was a bunch of people you never met and knew very little about. These days if the president gets a new dog everyone and their mom knows the bread, gender, and name.

This media thing is a double edged sword though. I won't quote it, but the data shows overwhelmingly that a lot of money tends to buy you success in elections. The person to win a seat in congress or the presidency is almost always the person who raised the most money for their campaign. With the recent Citizens United court ruling allowing for private individuals to donate unlimited funds for political advertising, it becomes possible to simply drown out the competition rather than debate. Enough negative attack adds and clearly bias political commercials makes just about anybody look electable.

In recent years the influence of lobbyist in the capital seems to be a reflection of that. Big companies spend millions every year to lobby, and unions and special interests too. Obviously if you are a Exxon oil or a Comcast/Time Warner or a farm aggregate spending all that cash you are anticipating a return on that investment, and judging by how much they spend I can only guess their analysts must feel it pays off in dividends. You can see how that might have influence public policy; we (us US citizens anyway) have a huge national debt but we give tax breaks to the wealthy and huge subsidies to business. We have some of the most archaic and backwards copy right laws and we write enough tax code loop holes to allow most fortune five hundred companies to pay less than 7% effective tax rate. All biases aside, our tax code clearly favors the very wealthy, and given the "no free lunch rule" this is at the expense of somebody else. Our future generations who have to pay back that debt and the poor being the most likely victims.

Now it might be possible to except this as good ol' red blooded capitalism so long as our government still appears to function as a democracy. Call me cynical, but I actually don't place that much emphasis on which asshole represents me in government so long as that asshole accurately represents me (me being one of their many constituents). Alarmingly enough though, there have been numerous examples in recent history where public opinion was overwhelmingly on one side of an issue, but curiously congress went the other way. Some notable examples; back ground checks for gun purchases, immigration reform (in particular a path for illegals to citizenship) and opposition against the big corporate bail outs. Each of these had north of 70% of the country in at least some agreement while these were being debated in congress but, perhaps more importantly, special interest and big business where on the other side of that. It was them, and not citizens in general, who got their way. My favorite is the government bail out, where congress yielded to public pressure and shot down the bill, only to turn around THREE FUCKING DAYS LATER and pass it anyway. I don't know the details of what went on with that bill, but it sure smells like shit doesn't it? What have heard eludes to back door dealings and a heavy handed dose of a ton of fucking pressure, but I won't claim to have any good authority on that.

When you consider the influence of money and wealthy individuals who have that money on our government it becomes difficult, at least for me, to say in good faith that I live in a democratic country. Money buys you elections, legislation, and is very powerful at influencing public opinion. When a few wealthy individuals ultimately control our countries destiny that isn't a democracy, that is a new class of government I have taken to describing as a capitalist oligarchy.

That is just me though. I know a lot more than most, but I am certainly no political scientist or policy wonk. What do you guys think? Does america still have a functional democracy, or has it become something else?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 02:34 AM (This post was last modified: 14-05-2014 02:37 AM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
At the state and local level, you still have a voice; for now democracy still works. But at the national level? Fuck no, the banks and corporations already own them.

The single largest determining factor in who wins an election is money. Who has more? Nine times out of ten, they win the election.



US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/14

"Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, ..." and then they go on to say, it's not true, and that, "America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened" by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead "the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."





[Image: E3WvRwZ.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes EvolutionKills's post
14-05-2014, 03:00 AM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 02:15 AM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  When you consider the influence of money and wealthy individuals who have that money on our government it becomes difficult, at least for me, to say in good faith that I live in a democratic country. Money buys you elections, legislation, and is very powerful at influencing public opinion. When a few wealthy individuals ultimately control our countries destiny that isn't a democracy, that is a new class of government I have taken to describing as a capitalist oligarchy.

We have a lot of problems, and I'm not sure I'd agree with you entirely on their precise nature and resolution, but I do think it may be interesting to toss out this thought. Is there any credible reason to believe we can prevent money from influencing politics as long as politics can influence money?

You know much money is spent influencing my decisions on public spending or regulation? None... and that is even without a law preventing it. The mere fact that I can't influence money keeps money from even trying to influence me. I don't see any indication that the reverse is any less true.

The simple solution is to strip the power to regulate and legislate and tax and spend away from government as much as possible and distribute the remainder as broadly as possible to people as local as possible and as directly answerable and accountable to the local citizens as possible. Of course, the reason this isn't widely embraced as a "solution" is that most people want to continue wielding concentrated power and just find a way to vest that power in incorruptible people. If you believe in that, I have a book about a 2000 year old zombie jew that you are gonna love!

Jesus is my Stalker: He has graced me with his unconditional love, but if I reject it and refuse to love him in return, he will make my life Hell.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 04:01 AM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 03:00 AM)djhall Wrote:  You know much money is spent influencing my decisions on public spending or regulation? None... and that is even without a law preventing it. The mere fact that I can't influence money keeps money from even trying to influence me. I don't see any indication that the reverse is any less true.

That is a lie. Corporations sponsor the Olympics, because association with the games gives them a more positive public image. This is sometimes used to help mitigate or reverse a company's negative perception, like BP after the Gulf fiasco. Have you ever seen a commercial for a company that wasn't actually selling you anything (ie: Boeing Aerospace, Citigroup, GE, etc.)? They we're selling you their image.

I've seen plenty of commercials in support of the Keystone pipeline filled with testimonials from blue collar oil-field working rural Americans, trying to sell you the idea that the pipeline isn't just for the sole benefit of a handful of big oil companies. They're trying to convince you that the project will be good for you and other working Americans! They want you to ignore the fact that its the public who will be saddled with the terrible risk the project poses to the environment and that all it will do is help international companies pipe resources out of Canada and across America; but that doesn't mean that the profits will actually go into the hands of working Americans. Far from it in fact.

[Image: E3WvRwZ.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 04:28 AM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
Yes.


You just legalised corruption.

[Image: RPYH95t.png]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 10:52 AM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 02:15 AM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  We have the structure of a republic, and in that respect our government has not changed much in the last hundred or so years.

Not true. You're confusing democracy and republic. They are 2 very different things. See here and here. Democracy is rule by majority. Republic is rule by law (the government is required to follow a constitution that limits what the majority can do). A democracy imposes the will of the majority on the minorities. A republic defends minorities against the tyranny of the majority. When Benjamin Franklin was asked if the Founders created a democracy or a republic, he said "A republic, but only if you can keep it", because he knew that when someone does something you don't like, the primal instinct is to gang up and get the power to use force. So it's very hard to keep a republic because it requires humans to use intellect and reason to suppress those primal instincts, and instead follow the rule of law and tolerate unpopular minorities.

Franklin was right. The republic didn't last long. The US Constitution says the federal government has a small set of enumerated powers, all of which are to defend minorities against the majority (free speech, freedom of religion, restrictions on search & seizure, etc.), and any imposition of the will of the majority must be done at the state level. The Supreme Court is tasked with voiding as unconstitutional any laws which Congress passes at the Federal level that steps outside that small list of enumerated powers. But that hasn't happened for a very long time. 99.9% of the laws Congress passes are unconstitutional and should be voided and handed to the States to decide. But the Constitution is just a worthless piece of paper anymore, and the rule of law is non-existent.

So the US is definitely NO LONGER a republic. As far as it being a functional democracy, that is entirely subjective. True the powerful corporate interests are behind all the laws, most of which just transfer more power and wealth away from the people and concentrate it all at the top. But they only get away with it because of slick marketing and convincing the people to vote in politicians who they can buy off. So, in a sense, it still is a democracy because although it exploits the people, the people do ultimately vote to subject themselves to this exploitation.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 05:02 PM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 04:01 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(14-05-2014 03:00 AM)djhall Wrote:  You know much money is spent influencing my decisions on public spending or regulation? None... and that is even without a law preventing it. The mere fact that I can't influence money keeps money from even trying to influence me. I don't see any indication that the reverse is any less true.

That is a lie. Corporations sponsor the Olympics, because association with the games gives them a more positive public image. This is sometimes used to help mitigate or reverse a company's negative perception, like BP after the Gulf fiasco. Have you ever seen a commercial for a company that wasn't actually selling you anything (ie: Boeing Aerospace, Citigroup, GE, etc.)? They we're selling you their image.

I've seen plenty of commercials in support of the Keystone pipeline filled with testimonials from blue collar oil-field working rural Americans, trying to sell you the idea that the pipeline isn't just for the sole benefit of a handful of big oil companies. They're trying to convince you that the project will be good for you and other working Americans! They want you to ignore the fact that its the public who will be saddled with the terrible risk the project poses to the environment and that all it will do is help international companies pipe resources out of Canada and across America; but that doesn't mean that the profits will actually go into the hands of working Americans. Far from it in fact.

Well, in fairness, you are correct in that companies do influence the public on spending and regulation issues because they think the public opinion can influence the politicians and decision makers. Which is kind of the point. If they can't influence the politicians directly they will influence their families, friends, the public, or others to get them to influence the politicians, and laws aren't going to make that go away.

If we want to get rid of the influencing, we'd have to get rid of the power they are trying to influence. If we want to keep the power, which I assume most people do, we need to accept the reality that the influencing is going to happen and we can't legislate it away or find immune politicians. That means we need to find ways to make a system that is designed with the presence of influence in mind instead of wishing for a perfect world with money standing aside and politicians that are not influenced by anything but the good of the citizens.

Jesus is my Stalker: He has graced me with his unconditional love, but if I reject it and refuse to love him in return, he will make my life Hell.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 07:45 PM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
Limits on individuals spending for political adds and publicly funded campaigns could solve a lot of problems. We wouldn't be the first... or the second... or third country to do that you know.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Michael_Tadlock's post
14-05-2014, 07:56 PM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 10:52 AM)frankksj Wrote:  
(14-05-2014 02:15 AM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  We have the structure of a republic, and in that respect our government has not changed much in the last hundred or so years.

Not true. You're confusing democracy and republic. They are 2 very different things. See here and here. Democracy is rule by majority. Republic is rule by law (the government is required to follow a constitution that limits what the majority can do). A democracy imposes the will of the majority on the minorities. A republic defends minorities against the tyranny of the majority. When Benjamin Franklin was asked if the Founders created a democracy or a republic, he said "A republic, but only if you can keep it", because he knew that when someone does something you don't like, the primal instinct is to gang up and get the power to use force. So it's very hard to keep a republic because it requires humans to use intellect and reason to suppress those primal instincts, and instead follow the rule of law and tolerate unpopular minorities.

Franklin was right. The republic didn't last long. The US Constitution says the federal government has a small set of enumerated powers, all of which are to defend minorities against the majority (free speech, freedom of religion, restrictions on search & seizure, etc.), and any imposition of the will of the majority must be done at the state level. The Supreme Court is tasked with voiding as unconstitutional any laws which Congress passes at the Federal level that steps outside that small list of enumerated powers. But that hasn't happened for a very long time. 99.9% of the laws Congress passes are unconstitutional and should be voided and handed to the States to decide. But the Constitution is just a worthless piece of paper anymore, and the rule of law is non-existent.

So the US is definitely NO LONGER a republic. As far as it being a functional democracy, that is entirely subjective. True the powerful corporate interests are behind all the laws, most of which just transfer more power and wealth away from the people and concentrate it all at the top. But they only get away with it because of slick marketing and convincing the people to vote in politicians who they can buy off. So, in a sense, it still is a democracy because although it exploits the people, the people do ultimately vote to subject themselves to this exploitation.

Will wonders never cease ? I actually agree with everything he said there. Facepalm
I must be ill. Weeping

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
14-05-2014, 08:20 PM
RE: Does the United States still have a functional democracy (or republic)?
(14-05-2014 07:45 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Limits on individuals spending for political adds and publicly funded campaigns could solve a lot of problems. We wouldn't be the first... or the second... or third country to do that you know.

Well, we tried to have some of that, but the money interests just run "issue ads" that supposedly aren't for or against any particular candidate to get around them.

Jesus is my Stalker: He has graced me with his unconditional love, but if I reject it and refuse to love him in return, he will make my life Hell.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: