This is an essay I wrote a couple months ago for U.S. Lit Honors. It was the first essay of the year and I only had a weekend to do it, so the ideas aren't developed very in-depth. I was hoping to maybe add to it over Thanksgiving break, so feedback would be very much appreciated. And if anyone knows of a place to find good statistics, please let me know.
There's a flaw in your title (which is all I read Very Happy ). America (actually, the "United States of America" - just "America" is technically a continent, not the country called the USA Razz ) is a REPUBLIC, not a democracy Wink
Yes, you're right, the United States of America is *technically* classified as a republic, but colloquially it is usually referred to as a democracy and according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, it could legitimately be called a democracy:

a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

And yes, you're right again, "America" does technically refer to a continent rather than a country, but most people refer to the American continents as North and South America or the Americas. Wink

So, would you rather that I alter my title to "The Flaws of Republicanism in the United States of America"? Because I'm a Republican. Mostly.Very Happy
true, we are a republic in that power is in state and fed, but democracy in that we vote.

I would say another flaw is the electoral college (but that is me).
Yeah, the electoral college is kind of idiotic. In my essay, I am mainly focusing on the players of the game (voters and politicians) rather than the rules of the game itself, but I may decide to incorporate more of my problems with our system of democracy (and democracy in general) later.
rivereye wrote:
true, we are a republic in that power is in state and fed, but democracy in that we vote.

You vote in a republic too Rolling Eyes

a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

in political theory and political science, the term "republic" is generally applied to a state where the government's political power depends solely on the consent, however nominal, of the people governed.

@MDR: You can't classify the USA as a democracy due to the electoral college Wink
The United States, as with must of the modern world, is a liberal democracy.
Yeah, the electoral college is kind of idiotic.

It is now because all of the states are very integrated; however when the nation was first being built the national government wasn't too powerful, and the country was just a group of states that were much more diverse then than they are now (states' right was more prevalent back then.)
true, but the Electoral College actually goes back the constitution. How it was voted by people is you voted for the House of Representatives. The house in turn, voted for the Senate, and they both voted for President. In some ways, it is like that (as the president is not direct).
It is now because all of the states are very integrated; however when the nation was first being built the national government wasn't too powerful, and the country was just a group of states that were much more diverse then than they are now (states' right was more prevalent back then.)

There were obvious advantages to the electoral college when the Constitution was drafted. With a serious lack of quick communication, it could have taken weeks to count all the votes and tally up the results. With the electoral college, all they had to do was decide if there was a majority in each state and award electoral votes. But now it is much easier to count votes, so there's really no point to it. From my understanding, the electors don't even have to vote (according to the Constitution) for the candidate that their state elected (even though they may face fines or other punishments).

So... has anyone read my essay? Confused
Sure, on your first body sentence you state that the United States was founded on the ideals of democracy and equality. The idea of equality (except for rich white landowners) was never a founding basis--not only were slaves and women not grated equal rights, but one of the main reasons for the senate's makeup not consisting of direct elected members is to prevent what Hamilton considered the unintelligent masses from wielding too much power over the government (read the Federalist Papers sometime). The framers were deeply mistrustful of the uneducated and uninformed and put policies in place, but the movement for equality has basically negated what they tried to accomplish. (re: 17th ad)

Edit: I realized that you'll probably counter with phrase "All men are created equal" from the DoI, but note that it states "men" and in their time that was a very narrow definition, and nowhere does it state that they have the equal right for anything but "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." In fact, the "all men are created equal" idea wasn't truly realized until the mid-1960's.
Here's some research I did on the last presidential election that you might find interesting:
Thanks for pointing that out, allynfolksjr. I guess when I wrote that I wasn't thinking about how it used to be for some groups. I'll work on rephrasing that.
Edit: A little help rephrasing that please someone?

And jpez, your link wouldn't work. Sad
allynfolksjr wrote:
In fact, the "all men are created equal" idea wasn't truly realized until the mid-1960's.

What about Montesque (or whatever that guys name was who said that all men are BORN equal (not are, just born))?

Also, America's constitution was based on Natural Laws...

I personally don't really mind the Electorial college and all that, we are fine as it is.

If we were a democracy, then we would vote on everything (unless we were a representative democracy) that happened. That is why Aristotle thought of a democracy as being a bad form of government.

That's all I can think fof saying for now...
Your kritik (any debaters out there?) raises some valid concerns, but my question is, who really cares? Do you think that voters have somehow become stupider or less informed since the 1950s? 1910s? 1800s? If anything, better information has (theoretically) allowed voters to become more informed than ever before. I refuse to believe that a farmer living in Arkansas in 1850 made better or more informed political decisions than even a below-average-intelligence voter today. Your response to that argument might be something along the lines of "but politics worked better in those days" -- but bear in mind "he who controls the present controls the past". In other words, people might perceive past politicians to have been superior, but this is only because they have been glorified through history textbooks. In reality, politics has always sucked, continues to suck, and will forever suck. People have always been manipulated, are being manipulated now, and will continue to be manipulated in the future. Yet, for all the breath that pundits expend pointing these flaws out, the system continues to chug along, however inefficient, brutal, or corrupt it may be. I see no reason why the flaws you point out would be exacerbated by today's particular circumstances ("decaying"), and so view your essay as a general kritik of American-style democracy, which generally seems to have worked for the past 200 years, meaning your thesis is empirically denied. However, I'd be happy to lament about the specific policies put in place by certain electees. Smile
jpez... Yes, "better information has (theoretically) allowed voters to become more informed than ever before," but the keyword there is "theoretically." Access to accurate information may improve, but it is up to the citizen-- the voter-- to use it in a meaningful way. The point of the entire essay was that voters are, in general, stupid. These people should not be making decisions for the rest of society. Or even choosing people to make the decisions for the rest of society.

I do believe that our system of democracy is in a state of decadence. Your argument that an 1850's Arkansas farmer would have been incapable of making a more informed political decision than "a below-average-intelligence voter today" is, at best, a half-truth. The vast majority of today's voters don't think about the big picture anymore than that farmer would have. I think that Americans' interest in politics has peaked and that it will only continue to decline in the future.

"He who controls the present controls the past." Who said that? I like that (and I agree totally). It's true that there have always been dirty politicians on both (or more) sides, and history tends to glorify people it shouldn't and dump on those who it shouldn't. I should definitely rephrase the "ever-more corrupt politicians" part of my intro (and most of the other parts of the intro as well). But my fifth paragraph (which focuses on dirty politics) doesn't imply anything about past politicians.

Overall, I think that a lot of people shouldn't be able to vote because they don't-- or can't-- think for themselves, not to mention people don't know about the issues. "Oh, but the Declaration says that everyone is equal and the amendments give everyone the right to vote!" So? If you are not allowed to vote because you aren't too intelligent, it shouldn't be shameful or anything, that's just how you fit into society: not being the one who makes the decisions. But that's for another essay on democracy in general.

Even if the system has worked for 200 years, what's to say that it will continue to work for another 200 years? I could definitely see true, pure communism working for a group of people for awhile, but it can't last indefinitely. I think that it's the same way with democracy. If you have a bunch of people not qualified helping to make important decisions, it's just not going to work in the long run. It is my belief, whether history proves it to be right or wrong, that our system of government in its current form cannot continue to work for much longer to serve its intended purpose.

b-flat, we can be classified as a democracy, even if it is a representative democracy. People vote and have the right to express their political views, therefore the power of government in our country lies with the people, agreed? Therefore we can be classified as a democracy.

And thanks to everyone for the feedback. It has helped me to think about the subject more thoroughly and to identify flaws in my essay (though I've yet to edit it because, with school, time is only a luxury).
Wow, are you related to Alexander Hamilton?
No, no I'm not. Razz

Edit: Woot! I've been promoted to Advanced Newbie!
What about the apparent problem that in a democracy, the power to control the distribution of wealth is often in the hands of people whom them selves have vested interests in achieving further wealth and or power. Further, the poor class whom may be most hurt by these entities are controlled by religious leaders allied with the people whom seek the financial gain. They are encouraged to feel for the candidate who proclaims they favor some god over other beliefs and further would attack those who do not (both verbally, in policy, and sometimes physically with death and) even if their actions are absolutely hypocritical with certain core values of the self proclaimed religion of choice.

People such as George Bush can be viewed in such a way. The portions of the biblical texts Christians follow all promote charity, non-superstition, and pacifism when possible. He has attacked Muslims, Jews, homosexuals, and scientists in the name of "God" yet he has waged war, attacked the poor, and claimed ridiculous religious thoughts as his. I would say the real problem with democracy is stupidity...a stupidity not solely the fault of the ignorant but much on the hands of those who aspire to reek it upon the populous and benefit from the cancer of stupidity.
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