Saturday, April 2, 2011

democracy in america

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Rachel Rosenfeld Rosenfeld 1


Ms. Jawork


Western Civilizations Honors, Set 1


November 18, 2001


Write your democracy in america research paper


Democracy the Concept; Flourishing in Modern America


Democracy is a philosophy; an intellection and theory that begirds the skeleton of a government. It is a concept of inalienable liberties for the governed who govern. “The spirit of our citizens, rising with a strength and majesty which show the loveliness of freedom, will make this government in practice what it is in principle, a model for the protection of man in a state of free and order.” Thomas Jefferson conceived this fact just as I realize it now. Democracy assures freedom and rights to all citizens. It is a concept of freedom and justice to all who live under such a “government.” The concept of democracy has evolved over thousands of years amalgamating each additional constituent to the concoction and because of this cultural diffusion of democratic principle democratic theory has commenced what it is today. Democracy has undergone evolutionary adaptation in response to historical circumstances. The sense datum of democracy does thrive in America in our free market economy and free politics.


“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Is one of Lord Acton’s more famous sayings. The more power governments have, the more human insecurity exists. The famous democratic freedom is the main generator of national and individual wealth and prosperity. When each person has the freedom to vote they feel puissant, yet realistically every person bears approximately proportionate might impeding corruption. One politic can always argue with another’s positions and decision or intent of action must be backed up by majority vote to enact. The term freedom has a positive connotation. Power, however, infers the


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obstruction and control of an individual’s freedoms. The freedom of expression causes the arts to flourish causing a rich culture. Freedom is a method of nonviolence therefore spreading peace. Freedom is what keeps the masses satisfied.


Democracy is derived from two Greek words; demos or people and kratein or to rule. Due to the root of the word democracy originating in Greece, one can only conclude that this is where direct democracy was propagated. The original Greek theory of democracy was a government directly ruled by the people. An Assembly consisting of all citizens was required to meet and vote on important issues. Anyone could be heard and everyone’s point of view was subsumed. Abraham Lincoln liked the Athenian model of government very much. He dubbed democracy as government by the people of the people, and for the people. This is the very spirit of democracy today. E.B. White agrees that, “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.”


Simultaneously in the Roman Empire an indirect form of democracy was exercised. Still advocating the majority rule, the Romans elected representatives who stood for groups of people and presented their ideas. All people still had the right to vote. The public still felt as though they had power and everyone still had their rights. This form of representative government prospers in America today. The United States is a product of a culturally diffused philosophy of democracy. Employing the philosophy of common suffrage and popular sovereignty of the Athenian model on the form of the representative “Republican” Roman democratic government, the politically democratic government is alive and booming in modern America.


The general simulacrum of democracy consists of providing its citizens with certain inalienable liberties, for example the fundamental freedom of speech, which affects perception


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on the individual level. Individual minds and opinions are the construction workers of societies. Owing to the fact that democracy has varying definitions in separate contexts and can be interpreted diversely from various perspectives, there exists a very general and flexible acceptation of democracy. In an ideal sense, the concept of democracy can be adapted to inspire people to rebel against a dictator. Playing devils advocate, the United States has sought to impose its democratic model, one strongly flavored with capitalism and commercialism upon other countries in pursuit of beneficiary economic and political objectives. Modern connotation of democracy is still tinted with its ancient Athenian origin but now has many other undertones. It is positive when aimed at the goal of ending governmental persecution and bringing freedom to the oppressed but can be negative when being a selfish motive. Democracy is not a form of government but a loosened term that can act as a utensil or weapon for various causes.


Popular Sovereignty is the “keystone" of democracy. Contributed by the ancient civilization of Greece, popular sovereignty signifies the practice of rule by the people. This comes back to my “society’s freedoms” motif. No civil worker can hold office by force or fraud. There are no political hereditary rights. Voting is confidential and free. Also every person is guaranteed the freedom to support whatever political party they fancy. In the survey held in our classroom 84% of the people surveyed voted and only 16% did not. Therefore, majority rule is prevalent here. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” H. L. Mencken asserted.


Plato’s suggestion of having a Philosopher King or rule by the wise would not be favored by the mob. It would create the image of a dictatorship, which the people would reject due to its


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annihilating suggestion. People would feel subjugated. John Lowell is quoted saying, “Democracy gives everyone the right to be his own oppressor…” so why should we add a further


element of affliction through a “Philosopher King”? All people’s participation is not necessary. In the colossal vicinage that our government expands over it would be extremely difficult for every voice to be listened to. By electing representatives for regions the majority sentiments of each region is heeded. The less voices speaking the better chance each voice has to be heard. It is important, however, that every “type” of person is represented so that all opinions are accounted for no matter how unwelcome they may be to enable the entire population to be accounted for.


Capitalism is not the foundation of democracy; quite on the contrary actually. Democracy is the blood that rushes through Capitalism’s veins sustaining it’s live and well being. Capitalism is the freedom to go into business for oneself and reap all rewards. It is partly through Capitalism that democracy thrives in America. Economic opportunity is a chief autonomy that gives democracy appeal. We live in a material world, and materials cost money. Opportunity has a positive connotation implicating success. The United States has a free market with a competitive economy. Democracy ensures one’s freedom to participate in such an economy. When one company expands others go out of business. The pie is only so large and while the affluent keep the dough rolling in the penurious find it even harder to make ends meet. Yes, while everyone does have a dog’s chance to cut himself or herself a sliver of the American Dream (we are all guaranteed the pursuit of happiness), there’s only so much apple pie to go around and either you gormandize someone else’s piece or yours will be devoured. “Capitalism is such a wonderful system because it takes advantage of a human frailty, namely greed. “ Eli


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Khamarov is right on the money (no pun intended) in this quote. In our class survey it was observed that 58% of the voters earn below $100,000 yearly. While still not at the poverty line


in the least, for the biased group that was surveyed these voters earn a lower salary per year. These people have apparently not harvested the plums of capitalism to the same extent of the other 42% who made more than $100,000 yearly. Everyone who already hasn’t had their piece of pie and even those who have a petite piece are perpetually famished. It is an insatiable demand for a limited quantum. The gap separating the poor and rich can be reduced, but the pinning for the American pie can never be satisfied.


In a democracy where all are equal and resources are limited those who earn higher salaries may be taxed very highly as opposed to those who make a low salary may not be taxed at all or very little. This way the wealthy would not be able to maintain their opulence and the destitute would not be getting more impecunious if at all. The money that the prosperous are taxed may be loaned or given to the poor on a case by case basis. In this method each family or person would plead their case to a local court and the court would judge their situation and decide if they are in need of the money and worthy of it.


Democracy is a theory and because it is just this it is able to thrive in America today through our capitalistic economy and “republican” form of government. Its definition has become wide and flexible due to the cultural diffusion and hysterically evolution to fit a philosophy we now follow and revere today. It can be used as an instrument or a weapon to our benefit. As George Bernard Shaw was once quoted “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”


Rachel Rosenfeld


Ms. Jawork


Western Civ H, Set 1


February 18, 2001


Works Cited


1. Blitzer, Charles. Age of Kings. Silver Burdett Company. 1967 Time Inc.


2. Rowen, Herbert H., A History of Early Modern Europe 1500-1815. Harper & Row, 1953.


3. Descartes, Rene, Philosophical Writings. Transl by Norman Kemp Smith. Modern Library, 1958.


4. Bishop, Morris, Blaise Pascal. Dell, 1966.


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