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Democracy, government by the people.

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Brandon Hatfield In any system which claims to be democratic, a question of its legitimacy remains. A truly democratic political system has certain characteristics which prove its legitimacy with their existence. One essential characteristic of a legitimate democracy is that it allows people to freely make choices without government intervention. Another necessary characteristic which legitimates government is that every vote must count equally, one vote for every person. For this equality to occur, all people must be subject to the same laws, have equal civil rights, and be allowed to freely express their ideas. Since legitimacy may be the feeling or opinion the people have that government is based upon morally defensible principles and that they should therefore obey it, then there must necessarily be a connection between what the people want and what the government is doing. Democracy, government by the people. In a democracy all the governments power is derived from the people, not government by one or few. The word is actually two Greek words demos, and kratos, the people, and authority. When the word democracy came into the English language it was a negative word, usually referring to mob rule. Ancient Athens and Greek cities had a direct democracy, government in which citizens come together to discuss and pass laws and select rulers. This did not last. Most turned to mob rule and the dictatorship. ...read more.


Because voting is class-biased, it may not be classified as a completely legitimate process. Although in theory the American system calls for one vote per person, the low rate of turnout results in the upper and middle classes ultimately choosing candidates for the entire nation. Class is determined by income and education, and differing levels of these two factors can help explain why class bias occurs. For example, because educated people tend to understand politics more, they are more likely to vote. People with high income and education also have more resources, and poor people tend to have low political efficacy. Turnout, therefore, is low and, since the early 1960s, has been declining overall. The "winner-take-all" system in elections may be criticized for being undemocratic because the proportion of people agreeing with a particular candidate on a certain issue may not be adequately represented under this system. For example, a candidate who gets 40 percent of the vote, as long as he gets more votes than any other candidate, can be elected-even though sixty percent of the voters voted against him. Political parties in America are weak due to the anti-party, anti-organization, and anti-politics cultural prejudices of the Classical Liberals. Because in the U.S. there is no national discipline to force citizens into identifying with a political party, partisan identification tends to be an informal psychological commitment to a party. ...read more.


In actuality, they interpret laws and the Constitution using their power of judicial review, the power explicitly given to them in Marbury v. Madison. Though it has been termed the imperial judiciary by some, the courts are the weakest branch of government because they depend upon the compliance of the other branches for enforcement of the laws. Policy making may be considered democratic to an extent. The public tends to get its way about 60% of the time. Because one of the key legitimating factors of government is a connection between what it does and what the public wants, policy making can be considered 60% legitimate. Furthermore, most of what the federal government does never reaches the public. Public opinion polls represent the small percentage of issues that people have heard about. Though the individual workings of the American government may not be particularly democratic, it must be somewhat legitimate overall because without legitimacy, government fails. However, the people who run for and win public office are not necessarily the most intelligent, best informed, wealthiest, or most successful business or professional people. At all levels of the political system, it is the most politically ambitious people who are willing to sacrifice time, family and private life, and energy and effort for the power and celebrity that comes with public office. The legitimacy of the United States government is limited, but in a system of government which was designed not to work, complete democracy is most likely impossible. ...read more.

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