America is the only Democracy where minority rules

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by farraday, Aug 9, 2002.

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  1. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Special-Interest groups.

    If you ask most people(those that don't go 'huh?') will probably be of the opinion they have way to much power.
    The NRA has fewer then three million members, and yet it's ability to throw money around like so much toilet paper during Greek Week, ensures that those three million have a lot of influence over politicians.

    Of course it's not just the NRA. What with labor unions and companies and associations and organizations, it's a wonder they have any time to chase skirts and get drunk.

    Do these groups wield far to much power?

    Or are they just representing their people well?
  2. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    Of course it is. This shouldn't be new to you. While winning elected office requires a majority of those who have voted, it is rare (read: never gonna happen) that even a majority of the population will vote in an election.
  3. Reagan_For_Prez Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    I don't see anything wrong with groups like the NRA "throwing money aound". That's why we have lobyists.
  4. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    One might argue that, by not voting, they are giving tacit acceptance of the decision of those who do deign to vote.

    A special intrest group however, posseses so much influence as to effectivly disenfranchize those not on it's small list of members.
  5. Force-User Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2002
    star 1
    The U.S. is not a Democracy, it is a Republic. Big difference.
  6. Tod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 1999
    star 4
    Every time somebody complains that USA is not democratic we get the same answer: USA is not a democracy, it's a republic. Now could someone please explain what's the difference between Republic and Democracy. Finland is a Republic but it's still perhaps the most democratic country in the world.
  7. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    That piddling remark comes from people who are anal about the usage of the word democracy. They only want it to be used for a direct democracy, that is where the people directly decide the laws.

    A republic is where the people elect a group of individuals to decide the law.

    (Rough definitions of course but the generla idea is there)

    Now what they don't realize is that there are multiple definitions of democracy. Democracy refers to a government where the surpreme power is held by the people. This is just as true in a Republic as in a Direct Democracy.

    So to the 'Republic not democracy' group, stop flaunting your knowledge of semantics and please find a way to respond to the point being made.
  8. Wylding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2000
    star 5
    But farraday, aren't you making the argument that the vast majority of people don't have the power that fuels The United States?
  9. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    The power to choose the leaders is still in the hands of the people. Granted there are definately limits on that power, but many of them are set more by the nature of voting.
    Much like a bell curve the majority of people are at the center. Canidates are chosen to appeal to this segment of the population. The money therefor goes to the canidates with the best chance, that is the canidates who will appeal to the majority of the population.

    Saying money wins the election only goes so far. I do not think someone like Pat Robertson would be elected to President no matter how much money was sunk into him.

    Now once in office the dynamic changes a bit. Politicians respond to special intrests because they represent supposedly soild blocks of voters. It is very hard to decide what three million different people want, if you put 3 average Americans into a room you get 5 different opinions. A special intrest group, therefore, steps in as sort of a middle man. Coalescing a block of voters into one voice that can be heard, rather then 3 million voices drowning each other out.

    Or, atleast, thats the theory.

    The problem comes when you have a group with so much weight, that their voice superscedes the majority opinion.

    The question is, does that happen now?
  10. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    From the Instapundit
    ...But the Framers weren't about democracy; they were interested in a democratic republic. And subsequent history...suggests that they were pretty damned smart to think that way.

    Since World War II the United States has made a big deal about democracy, as opposed to democratic republicanism, because it was simpler to explain, and hence an easier idea to sell than separation of powers, checks and balances, etc., etc. Interestingly, Americans have been more swayed by that propaganda than anyone else, and the importance of the Constitution's built-in countermajoritarianism has been largely ignored -- except where issues like school prayer or flag-burning come up.

    But there's a lot more to the Constitution's countermajoritarianism than the Bill of Rights, and there's good reason to believe that the structural protections against tyranny have done more to protect freedom than the Bill of Rights -- which the Supreme Court didn't really do much with until the mid-20th Century anyway.


    Farraday, why are you complaining about the countermajoritarianism of the Constitution so vehemently? It may empower small groups you don't like (NRA, ACLU, etc etc), but tomorrow it could be protecting you from the majority's tyrranny.

    It's easy to sneer at the 'smart alec' remarks about republicanism vs. Democracy, but it is willfully ignorant of our history to disregard the republican seperation of powers as crucial to the 200+ experiment of American government.
  11. Southernjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2002
    star 4
    Good point, Seven.

    Every time some big thing happens, the politicians scramble to be first to pass new laws, to be seen doing something for their soundbites and press releases. Knee-jerk reaction makes for bad laws in the long-run.

    Since there are so many special interest groups, no single interest can totally dominate....the checks and balances system is great.

    It ain't perfect, but it's the best system created yet by man.
  12. Red-Seven Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 21, 1999
    star 5
    Well, don't get too carried away...the 'special interest system' is NOT the 'checks and balences'.

    Farraday could well have a legitimate point about special interest groups and money politics; it was his extension of them to talk about 'the few overruling the many' in the Constitutional sense that I was responding to.
  13. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Red,

    I realize the goal of the framers wasn't direct democracy, in fact the Senate as initially invisioned was hardly democratic, i don't need to tell you that.

    What does piss me off is when people ignore the Democratic part of Democratic Republic and derail other conversation by saying the US isn't a democracy.


    I was trying to start a debate, not take a side. What surprises me is that for all the clamouring for election finance reform and the general dislike of 'lobbyist' no one is willing to take the position special intrest groups are a threat to the rights of the majority.
  14. Herman Snerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 6
    Most people go agree to dislike lobbyists. That word brings up all sorts of unsavory connotations about money, influence, and back-room deals.

    Problem is, those same people usually only slap on the 'lobbyist' label for those political action groups that they oppose. The groups that promote the political ideals they believe in aren't those hideous lobbyists, but are instead thougt of as good, decent, like-minded people.

    So, if you want to be able to use your time/money to fund a movement with a certain political agenda, you're just going to have to tolerate those groups that have counter agendas.

    And let's not get carried away with saying that groups are violating the rights of the majority. The last time I checked, no lobbying group had the power to make any laws. All they can do is influence the members of Congress. In that sense, the majority still rules.
  15. tenorjedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 2000
    star 5
    If an issue so moved you, or any other american you can start your own special interest group and in so doing you are getting your say in the exact same way. A group of people can start an anti-gun lobby group. The fact that people don't lobby their congressional leaders doesn't change the fact that they could. With some patience and free time any person can influnce the gov't with more than just their vote.
  16. KansasNavy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 10, 2001
    star 4
    I don't know too much about the workings of the government farther than checks and balances and the power of voting. So can someone tell me how these small interest groups exert pressure on politicians, and maybe some examples. This may sound like a stupid question, but I honestly do not know the inner-workings of the government and would like to know.
  17. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    I think the problem with special interest groups is really more a problem of campaign financing. These groups COULD be a good part of democracy (we ARE a democratic republic), and they could serve to informally check and balance each other (NRA v. Gun control groups, Christian Coalition v. Atheist groups, etc.). But I think where we get disgusted with lobbyists is when we feel they're just buying votes on legislation, plain and simple. The lobbying procedure is merely an extension of the individual's right to write or contact congressmen and make his or her opinions known... until money changes hands, directly or indirectly. Then we have the causes of the rich being better represented than the causes of the not-so-rich, and that's not very representative at all.
  18. Humble extra Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 12, 1999
    star 5
    yup, its a scientific fact no other democracies have special interest groups or over powerful minorities


    oh, hows this for crazy, NZ, UK, Australia and Canada are democracies ruled by the same pension aged woman!
  19. 1stAD Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    May 10, 2001
    star 5
    The real problem is apathy among the populace. How often do you actually make an incredibly well-informed decision over which votes to make on your ballots? I sure don't, I probably can't get through more than a quarter of the elected officials and half of the propositions. I doubt many others are that devoted as well.

    Campaign funding by lobbying organizations would never be a problem if voters stayed informed about all the issues. Of course, they would be completely irrelevant if this were the case as well. Sometimes I think all the PACs in this country jam through insane amounts of legislative suggestions to our leaders in order to overwhelm everyone and keep their vice-grip over our leaders. Then again, I'm extrememly paranoid.

    I don't know. Even if I had the time to research the policy positions of my city's treasurer, I don't think I would bother.
  20. Coolguy4522 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2000
    star 4
    Money is the mother's milk of politics.

    Any attempt to stop money in politics will simply fail. You will never be able to stop the money, nor should we. The Supreme Court has ruled that money=speech, therefore, if you limit the money, you limit the speech of the individual.

    The best way for money to be involved in politics is for it to be out in the open. As long as we know who is funding who, it is not as big a problem. When we don't know who is giving money to who, then you get into big trouble.

    There is another thing. Most special interest groups have a counter group in the most important areas. In my AP government class it was suggested that the Congressman can control the Political Action Committees and Intrest Groups that give money. They expect the money, and if they don't get it they simply go to the other side.

    However, there is little proof that money actually has an effect on the way Congress votes on the biggest issues. Only when they get into the unknown obscure stuff does the money actually make that big of a difference. The gun control issue is much harder to make a difference with money than say regulations on soybeans.

    And I disagree with the thread title. In every democracy, in every governing system, a ruling elite makes decisions for the whole most of the time.
  21. TreeCave Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2001
    star 4
    You'll notice that of all the arrested CEO's, major contributor Ken Lay of Enron (or anyone else from Enron) has yet to be led off in handcuffs.
  22. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Nor will they be. I'd be surprised if, in the end, they were even held accountable.
  23. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    If you want to end the control of the PACs on our government...write your congressmen. When the only group they hear from is special interest groups, they are going to side with them. If people would write/email/call their congressmen and take a more active role in the direction of the government, special interest groups would lose their power.


    I have always found it interesting that people do not like the PACs that run counter to their own ideals but get mad when people criticize the ones they agree with.
  24. Herman Snerd Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 1999
    star 6
    You'll notice that of all the arrested CEO's, major contributor Ken Lay of Enron (or anyone else from Enron) has yet to be led off in handcuffs.

    I haven't really kept up, but have Lay or anyone else from Enron been indicted on anything? If not, then that's why they haven't been led off in cuffs.
  25. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    Yes, that whole innocent until proven guilty thingamabob.
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