The Democratic Ideal Essay Research Paper The

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The Democratic Ideal Essay, Research Paper The Democratic Ideal Over one hundred years ago Alexis de Tocqueville expressed what would become the American standard when he observed “Americans were born equal without having to become so.” This ideology is also known of as the “democratic wish”: the participation of a united people pursuing a shared communal interest. In modern-day America people do not always believe that this ideal is upheld and some think it unrealistic. I will examine this perspective by focusing on thoughts of authorities on the subject of democracy and a political-science graduate student. Many people think that nations are either democratic or not – like a light switch that can only be on or off. There are different levels, like a dimmer switch.

According to the writer of The Democratic Wish, James A. Monroe, these levels can be defined as “direct democracy”; power of the people without direct representation, “indirect democracy”; power of the people where there is an elect public representation, and “anarchism”; a society so democratic there is no need for authority. He concludes that Americans fear public power as a threat to liberty. Their government is weak and fragmented, designed to prevent action more easily to produce it. In the recurring quest for the people, Americans redesign the political institution and rewrite political rules. According to political scientist Michael Nelson a great irony propels American political development: the search for a more direct democracy builds up the bureaucracy; a

form of government where the elected officials follow rules blindly or without thinking. Monroe believes that the fear of public power has been perpetuated ever since the first American constitutions avoided ministerial power altogether. But early democracy does not have a clean record of equality. The founding fathers realized that if a government couldn’t oppress people directly, it could still take political dissidents’ property from them. This is what happened to Loyalist who fled to Canada after the revolution. In fact, the White House is built on land that was confiscated from a loyalist. To further his point Monroe asks the question, “How did American’s negotiate their dread of power as they constructed their administrative institutions?” He answers this question

by use of the “myth of communal democracy”. Reformers – oppressed groups, public officials, policy entrepreneurs – have repeatedly overcome the checks and balances of a polity biased against the expansion of government by promising to restore power to the people. “The people” covers a multitude of factions. This helps explain why the democratic wish introduces change more easily than do movement based explicitly on the redistribution of wealth or power. In other words, new state powers are secured and new groups are legitimated through the mobilization of the people. Is there a considerable mobilization of the people? According to Fred Nelson, a political science graduate student at Western Illinois University, there is a considerable impact on our current politics by

many interests groups. He believes that many interest groups fail to take part in democracy because they feel that they are rarely represented in government. The following is taken from my interview with him: “Because only one person can win in an election, there is a natural homogenizing affect, so that candidates and political parties tend to have views that represent only the largest number of people. These views tend to be conservative and status quo. These homogenizing process results from the fact that most people are afraid of “throwing away” their one vote on a candidate that might not win. Thus they choose the lesser of two evils (there are usually only two given that a majority of the vote is 51%) that sort-of resembles what they stand for. Because voters are