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Princeton concludes that the USA is not a democracy

By Alfa, Apr 18, 2014 | | |
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  1. Alfa
    Oligarchy, not democracy: Americans have ‘near-zero’ input on policy – report

    The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the US is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.

    The study, due out in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, sets out to answer elusive questions about who really rules in the United States. The researchers measured key variables for 1,779 policy issues within a single statistical model in an unprecedented attempt “to test these contrasting theoretical predictions” – i.e. whether the US sets policy democratically or the process is dominated by economic elites, or some combination of both.

    "Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” the researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University wrote.

    While “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association,” the authors say the data implicate “the nearly total failure of 'median voter' and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

    The authors of “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” say that even as their model tilts heavily toward indications that the US is, in fact, run by the most wealthy and powerful, it actually doesn’t go far enough in describing the stranglehold connected elites have on the policymaking process.

    “Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups,” the researcher said.

    “Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”

    They add that the “failure of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy is all the more striking because it goes against the likely effects of the limitations of our data. The preferences of ordinary citizens were measured more directly than our other independent variables, yet they are estimated to have the least effect.”

    Despite the inexact nature of the data, the authors say with confidence that “the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.”

    “We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,” they concluded.

    Source: http://rt.com/usa/us-democracy-oligarchy-policy-512/
    Study: http://www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/G...ens and Page 2014-Testing Theories 3-7-14.pdf

Recent User Reviews

  1. cren
    "such a good article with so much passionate respon"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Mar 15, 2017
    Such a good article that got so much passionate response, from so many members. Good food for though

Comments

  1. MikePatton
    I believe this to be true... The people choose their own president, sure, but no matter who they vote for, he will have a tiny minority of the super rich holding him by the balls.
  2. Balzafire
    Technically, we are supposed to be a democratically elected representative republic, but Alfa's post is spot-on. We have become an oligarchy in practice.
    I'm hoping that as the republicans continue to lose influence in the coming years, our society will see to it that the power is returned to the people as intended by our founding fathers. We just need a few good funerals before that can happen.
  3. mersann
    One of the crucial problems here is the "majority vote" system which, in my opinion, renders any political system that uses it into a non-democracy, and I haven't considered the USA a democracy for exactly this reason for a long time now. The problem with it is that new political parties and movements can never gain traction, because that would almost certainly mean that the political opponents win about every election from that point on for a fair amount of time, and of course that way there's no good structure of establishing new parties that might at least at first feature structures and opinions that are quite different to the established parties, which is something that reduces the influence of the power of the people who now control (politically and economically) the two established parties.

    Imagine there was a split off of the Democrats to the political left or the Republicans to the right. What would happen is that that the votes would be split on two parties rendering the other party the clear winner in almost every election. The Democrats and the Republicans tolerate each other's existence, knowing well that they will be in federal power in due time again when they aren't at a certain point of time.

    I'm not alone in this interpretation of majority vote. The German Constitutional Court once stated that the German 5% hurdle in parliamentary elections was a violation of the equality of vote (that each vote counts the same when it comes to the distribution of parliament members), but a necessary one so as to provide stable governments (this is largely out of Weimar Republic fears where there were no stable governments, possibly because of a fragmented parliament, which one was of the reasons that led to the 3rd Reich). Although I'm inclined to disagree that it's necessary, a 5% hurdle is nothing compared to the variable "better-than-every-other-party" hurdle (>40% in most cases) if you want your vote to count, and it would be unconstitutional in Germany.

    Alfa asks:"What does this mean for drug policy?" For me it clearly means one thing, together with all the lies (weapons of mass destruction claims & Iraq war), propaganda (it's really just all about the terrorists!!!) and surveillance (suppose I don't have to mention anything here in light of recent events) constantly spread by the US government (be it Republican or Democrat seems not to make a big difference):

    Let's finally get rid of the huge influence of the USA in Europe (that's the region I can speak best about, but I suppose it applies to other regions in the world as well). I'm puzzled why governments in Europe still work so closely together with the USA, when they are more dependent on Europe than vice versa.

    The War on Drugs is largely imposed by the US. With regard to drug policy, a liberalisation has already started in Portugal and the Czech Republic, but I would love to see it not just with regard to drugs, but with regard to world politics in general, of which e.g. the War on Drugs is just a smaller part. So I think you have to see it in the bigger picture of world politics.

    (Strangely enough, with the Marijuana liberalisation happening in the USA, maybe that's giving an incentive for European governments to follow through with it soon as well, but that's such a minor thing that it would be stupid for most European countries to remain strong allies with the USA.)
  4. Basoodler
    OK last night I ran into technical difficulties and couldn't finish my post

    OK here is what I perceive as the root cause.

    First of all, as Mr. Ballz has wisely pointed out the USA isn't , has never been and never had any intention of being a democracy..

    I will take it a step forward and say that democracy and communism don't exist and never will in their purest forms. When Marx outlined the conditions for which communism could be realized he outlined a set of milestones that must take place to allow for the citizenry to morph into "communists" .. Whelp after several revolutions in the past 150 years we have had millions of deaths and human rights cluster fucks in the name of forcing those milestones, and we still haven't seen anything close to communism.

    Democracy is the same.. You would have to eliminate social classes and any simblance of corruption.

    Anyway. This study reflects a huge flaw in the framework of our "representative republic".. I will explain..


    Every ten years on the "00's" the federal government conducts a census. One of the most important reasons for conducting this census is updating how many representatives each state received based on census data. States can pick up seats or lose them during this time.

    Each representative has his own "district" that he is to poll and represent in Washington.. Sounds solid enough..but there is a giant problem with these districts.

    After the federal government sends out the new figures it is the responsibility of the state and local governments to define the geographical borders for each district.. Which can in fact fuck up (the current house is an example) a political party for an entire decade..

    Right now the house of representatives is owned by republican party and will pretty much stay that way until the next census because of how the districts were set up during the last cycle.

    For the most part republicans get their votes from rural areas and democrats are strong in urban areas. Since the districts can be shifted geographically it would make perfect sense to put all of the urban areas in their own districts.. If you are a republican.. By doing so you create a situation where the popular vote is meaningless because each district has one representative despite differences in population.

    In a nutshell, the Republicans managed to stack the deck in the house of representatives for 10 fucking years because when these "ballot measures to re district" were on the ballot the dems were asleep at the wheel..

    You may say "golly basoodler that is interesting , buts it is only one part of the government"

    Whelp in the past several years the only legislation making through the house are measures sponsored by various factions of the republican party who holds the majority.. Republican policy generally benefits the interests of the weatlthy. Because the party is supported in various ways by the wealthy.

    Nothing is getting through the house that has been tagged as even remotely democrat policy unless that policy prevents a huge collapse of some sort.. Which seems to happen a lot lately.

    Hell they couldn't even pass a fucking budget until this year.. Six years of no budget or updates to economic policy that was never ment to be realized will cause some major bullshit..

    That is my opinion on why the Princeton study got those results

    As far as drug policy goes its hard to. Democrats seem to be going around the system for the mandatory minimum issue and marijuana reform.

    The republican party is hard to gauge.. they seem to be split into social conservative/christian value, economically conservative/social moderate or liberal, libertarians', and tea partiers.

    The libertarians and some tea party groups are all for drug policy reform because they perceive it as going beyond the scope of the federal government.. and acknowledge that its a waste of money..

    Social conservatives and religious tea party nut jobs are never going with what they see as a decline in social morality..

    I'm guess that drug reform will follow the current trend of no progress other than times when Obama acts on his own
  5. Basoodler
    An article to clarify.. both parties do this shit.. I used republicans because it is an easily identified example currently

    The political agenda in the house explains the trends of policy favoring the elites. Hell threre hasn't been a whole lot of new legislature that has made it through both the house and senate for a decade that hasn't been full of bullshit earmarks to appease the other party enough to get it to pass..

    This also explains how the popular vote has been negated

    How Maps Helped Republicans Keep an Edge in the House


    by GRIFF PALMER and MICHAEL COOPER,
    mobile.nytimes.com
    December 14

    Wisconsinites leaned Democratic when they went to the polls last month, voting to re-elect President Obama, choosing Tammy Baldwin to be their new United States senator and casting more total votes for Democrats than Republicans in races for Congress and the State Legislature.

    But thanks in part to the way that Republicans drew the new Congressional and legislative districts for this year’s elections, Republicans will still outnumber Democrats in Wisconsin’s new Congressional delegation five to three — and control both houses of the Legislature.

    Pennsylvanians also voted to re-elect Mr. Obama, elected Democrats to several statewide offices and cast about 83,000 more votes for Democratic Congressional candidates than for Republicans. But new maps drawn by Republicans — including for the Seventh District outside Philadelphia, a Rorschach-test inkblot of a district snaking through five counties that helped Representative Patrick Meehan win re-election by adding Republican voters — helped ensure that Republicans will have a 13-to-5 majority in the Congressional delegation that the state will send to Washington next month.

    Republican-drawn lines also helped Republicans win lopsided majorities in other swing states Mr. Obama won: Democratic Congressional candidates won nearly half the votes in Virginia but only 27 percent of its seats, and 48 percent of the vote in Ohio but only a quarter of its seats.

    Last month’s Congressional elections were the first to be held in new districts that were drawn across the country after the once-a-decade process of redistricting, when many state officials, charged with redrawing their district maps to account for population shifts, indulge in carefully calculated partisan cartography aimed at giving their party an edge.

    Republicans had the upper hand: thanks to the gains they made in 2010 state-level elections, Republicans controlled the redistricting process in states with 40 percent of the seats in the House, Democrats controlled it in states with 10 percent of the seats, and the rest of the seats were drawn by courts, states with divided governments or commissions.

    In the nation as a whole, Democratic candidates for Congress won 1.1 million more votes than Republicans, according to a tally of the popular vote kept by David Wasserman, the House editor of The Cook Political Report. But Republicans maintained their control of the House — making this one of a handful of elections in the last century where the party that won the popular vote for Congress did not win control of the House.

    Redistricting may sound esoteric, but it can have an impact on governing at the state and federal levels. It may have played a role in Michigan’s decision to pass anti-union legislation this week, a month after Mr. Obama won the state by nine points. Michigan Republicans drew the maps in the last two cycles, and even though Republicans lost some seats last month they were able to keep their majority with 54 percent of the seats in the state’s House of Representatives, while getting just 45 percent of the popular vote. And since redistricting gives many members of Congress less competitive, more politically homogeneous districts, it is often cited as one of the factors exacerbating political polarization — a tension can be seen in the current fiscal debate.

    The latest round of redistricting is not the only reason Republicans lost the popular vote but won a majority of House seats, several political scientists and analysts said. Incumbency is a powerful weapon, they noted, and Republicans went into the election with a big majority in the House. A new election process in California pitted some Democrats against one another in the general election.

    And a number of political scientists pointed to what Jowei Chen, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan, and Jonathan Rodden, a professor of political science at Stanford University, call “unintentional gerrymandering” in a forthcoming paper — the natural geographic patterns that lead many Democrats to choose to live in dense, urban areas with very high concentrations of Democrats, effectively packing themselves into fewer districts.

    “Now, more than ever in history, Democrats are clustered in a small number of these urban districts,” Professor Chen said in an interview.

    But it is undeniable that redistricting played a role as well. The new lines helped Republicans maintain their control of the House, largely because they were able to add more Republican voters to districts where Republicans won close races in 2010.

    Michael P. McDonald, an associate professor of public affairs at George Mason University who has served as a consultant on redistricting for both parties, said there was a reason both parties fight so hard for the power to draw the maps — noting that they were not going to all that trouble “just to draw neutral plans.”

    Democrats also drew gerrymandered lines in states where they controlled the process, but had less of an impact over all because they had control in fewer states, said Keesha Gaskins, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, which has been studying the impact of redistricting.

    In Illinois, where Democrats drew the maps, Republican Congressional candidates won 45 percent of the popular vote but only a third of the House seats. And in Maryland, Republicans won 35 percent of the votes but just 13 percent of the seats.

    An analysis by the Brennan Center found that the new lines that took effect this year may have changed which party won in at least 25 House districts this year, and that they helped Republicans win a net gain of six more seats than they would have won under the old maps.

    One particularly striking finding in their analysis highlights the power that comes with drawing the maps. In states where Republicans controlled the process, it found, their candidates won roughly 53 percent of the vote — and 72 percent of the seats. And in the states where Democrats controlled the process, their candidates won about 56 percent of the vote and 71 percent of the seats.

    An analysis by The New York Times of states where courts, commissions or divided governments drew the maps found a much smaller disparity between the share of the popular vote and the number of seats won in Congress. In those states, the analysis found, Democrats won slightly more than half the vote and 56 percent of the seats, while Republicans won 46 percent of the vote and 44 percent of the seats.

    A flavor of the politics behind the process in Ohio can be found in the exhibits of a lawsuit that challenged the new districts for state lawmakers. Ohio Republicans — who attended a training session on redistricting with a PowerPoint slide that counseled “Keep it secret, keep it safe” — ran their redistricting operation from a room at a DoubleTree Hotel in Columbus that staff members sometimes called “the bunker” in e-mails. The e-mails show that the Republicans drawing the maps paid close attention to the percentage of the vote Republicans got in past elections in each district.

    Ohio’s Republican-friendly districts for state lawmakers were upheld last month by the Supreme Court of Ohio, which ruled in a 4-to-3 decision that the state’s Constitution does “not explicitly require political neutrality, or for that matter, politically competitive districts or representational fairness, in the apportionment board’s creation of state legislative districts” as long as the other legal requirements are met.

    Dr. McDonald, of George Mason University, said redistricting could have ramifications for the country, because as members of Congress are drawn into less-competitive districts, they may have less incentive to compromise. “They’re safe in their districts in the House of Representatives,” he said.

    © 2014 The New York Times Company.


    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/12/1...licans-hold-onto-congress.html?pagewanted=all
  6. MikePatton
    It's not a matter of democrats vs republicans, it's about the inseperetable bound between fortune and government. A 1% minority of the super rich force their interests, which in no way represent the interests of the other 99% upon the government. I do believe republicans are more prone to this occurence because they value liberty more than equality, but the control these individuals have over public policy exists in most regimes, especially in the US.
  7. Docta
    There is one thing all Americans can be proud of when it comes to there chosen form of government, they are a shinning beacon demonstrating to the would how not to form a political system. I think a federal constitutional republic is a better term. Democracy requires equality and participation, two things sorely lacking in a convoluted national division of shared sovereignty between state and federal.

    What kind of half ass country elects there head of state when they've only counted 37.8% of the popular vote? Only in America, 2010 had a 37.8% voter turnout. How can any country call themselves a democracy without compulsory voting, the thought of expecting all eligible citizens would participate equally in a voluntary election is just ridiculous. For majority rule to function the total voice of the people must be heard, democracy alone can't provide personal and political freedom.

    The United States of America has intentionally set itself apart from the ways of other nations, refusing to keep in step with social and economic reforms that have seen the quality of life throughout the developed world prosper. All the while the government overseeing the largest economy in the world bicker like children as the citizenry of the USA see decline. A system driven by the tyranny of the majority should not be surprised by this inevitable outcome. Apathy and tyranny go hand in glove.

    The legislative impotence and immorality of the American governmental system is seen so clearly by the outside world but the population of the US seem oblivious to what they could have . The thin vale of authority was once seen for is frailty by the citizens of America and they left us with a set of instructions on what to be on the lookout for and how to remedy the situation. I quote these instructions below.


    "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
  8. Basoodler
    Now that I think about it more I am starting to think that this only applies to federal law.

    If ever there was an example of the population eliminating the obsticals of our system it would have to be what happened in the 2012 elections. Several states put up challenges to federal law as ballot measures with marijuana reforms and marriage equality and won..

    Because of that other states are following suit on marijuana reform and the gay marriage haters have lost their federal foundation via a major supreme court judgement.

    So it seems to me that some of the pillars of or republic are still holding true, and have allowed democracy to prevail.


    Docta .. I can't imagine a true democracy ever working. If everyone had to go our and vote on every single price of legislation it would be very bad. Most people are easily influenced and or selfish. Which leads to corruption .. Also after the 2012 presidential elections, I am not sure anyone would be alive to vote after a few years.... We all have guns you know
  9. Docta
    Don't get me wrong the USA are steadfast in in the belief of a government of the people for the people its just there execution of this ethos that has failed. Having a government elected by 100% voter turnout instills the full force of mandate, this has the surprising effect of diversity and functionality. Australia has compulsory voting this has evolved a Parliament with the ability to pass legislation with lesser party's holding balance of power. We pass more legislation in one sitting of the upper and lower houses then the US Congress dose in a year. I'm sure the US people will eventually find some kind of solution, they always have.

    Australia as it is today with its predominant middle class distribution of wealth and near non existent unemployment makes for a great style of life but that could have been different but for a set of events that happened around the time of Australia's federation 1 January 1901 the day we became a Democracy. Australia's most important national occasion is only days away, ANZAC Day 25th April. A commemoration of the true cost of our Democratic freedoms. It's been the US people that have given the most in guaranteeing the Australian people will always determine there own destiny.

    When we started out we took the best from other Democratic systems used by other nations . When it came to building a defense force we didn't wont the class based officer incompetence that we were subjected to under the British throughout the Boer War so we termed to the US system. West Point took on officers-in-training to get leadership experience and designing the critical courses needed for us to setup a military academy. When Japanese navy sent an invasion force south of such incredible superiority they believed it would overwhelm anything. They were so sure of themselves that one ship in the armada carried newly printed currency as Australia may soon be part of the empire of japan.

    What the Japanese hadn't counted on was the officer cadets who were at Wast Point when the Australians were there learning how to be instructors had gone on to become high ranking officers. In the minds of the US military there was no questions asked when all forces defending the US Pacific coast were instructed to oppose the invasion of Australia, leaving there homeland undefended and open to attack. This single act not only saved Democracy in Australia. This act an absolute demonstration, has given our country the power to subdue our enemy's without fighting. The US are often criticized for there defense budget and the size of its standing armed forces but without that US force standing behind Australia's Democracy how long do you think my country with the woulds largest deposits of Uranium and natural gas would last.


    United States of America for all there faults have done wonders in nurturing Democracy throughout the world.

    If they put the same effort in at home they can be great again.
  10. Basoodler
    ^ agreed


    Oh I forgot address one point.. Which would be why a presidential election can be called with 37% of the vote counted.

    The simple answer is California. The reason for this is the Republican party has the support of less than 30% of the registered voters. They didn't even bother campaigning there in 2011/2012 which is cedeing 55 electoral votes.

    That creates a situation where the election can be out of reach once new york , Ohio, florida , Pennsylvania and Virginia are counted. In reality if republicans can't sweep Ohio and florida they are toast.
  11. WraithRanma
    Wrote these in college and they offer some classic philosophical views on the subjects.

    The Trail to Tyranny

    Plato speaks much about tyranny, with no kind words supporting it. What is tyranny, and what allows it to dominate are what this paper will cover. The risk of tyranny is always present, and will never fade from this earth. A simple explanation of a tyrant is someone who places their desires and needs above others or the best interest of the public, without respect for their rights, but this is far from a complete answer, as tyranny can be present in many forms. The tyrannical ruler and tyrannical man are two different concepts to Plato. But I believe that Plato ignores and dislikes the strongest and most effective means to prevent tyranny: Freedom of the educated to detect and defend against tyranny through speech and arms.
    The tyrannical ruler cannot just walk into power and control over others, because several things must happen first. A democracy must first lack discipline, because a disciplined society will not allow such men to continually abuse them or acquire power. When chaos exists in democracy, Plato argues that this is the breeding ground for tyranny, as eventually a “champion” will come to power and become obsessed with the power they hold over others.
    Tyranny works and gains a strangle hold on a society when two conditions are met during periods of chaos: A significant population is intimidated, coerced or deceived into accepting aggression from a tyrant, and the “Guardians” of a society who can compose of a State managed military or police, armed militias of Citizens and an armed populace to name some examples, are either disarmed, or swayed by the demagoguery of the tyrant to work against their fellow citizens by using force to further the control and power of the tyrant.
    Our founding fathers knew tyranny well, as they had just fought a bloody war of independence against a tyrannical state, so they planned ahead and provided safe guards against tyranny in the Bill of Rights and Constitution The unalienable, God given rights of the Bill of Rights first protect the freedom of speech and right to bear arms with good reason, and I think Plato would agree. For someone to be free, they must be able to speak their mind, and protect themselves from those who would aggressively react to their words. You cannot censor someone who is alive and actively speaking against you, nor can you easily control them if they are armed. The right of the people to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with hunting or sportsmanship, as many politicians would like you to believe. This right exists to protect the individual and state from aggression, with the most effective method after words have failed to dissuade the aggressor. An aggressive tyrannical state must not allow the population to posses arms, and when this is completed, Plato is correct when he says the people will not be able to remove the tyrant, as pleading and complaining will do nothing.
    Regulating and censoring free speech destroy countless creative works, as well as cover up science and fact. Governments can ruin the education and knowledge Plato was so fond of with these weapons. A populace that does not know what is really going on will be facing tyrannical demagogues very soon or they are already under their control and do not realize it. Control of the print, media and internet restricts freedoms and information that are invaluable.
    Gun control often paves the way for atrocity and genocide. "The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty." (Adolf Hitler, 1942) Mao, Stalin and countless other genocidal tyrants agree that you cannot slaughter and eliminate armed populaces, so they take away their means of resistance, and then their right to speak out against such atrocities is easily taken away and left with no security of arms when they come to silence you.
    However, Plato's views on public access to arms are not very favorable because he believed it would destabilize the state through fear of the populace. He describes this in one of his criticisms of Oligarchy:"Another discreditable feature is, that, for a like reason, they are incapable of carrying on any war. Either they arm the multitude, and then they are more afraid of them than of the enemy; or, if they do not call them out in the hour of battle, they are oligarchs indeed, few to fight as they are few to rule." (Plato) Surely not everyone should be allowed access to arms, as violent men who aggressively use arms against others for their own gain should not be allowed to remain armed and prey on people, as that would enable the tyrannical man.
    But Oligarchy will eventually give way to Democracy through revolution, which Plato described in The Republic: "whether the revolution has been effected by arms, or whether fear has caused the opposite party to withdraw." This means that the use of arms caused enough pain and death among the Oligarchy, or the mere threat of armed resistance was enough to convince them to step down without further bloodshed. But Democracy is a two-edged sword, as it gives freedom of choice, and not all choices are good. Demagogues will prey upon the choices of the ill informed, poor or less educated members of society through deceit in order to gain power.
    “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms….The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” This quote by Thomas Jefferson means that occasionally, in order to preserve Liberty, it must be protected from demagogues and tyrants.
    Demagogues will eventually give way to tyranny according to Plato. But Plato's ideal government is one where the people are completely obedient to just rulers. He argued that arms and training in arms should be made available to the public by the state, but only for the protection of the state and not the individual. Aristotle disagreed and wanted the individual to have the power of self ownership of arms, along with participation in legislature and politics, as these are keys to political power. With a just ruler in Oligarchy, demagogues have no power over others but a just ruler is a rare occurrence as history has proved that might often makes right, and the mighty are rarely philosophers looking out for everyone.
    A modern case for demagogues is our nations political system, in which a person must convince others to vote for them to represent the citizens. Much of this is through “mud slinging” of other politicians, pandering to various special interest groups, bold and unattainable promises of “hope”, “change”or “prosperity”, or through the mass marketing and advertisement of their candidacy. The end result is nothing more than a popularity contest between two parties holding a majority of voters as members, offering little hope to a philosophical just ruler in a third party. Once a demagog has power, they will use it to sway public opinion. The end result is one of greed and control, that profits the demagog. Yellow journalism and smear campaigns were used by politicians, businessmen and the media to outlaw their competition and increase their control, because if you cannot censor the competition, demonizing and outlawing them is just as, if not more effective.
    An example is the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act which was passed after several high profile shootings (the shooters in the high profile LA Bank Robbery were actually using already illegal fully automatic AK-47s) gave demagogs an opportunity to distort fact in order to pass an unconstitutional law, which banned semiautomatic firearms with cosmetic features resembling fully automatic military assault weapons and “high capacity” magazines, even though they cannot fire more than one shot per trigger pull. A semiautomatic AK type rifle or AR-15 may resemble an AK47 or M16 in looks, but in function they are very different, and extensive and illegal modification is required to make them select fire. In reality these guns are rarely used in crimes, with small concealable pistols and knives holding the vast majority of use in crime, because a rifle is not easily concealable, regardless of a collapsing or folding stock or pistol grip, which only offer the user more control of the weapon for accuracy or to adjust for the size of the individual using the weapon. These bans were justified on the grounds that the arms had “no sporting value”, when in reality these weapons offer the citizen a powerful tool against tyrannical aggression and armed crime of the tyrannical man, who will not follow the rule of law in their selection and obtaining of weapons.
    Aristotle and the Founding Fathers would oppose these laws on the grounds that they restrict the freedoms of individual's who would use the weapons as a effective tool for self defense. Plato might argue that they pose a risk to the state, and should therefor be controlled by the state. But we are not ruled by just philosopher kings, but demagogues seeking power at the expense of others, for our political system attracts those who love money and power and not philosophy, instead of compelling the moral philosophers to lead for the best interests of everyone. Denying the populace the rights to speak out against and defend against tyranny, is always tyranny. Plato was right when he said that eventually tyranny would become unbeatable, but it is because the people allowed themselves to be deceived by demagogues who will take away their rights and means of defense to which they foolishly complied, which also provides incentives for the criminal tyrannical man to further abuse the defenseless, as gun control only disarms the law abiding.
  12. WraithRanma
    Civil Liberties and Social Control

    There are many important issues on civil liberties in the United States today that pose potential threats to citizens. The line between social control and social liberty is often a fine one, in attempts to protect the public, as well as their freedoms and rights. John Stuart Mill would aggressively denounce many government actions effecting us today by limiting our Constitutional rights in the name of public safety and crime prevention. Some of these so called “crimes” actually pose little to no threat to the public but are rather a use of force to impose control of morality. And with the historic results of this election ending with state level regulation and taxation of Cannabis for all adults over 21 in Washington and Colorado looming for the future, this is a very important and long over due event, that Mill would applaud.

    The Prohibition of Alcohol was such an attempt, and it ended in failure and flames until its repeal. Today prohibition is alive and well, and brings dangers far greater then the substances use could bring on the individual or society. Prohibition does not remove a good from the market, it moves control of the industry completely out of the hands of regulation and into complete control by the criminal black market and organized crime who are willing to kill to protect profits. The criminalization of Cannabis is a particularly cruel and unjust aspect of the Controlled Substances Act. It is listed as Schedule 1, along with heroin and crack cocaine, with the harshest penalties and ban on medicinal use at the federal level. Mill would argue that this is unreasonable and unjust, as someone using cannabis responsibly posses no extra danger to others, and less danger to themselves compared to Tobacco and especially Alcohol, while also potentially benefiting from numerous medicinal benefits.

    Prohibition has also created a new threat to the public aside from gang turf wars and absence of safety controls and product purity and quality control issues. Research chemicals have flooded the legal market as alternatives to illicit substances. Very few of these have any study on human health, or side effects and their use according to the creator of JWH-018, John Huffman is likened to “playing Russian roulette with your brain”(Huffman). Synthetic Cannabinoids like the JWH series and others are still sold as “herbal incense” even after bans of the original compounds, with no age restriction.

    The dangers with these substances are greater then Cannabis. Firstly, they can be many times more potent then THC, with AM-2201 being 500 times more potent, and full agonists on the cannabinoid receptors (Huffman). The end result is a product that is both mentally and physically addictive, producing withdraw and tolerance quickly. These blends could potentially contain a unknown number of compounds in unknown dosages, as the compounds are never listed on the packaging. These substances can produce an overdose that results in extreme fear, sedation, disassociation, rapid heart beat and vomiting, and without dosage or ingredients listings this can be easily occurred by accident.

    “Definite damage, or a definite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty, and placed in that of morality and law”.(Mill, 1859) Considering this quote, the moral response is to legalize the safer substance. When the prohibition of a substance is responsible for more dangerous and unpredictable alternatives, that danger will not fade until the reason for their demand is ended. Regulations restricting access to children, or limit the danger of impaired driving would be seen as reasonable to Mill, as this protects the life and liberty of both users and nonusers.

    Proponents of prohibition oppose legalization in the fear that it would cause crime, harm public safety and threaten their individual moral views. The truth is that, legalization and regulation would reduce crime, and provide more safety for those who choose to use, as well as tax income and more jobs created. Mill would support legalization on grounds of personal liberty and overall public welfare, as long as the use is responsible and others are not placed into danger.
  13. Hover
    No such thing as a true democracy. As for the rich ruling it may be so but they rarely are allowed true power. In the history of the US several billionaires have attempted to be elected to the presidency but the only one to succeed was JFK. Rockefellers have secured a few governorships and a vice-presidency but nothing with any significant powers. Like in most Western democracies the US is mainly ruled by members of the upper middleclass, which the very rich must cater to in order to have a say on policymaking. Pragmatic billionaires don't even try politics they prefer hiring professional lobbyists to promote or protect their interests. Also, notice that the very rich rarely tell which party they vote for, as it would be unwise to be identified with a party that is not in power. There are exceptions to this rule though, like the Kennedys and the Rockefellers.

    Democracy is a strange animal indeed.
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