Not signed in (Sign In)
This discussion has been inactive for longer than 5 days, and doesn't want to be resurrected.
  1.  (10535.21)
    Democracy fails to elect the best people as leaders, but it is generally pretty good at not putting the worst people in positions of leadership either. That usually takes heredity, military coup, or political appointment. For example, democratic elections denied Hitler the presidency, but an appointment made him chancellor. I'll take mediocrity over tyranny.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2012
     (10535.22)
    Yeah, what Jason said.

    Another way to get around the Idiocracy factor are multiple levels of government, elected representatives, and systems of checks and balances. All of which we do.

    The challenges ahead of us boil down to two things:

    One: How do we adapt systems that have worked in the past to current technological and economic circumstances? The mass media has magnified the ability of the very wealthy and powerful to warp political process.

    Two: How do we make people smarter? I'm not talking about genetic engineering or eugenics or smartness tests for voting. I'm talking about doing the best with what we've got. Better childhood health care and nutrition, better early childhood education, civics classes, a commitment to giving a damn about democracy rather than letting things fall into the hands of hot-heads, greed-heads, and ideologues.
  2.  (10535.23)
    Two: How do we make people smarter? I'm not talking about genetic engineering or eugenics or smartness tests for voting. I'm talking about doing the best with what we've got. Better childhood health care and nutrition, better early childhood education, civics classes, a commitment to giving a damn about democracy rather than letting things fall into the hands of hot-heads, greed-heads, and ideologues.


    I'm not really sure any of this is possible with the highly polarized political landscape in America today. Significant change either seems to take a massive amount of time (Allowing Gays in the military took over a decade between Clinton getting the ball rolling with DADT and Obama finally repealing it). Most republicans will do anything they can to limit childhood health care and nutrition (they'll lump any proposals for such under "obamacare" or some similar "socialist" label). Better education would be great, but we're in a country where there are some people who truly believe that the best thing we can do is eliminate public education (IE Rand Paul, his crazy father, and the relatively large number of people who have voted for them both).

    I think the primary problem with American Democracy (and I think there are lots, I am, after all, something of a Monarchist) is that it is a hard and set two-party system. Because of first across the post voting, third party candidates have almost zero chance of winning in any significant election. With only two parties, people are naturally going to polarize. We've seen the number of moderates in congress steadily decreasing over the last few years as a result of this.
  3.  (10535.24)
    ("Gays in the military" has actually been in progress since at least the 1940s, when Gen. Eisenhower quietly called off a hunt for lesbians in the Women's Army Corps, after a senior WAC officer and Ike's own secretary warned him that it'd eliminate too many essential personnel... including them.)
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2012
     (10535.25)
    Holy shit, hey Looneynerd!
    • CommentAuthorKoltreg
    • CommentTimeMar 8th 2012
     (10535.26)
    I think if we got people to remember that we are all part of the same greater society things would be better. I've lived in (and currently live in) a small town where people will rally to help one small family but be overly suspicious of larger help movements. I've lived in suburbs where people would rather donate to some larger cause than trust local causes with their money.
    Too often we create more and more divides from nation, race, gender and sexuality that keep us fron progressing by coming together and there was a time these were helpful rules, despite obvious issues, but they were the cornerstones of civilization - law and religion.

    Though I do think the easiest way to improve democracy would be having a test to see if people are informed enough to vote. They should be able to argue for both sides equally well so it doesn't become blind name calling and slogans which hurt modern politics. If we didn't call the abortion debate sides pro-life and pro-choice we'd have a more intelligent discourse on the need for women to choose.

    Also I think people on Yahoo comments who can't spell should gain lifetime bans from voting. That would increase the average IQ of the voters.
  4.  (10535.27)
    @Finagle

    Locke and Hume, though, expected their citizens to assent to their rule through reason


    Definitely not true of Hume, who is quite clear that government is based on the opinion of the people. Locke does put a heavy stress on reason, but 'reason' means different things to different people. For Locke, everyone who isn't a minor or insane has a feeling of self-worth as a creature of God, and a duty to preserve other creatures of God -- making anyone who fucks with that an apostate and a criminal.

    I think I understand what you mean abt Rorty. All I would like to suggest is that Locke's Second Treatise is a popular pamphlet as much as a work of philosophy. Hume wrote his political theory in essays because he wanted to influence people's opinions. What I'm trying to say is that appeals to reason should be mistrusted, and that you cannot remove rhetoric from even the driest philosophical text.

    The above is a bit academic, apologies everyone. This was my stomping ground at university...
    •  
      CommentAuthorOsmosis
    • CommentTimeMar 10th 2012
     (10535.28)
    I'm not really sure any of this is possible with the highly polarized political landscape in America today. Significant change either seems to take a massive amount of time.
    But that is kind of the point of the American system - even the president can only shift things a few inches either way, due to the inbuilt checks, weights and balances. I'm inclined to think that this is probably a good thing, assuming that the other parts of the system are working correctly.
    I think the primary problem with American Democracy (and I think there are lots, I am, after all, something of a Monarchist) is that it is a hard and set two-party system. Because of first across the post voting, third party candidates have almost zero chance of winning in any significant election.
    I think part of this is to do with who gets to set political boundaries. As I recall, in the US it's a politically-affiliated board somewhere in Congress? So the incentive is for party officials to draw the boundaries to include only their voters so as to be more likely to win, which then means that to win in that area you have to appeal to party people, which means tending to more polarised positions. I remember reading up on the British three-party system a few years ago, and the general tone of the articles I read was, "Hmm. This shouldn't work." Whether or not the survival of a UK-wide third party can be directly attributed to the independent Boundaries Commission, I don't know.

    Also: holy shit, hey Looneynerd!
  5.  (10535.29)
    There are all sorts of abuses that take place under democracy, but generally they take place under totalitarian, bureaucratic and aristocratic systems as well, as do much worse ones. Democracy is rather a free press - it may result in unpleasant things, but it's way better than its absence.

    Whatever system of government you have, you'll end up with the same corrupt, ambitious sociopaths who get their kicks out of climbing whatever greasy pole is available to them in positions of power. But the nature of the greasy pole determines how they can govern. Whether climbing it requires sucking up to an absolute monarch who thinks he's God's representative on earth, negotiating the ways of a self-perpetuating bureaucratic machine, fulfilling the class interests of a ruling caste, or satisfying a broad consensus of the population as a whole, then that's the sort of government you'll get. I know which I prefer.
    •  
      CommentAuthorFoamhead
    • CommentTimeMar 10th 2012
     (10535.30)
    Old but nominally relevant.

  6.  (10535.31)
    ^^ This is awesome. How have I never seen it before?
    •  
      CommentAuthorcjkoger
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2012
     (10535.32)
    My thoughts exactly. And, sharing...
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2012
     (10535.33)
    As I recall, in the US it's a politically-affiliated board somewhere in Congress? So the incentive is for party officials to draw the boundaries to include only their voters so as to be more likely to win, which then means that to win in that area you have to appeal to party people, which means tending to more polarised positions.


    It depends on the state. Technically, under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Gerrymandering (the act of re-drawing voting districts to advantage certain candidates or political parties) is illegal. But some states have won supreme court battles that allow them to continue to do so, at least in state-level elections. The problem was less severe when states were required to only redistrict areas after the census (held once every ten years) but this rule has also be laid by the wayside.

    American democracy (and, as far as I can tell, most western Democracies) big problem is the nature of campaign funding. The richest candidate almost always wins, whether we're talking about local council elections all the way up to the Presidential one (I remember reading a statistic that said the candidate with the most money available has won every presidential election since Jefferson). It keeps people with largely similar goal in power, regardless of party affiliation.

    Then you've got the electoral college which is a whole special clusterfuck all on its own. I spent several hours in a bar in Istanbul several years ago trying to explain that a majority of americans had not in fact voted for Bush, and that the electoral college was responsible for his election.
    • CommentAuthorSolario
    • CommentTimeMar 16th 2012 edited
     (10535.34)
    @Koltreg,


    "Though I do think the easiest way to improve democracy would be having a test to see if people are informed enough to vote. They should be able to argue for both sides equally well so it doesn't become blind name calling and slogans which hurt modern politics. If we didn't call the abortion debate sides pro-life and pro-choice we'd have a more intelligent discourse on the need for women to choose."

    That's assuming both sides are equal, rationally, which they aren't necessarily; otherwise there's no such thing as a better argument. I understand the wish for more neutral framing, but I simply don't think it exists. Discourse will always be inherently bias. If we start calling it pro-abortion and anti-abortion, we're already painting one side as negative and one as positive, and then there's the discussion on what connotations the word abortion conjures up. Objectivity and neutrality doesn't exist. We can explicate our bias, but we can't avoid them.

    Ultimately, I don't believe that instruments are inherently good or bad, but they can certainly be used for good or bad things. I wish logos was more well-regarded and used a bit more as an appeal form, but I certainly don't believe that it should be the only one. Logos is intended to create long-term conviction, because the argument can be recited and critiqued again and again by someone, but pathos is a great way to create short-term convictions, which is why most NGO's might have great arguments for donating to help the poor, but if they want people to actually donate, they throw on a 30 second video featuring a starving child.
  7.  (10535.35)
    Plant shamanism is the best cure I know for idiocy and apathy...
    if undertaken in conjunction with all these other ideas you all are kicking about...that's the recipe for ultimate,liberated humanity,as far as i can see...here's a good 'un...http://www.realitysandwich.com/answer_henry_baum
  8.  (10535.36)
    Everybody thinks that their preferred brand of magic is the answer. That's part of the problem.

This discussion has been inactive for longer than 5 days, and doesn't want to be resurrected.