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  1. #21
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
    And what do you think makes it so?

    (I'm more interested in what you think makes Germany a "real democracy" than your opinion of the US')

    (Commentary on the latter is fine [just less central to my interest] as well, tho)
    A list of qualities I am too uninterested to name. Perhaps @Red Herring, who probably holds a similar opinion, is willing to have the inevitable discussion with you.

  2. #22
    Senior Member statuesquechica's Avatar
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    @OrderOfTheCaelifera: Being a true political junkie I am keeping myself informed about the goings-on in Russia and Ukraine...I am really disgusted how the GOP is salivating over Putin and his "manliness" in taking what he wants (and maybe recreating the former USSR). Our approach to foreign affairs is so juvenile and embarrassing.

    Not to mention North Korea, Pakistan, China, Venezuela and on and on...so yeah, lots of scary shit happening around the world and important to not rely on mainstream media because most of the time it isn't covered. I only bring up this report because it confirms the demise of this country's foundation in democracy. Hello Mr. President Kochs X 2!

    And to reiterate my statement in the OP: I am NOT surprised at the findings...I agree our democratic form of government has been an illusion. Let's not dance around the issue and call a spade, a spade.
    I've looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's life's illusions I recall
    I really don't know life at all

    Joni Mitchell

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    A list of qualities I am too uninterested to name.
    I just suspect your perspective wouldn't hold up to much scrutiny.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by statuesquechica View Post
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/prin...-tpm-interview

    I am a self-professed political junkie and was wondering if other people had heard about the recent political science study that indicates the U.S. has become a hybrid "oligarchy" rather than its perceived (and much romanticized) democracy. Though it is technically considered a republic, but I digress....

    I am in agreement with the findings of the study, though I don't find it to be a surprise that majority-rule is no longer in practice due to the influx of money and lobbyists into the political arena.

    Thoughts? And I promise to play nice if you disagree
    A rejoinder less hyperbolic than the argument that preceded it: From The American Conservative

    America’s Not an Oligarchy—Yet

    An excerpt...

    A new study released over the weekend sparked a miniature firestorm on the Internet, mostly because it confirmed long-held suspicions about the role of money in politics. While the researches make strongly-worded conclusions about the state of American democracy, journalists have used hyperbolic language to state that America is already a de facto oligarchy: PolicyMic calls the findings “beyond alarming…their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter. [italics in original]“ Such overblown rhetoric makes it difficult to examine the root of the problem dispassionately in order to address the underlying issues beneath the growing inequality; instead, such reporting is fueling hysteria and pessimism about America’s inexorable decline.

    Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University conducted a study measuring the impact of the wealthy and powerful interests groups on American democracy. Looking at over 1,700 proposed policy shifts, they tested whether the interest of the general public, the preferences of elites, or the desires of interest groups had the greatest influence over whether the policy was put into practice. It was hard to test the relative influence of elites and ordinary Americans, since, for the most part, the two groups had identical policy preferences. But, when the groups differed, the elites were much more likely to prevail against the popular will than vice versa. In the statistical model used by the researchers, the effect of popular opinion dwindled into insignificance once the will of the elites was factored in. The idea of “oligarchy” is never explicitly endorsed by the paper; it’s only referenced in other cited works. Furthermore, they admit that there are other factors outside the analysis they performed: “[I]t is also possible that there may exist important explanatory factors outside the three theoretical traditions addressed in this analysis[.]”

    The New Yorker offered a cool-headed take of what the numbers might mean, a welcome countervail to the media hand-wringing. Their blog post points out the model only explains 10 percent of the data, which, by the authors’ own admission, is a low number that lends itself to weak explanatory ability. The New Yorker wisely doesn’t presume to judge the full validity of Gilens and Page’s argument, but gently suggests that less inflammatory language be used besides the term “oligarchy” that media outlets have picked up. It’s chiding sensationalist journalism more so than attacking the authors, but a look over the study’s introduction and conclusion does reveal some charged language: “But 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.” Ultimately, the statistics they used suggest an interesting narrative, but do not tell a complete story. Another thing worth noting is the lack of future predictions regarding the impact of wealth on the political process—all the data is from 1981 to 2002. It would be helpful if the researchers could predict which direction they think America’s political process is going based on their findings. “America May Become an Oligarchy” is still a very clickable headline, but a more responsible one.

    American democracy is rife with troubling inequalities, but calling it an oligarchy is a step too far. Framing America as an oligarchy implies that there is a disenfranchised group pinned down helplessly by an oppressive elite, and that the true nature of our democracy is defunct. Before making grim prognoses about the extent of the elites’ influence on policy, it may be wise to first examine all the factors that contribute to a certainly troubling trend.

  5. #25
    Senior Member statuesquechica's Avatar
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    @DiscoBiscuit: Like you, I believe accuracy in word use is important...I used the phrase hybrid "oligarchy" in my OP because of the content of the author's interview. They don't use that word (oligarchy) in their findings...it is more complicated than that. That is why I linked their interview and the report itself so people could draw their own conclusions.

    Again, the authors of the report never used the "inflammatory" language of oligarchy as they have far more specific distinctions in their findings. I still find it to be troubling, no matter how it is defined, as your article concludes as well.
    I've looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's life's illusions I recall
    I really don't know life at all

    Joni Mitchell

  6. #26
    Senior Member OWK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    Have you read the book Democracy the god that failed by Hans Hermann Hoppe? Your views in the few posts Ive read of yours remind me of the authors'.

    That said, I dont think Democracy is an ideal form of government either. Its an illusion, you cast your vote but theoritically this has little ripple on anything. Voting is a way of giving the underprivlidged class some power. I guess some is better than one, but the point is Im suprised the thoughts in the OP's article are so surpising: voting never gave anyone much power, having money gives you power. On this earth, making political choices is about having the most resources, it always has been, always will be. So why is there a contradiction, between Oligarchy and Democracy at all? You can cast your vote but who people vote for will be influenced by campaigning(propaganda) which is funded by large corporations. All in all, its always been this way, I think now we're more aware of it is all.

    I am familiar with Hoppe, and am flattered by the comparison... but have not read Democracy, The God That Failed.

    I think it escapes most people, that the 51% may vote to enslave, loot, imprison, or even murder the 49% in a democracy, and there are no inherent limitations to these abuses.

  7. #27
    Sweet Ocean Cloud SD45T-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by statuesquechica View Post
    @OrderOfTheCaelifera: Being a true political junkie I am keeping myself informed about the goings-on in Russia and Ukraine...I am really disgusted how the GOP is salivating over Putin and his "manliness" in taking what he wants (and maybe recreating the former USSR).
    Really? Most of what I've been hearing from the GOP is that Obama is naive on a scale we haven't seen since Neville Chamberlain. And making things worse is the fact that we do not currently have a manned space program (Orion was to be the successor of the space shuttle) thus leaving us dependent on Russia for transport to and from the International Space Station.

    Quote Originally Posted by OWK View Post
    I think it escapes most people, that the 51% may vote to enslave, loot, imprison, or even murder the 49% in a democracy, and there are no inherent limitations to these abuses.
    Yep.
    1w2-6w5-3w2 so/sp

    "I took one those personality tests. It came back negative." - Dan Mintz

  8. #28
    Senior Member statuesquechica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SD45T-2 View Post
    Really? Most of what I've been hearing from the GOP is that Obama is naive on a scale we haven't seen since Neville Chamberlain.
    Yes, well, that is what the GOP is known for...bitching and moaning about Obama when they have no thought-out alternative. Mind you, I am not a great fan of Obama (nor the Democrats) but the rhetoric being thrown around by the GOP in regard to the Russia/Ukraine crisis is downright bizarre in praising Putin's actions.
    I've looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's life's illusions I recall
    I really don't know life at all

    Joni Mitchell

  9. #29
    Sweet Ocean Cloud SD45T-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by statuesquechica View Post
    Mind you, I am not a great fan of Obama (nor the Democrats) but the rhetoric being thrown around by the GOP in regard to the Russia/Ukraine crisis is downright bizarre in praising Putin's actions.
    Who specifically do you have in mind?
    1w2-6w5-3w2 so/sp

    "I took one those personality tests. It came back negative." - Dan Mintz

  10. #30
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by statuesquechica View Post
    Without making assumptions, am I correct from the bolded part above that you agreed with the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the FEC and unlimited campaign donations? I would hardly call Sean McKutcheon an "average citizen" and no amount of aggregation of the average Joe is going to amount anywhere close to what McKutcheon/Kochs/Soros/Gates can now contribute. I would strongly disagree with your statement that "special interest groups are not a crime against democracy."

    And I would very much prefer a form of government with low barriers to participate, including protected voting rights...the U.S. very much needs viable 3rd/4th party candidates. I wish we had a parliamentary system of government where at least there was greater variety of political views and the two party system would be broken.

    FWIW the authors of this study admitted the inherent problems with polls, as you mentioned.
    I'm actually undecided whether limits (aggregate or otherwise) on direct contributions to candidates and campaigns (as opposed to 'special interests' organizations without legal authority) violates the Constitution, though the 'liberal' justices managed to thoroughly alienate me (even more than usual, I mean) with the reasoning behind their dissent (basically saying that free speech is a collective right rather than an individual right).

    As for 'special interests' groups being a crime against democracy, one wonders how you regard such organizations as the Sierra Club, Emily's List, or La Raza? (If my own assumptions are in error, kindly point out organizations and movements you do like).

    Parliamentary systems merely postpone the creation of majority-based governing coalitions until after the elections, as opposed to presenting a coalition platform before voting occurs. Such systems serve to facilitate the implementation of majoritarian agendas by dispensing with the 'separation of powers' between Executive and Legislative authority (which is great for people who oppose the concept of limited government) rather than maximize the political viewpoints represented in government. In parliamentary systems with proportional representation, you essentially eliminate the accountability of individual politicians to specific constituents, empowering an intra-party oligarchy in all political parties, forcing 'average voters' and 'special interests groups' like the aforementioned three to curry favor with party bosses (the 'patrons' in this relationship) instead of getting out their messages and building grassroots support to challenge party orthodoxy and other entrenched interests.

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