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Pols 1337 Lecture 2 - Democracy

by: Julian Quesada

Pols 1337 Lecture 2 - Democracy pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor

Marketplace > University of Houston > pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor > Pols 1337 Lecture 2 Democracy
Julian Quesada
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These notes cover the second lecture from Pols 1337. They include the class notes along with what the professor has said in class in a clear and easy to ready format.
US Govt: Congress,Pres & Crts
Cyrus Contractor
Class Notes
political science, Government, pols




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Julian Quesada on Sunday January 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to pols 1337 Cyrus Contractor at University of Houston taught by Cyrus Contractor in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 163 views.

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Date Created: 01/31/16
POLS 1337 LECTURE 2 - DEMOCRACY I. Democracy I. Despite a global move toward democracy, not everyone defines democracy the way Americans do - or think they do i. Cannot find a true Democracy in the world today II. Defining Democracy i. Aristotle argued that Democracy is a perversion of Constitutional Government (Republic) 1. Greece cradle of Democracy 2. Aristotle didn't believe in the idea of Democracy 3. Sets up idea of government under philosopher king ii. The writers of the US Constitution were suspicious of democracy iii. In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln defined democracy as "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" iv. A basic definition of Democracy is a means of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the people's preferences III. Traditional democratic theory rests upon several principles that specify how a democratic government makes its decisions i. Democratic theorist Robert Dahl refers to 5 criteria that are essential for "an ideal democratic process" 1. Equality in voting 2. Effective participation 3. Enlightened understanding 4. Citizen control of the agenda 5. Inclusion ii. In addition, democracies must practice majority rule and preserve minority rights 1. Relationship between the few leaders and the many follower is one of representation 2. The closer the correspondence between representatives and their electoral majority, the closer the approximation to democracy 3. Most Americans also feel that it is vital to protect minority rights, such as freedom of speech IV. Three contemporary theories of American democracy i. Pluralist theory contends that many centers of influence compete for power and control 1. Groups compete 2. Bargaining and compromise 3. Electoral majorities rarely rule ii. Elite & class theory contends that our society is divided along class lines 1. An upper-class elite rules, regardless of governmental organization 2. Wealth is the basis of class power: a few powerful Americans are the real policy makers 3. Big business and its power are at the center of most elite and class theories iii. Hyper-pluralism is pluralism gone sour 1. Many groups are so strong that government is unable to act 2. There are too many groups to access different levels and branches of government 3. The result is confusing, contradicting, and muddled policy (or no policy at all) V. Challenges to Democracy i. How can people confront complex issues? ii. Are the citizens doing their job? iii. Is American democracy too dependent on money? iv. Can the political system adapt to today's rapidly changing world v. Does American diversity produce policy gridlock II. The Scope of Government in America 1. How active is American Government? i. National, state, and local governments in America collectively spend about a third of our gross domestic product (value of all goods and services produced annually by the US) ii. The national government alone spends more than $3.8 trillion annually, employs over 2.8 million people, and owns one-third of the land in the United States 2. A comparative perspective on the scope and size of government i. Outside the sphere of national defense, the government of the US actually does less - and is small - compared to the governments of similar countries ii. The tax burden on Americans is also small, compared to other democratic nations i. Think UK/France/Germany 3. American individualism is a dominant theme in American political culture i. Developed from immigrant's desire to escape government oppression ii. As Louis Hartz points out, it helped limit the scope of American government iii. The existence of a western frontier up until the 20th century allowed people to escape gov't almost entirely: this ethos still infuses American individualism


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