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Old September 2 2012, 05:43 PM   #140
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Location: Montgomery County, State of Maryland
Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
RE: The Electoral College.

This to me is a counterbalance, as a way of preventing pure democracy turning into mob rule.
A system that can put into power the candidate for whom the majority of the electorate did not vote is not a "counterbalance." It's just a subversion of the will of the people. It is tyrannical, and nothing more.

From having 2 houses in Congress, the 3 branches of Government with distinct duties and relationships, and the limitation of federal and state powers, it seems the US was built on the principal of avoiding a single point of power, such as a King.
Hypothetically, sure. The reality of the situation is that it's very easy for power to accumulate into a single point and to end up with a president who is as powerful as any king. George W. Bush in the 2000s; FDR in the 1930s and 1940s; Woodrow Wilson during World War I; Andrew Jackson in the 1820s; etc.

Which is not to say the American system is unique -- so far as I know, every democracy has been periodically vulnerable to the accumulation of too much power in the hands of a single party and party leader. The fundamental strength of democracy over traditional monarchy is that even these periods of accumulation of power end up being temporary.

It is also heavily invested in checks and balances, where nobody can generally do anything drastic against the wishes of other branches of government.
In the modern world, however, this has come at the cost of being almost wholly dysfunctional and incapable of making necessary decisions.

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
Any goverment system is imperfect. The American system is the least imperfect, and best system human beings have managed to create so far.
I rather prefer the French system, actually. It preserves the right of the people to directly elect their president (the biggest strength of the American system), preserves the necessity that the prime minister and cabinet hold the confidence of the majority of the legislators in order to hold office and enact their bills (the biggest strength of the Westminster system), and manages to have both a legislature independent of the president or a legislature that works closely with the president, depending upon how the legislative elections work out (secondary strengths of both the U.S. and Westminster systems, respectively). It's like the best of both worlds.

And this is only addressing constitutional arrangements. We shouldn't forget that, more broadly speaking, the American political system has traditionally been built upon white supremacy, sexism against women, heterosexism against LGBT persons, classism against the poor and middle class, imperialism against foreigners, bribery and domination by large and unaccountable corporations, genocide and oppression against Native Americans, and numerous other forms of tyranny. The American system as it exists in reality rather than on paper is far from perfect.

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
The two-party system is not designed as such. It evolved into a system with 2 parties. We have other parties, but it is not a systematic flaw, but an evolutionary/historical one.
No, it is systemic. The use of first-past-the-poll voting ensures that there will only ever be two dominant parties, and that smaller parties will never be able to compete on the federal level. If we're serious about making sure that third parties have a voice, we need to start looking at alternate voting systems, because ours is systemically flawed.

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
I'd agree with that, though I view them as subtle variants on the same basic system.

House of Commons and House of Lords = House and Senate.
The House of Lords cannot prevent a bill from becoming law if the Commons wants it to become law. That's more than a subtle distinction.

President = Prime Minister.
Votes of no confidence are also more than a semantic distinction. As is, for that matter, a Prime Minister's relative ease in passing bills through a Parliament versus a U.S. President's relative challenge moving bills through a Congress.

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
I stand corrected on the ability to change a constitution, but I stand by the assertion that changing a Constitution is more difficult than changing laws.
It is true that it is easier to change a standard statute than it is to change a constitution, in general. What you are overlooking, however, is the fact that changes to constitutional conventions -- "convention" as in custom, not "convention" as in meeting -- are typically treated with the same seriousness, and reluctance to change them, as are amendments to written constitutions. It is much harder to change a constitutional convention by statute than it is to pass a normal statute.
Democratic socialism is the hope of human freedom.
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