Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Point?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Captain Shatner, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    No, it couldn't. The President's full formal title was clearly established in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: "President of the United Federation of Planets." He is President of the state, not president of the legislature.

    No, because rationally, they'd use a different term in English for that leader, and a different term in Vulcan, etc., and each term would actually mean what it says on the tin. It makes no sense that they'd call him the Federation President if the actual English term for his kind of office is "Prime Minister." And it is, again, much more rational to subscribe to the hypothesis that doesn't require many other assumptions to function.

    No, I am making the assumption that a President is a President and a Prime Minister is a Prime Minister.

    There are presidents aside from the South African President who are elected by legislatures -- Germany's comes to mind -- but those Presidents aren't necessarily elected from among the legislature, and they're almost always ceremonial presidents who have to obey the orders of the Prime Minister. Since there is no Federation Prime Minister, and since we have seen the Federation President making policy himself without taking anyone else's orders, we can safely rule out this model.

    Thus, it continues to require fewer extra assumptions to hypothesize that the Federation President is a president rather than a prime minister who is called a president.
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Sci.. why are you repeating yourself so often? As I said in my last post, there's really no way to know for sure given the available information. You have your opinion, I have mine, others have theirs. No reason to ram it down anyone's throats.

    "President" is just a word in the end. Every country with a president doesn't have that individual serve effectively in the same role. Different governments, cultures and languages have differing meanings for the word. This becomes even more pertinent when you bring other alien races into the equation.

    I honestly don't think a planetary alliance is going to elect it's head of state based on popular vote or even in an electoral college fashion. This would effectively lead to one species dominating the position, probably humans. The simplest solution -would- be for the council to elect the said leader, since you're touting that the simplest approach.

    If he's called president instead of prime minister, chancellor or grand panjandrum, so what? It's a word and the meaning of it is only applicable to the place and time of the Federation and her member races in the 23rd/4th century in this case.

    But in the end, yes we can argue each other in a circle on this one. There's not much evidence either way. Even the guy claiming the Federation is a military dictatorship could make a convincing case with the available information. I'd think he's wrong, but hey I can't -prove- it, since it's a fictional setting that hasn't revealed that said information.
     
  3. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    We have no idea how the Federation council is run. Until the show explores this in more detail we'll never now.
     
  4. ThePatriot1776

    ThePatriot1776 Ensign Red Shirt

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Actually, the President of the United States is not elected by the people either. When the people vote for the president they are actually selecting the slate of electors who do the actual voting on December 20th of an election year. Federal or a State's Congress tomorrow could remove people from voting on the President and it wouldn't change anything. I can say this because voting for President by the electors is mandated in the Constitution of the United States, while the popular vote isn't. Each state determined its own preferred method of choosing the electors. There were some states where the legislature chose the electors and in others it was done by popular vote. It wasn't until the late 1890s til the early 1900s that all states used the popular vote to choose the electoral slate.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Words have meanings. They have very specific meanings. Now, you have your interpretation and you're entitled to it, but the fact remains that your interpretation requires adding a lot of extra-textual evidence not present in the actual episodes to make it work: Your interpretation requires re-defining the word "president" to mean something it simply does not mean.

    I am not touting the "simplest" approach. I am touting the interpretation of the canonical evidence that requires the fewest extra add-on assumptions.

    Yes, and the Electoral College is a horrible, undemocratic, and abusive institution that should have been abolished decades ago, along with Jim Crow, property requirements for voting, and state legislators picking Senators. It's absolutely not something a real democracy should copy.
     
  6. ThePatriot1776

    ThePatriot1776 Ensign Red Shirt

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    We're not a democracy nor have we ever been. We are, however, a republic. In the Constitution of the United States there is no mention or the use of the word 'democracy'. There is the use of the word 'republic'.
     
  7. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Whether or not the United States is today a democracy is debatable (especially given the extreme power wielded over our government, without accountability, by unelected plutocrats), but I would agree that it was not a democracy in a meaningful sense until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed. But it ought to be, as democracy is the only legitimate form of government, and a non-democracy is by definition tyrannical. Governments only have the right to exercise power if they have the consent of the populace as a whole over which they govern -- and only democracy can deliver that consent.

    The oligarchs who designed our government gave us a deeply flawed constitution that has required 200 years of constant adjustment and democratization, and this process needs to continue.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    That's a pretty strange thing to say, considering that "president" is a very commonly used and indeed abused job description in a variety of organizations, the field politics only representing a tiny corner of the general field of applications.

    The ill-defined, wishy-washy structure of the Federation would be a natural habitat for a president or three, in the sense of "president of the society", "president of the board", "president of the council". No real need to assume that a president in this context would be a head of state or anything. The President in ST4:TVH did seem to do rather menial things for a head of state, after all - presiding over a court, concerning himself with the affairs of a single planet, etc.

    We can of course decide that the two onscreen Presidents, from ST4 and DS9, were sitting on one and the same chair, with broad powers. Or we can say the UFP has half a dozen Presidents of various sorts, and the one declaring martial law isn't necessarily the one presiding over courts of law or diplomatic rows or whatnot. Or we can say the role of the UFP President changed in between. But there's no inherent merit in insisting that the role should fit a pattern established by the United Earth or the United States, since neither of those organizations holds the patent to the concept of president.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. cbspock

    cbspock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin



    We are a representative republic. We are not a democracy. Democracy is MOB RULE, and they never last long they usually slip into totalitarianism. I think the model of the Federation is along the lines of the United States, but with a set up like the United Nations. We have seen there is a President, and a Federation Council. They have a process to admit Planets into the Union, like the US has to add States. There seems to be a federal structure, where the Planets have self government like our states do. I think the UN structure and the Confederation of States, the system we had before the constitution is too loose a structure for the Federation to get anything done.


    -Chris
     
  10. cbspock

    cbspock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin


    No the Electoral College is A GREAT SYSTEM. It prevents MOB RULE. We should go back to the way Senators were originally picked, by the STATES. The Senate was supposed to be the check / balance on the house of representatives. Now both the house and senate are formed from the same pool. It was meant to give our LOCAL representatives power, which puts power closer to the people. Wilson had it changed, and we have been in this death spiral ever since with the Progressives eroding the way the system was meant to work. Now the checks and balances are broken, etc.

    WE ARENT A DEMOCRACY, we are a representative republic.

    Read the book Ameritopia it goes into all the philosophy. Also another good book is American Creation.




    -Chris
     
  11. cbspock

    cbspock Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Our constitution isn't flawed, its progressives who have eaten away at it. Our system is currently BROKEN. Your history is severely flawed. You need to read Ameritopia, American Creation, Road to Disunion, Liberty and Tyranny.

    -Chris
     
  12. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Calling the Founding Fathers oligarchs? Yeah... not taking anything Sci says seriously anymore.
     
  13. Captain Shatner

    Captain Shatner Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Sigh. When I started the thread, I was sort of hoping it wouldn't erupt into flame. Although I think we were doing pretty well until page 6...
     
  14. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    The problem with that is that he's explicitly identified as the President of the United Federation of Planets, not President of the Federation Council. He's explicitly identified as president of the state.

    Three onscreen presidents: the Human from ST4 (named Hiram Roth in the novels); the Grazerite from DS9 named Jaresh-Inyo; and the Efrosian from ST6 (named Ra-ghoratreii in the novels).

    Not counting the onscreen-but-illegible biography of Jonathan Archer in ENT's "In A Mirror, Darkly," which established that he became an early Federation President.

    You need to re-check your political science vocabulary. A representative republic (that is, a republic whose officials are popularly elected) is a type of democracy.

    I've never heard of a mob that gets in line to cast ballots after having been registered prior to a pre-scheduled decision-making period.

    No system that allows a person to become president without the support of a majority or a plurality of votes cast is "great" or morally legitimate.

    Yes, let's deny a voice to the people in the upper chamber of Congress and let the state elites make the decisions without their vote. It's completely rational and not the least bit un-egalitarian or ripe for corruption.

    No, they are not -- not unless the state's population is so small as to only allow for a single at-large House district. A Senator by definition represents the entire state; a Representative, only her local district.

    Of course it's flawed. All political systems are flawed, because (to paraphrase Alexander Hamilton) if men were angels, no government would be needed. Trying to pretend that a constitution that allowed slavery and has had to be amended 27 times "not flawed" is just silly. This is nothing more than constitutional idolatry and ancestor worship.

    Sure, if you read Lies My Teacher Told Me, A People's History of the United States, The Shock Doctrine, and Death of the Liberal Class. :bolian:

    I'm sorry the thought bothers you, but they fit the definition just fine. They were wealthy, land-owning white men (many of whom, like Jefferson, had inherited their wealth and status), who had attained their roles in colonial governments by being "elected" by other wealthy land-owning white men, and who designed a government that only gave a voice to wealthy, land-owning white men. Hell, they even designed the Constitution with the specific intent of making sure one particular man (George Washington) would become the first president. They fit the definition of oligarchs to a T.
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Interesting thing there is, at least in Journey to Babel, it was ambassadors and delegates from the member homeworlds, and not the Council itself, that were making the decision as to whether to admit a new member.

    Okay, and now if the Council elected one of their own members to preside over the Council, that person would then be the "president."

    Preside: To occupy the place of authority or control, as in an assembly or meeting; act as president or chairperson.

    (That's the specific meaning of "preside.")

    But here aren't you making the assumption that the Federation Council is a parliamentary assembly?

    And why would someone elected (hypothetically) from the Federation Council to lead the Council be called Prime Minister, when there is (iirc) no indication that the members of the Federation Council are themselves called "ministers?"

    :)
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    President of the Council, not President of the Federation. It's like the difference between the President of the United States of America under the Constitution and the President of the United States in Congress Assembled under the Articles of Confederation; one is the president of the state, and the other is the presiding officer of the legislature.

    In ST4, the President is explicitly identified as President of the United Federation of Planets. He is the president of the state.

    Because that's what an executive elected from the state's legislature is -- a Prime Minister. And most members of legislatures in countries that have prime ministers aren't called ministers themselves; the most common term is "Member of Parliament," or MP.
     
  17. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Everyone knows the Fed Council is a myth perpetuated by the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet. The President is just the figurehead that Starfleet trots out for public appearances.

    ;)
     
  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Well I don't see how the electorial college system can be considered that great when in theroy a person who gets fewer votes can lose. Hardly seems fair.

    From a democratic point of view, the council is most likely to be Parliamentary in style, one member one vote. We can infer from ENT that the UE Government appears to be parlimentary based on the title Minister used in the "Terra Prime". But until we actually see it we can't know for sure.

    The Federation Council might be a mixture of styles, i.e. a Parliamentary style chamber with a directly elected President.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Why one member, one vote? If there are 10 billion humans but only 1 billion Andorians, why shouldn't the humans get 10 votes to the Andorians' one? One member, one vote hardly seems fair.

    You know, I bet the Founding Fathers of the US had similar discussions. I just bet they did.
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Well just look at the United Nations, America pays 22 percent of the budget, we have 4½ percent of the world's population, and we only get one stinking vote in the general assembly? Of course we do receive our just rewards by having a veto in the security council, so actually the UN general assembly can really suck on it.

    I wonder if the Federation's governing body also has something like the security council? Composed of the half dozen original members, plus a few temporary want-na-bees.
    Might explain how worlds like Earth and Vulcan continue to be major power player even after adding another 150 plus members.

    :)
     

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