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. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    CoveTom
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    You do realize that, agree or disagree, the effect of the electoral college is by design? The American system was designed from the ground up with the idea that the straight "will of the majority" should not always be the deciding factor. There is a fundamental belief that the states, as entities, should have power in the system as well. Hence the reason why senators were originally elected by the state legislators (a system to which I think we should return) rather than directly by the people. And also the reason for the electoral college. Because it was believed that the states with the most people should not automatically run the show, but that the smaller states should have an important say too.

    Like I say, you can agree or disagree, but the US system of state power was definitely by design.
     
  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Yes. Indeed, the U.S. system of government was designed by elitist oligarchs who didn't want blacks, women, Native Americans, poor people, or anyone who wasn't a rich white land-owning male, to participate in government. That was by design, too.

    The fact that it was by design does not mean it was, or is, not tyrannical.
     
  3. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Italy, EU
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I have seen that bandied around quite a bit, but it never seen to me more than vague grandstanding. Any arguments in support to your claim?

    Hardly. It's a good system, but definitively not the best there is. Germany's systems are much less antagonistic while preserving healthy (and heated) debate, the French is a good compromise between presidential and parliamentary, and even the British one has its interesting features (I would generally say that somethings as deeply undemocratic as the House of Lords is a load of crap, and yet they play a surprisingly effective role at stopping populist legislation and to provide a cool voice in troubled times). If you are curious, the Italian one is shit, tho.

    Uh. The House of Lords is unelected. The Prime Minister is not the Head of State. I'd say these are more than cosmetic differences.


    Yep.

    Think again.

    I'd take you are not very acquainted with other countries' constitution.

    I'll go on a limb here and say: all the Western liberal democracies, at least.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    But if we are talking about electing the US President by popular vote, what difference does it make in which state a voter resides? Just because you live in a state which usually votes Repbulican doesn't mean that 49.9% of the electorate are actually Democrats. Just that the Repbulican vote is large enough to make it swing that way.

    Now not being an American I maybe wrong, but the electoral college system determines how many electorial college votes each state has based on population. So the larger states like Californian may say get 60 Electorial college votes while smaller states like Delaware might get 8.

    So lets say the actual vote breakdown in California is 52/48 split Republicain/Democratic, then all of those electorial college votes goto the Republic party. Similar the reverse is true if Delaware voted 52/48 in favour of the Democratic Party those 8 electorial college votes goto the Democratic party. So even a victory as small as 1 vote can mean the difference between getting 60 electorial college votes and none.

    So when all the states are considered as a whole, the Democratic Party candidate might have 52% of the popular vote, but only 48% of the college vote so they lose. Hardly sees fair as the losing candidate was the candidate the voters preferred.

    As for the idea of the state legislative electing the representives, isn't that denying the people the change to vote for a different party which they think might be better at a national/international level than a state level.
     
  5. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Yeah, this is where you are wrong. The number of electors for a state is the number of Representatives in the House plus two, the number of Senators. This gives electors from states with smaller populations more of a voice, relative to population, than electors from states with larger populations. [http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html]

    In civics class, I was taught that this is an incentive for states with small populations to join the Union.
     
  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I actually agree with rigging the system a little bit to ensure that the interests of states with low populations are not utterly ignored at the federal level in Congress. That's why I don't object to having a Senate with equal representation for all states, even though there's a bit of a democratic deficit there. One of the goals of liberal democracy, after all, is to prevent a tyranny of a majority. (I do, however, think that the Senate needs some reform in the particulars of how it functions.)

    But the idea that the state governments should get to determine who's in the U.S. Congress? No. Absolutely not. States are important, but state governments are not people, and should have themselves get to determine who's in the Senate. The people of the states should get to determine that, not the state governments. Arguing otherwise is just an attempt to take away people's rights.

    And while there is a legitimate argument to be made that the people of low-population states should have equal representation with those of large-population states in the Senate, there is no valid reason for the vote for president of a citizen in Delaware to carry more weight than the vote of a citizen in California. The President is not like a Senator from a low-population state; the job of the President is to be President for everyone, and no citizen's vote for President should carry more weight than others.
     
  7. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    T'Girl
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    This is something I have been curious about, what gets you thrown out of the club? If they have a production problem with their ability to manufacture warp drive engines domestically, do they get suspended? What if they "out-sourced" production to the Betazed, they imported their engines?

    And what if they alway obtained their warp engines from someone else, been doing this for five hundred years?

    Hypothetical, after becoming a member, Bajor decides to return to their per-occupation caste system after all, the Federation is told formally that this is going to happen (the Bajorians hide nothing), and the caste system becomes a reality. Because Bajor is a Federation member would Starfleet be sent in the "save" the Bajorian people from a decision that many of them might agree with, Bajor is literally force to dissolve the system, or would they be expelled?

    How about a political schism on a member world, and they lose their single government status and divide into three countries. The prospect of joining the Federation cause them to form a one world government, but that impetus is gone now that they're in. Do they sent three separate representatives to the council?

    Each of their three states has a population larger than some Federation members with a one state political.

    :devil:
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I don't know. What would happen if the State of Alabama announced that it was re-instituting segregation?
     
  9. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    So what National constitutions have express limitations of the powers of the Government in their Constitutions?

    Could you educate me by naming names here?
     
  10. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    The debate over the merits of the Electoral College seems to me to hinge on whether one believes Bush stole the elections, regardless of it being called non-democratic by some here.

    MOST of the time, the Electoral College does reflect the majority.

    The thing is, it still, in the end, is based on those same voters.

    But the US is not a one-man-one-vote-for-president type of Democracy. It is a Democratic REPUBLIC.

    Is a Republic thus non-democratic by it's nature?

    How does one prevent mob rule, and protect smaller representative groups' rights?
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    The merits of the electoral college have been debated since before any of us were born.
     
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    And if I were a cynic, I would say long after you are dead.

    And I thought one of the more important arguments was is it right that someone with fewer popular votes can be elected President. But like with any political system change tends to only come about if the governing party at the time things the change will improve their changes of winning/staying in power/getting more votes etc..

    Good job I'm not a cynic. :p
     
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Believe it or not, it's possible for someone to hold a strong conviction about something without it being all about partisan gain. Do I view Bush's victory in 2000 as morally illegitimate? Yes. And I would argue just as passionately that Rutherford B. Hayes's victory in 1876, Benjamin Harrison's victory in 1888, and John Quincy Adams's victory in 1824, were morally illegitimate. I don't care if we're talking Bush versus Gore, I don't care if we're talking about Hayes vs. Tilden, I don't care if we're talking about Harrison vs. Cleveland, I don't care if we're talking about Adams vs. Jackson. (And I view Andrew Jackson as an American Hitler, mind you.)

    I do not recognize the moral right of any group of elites -- even members of the United States Electoral College -- to give office to a head of government who has not been chosen democratically by a majority of the voters in a system of universal suffrage. Any such decision is morally illegitimate, and any such system is morally illegitimate.

    Yes, we have established this. The question is whether or not it ought to be. Appeal to authority is an invalid argument.

    You seem to have a misunderstanding of the word "republic." A republic is merely a sovereign state which is not headed by a monarch. A republic may be democratic or it may be autocratic; it may be free, or it may be tyrannical. Hitler's Germany was as much a republic as Mandela's South Africa. "Republic," in other words, is a mostly meaningless categorization.

    I hear about this concern a lot. What exactly constitutes "mob rule?"

    That's a very broad topic. Off the top of my head, things like affirmative action come to mind. In general, legislation can be passed to work to protect minorities' rights. But in the meantime, the rights of the minority do not include picking the President for everyone else, and the right of all citizens to an equal voice in choosing the only nationally-elected offices -- the President and Vice President -- is paramount.

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms from the Constitution of Canada comes to mind. Title II of the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The Constitution of the French Republic. The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. Section VII of the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland. The Constitution of Ireland. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway. The Constitution of Sweden. The Constitution of the Argentine Nation. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. And there are more.
     
  14. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Mob rule=Rights of smaller states/groups trumped by raw majority based on short-term feelings of the moment, with not protections for groups.

    As a representative democracy, the U.S. has the Electoral College as such a safeguard.
     
  15. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the guaranteed rights (constitutionally) simply say the Government cannot do X, Y or Z. But the Government can do literally anything else.

    The US Constitution say, fundamentally, the Government can only do A, B and C, and cannot step outside of those bounds.

    Limitations in my meaning are not simply prohibitions, but functional limitations.

    A set of limited, enumerated powers. Not all powerful as long as it does not do X, Y or Z.

    This is subtle, but fundamental and, as far as I'm aware, quite unique.
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    No one's rights are trampled if one candidate or another wins the majority of votes for president. The Electoral College doesn't protect anyone's rights.

    1. Now you're moving the goalposts. You asked for limitations on governments' authorities; we gave you some. Now you ask for a specific kind of limitation. Stop changing the standards.

    2. I don't know enough about these foreign constitutions to say that such a limitation doesn't exist; I would have to do much more research. But you clearly don't know enough to say that they don't exist, either, and should not make such a claim.

    3. That "limitation" is meaningless in the modern world, because the states have become so interconnected that damn near everything can reasonably fall under the Commerce Clause. It has, as a result of how economically intertwined the states are, become a "limit" in name only.
     
  17. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    CoveTom
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    I could argue a great deal with what has been said here about the US system of government. Suffice it to say, I think Sci is factually wrong on just about every single assertion he/she has made. :) However, this is not Miscellaneous or TNZ. This is the TOS forum. And I fear that if I continue to engage in those arguments, I'll help derail what could be an interesting discussion about the government of the Federation.

    So, veering back to that topic... It seems clear that the Federation is not really analogous to any modern government. It certainly has elements of the United States in it, as well as elements of the United Nations. The key, though, is that they seem to have ironed out whatever flaws exist. And they also have some peculiarities that have never been explained. For example, it seems clear that each member world maintains it's own government. Yet in DS9, we see the President of the Federation -- not the President of Earth -- declare martial law on Earth and put troops in the streets.
     
  18. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    1. I apologize for misstating them. But prohibitions and limits are different things, are they not?

    2. You seem to know more than myself, so I guessed you might have other examples.

    3. Factually incorrect. The recent PPACA case in the supreme court actually establishes that there ARE limits on Commerce Clause power, and the Necessary and Proper Clause do NOT, in FACT, give virtually unlimited power. Section 5000A of the PPACA only survived being struck down due to the fact that it could be interpreted as a tax. IMHO, THAT was wrongly decided, as a Direct Tax is ALSO unconstitutional. Medicaid expansion was also deemed unconstitutional due to it's coercive status.

    Bad collective legal interpretation does not a constitutional text or design make.

    RE: Trampled rights.

    It is not explicit, but implicit, that there should be a balance in some fashion. Electoral College serves that function.
     
  19. OneBuckFilms

    OneBuckFilms Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    2. Let me know what your research reveals.
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Re: Is the Federation a True Democracy? And How Did It Reach That Poin

    He. I have the "Male" symbol sitting right there on each post.

    Not if you don't establish greater context. You gave no indication that you were looking for more than the standard prohibitions on government infringements on individual rights.

    Of course there are limits. But we also shouldn't pretend that the old "reserved to the states" thing is anywhere near as relevant to modern life as the Founders intended -- nor should it be. The states simply are not as separate from one-another as they once were, and it's silly to pretend that that rule is anywhere near as relevant -- or ought to be anywhere near as relevant -- as it once was.

    "Balance" of what? Allowing a minority of people to decide the president is not balance. It's just undemocratic, period. Nor does it protect anyone's rights -- because the rights of the minority are not violated if the candidate they did not vote for becomes president.

    No, that's not how this works. You've made the assertion, now it's your obligation to back it up. If you don't want to do that research, then you are morally obliged to withdraw your assertion.
     

Share This Page