The Myth of American Democracy

I think it is safe to say that almost anyone who thinks of a democracy, will automatically associate it with The United States of America and that America has been one of the biggest advocates of democracy. Oddly enough though, nowhere in our Constitution or the Declaration of Independence does it say anything about the U.S. being a “democracy.” In fact, many of the founding fathers appear to be against traditional democracy. A famous quote by John Adams is “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” During the period of the enlightenment, democracy suffered very strong critiques by many politicians and philosophers. English/Irish politician Edmund Burke famously stated, “In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority” and German philosopher Immanuel Kant also theorized that the greatest weakness of a democracy is that people would never vote for any decision that could negatively impact them, such as going to war or raising taxes. Since true democracy seemed to have it flaws, the founding fathers instead created “American Democracy”, which is a hybrid between democratic and republican values and systems. From this distinction, traditional democracy has come to be known as direct democracy. Direct democracy is democracy in its most basic form in that for a decision to be made, every member of the society may vote and the majority wins; hence the name “direct” because the citizens are voting directly on the issues. This is the form of government that OWS wishes to instill. Members of the movement feel as if the 99% has lost its voice in government dealings and believe that with direct democracy, everyone’s voice will be heard. OWS has been referring to the practice of direct democracy as “consensus” and this clip made by Meerkat Media Collective is shows its use. 

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2 responses to “The Myth of American Democracy

  1. I really agree with you here kara, i dont think that it can ever really be a democracy. I think in the end people by nature will always do what is best for themselves before doing whats best for the group. Everyone has an agenda behind anything they do or say whether they realize it or not. Democracy will always fail, because it is always fake. There is always someone trying to manipulate others to their benefit. Anyone who says other wise needs to stop lying to others and themselves.

  2. Pingback: What is Occupy Wall Street? | Occupy Wall Street Analysis

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