Democracy and limited government.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by dblack, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    Of the people I talk to who care to think about such subjects, most assume that the constraints of constitutionally limited government act in opposition to democracy. And at the most superficial level, I suppose that's true. In a constitutional government, the state has limited powers - regardless of whether it is supported by a democratic majority.

    But I think it's an oversimplification to assume that limited government acts in opposition to democracy. From my perspective, strictly limiting what government can do is what makes democracy sustainable.

    I was reminded of this yesterday listening to radio interviews with various leaders of the 'Arab Spring' uprisings. Many of them spoke of the difficulties of transitioning to democratic rule. A recurring theme was that, while it was supported enthusiastically by the majority, democracy was viewed much less favorably by minorities. And that makes sense. Anyone whose values and way of life aren't represented by the majority has little to gain from democratic rule. It basically means they'll always be dependent on the good will (and voluntary restraint) of the majority.

    Setting strict limits on what government is allowed to do (ie limits on what the majority can force on the minority via government) makes democracy a less frightening prospect for anyone concerned about what happens when they're not in the majority. It gives us some assurance that, even if people you don't like are elected, there's only so much 'damage' they can do.

    I think this issue is at the heart of much of the current political dysfunction in the US. As we remove and reinterpret constitutional limits on state power, controlling that power becomes a vital goal for anyone worried that their preferred way of life may be in jeopardy. Each side sees the other's victory as a major threat. Liberals fear that letting conservatives take the reigns will usher in greater police state intrusion, laws promoting right wing religious values, and fuel a militant foreign policy. Conservatives worry that liberals will take away their guns, tax them into oblivion and socialize everything under the sun. Regardless of whether these fears are legitimate or not, constitutionally limited government is our single best protection against potential abuse. The more we dismiss it, the worse things are going to get.
     
  2. Truthmatters
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    Truthmatters BANNED

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    religion and government need to be kept away from each other.

    They distory each other if combined.


    That is the main reason some fear democracy
     
  3. toxicmedia
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    toxicmedia Gold Member

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    Great thread....

    I'm not sure I feel that the type of government is really that important in terms of political dysfunction in general. A Republican Democracy with a bicameral legislative body has the potential to be every bit as gridlocked as a Parliamentary Democracy. Turkey for example, in the early 2000's, went back and forth with their parliamentary majorities so often that majorities couldn't complete anything before the other guys got back in power and overturned it...which is not at all unlike what the GOP wants to do with Obamacare.

    You're right on the money about the irrational fears righties have about lefties in the US, and visa versa, but that's the 24 hour cable media, biased bloggers, and talk radio's fault, and while I love freedom of the press, yet at the same time, I'm resentful of those who subscribe to the resulting ridiculous notions that the other half of the country is essentially bad, ignorant and bad, or potentially destructive to them.

    As far as constituionally limited government...if the fed is limited and reduced, and the states get the balance of those authorites....we will be making state government bigger, and I see no evidence that state government is any more logical or efficient than the federal government.

    Logic dictates....that the size of government should be a size that best serves the population. Leaping forward into abstraction...can we expect our government to be small when our country is so large? I worry that excessively small government implemented in haste could leave well deserving hard working folks out in the cold alongside entitlement parasites. I'm not seeing adequate specificty from small government proponents, nor am I seeing it from status quo supporters.

    Just a few thoughts
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  4. dblack
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    dblack Gold Member

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    You seem to be assuming that states would fill in for any government trimmed at the federal level. In any case, it's not the size of government, whether measured in dollars or personnel, that's relevant. What matters is the scope of government.

    I don't think I made my point clearly enough earlier. I'm saying that strict limits on government power are vital to a sustainable democracy. Without them, democracy can tear society apart.

    You said that you agree about the 'irrational' fears each side has of the other. But that's not what I'm saying at all. As more and more constitutional limits are ignored, their fears are actually quite rational. But limited government can assuage these fears. It promises us that even if our 'side' loses an election, we won't be subject to the whim of the winners - there will be predictable limits on what they can do.

    Without such a promise, democracy is unexpectedly divisive. It fuels all-or-nothing thinking because, potentially, it is all-or-nothing. If there are virtually no limits on government, there are virtually no limits on what is at stake when the sides vie for control.
     
  5. rdean
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    rdean rddean

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    Police, firefighters, teachers, postal workers are all government workers.

    Republicans have demonized government way too much. Government needs to work with Universities and Business to bring this country out of recession. Republicans think business does more than it does because they have deified business owners. Business puts a lot, lot less into research because they prefer to expand by buying up other businesses. Less risky.

    Try to explain this to Republicans and they go off with, "Oh you want government to run your life" when no one said that. It's because these current Republicans live in "Republicanland", a new level of delusion where they only hear what they want to hear.
     
  6. Charles_Main
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    Charles_Main AR15 Owner

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    Despite the Lefts wet Dream. the US was never intended to be a Direct Democracy. Were a constitutional Federal Representative Republic. Always have been, and hopefully always will be.
     
  7. Charles_Main
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    You only hear what you want to hear Dean. Always have, always will.
     
  8. toxicmedia
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    toxicmedia Gold Member

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    The bolded portions above are exactly what I'm referring to in terms of "lack of specificity".

    The smaller government reducing gridlock and partisanship part sounds great!....but it's never been tried in the US in modern times, or earlier as I remember...at any rate....when you put human nature into untried logical sounding ideas...it never turns out the way people expect.

    Not saying it isn't something to try.....but I just can't see Americans acting with enough personal responsibility to make small government work.....wish I was wrong.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011

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