Greater NYC Campaign For Liberty Message Board › American Democracy: Theory versus Actuality

American Democracy: Theory versus Actuality

A former member
Post #: 49

In theory, American democracy is… a Federal, Constitutional, Liberal, Representative Democratic, Republic (“if you can keep it”). The United States government is supposed to be:

Constitutional – The government’s powers are defined and limited by a formal constitution and there are as well, limits upon the popular will—not everything is permitted, even if the majority desires it. Authority is generally limited in three ways: by formalized guarantees of fundamental civil rights; by a system of checks and balances separating and constraining the executive, legislative, and judicial powers; and a division of power between national, state, and local governments.

Federal – A confederated State consisting of two or more partially self-governing states or territories, united by a central (federal) government. The distribution of power between the federal State and the constituent states is stipulated within a constitutional agreement which cannot be unilaterally altered. The US Federal Government exists at the pleasure of the states, not the other way around. [Note also that, while the United States is federal, the fifty states themselves are unitary—counties and municipalities have only that authority granted to them by each state.]

Republican – In a republic, ultimate power resides with the citizenry and there is no monarch. Republics most often have democratic aspects, but are not typically directly democratic. The government is most usually indirectly controlled by the citizenry through the election of representatives who exercise the power delegated to them according to law, and in a manner which is responsive and accountable to the general public. The terms “republic” and “representative democracy” are generally regarded as being interchangeable. Representative democracy is “democratic” in the selection of governing representatives, but not necessarily in the actual governance itself.

Liberal – In contrast to autocratic forms of government—or alternative democratic conceptions which emphasize collectivist and egalitarian ideals—the ideals of classical liberalism are notably individualistic and concern themselves with limiting the power of the State over the individual. Democracies which honor these ideals are classified as liberal, and those which don’t are classified as illiberal. Liberalism and democratic governance are not only compatible, but broadly considered necessary for the genuine existence of each other. Classical liberalism attributes importance to ideals such as:

• The dignity and moral significance of the individual
• Individual liberty and freedom (especially conscientious freedom)
• Natural or fundamental individual rights (to life, liberty, and private property)
• Popular sovereignty (rule by the people)
• Rules being subject to the consent of the governed
• Autonomy
• Civil society outside the government
• Free markets and capitalism
• Political and civil pluralism
• Tolerance
• Rule of law
• Due process
• Equality before the law
• Equal rights
• Political equality
• Free and fair elections

Excerpted from: “THE MYTH OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The Deification of Democratic Governance and the Subversion of Individual Liberty”, by Trenton Fervor.

A former member
Post #: 50

However, in actuality, far from being a “Federal, Constitutional, Liberal, Representative Democratic, Republic,” the US is, or is becoming:

Constitutionally unconstrained – The government’s powers are not effectually limited or constrained by a formal constitution. The Constitution is circumvented, distorted, corrupted, re-interpreted, misapplied, undermined, disregarded, flouted, extended, supplanted, or generally disrespected. The basis upon which the people incorporated as a State and interact politically is not fixed. The government is able to transform and aggrandize itself unilaterally and outside of any formally prescribed processes. The Constitution is regarded as a “living document”: it’s considered to be freely adaptable to whatever the people want it to be, right now. Formal or historic constraints are illegitimate. There are no firm or enforceable limits on the power and scope of the State. Government should intervene, should solve problems and provide services, should be empowered to do good things—“prolifically.”

Unitary State – In contrast to a federal State, a unitary State is comprised of a single supreme government which governs the State as a single unit, perhaps by creating and empowering subsidiary governmental entities which it remains free to alter, curtail, or abolish. The reach and influence of the US Federal Government is constantly expanding and becoming more ubiquitous. It encroaches upon the sovereignty of the states and their citizens. Its programs are structured to control and dictate. Centralization of power and control is the trend.

Illiberal democracy – Elections occur, but the citizenry has insignificant or no control over the power and discretion of the “representatives” they elect, or the government in general. The public is also generally inhibited or precluded from assessing, understanding, or influentially criticizing the processes by which decisions are made or power and control are exercised. Personal and civil liberties are continually eroded and the State assumes ever more comprehensive authority.

Redistributionalist welfare State – The government directly attempts to promote an “equitable” economic and social well-being for each of its citizens by confiscating and redistributing wealth. The State is characterized by an increasing tendency toward coercion and control, with the intent of producing egalitarian outcomes. There are heavy taxations, preferential or discriminatory policies, and regulations designed to expropriate from some for the benefit or advantage of others.

Establishment dictatorship – (“Democratur”) The public is claimed to have formal civil and political liberties, but the government and the media are dominated by an establishment which suppresses free and open consideration of alternatives and exercises control according to its own specifications and (mis)portrayal of reality.

Totalitarian democracy – The political regime is premised upon the subordination of the citizen to the State, and stringent, coercive, often-excessive control of all aspects of life. Whether these controls were initiated democratically or autocratically, they overwhelm, confound, exasperate, and suffocate nonetheless.

Excerpted from: “THE MYTH OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The Deification of Democratic Governance and the Subversion of Individual Liberty”, by Trenton Fervor.

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