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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:57 pm 
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I recent academic study (link to the study) argues that the United States does not follow the will of the people (link to a PolicyMic article). Essentially, policy decisions over the past thirty years show that big business, the wealthy, and other powerful interest groups determine what actions our leaders take. Public opinion had an insignificant effect. I haven't read the study carefully yet, but I'm interested in thoughts that you might have.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:27 pm 
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Hint hint peoples.
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Just heard about the study this morning. First, some generic, broad definitions of terms to guide discussion:

Democracy: "a system of government by the whole population or eligible participants"

Republic: "a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch"

Oligarchy: "a small group of rich, powerful people having control of a country's government"

With these definitions in mind, I would assert the United States is certainly not a democracy. The Founding Fathers definitively set up our government to not be a pure democracy but rather a constitutional democratic republic, having both democratic and republican aspects. The reforms of the Progressive era brought even more democratic ideas to the table, like the referendum and recall. But we're still a constitutional democratic republic, despite the ongoing violations of the Constitution.

While our government is still theoretically a republic, the study demonstrates that our country is drifting towards more oligarchic tendencies. Thus I would disagree with the study's main conclusion that the US is a bona fide oligarchy but would rather assert that we are a constitutional democratic republic with oligarchic tendencies. Why? Look at empirics. The ancient oligarchies of Greece had hardly any democratic principles but was truly rule of the few. Here in the US, the people can still vote out whoever they want, whenever they want, despite the fact that politics is now largely controlled by the big rollers who can essentially "purchase" a political position.

The study itself essentially admits that when it states: "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." And from Business Insider: "After sifting through nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile), and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the U.S. is dominated by its economic elite."

tl;dr version
The US remains a constitutional democractic republic with oligarchic tendencies. Although the US is seemingly becoming more about what rich people say and not what most voters say, the mechanisms for change still do exist, and the US has not become like ancient Greek oligarchies.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:36 pm 
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I believe a recent Dan Carlin podcast is relevant here. http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/csar ... y-politics


When the big megadonors (usually less than 600 people in the US) essentially control who will be the main contenders in an election, it certainly gets close to oligarchy. What Dan Carlin points out as even worse is the Supreme Court basically saying in its recent campaign finance decision that this is how it should be and any attempts to change this are discouraged.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:31 am 
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Are the terms "representative democracy" and "republic" synonymous?

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2010-11 | Freshman | Bardsley/King | IX | 13th at Regionals
2011-12 | Sophomore | Dovel/King | IX | Q'd to Nationals
2012-13 | Junior | Dovel/King | IX | 17th at Nationals
2013-14 | Senior | Dovel/King | IX | 5th at Nationals

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:38 am 
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kingwill wrote:
Are the terms "representative democracy" and "republic" synonymous?

It depends on the definition. According to some dictionaries, yes. I think it tends to be an oversimplification. I should have used a more precise term. Republic is vague. I use Republic here to mean a government that generally conforms to the people's will but that also contains undemocratic elements and has the rule of law and upholds certain rights.

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