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Democracy

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Do we like democracy?
Yes
54%
 54%  [ 17 ]
No
6%
 6%  [ 2 ]
Meh...
38%
 38%  [ 12 ]
Total Votes : 31

Gray
47100.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 6:34 am Reply with quote

Who here hasn't voted in a general election (where they were eligible)? I have purposely not voted on more than one occasion, feeling that the representatives didn't, well, represent any of my thoughts on government. (What? It was the only form of protest that involved sitting on the sofa with a coffee, so I naturally gravitated towards it, okay?)

I think we should vote daily on matters, using the beloved Internet.

 
Quaintly Ignorant
47103.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:02 am Reply with quote

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time.
Winston Churchill

Gray wrote:
I think we should vote daily on matters, using the beloved Internet.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

I do always vote when it is possible to do so, after all, I may as well take advantage of the fact that some idiot has given me the right to do so.

 
Colonel Krummhorn
47107.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:28 am Reply with quote

Democracy is good, but it is also democracy that reduced 'Merry Christmas' to 'Happy Festive Season'.

 
simonp
47108.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:34 am Reply with quote

'If you do not vote you have no right to complain about those who are elected'

Can't remember who said that but i'm working on it

 
Celebaelin
47111.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 7:56 am Reply with quote

I have to say yes to this (although I note that we are asked to vote). There are all those points about democracy not being truly representative and so on but I was at one time constructively disenfranchised (although strangely no difficulty arose in finding me for tax purposes etc) and I felt truly aggrieved.

Given that I minded I must believe, somewhere near the centre of my otherwise cynical being, that it is important that I vote. So logically, having faith in democracy above other systems of government, I think I’d have to say that I think it is equally important that you do too.

During the course of an attempt to construct an idealised system of government for a role playing game it occurred to me that I was creating a vast bureaucracy to ‘ensure’ that my perfect system ran without untoward influences and that this was probably counter-productive. Particularly if you consider that people who will not attempt to exploit the system from within for their own benefit are rather rarer than we might hope. I cannot on the other hand think of a better way of organising a system of this nature than to keep the legislative and administrative functions separate.

I am not by nature inclined towards the proliferation of laws, checks and controls; being something of a fan of Bentham in this regard I see that ‘rights’ are limited by laws not guaranteed by them. However in my effort to design a system of government that had a large but workable tranche of this concept called democracy built in I posited a three chamber system, one of which was selected entirely from the administrative arm of government.

So you’d have

1 Elected representatives pretty much as per usual (but not entirely)
2 Administrators (to openly debate and vote on how/whether the proposed legislation could be implemented and to suggest ways to facilitate this)
3 Non-elected, randomly chosen members of the electorate (a bit like jury duty – this has certain practical flaws. The internet could be very useful if the fantasy setting was modern/futuristic)

The third chamber has the final say, so a proposal could potentially be bounced back and forth between the first two chambers for a ridiculous amount of time before finally being thrown out by the third. Tough!

Next week – how to bring peace to the middle east, end world hunger and resolve all mankinds’ sociological and environmental problems inside a fortnight.

 
samivel
47127.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:44 am Reply with quote

I have deliberately not voted in protest before, but the problem with such an action is that it is indistinguishable from people who forget, or can't be bothered to go, or any number of other reasons for not voting. So last time I voted by scrawling obscenities on the card - not big, not clever, but it made me feel a bit better.

 
mckeonj
47134.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 11:26 am Reply with quote

Well, there is always, I hope, the Monster Raving Loony Party, by which to register your protest vote.

 
samivel
47148.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 1:21 pm Reply with quote

They didn't have any candidates in my area

 
dr.bob
47233.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:46 am Reply with quote

Whenever I have felt like not voting I always do so by exercising my right to vote but spoiling my ballot paper.

The problem with democracy is that, if it works properly (i.e. everyone has a say) then it simply panders to the lowest common denominator and ignores the feelings of minority groups. In practise, however, a lot of people can't be bothered to have their say, in which case democracy ends up with the most vocal people having the most say. Figuring out why this is a bad idea is left as an exercise for the reader.

However, as has already been noted, we don't seem to have any better options that work. A benign dictator is the best approach, but it's nigh-on impossible to pick the right person to do the job and oh-so-easy to pick the wrong one.

 
Feroluce
47244.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:29 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
I have deliberately not voted in protest before, but the problem with such an action is that it is indistinguishable from people who forget, or can't be bothered to go, or any number of other reasons for not voting. So last time I voted by scrawling obscenities on the card - not big, not clever, but it made me feel a bit better.


I've deliberatly not voted before too, usually when the candidates seemed to be ideological clones of each other, there didn't seem to be a point.

People always complain that people not voting is undermining democracy as the result isn't representative.
People who always vote the same 'because they always have' with no knowledge of the candidates views is far more destructive.

Personally, I believe that party politics is undemocratic.
Politicians should act as public representatives and represent the views of the people who elected them rather than do as they are told by the party whip. If I feel that they will represent their voters, I'll vote for them.

 
Feroluce
47246.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:34 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:

However, as has already been noted, we don't seem to have any better options that work. A benign dictator is the best approach, but it's nigh-on impossible to pick the right person to do the job and oh-so-easy to pick the wrong one.


I remember reading about a system of benign dictator that just might work.

The dictator was elected without nomination, someone who is competent but does not want the job. Anyone wanting the job, or even having ideas about how they would run things if they did, were discounted.

As soon as they were elected, all of their assets were sold and placed in the treasury. If the country did well while they were in power and the treasury grew, their assets grew. If the country didn't do well, their assets dropped.

It would never work but it's an interesting idea.

 
dr.bob
47249.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:43 am Reply with quote

Feroluce wrote:
Politicians should act as public representatives and represent the views of the people who elected them rather than do as they are told by the party whip. If I feel that they will represent their voters, I'll vote for them.


Hmmm, I hear a lot of people on the street who think that asylum seekers should be sent back where they came from, and homosexual marriages are "not right!".

I don't think I'd vote for anyone who represented those views.

Feroluce wrote:
As soon as they were elected, all of their assets were sold and placed in the treasury. If the country did well while they were in power and the treasury grew, their assets grew. If the country didn't do well, their assets dropped.


So they would be rewarded if they boosted productivity of the economy by instigating a policy of slave labour? Hmmm, maybe not quite so benign :)

 
ryewacket
47291.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:26 pm Reply with quote

Gray wrote:
Who here hasn't voted in a general election (where they were eligible)? I have purposely not voted on more than one occasion, feeling that the representatives didn't, well, represent any of my thoughts on government. (What? It was the only form of protest that involved sitting on the sofa with a coffee, so I naturally gravitated towards it, okay?)

I think we should vote daily on matters, using the beloved Internet.


I have never voted, on principle. I have no-one to vote for. You would be amazed (or perhaps not) by the amount of abuse this brings me ...

- "That's disgusting. People fought and died for the vote!"
"No, they fought and died for the right to vote."

- "People who don't vote should be locked up!"
"Have you seen election turnouts? What would you call the prisons? Obviously you couldn't call them concentration camps ..."

- "If you don't vote, you can't complain about the outcome!"
"That's not very democratic, is it?"

- "You ought to vote for someone even if you don't believe in it!"
"How would you feel if you wanted a cup of tea and were forced to take the Pepsi taste test, instead?"

The folks with the right idea, as so often, were the Athenians. And this is one that stumps the 'cradle of democracy' proponents.

It was taken for granted that every Athenian citizen would be sufficiently educated that you could practically spit blind in a crowd and hit a person capable of inspecting public works ... or being an admiral ... or whatever.

So much so, that ancient Athens filled nearly all of its public positions through a sort of lottery or raffle. You put your name in, and if it got chosen, you got the job.

Politics? Hadn't been invented.

All policy decisions -- including warfare -- were taken by referendum!

http://www.siu.edu/~dfll/classics/Johnson/HTML/L10.html

 
Natalie
47292.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:35 pm Reply with quote

I can't wait to be able to vote. Then I can walk around being secretive about it, and annoy my Dad by saying I'll vote opposite to him. Also by that time, I'll be able to drive to the polling stations.

 
Celebaelin
47294.  Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:38 pm Reply with quote

But, but...

But the citizenry of Athens all came from the 300 or so noble families. No-one else could vote.

Quote:
The Upper Class
To be a member of the upper class in Athens you must be a citizen, and you can not have a job. A member of the upper class must be free from economic tasks such as trading. He must get slaves or others to attend to his material concerns such as his property and fortune; only by such liberation can he find time for government, war, literature, and philosophy. The Athenians believed there must be a leisure class, or there would be no standard for good taste, no encouragement of the arts, no civilization. The aristocrats of Athens felt that no man in a hurry is quite civilized. This elite class was very small. They numbered about 300 families. Ancient units of money during this time period were called talents. To be considered wealthy, a land owner needed about 20 talents.

here

That they may arguably have been right in their assessment of the importance of being able to devote your time to such things this was, most likely, of little comfort to those who could not take part in the democratic process as known to the Athenians.

<Edit> Incidentally I think the quoted section intends to communicate that the citizens of the Athenian style democracy cannot have a job rather than that they can not have a job.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

 

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