Representative Governments Essay, Research Paper
A representative democracy is a type of government where people elect someone to represent their views. These governments are usually democracies in large nations with great populations, so not every citizen is able to vote on every issue. Over time it has been debated whether or not these democracies represent the powerful few or the majority of the nations people. The people who believe that it is the powerful few that are only heard state that voter turn out is low, that the majority of people are uninformed, and that the general public is easily misled. Representative democracies work for the many rather than the powerful few because we have lobbying, it works for the betterment of the people, and democracy means for the people or ruled by the people. The interests of the majority are what representative democracies have been set out to do and that is what they have succeeding in doing.
The Yes side states that, in the Untied States, only about forty percent of people actually vote. A representative democracy is supposed to represent the many, however if less then the majority actually votes how can it represent the majority. The majority of the people who do not vote are those who are economically struggling and relatively uneducated. This means the wealthier and more educated people are the majority of the voters. If all voting age citizens participated more in government, then we would see more laws being voted and approved for the betterment of society because the majority of the people are not extremely wealthy. This means more laws being passed helping those on welfare or social security. Most people who choose not to vote do so because they believe their vote does not matter. They believe this because they have been hurt by big government before and do not trust it anymore. Another reason why Americans do not get out and vote is because they do not know which politician or candidate is lying about the other one. Americans have become angry towards politics and politicians. They are viewed as corrupt individuals who do not look out for the public s good, rather their own. They have noticed people paying for politicians campaigns and then getting what they want done. They have noticed that what they want done does not get noticed because they do not have money.
The general population is, also, not informed, according to the Yes side, because sometimes when a person is asked whom their local House of Representative is, they do not eve know their name. You also see this in today s media; in most of candidates commercials, they are not informing you about themselves, however, they are telling you about all the wrong acts their opponents have committed. They have been misled and lied to by candidates for public offices. The people of America, because they lack information, have to rely on the media for their information. This means if you are watching a liberal network or read a conservative newspaper, you are only receiving the information from that side s point of view.
The general public is not very intelligent as well. This means that they are very easy to manipulate and get them to vote how they want you to. We have seen this in many elections such as how John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon held the presidential debates on television for the first and people viewed Nixon as someone who they could not trust, however, he held more of the political views of the majority than Kennedy did. Kennedy on the other hand came off very appealing because he was good looking. This is an example of how easily the people of America can be manipulated. Propaganda is, also, another tool used to misled and manipulate the public into believe one view is bad and another view is good. An example of this would be how during the nineteen thirties and forties America used propaganda against the Nazis and the Nazis used it to make sure that people of Germany would follow them. The Nazis are a very good example of how easy a group of people can be manipulated into thinking and believing something.
On the other side, however, is the No side. Their main argument is how democracy works for the people and if it did not the people can change the system if they want to. A way it works for the people is that we have, throughout the history of the Untied States; we have strived to make things better for Americans. One example of this would be how voting in this country has changed from being just for white landowning males to whites males to all males with the adoption of the 15 amendment then to all men and women with the adoption of the 19 amendment and finally to everyone over the age of 21. These actions have taken place because throughout the history of America, Americans have called for changes within the political system and the representatives of these Americans have heard their call.
Another argument made by the No side is that the American system allows for the formation of lobbyist groups or special interest groups for those who have a specific point to get across. Lobbying allows for people to form a group to have their voice heard by politicians. Showing the politicians that they many people who believe in a certain purpose or objective, and informing him that things need to change or he/she will lose their support. Such as how the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), NOW (National Organization for Women) or the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) go to politicians and request for changes and sometimes propose bills to them. This is how the many or the general public has their voice heard. If we did not have special interests groups or lobbyist groups, politicians would find it impossible to hear everyone thoughts. With this system in place they do not have to receive calls from millions of elderly about social security because a group such as the AARP. These groups also allow for the underprivileged to have their voice heard. With groups such as NASW (The National Association of Social Workers) and AUAA (Americans United for Affirmative Action), that fights for the rights of minorities and for the less fortunate.
Finally their last argument is that in a representative democracy, the government is set up to help the people, such as how in democracies workers are able to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. Also, we have a minimum wage laws making sure that even the worst of the worst jobs has to be paid a certain amount. An example of how we have such programs from FDR s The New Deal plan such as social security and welfare. The reason we have such things as minimum wage, social security, and welfare is because the United States government is set up to look out for all Americans not just the rich and powerful. That is why we have a system of federalism and checks and balances so no one part of the government can become more powerful. This helps make sure that the people stay in power.
The most convincing of these two sides is definitely the No side. There are many reasons why, such as how a representative democracy works for the people and lobbying and how it works. Also, how the other side s arguments are easily refuted, such as how they state that voter turnout is at an ultimate low in the Untied States, which means the majority of America is not even voting. Then they state that because of this there is no way the Untied States can represent the majority. Ronald Brownstein, however, states, in his article Do voter Numbers Matter? (1990), that if we had a hundred percent turnout, the winner would be the same and probably would win by even a greater margin. The reason this occurs, according to E.J. Dionne (If Non Voters Had Voted, 1988), when a candidate is predicted to win by a great margin, the people who support that candidate do not feel a great urgency to get out and vote for him because he already has a large enough support. Some might argue then that their vote really does not matter, however, a great example would be this presidential race. How neither candidate seemed to have such a commanding lead, so, people got out and voted. You can see how much their votes counted in states such as Florida and New Mexico, where the candidates in the lead are so very small that they are recounting and re-recounting votes.
Another area where the Yes side fails to disprove is the fact of how lobbying works for the people rather than the powerful few. This is because it is very hard to find more evidence for it not work for them rather then for them. We have organizations such as NOW, AARP, NASW, and AAUA that have millions upon millions of people who belong to one of these organizations. The AARP alone have over 30 million members alone. These groups do so much for the supposed overlooked people in society (e.g. minorities, the elderly, women, the poor, and even groups for youth such as Rock the Vote). Without such organizations the other side would be correct in stating that people with money have power, however, the more voices the more money gets drowned out. An example of this would be how the cigarette companies after many years of getting away with almost murder have been sanctioned, fined even brought to court. They have avoided this for years; however, they could not out run those millions of people that they have angered because of disabilities or the loss of loved ones. Many people bring up the NRA, who does not have many member who belong to their organization; however, they still limit the actions of gun control efforts. Over the years, however, the NRA has lost a lot of their power within government. Examples of how they lost power are how Congress has passed such bills, as the Brady Bill and are in deliberation of some kind of gun control law are just a few. People see the NRA as a group who cannot be beat no matter what. Well, the way the American s system of government works is by going out and supporting your cause and as soon as groups as Gun Control Inc. have enough backing meaning more members then we ll see a lot more changes. These lobbying groups or special interest groups have fought for many years for their goals and usually the one who wins the battle is the one with the most voices behind them
Another false statement is that the voters of America are uniformed and easily manipulated. An article written by Nancy Sirapyan ( Politically Connected ,2000) for PC Magazine writes, The Internet has help millions and millions of people become informed about their candidates and others and with all the numerous sources of information you can find out anything you want. She also stated in her article that by having such a huge amount of information people are able to read most of it and decide for themselves what is true and what is false. This reasoning is a reasoning technique that is taught at liberal colleges, today, that we should look at the whole story from both sides and decide for ourselves what really happened. Education levels are at the highest they have ever been, eighty nine percent of population according to the 1998 poll taken by the Census board, which means that the American public is not easily misinformed or manipulated. With Americans becoming more intelligent and able to make their own decisions about which information is true and which is false, there is going to be less of a chance for people to vote on impulse. It is, also, too general of a statement to say that people are uniformed about issues in government. People are informed about most major issues and issues that concern themselves, however, you cannot expect them to be knowledgeable on every issue. That is the reason for having a representative democracy so that persons job is too know most if not all the issues at hand.
If a representative democracy worked more for the powerful few rather than the majority, we would not be living in the same world we are living in today. I agree throughout time the few have held the power, however, we have seen that power diminish over time to almost hardly any extreme force or power in politics today. Like the example of how voting in America has changed or the example of how lobbying has changed the face of America with all their reforms. There are many reasons why America s representative democracy works more for the people rather than the rich few. These examples throughout this paper are just some of the examples of why it works for the majority of people in America. People will debate this topic for time to come but the side that believes that representative democracies work for the majority will always win this battle of words.
1. Levine, Herbert M. (1993). Political Issues Debated: An Introduction to Politics Englewood, NJ: A Simon and Schuster Company p. 58-65
2. Magstadt, T. and Schotten, P. (1999). Understanding Politics. New York, NY: Worth Publishing p. 233-264
3. Brownstein, R. (1990, November 21). Do Voter Numbers Matter?. Los Angeles Times p. A1
4. Dionne, E.J. (1988, November 21). If Nonvoters Had Voted: Same Winner, but Bigger. The New York Times p.16B
5. Sirapyan, N. (2000, October). Politically Connected. PC Magazine p. 50