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Lec. 6, Oct. 24th, Problems of Democracy

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Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Grossi 1 Lecture #7—Problems of Democracy Democracy and Inequality  Rules of the game—laws (that protect our human rights), rules that govern the restrictions of politicians  Laws are the foundation of democracy  Unique from the rule of man—the rule of the individual  Laws allow us to manage diversity—we vote towards the centre.  Political parties go towards the centre—we have a more harmonious way of doing politics.  Majoritarianism—democracy, through electoral rules reflect the will of the majority—Flaw #1. o Normative commitment in democracy  Institutionalized uncertainity o Destabilizing force—but what makes it stable. The not knowing of what party will win makes democracy stable—the ability for chance. o It’s the institutionalized uncertainty that gives us our stability  Variations of Democracy o NO two democracies are the same—entail these other conditions & institutions— conditioned to different social and economic conditions. o Ex) Proportional representation o Ex) Efficiency—Parliamentary systems. o Democracy’s resilience is because of its variations—broad o Democracy is dynamic—it changes over time—allowing black voters: the United States.  Equality. o Individuals are treated equally—your one vote equals the weight of another man’s vote. (I) Equality of Opportunity  Political Equality—rules of democracy apply equally to all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity and gender. o The rules of democracy are applied equally to all  Procedural democracy o “Process of democracy”—the rules of the game. The constitution, provisions in the bill of Rights. o The political institutions we put into play o These institutions help strengthen the procession of democracy. o “Free and fair” elections—optimal procedural democracy that grants equality of opportunity. o Polyarchy—Robert Dahl  Public contestation—the process of democracy and the equality of opportunity enforce public contestation. We have the right to fight for our own views  Inclusive participation—You’re not excluding anyone. (II) Equality of Outcome  Political and economic perspective.  Political—economic equity. (The consequences of democracy in action.) Grossi 2 o How does democracy matter?  Procedural vs. Substantive democracy o Rules are important in so far as they deliver more equitable outcomes. o Here is often an expectation that the democracy will provide a greater equality of outcome. Their lives will improve as a result of implementing democracy. o Ex) Democratic Welfare State—UK, Europe, Canada—Coincided with the Rise of Industrialization. Presence of a social democratic party strongly coincides with a Welfae state. o Democracy creates more equitable outcomes. o Democracy creates fair outcome—that’s what matters here (Equality of Opportunity— Procedure)  Equality is one of the key concepts of democracy—what is means is that when it is put into practice, there are challenges that are brought into play. Collective Action Problem  “We all act as individuals, but acting collectively, we assume someone else will do it”  (I) Cost o its very costly to vote—you need information on what the party stands for, what the individual wants, read the news about info—cost of the information AND time.  (II) Benefits o They’re not clear—how does one benefit? o Are you getting benefits—are they worth the cost? Not likely.  (III) Free-riding o If we’re rational, we won’t engage in collective action, but rather free ride. o “Why expend the energy when others can do it for me”—Mentality.  It’s not rational to vote. If dealing with collective action, the only way to compel them to vote would to be incentive.  If we agree to this, we fail to acknowledge of Equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity—Challenges  Challenge 2. The Fallacy of Democratic Pluralism. o Predicated on Pluralism and inclusiveness o Assumes political inequality—that procedurally, democracy allows us this equality of opportunity.  Ex) US health care reform. o Majority of America believes that Americans should have universal health care. o America is far from ever achieving this. o All movements/ pushes have failed, but they still want it. If it was about equality of opportunity, then we should see health care reform.  1) American political system suffers from institutional fragmentation—presidency. congress, courts and legislation.  Veto powers.  US system privileges minority actors and interests that have resources. Grossi 3  Basically the rich. o The most powerful opponent: The American Medical Assoc
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