Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Democracy?

Recently, I've been interested in how much a government follows the will of its people. Often, a government that does not is said to be a democratic failure. Below is an excerpt from a Toronto Star article; the entire article can be viewed here.
Polls have shown six in 10 Americans would oppose an escalation of the war.

"The president will not shape policy according to public opinion, but he does understand that it's important to bring the public back to this war and restore public confidence and support for the mission," said his spokesperson, Tony Snow.

The boldening is my emphasis as I wanted to draw attention to that phrase. Picture another leader doing the same thing and think about how other countries would react.

(Additionally, know that most Americans want universal health care, less money spent on military and more spent to end poverty. Yet, of course, these policies are not 'politically' viable.')

2 Comments:

Blogger Xander said...

I think you are misunderstanding democracy here. We vote for leaders and the general policies they profess to represent. The public doesn't vote directly on issues and I believe that is a good thing because the general public can not be expected to inform themselves to the extent necessary to make these decisions. Here public opinion is on your side so it is easy for you to demand that the voice of the people be heeded. But let's say polls said a 60% majority of voters were for banning gay marriages and forcing homosexuals into prayer and therapy to cure them of their "sexual disorder" or that creationism should be taught in schools. Would you be so quick to imply a leader who stood against such notions was a tyrant? I am using moral issues because it is clear how the public can be grossly ignorant or misinformed on those issues but most of the decisions made by leaders in government are of administrative and technical nature, not the stuff that grabs headlines. Those are the kind of decisions that could not be made by the platitude guided understanding of the general public.

I don't like defending Bush but the portrayal of democracy he chooses to hide behind is accurate. It is the job of our leaders to make the decisions. It is the job of the voters to hold them accountable for the outcome of those decisions.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

You do have a point, but there are numerous definitions of democracy. Additionally, we definitely get into a grey area when we discuss when a leader should and shouldn't follow the will of the people.
The issue is quite nuanced, suffice to say I believe we (and more so the Americans) live in societies better described as plutocracies, not democracies.

2:54 PM  

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