Bernard White


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Is Democracy a failing system? And what can be changed (/improved) about it? Or what would you choose to replace it?

"The best argument against Democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter". It seems we usually vote on proximity and the "halo effect". Not on logical rational analysis on which policies will promote the most amount of utility for the nation in question.
"There seems to be no correlation between the most charismatic speaker and the best idea's!"
Seems most humans get drawn into charisma too much! And don't view their ideas, but more how they present them. (ideas)
But more on the subject of democracy it seems the only democracy guarantee's is autonomy of choice, and a guarantee that no prejudice will be given towards the majority.
While various psychologists like Daniel Gilbert and Barry Schwartz make it seem like choice and freedom don't even guarantee happiness, if that is your goal.
Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness:
Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice :
While even people like Malcolm Gladwell recognize that some people may not even know what is best for them! So in that sense Democracy relies on the individual knowing what is best for them.
Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce:
However on another note on this same subject ; that the majority does not know what it wants. You could say that this encourages a form of elitism. Because the "elite" would know what the majority wants.
I hope this debate/question is taken up in good spirit. :)
While if I have got any of my data wrong, please just tell me and I will change it in the description above.

Also a minor point but am not sure whether it is relevant to the question. But many politicians find it very hard to admit their wrong (which seems rather universal to human kind, shown by books like : Mistakes were made but not by me) and is this a fault of democracy?

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    Mar 26 2013: the alternative to democracy is freedom. democracy is a system to deal with public issues. however, we should not have public issues. we should not make decisions on "nation" level. only on small local society level the membership of which is voluntary, and you can easily leave any time.
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      Mar 26 2013: I agree we shouldn't have public issues. But we do. Therefore some may argue that decisions are required on a nation level. I mean if we were to abandon the system we have, other nations could take advantage.
      Though I did like you answer. :)
      Hope I understood it well enough.
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        Mar 26 2013: we do have public issues because we make issues public. it is a decision, not a cause.
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          Mar 26 2013: But what happens when an issue involves lots of people, and it would be in the interests of all the "small local society" surely this would be a "public issue"?
          I mean if one nation declared war on all of the "small local society's" then I think it would probably be a "public issue"!
          Just a thought, might be wrong.
          Surely you must admit sometime it is necessary to make issues public like Global warming? I hope I am not taking your answer out of context. :) Just tell me if I have misunderstood you somehow.
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        Mar 26 2013: if many people are involved, many people come together, and solve. it is still not public.

        look at cellphones. we have huge national networks. but it became a public issue? no. people not having cellphones are not involved.
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          Mar 26 2013: Definition of Public as adjective :
          - concerning the people as a whole
          So if many people are involved it is public. Is this right?
          Or do you mean the definition more going towards :
          - done, perceived, or existing in open view.
          Because then if we want more people to give us idea's about how to solve these issue's sometime it may be better to raise awareness, thus making it public e.g Global warming.
          Hope this helps.
          So unless you have a different definition, I view that the thing you have stated is being public. :p ("many people come together")
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        Mar 26 2013: "So if many people are involved it is public."

        no, according to the very definition you have cited. many does not mean as a whole. i would argue that even if everyone is involved, it is still not public, because it is not about everyone "as a whole", but just happens to involve everyone at a certain moment. i would also claim that there are no things involving everyone "as a whole".
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          Mar 26 2013: But then nothing is public.
          So there can be no "public issues" if nothing is public. Because like you said : "if everyone is involve, it is still not public, because it is not about everyone "as a whole" ".
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        Mar 26 2013: that is exactly my claim. there are no such things as public issues.
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    Mar 26 2013: Yes, an educated constituency, an American style Republic.

    Politicians cannot admit they are wrong or else they will not get reelected. As this is the ONLY thing a politician thinks about to think otherwise is naive.

    At the end of the day the problem is the people do not want to be bothered with such trivial matters, which will be the case right up to when they have to deal with reality which is not far off I'm afraid.
  • Mar 26 2013: In a democracy a majority gov't should have more than 50 per cent of the total vote rather than simply a majority of elected reps.
    The bestowing of majority status because of electoral boundaries rather the sum of voters is wrong.
    Democracy fails for this and because it allows/follows the lobbying of non-voting corporations!
  • Mar 26 2013: Democracy may be failing. Democracy is the governing aspect of our culture, and it seems to be supporting a culture that is destroying the environment.

    One improvement would be a Bill of Responsibilities. Civil rights without responsibilities amounts to civil license. Citizens should have the responsibility to participate in government and contribute to the culture.
    • Mar 26 2013: Democracy is failing on the environment because it considers the lobbying by corporations as if they were a valid voting block of citizens.
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    Mar 26 2013: The question begs that we individuals need someone to deal with jobs on the national level. We can use a democratic process to talk about traffic lights on main street in our small village, but how do we deal with global issues on the national scale. People need to "hire" someone to do those jobs. In the US, we chose a constitutional republic. In theory, there is a set of rules, the constitution, and a selection process for the folks we hire. Now, in's true that the people have not paid attention to their employees and some of those employees have gotten into mischief. That is the people's fault. And as good employer's if you will, we need to remove dishonest or dysfunctional employees, which we haven't done... Yet. I trust that will come soon. But, people coming together to install a traffic light or select a person to represent them in nation assembly to deal with the nation's business, democracy is not a bad method.
  • Mar 26 2013: Winston Churchill told us that democracy is the worst system except for all the others. Recently Francis Fukuyama has done a more detailed analysis in The Origin of the Political Order.