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Thread: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

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    Default On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Posted last night, by one of the COVID-positive GOP senators.
    Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity (sic) are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.
    Actually, Constitutional Democracy was the objective, because "We the People" revolted over the principle of "No Taxation without Representation." Of the problem of a lack of Democracy.

    Or if you'd prefer it as Lincoln later said that "Government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." That "Of, By, and For" formulation is the foundational bit defining Liberty, no? Peace and Prosperity one hopes will ensue, but may not. After all, America's been conducting military missions of one form or another for the great majority of the years since its founding. Every year that I've been alive.

    Have you ever ... EVER heard a politician of Senate rank in any one of the Constitutional Democracies publicly state that too much Democracy isn't a good thing? Particularly in the context where that person's own leader is threatening to not participate in the peaceful transition of power following a potential loss in an election presently underway?

    Helloooo!
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Just saying what people (well, some Republicans) are thinking. (Source)

    Republican Senator Blurts Out That He Hates Democracy
    By Jonathan Chait

    Last night, livetweeting his thoughts on the 2020 vice-presidential debate, Republican senator Mike Lee decided it was an opportune moment to share one of his edgier political beliefs: Democracy is bad.

    "Mike Lee @SenMikeLee
    We’re not a democracy."

    Lee is articulating a view that has long been in vogue on the American right but which Republican politicians were generally hesitant to express openly. The premise is that liberty is a higher value than democracy, and they define liberty to mean a right to property that precludes redistribution. That is to say, the far right does not merely view progressive taxation, regulation and the welfare state as impediments to growth, but as fundamentally oppressive. A political system that truly secured freedom would not allow the majority to gang up on the minority and redistribute their income for themselves.

    Lee, indeed, unpacked his views in a follow-up:

    "Mike Lee @SenMikeLee
    Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prosperity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that."

    Four years ago, I wrote a long essay describing this view and its ascent within the Republican party over decades. Its thesis, that the GOP is slowly evolving into an authoritarian party, has been amply borne out by the Trump era.

    From the perspective of the right, Trump’s assault on democracy has advanced the cause of freedom and liberty, on net. His regressive tax cuts and deregulation have returned property to their rightful owners. Republicans believe that the political system must retain, and ideally expand, its counter-majoritarian features: restrictive ballot-access rules that restrict the franchise to the most “worthy” citizens, gerrymandered maps that allow the white rural minority to exercise control, a Senate that disproportionately represents white and Republican voters, and a Supreme Court that believes the Republican economic program is written into the Constitution.

    Lee drew some attention by attacking Trump in 2016 and urging him to quit the race after the Access Hollywood tape emerged. But Lee, like most conservatives, has grown to appreciate the values he and Trump share. The most important of these shared values is Trump’s hatred for democracy. And this is why the struggle for American democracy will continue after Trump is gone.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Yeah, but, it’s TDS that makes you think these people aren’t committed to democracy.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Facism on a stick ... get it while it's hot.

    There seems to be no bottom for today's GOP

    Jeff C

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    While certainly deplorable, there is nothing new or surprising about this. If you go back to the time this country was formed, this same argument was being made. Those who hold power are (unsurprisingly) not very willing to share it with those who don't. This basic conflict has been at the core of democratic debate since the days of the Greek Republic. It will never go away, and is a battle that must be continually fought.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    "Oh, you men." (the voice of SB in absentia...)
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Actually life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the objective. Or if you want to use the terminology of the constitution, the objective is:

    "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".

    To that end, we have found a democracy is the most effective means. But the ends is not a democracy, the means is a democracy.

    So while I take exception to the Senator's phrasing and his downplaying if the importance of the means, I take greater exception to the OP that miisrroresrnts the constitution preamble, which is very, very clear about the ultimate objective.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Authoritarianism promises good things for everyone.

    Power must be given to ruling authorities. Dissent must be suppressed.

    “This is a feature not a bug, people.”

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Actually life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the objective. Or if you want to use the terminology of the constitution, the objective is:

    "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".

    To that end, we have found a democracy is the most effective means. But the ends is not a democracy, the means is a democracy.

    So while I take exception to the Senator's phrasing and his downplaying if the importance of the means, I take greater exception to the OP that miisrroresrnts the constitution preamble, which is very, very clear about the ultimate objective.
    without the rest of the constitution - and practical realization of the full document - the preamble is meaningless.

    authoritarians/commies always held to the high values and undermined it with practical law & the enforcement of practical law. Take the PRC. Here’s what the constitution says
    Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.
    do you think that’s accurate?

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    It's interesting when these people get caught telling their version of the truth.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    My reading of his original quote was that he was wary of the tyranny of the majority, much like the leftist scholar Lanie Guinier.
    Quakers, I understand endeavor to decide things unanimously in their Business Meetings. As the saying goes it was a Democracy that sentenced Socrates to death.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    without the rest of the constitution - and practical realization of the full document - the preamble is meaningless.

    authoritarians/commies always held to the high values and undermined it with practical law & the enforcement of practical law. Take the PRC. Here’s what the constitution says

    do you think that’s accurate?
    Yes, it's accurate, everything your wrote. But that does not change what is the ends vs the means. And understanding the difference is key. There is no system of government that ensures liberty. But liberty is the goal. Now, we know that a democracy is the best means towards that end (we could even say the only means that gives the ends a reasonable chance of being enduring). But if we simply consider democracy the goal, we can very quickly loose our liberty.

    The preamble is there so we do not forget why we have established thus system if government.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Lee is articulating a view that has long been in vogue on the American right but which Republican politicians were generally hesitant to express openly. The premise is that liberty is a higher value than democracy, and they define liberty to mean a right to property that precludes redistribution. That is to say, the far right does not merely view progressive taxation, regulation and the welfare state as impediments to growth, but as fundamentally oppressive. A political system that truly secured freedom would not allow the majority to gang up on the minority and redistribute their income for themselves.
    Liberty is not a higher value than democracy because democracy is not a value. The only value in democracy is that the demos has the right to govern. Democracy does not mean the people govern. It means the demos governs, whoever that may be at a given moment. Democracy does not hold that everyone has the right to vote, only the demos, the electorate. And who decides who is the demos? The demos. It's might makes right, with a committee at the top.

    They can change it from day to day. They can take the vote away from women, minorities, anyone they choose, and remain perfectly democratic. Enslave them. Athens did it; America did it. It did not contravene democracy in the slightest in either case. Democracy is not based on the right of self-government.

    This discussion is a very clumsy way of dealing with the fact that property is a fundamental right. It doesn't mean that there can be no taxes or regulations, only that taxes and regulations can't be extended to the point where they effectively destroy the right.

    All rights have limits. Freedom of speech does not mean speech can't be regulated; the right to keep and bear arms doesn't mean the keeping and bearing can't be regulated, etc.

    Property is supposed to be different because they're taking something away from you. But all regulation takes something away from you. There's no difference between property and liberty for these purposes. Property is liberty, and vice versa.

    This confusion will be perpetual until the erroneous modern definition of democracy is rejected.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    To that end, we have found a democracy is the most effective means. But the ends is not a democracy, the means is a democracy.
    Democracy is neither the means nor the ends. Security and the defense of human rights are the ends, and a republic is the means.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    Yes, it's accurate, everything your wrote. But that does not change what is the ends vs the means. And understanding the difference is key. There is no system of government that ensures liberty. But liberty is the goal. Now, we know that a democracy is the best means towards that end (we could even say the only means that gives the ends a reasonable chance of being enduring). But if we simply consider democracy the goal, we can very quickly loose our liberty.

    The preamble is there so we do not forget why we have established thus system if government.
    peb, what metric would a person choose to determine whether or not they have "liberty"? How would someone know when they have it, or have lost it?

    Isn't "liberty" by definition government of the people, by the people, for the people? That is, not government by someone who the people don't freely and fairly choose?
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Posted last night, by one of the COVID-positive GOP senators.Actually, Constitutional Democracy was the objective, because "We the People" revolted over the principle of "No Taxation without Representation." Of the problem of a lack of Democracy.

    Or if you'd prefer it as Lincoln later said that "Government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." That "Of, By, and For" formulation is the foundational bit defining Liberty, no? Peace and Prosperity one hopes will ensue, but may not. After all, America's been conducting military missions of one form or another for the great majority of the years since its founding. Every year that I've been alive.

    Have you ever ... EVER heard a politician of Senate rank in any one of the Constitutional Democracies publicly state that too much Democracy isn't a good thing? Particularly in the context where that person's own leader is threatening to not participate in the peaceful transition of power following a potential loss in an election presently underway?

    Helloooo!
    Geez. These guys keep saying the quiet parts out loud.
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    peb, what metric would a person choose to determine whether or not they have "liberty"? How would someone know when they have it, or have lost it?

    Isn't "liberty" by definition government of the people, by the people, for the people? That is, not government by someone who the people don't freely and fairly choose?
    No, liberty is not that. Liberty is (in no partiticular order and likely incomplete) the freedom to speak, worship freely, freedom of enterprise, freedom of assembly, freedom of travel, etc. In short it's the freedom to always do what one seems right and just. We have a bill of rights in order to protect these liberties from government, even government of, for, and by the people.
    Can another form of government ensure liberty? Not likely. Can a democracy ensure liberty? No, but history shows us it gives the best odds.

    The ends is liberty, the means is democracy. Read the preamble, it's rather clear.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    The idea behind the American experiment is the social contract, the idea that we agree to form a government in order to ensure we can enjoy our liberty. Mostly, the founding fathers based the constitution on the work of John Locke.

    Locke argued that the people have a right to revolution if a terrible leader can be removed by no other means. In fact, he was implicated in a plot to kill King Charles II, and fled Britain to avoid capture. Some of his alleged co-conspirators were drawn and quartered. Locke was able to safely return in company with an invading army in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

    The American constitution was written to make such revolutions unnecessary. It is a design for a democratic republic. The democracy is required to ensure that the social contract is not broken by the ruler. No, I don't think you can have liberty without the ability to remove a bad leader by peaceful means.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    No, liberty is not that. Liberty is (in no partiticular order and likely incomplete) the freedom to speak, worship freely, freedom of enterprise, freedom of assembly, freedom of travel, etc. In short it's the freedom to always do what one seems right and just. We have a bill of rights in order to protect these liberties from government, even government of, for, and by the people.
    Can another form of government ensure liberty? Not likely. Can a democracy ensure liberty? No, but history shows us it gives the best odds.

    The ends is liberty, the means is democracy. Read the preamble, it's rather clear.
    With gentle respect, peb, I've read America's founding documents. They're admirable in how they synthesized and pushed forwards ideas about rights etc. as they'd been worked through by various philosophers and legal formulations by the late 18th Century. But not being American, I'm not bound to your founders' encapsulation - and even rather like better some of the thinking about rights which has in turn used the American documents as building blocks, and moved forwards.

    While many 18th Century thinkers were enamoured of "positive" rights (Freedom to Do stuff) like freedom to assemble, to speak, to worship, to move, to own property ... Hobbes and Rousseau observed that a pure experience of "positive rights" was the State of Nature, and was literally hell. Freedom to do anything ... absolutely eviscerated by freedom from nothing. This is arguably implied in the American founding documents, but has been developed much more thoroughly by folks like Kant, and later Isaiah Berlin. John Rawls' work took it much farther yet, eventually maintaining that "each person has an equal claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic rights and liberties." Neatly avoiding utilitarianism, but requiring his life's work to distinguish what each individual word in that simple phrase means.

    What I think you feel is implicit in the American founding documents is a definition of Liberty which is something like Rawls' ending place - that Liberty is a collective noun describing the presence of core sets of both "positive" and "negative" freedoms. With each freedom in some way setting the boundaries of expression of the others.

    If that's what you think Liberty is, I mostly agree. I also agree fully that in that sense "Liberty" and "Democracy" (I assume this is shorthand for Constitutional Democracy - of which a Constitutional Republic is a sub-form) are not synonymous. The harmonious expression of multiple rights ("Liberty") is a product of rather complicated social processes and conditions - and "Democracy" is an empirically useful (I'd argue essential) element of those.

    Where I think we differ, peb, is that I see Democracy as a necessary (though not sufficient) predecessor condition to produce genuine Liberty. In my view, Liberty doesn't merely mean that a citizen has access to the right to assemble, to speak, to worship or etc., but that it is the citizen (through a Constitutional process) who has the sole authority to regulate access to those rights.

    We could imagine a tyrant taking power, but gradually choosing to permit citizens to assemble, speak, own property etc. One could point to crowds, newspapers and deeds to houses and argue that those citizens are experiencing Liberty, but it would be a parody. Liberty doesn't exist if the tyrant can change his/her mind, and restrict those rights unilaterally. Liberty exists when it's the citizens who through Constitutional processes (which may be amended from time to time) determine how wide/narrow the access to the basket of rights ought to be at this or that time.

    So in my mind, Senator Lee's statement that as Liberty is the objective, Democracy should be understood as somewhat optional ... is entirely backwards. And dangerous as hell. It's Democracy which provides the context within which Liberty can emerge - and without it, the apparent enjoyment of rights is a parody.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    I have not said democracy is optional, I said it is the means to the ends. Almost the same as saying it is the "necessary (though not sufficient) predecessor condition to produce genuine Liberty".

    As I stated clearly, democracy does not ensure liberty (you use the term "not sufficient", but it likely the 9nky means to give liberty a chance at enduring. You say it is necessary, I tend to agree with that stronger wording, as my posts should have made clear.

    As for liberty being the freedom to do anything we want. I did not say that. I said, it was the freedom to do what a person (to be clearer, I will say a well formed citizen) seems right and just.

    I appreciate your "gentle respect", but it appears you are trying to argue my points

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    I have not said democracy is optional, I said it is the means to the ends. Almost the same as saying it is the "necessary (though not sufficient) predecessor condition to produce genuine Liberty".

    As I stated clearly, democracy does not ensure liberty. You use the term "not sufficient", while I said it is likely the 9nly means to give liberty a chance at enduring. You say it is necessary, I tend to agree with that stronger wording, as my posts should have made clear.

    As for liberty being the freedom to do anything we want. I did not say that. I said, it was the freedom to do what a person (to be clearer, I will say a well formed citizen) deems right and just.

    I appreciate your "gentle respect", but it appears you are trying to argue my points
    Last edited by peb; 10-08-2020 at 03:38 PM.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    With respect to foreign policy in the middle east, democracy is no longer the aim of US involvement ( if it ever was ). Recently, with the Arab Spring there where instances of democracy resulting in elections giving govt to those who were hostile to a US agenda and interests. In these situations Democracy is not the preferred option sought by the US.
    Domestically, as the various think tanks and those who frequent the corridors of power explore options for influence and pursuit of future agendas, [ i'm thinking along the lines of facilitating a move to neo feudalism and thoughts of " what's ultimately good for the nation" ] then it's not hard to imagine that democracy just might get in the way of their road to progress.
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    If we're largely in agreement peb, all the better. I prefer it that way.

    It's really Senator Lee with whom I set out to disagree. And I still do.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    The idea behind the American experiment is the social contract, the idea that we agree to form a government in order to ensure we can enjoy our liberty.
    Right. Not just any kind of social contract the majority might vote upon. In this context "liberty" is synonymous with human rights, which no contract can alienate.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    The American constitution was written to make such revolutions unnecessary. It is a design for a democratic republic. The democracy is required to ensure that the social contract is not broken by the ruler. No, I don't think you can have liberty without the ability to remove a bad leader by peaceful means.
    It's not democracy that makes the people sovereign, it's the unalienable right of self-government. From that right, the form of government is derived, not the other way around. In the USA, the form is not a democracy. If it were the government could be replaced at any time by majority vote.

    Or by coin toss. Anything the majority decides. That's democracy. The republic could be replaced by a monarchy on a coin toss because that was the will of the majority. That would be democratic, but not American. America is not a democracy.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    .
    I am no fan of Mike Lee. But the U.S.A. is not a democracy. It is a Republic. There is a difference.
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by David W Pratt View Post
    My reading of his original quote was that he was wary of the tyranny of the majority, much like the leftist scholar Lanie Guinier.
    Quakers, I understand endeavor to decide things unanimously in their Business Meetings. As the saying goes it was a Democracy that sentenced Socrates to death.
    Socrates was not a fan of democracy, even before he was executed by one. Trump has proved that Socrates was correct to be suspicious of democracy--particularly democracies in which the uninformed and unthinking are allowed full participation.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    It's not democracy that makes the people sovereign, it's the unalienable right of self-government. From that right, the form of government is derived, not the other way around.
    I'd argue it's far from that simple. The people do not hold sovereignty in a country whose form of government is, for example, autocratic rule; or plutocracy; or the divine right of kings; or whatever. If the sovereign people decide to use one of those forms of government, they have canceled their own sovereignty.

    And here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    America is not a democracy.
    your tendency to believe that words mean only one thing, a binary un-nuanced meaning, is obscuring your understanding. Democracy is a broad term implying a system that relies on the consent of the governed, along with some means of active participation in government.

    A republic does not offer direct decision-making, but it does offer the citizens an active role in choosing the representatives. As such, in the broader and more nuanced sense of the word, it is a form of democracy. And in fact, there are provisions in many states for direct self-rule on specific issues by referendums, etc., and on direct citizen action for removing representatives (I know--I've personally helped recall several Republicans).

    Tom
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I'd argue it's far from that simple. The people do not hold sovereignty in a country whose form of government is, for example, autocratic rule; or plutocracy; or the divine right of kings; or whatever. If the sovereign people decide to use one of those forms of government, they have canceled their own sovereignty.
    Precisely. In a democracy they are free to vote for that result.

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    your tendency to believe that words mean only one thing, a binary un-nuanced meaning, is obscuring your understanding. Democracy is a broad term implying a system that relies on the consent of the governed, along with some means of active participation in government.

    A republic does not offer direct decision-making, but it does offer the citizens an active role in choosing the representatives. As such, in the broader and more nuanced sense of the word, it is a form of democracy. And in fact, there are provisions in many states for direct self-rule on specific issues by referendums, etc., and on direct citizen action for removing representatives (I know--I've personally helped recall several Republicans).
    Then the Roman Republic was a democracy, although they didn't call it that, though they could have, had they wanted to. I've never heard Rome described as a democracy. Sure you can pile up the nuance on top of it, all you like. But imprecision obscures. What is the purpose of your deliberate imprecision?

    You can't make the definition cover both Rome and Athens and still have a useful definition. Useful as in, why did the founders of the USA reject Athens as a model?
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Montgomery View Post
    .
    I am no fan of Mike Lee. But the U.S.A. is not a democracy. It is a Republic. There is a difference.
    Not all republics are representative. For much of its history, the Roman senate was more like the House of Lords than the House of Commons. What we have is a democratic republic. As time has gone on, we've made it more democratic, with changes like direct election of senators when it became clear that bribery could get a senate seat when state legislatures elected them.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    .
    U.S. Republicans distrust the common man. For that matter, so did the founders.

    The idea over the last 40 years has been is to pander to the rabid lowest common denominator and work to disenfranchise the rest.
    "We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren't true. It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered." -- Colin Powell, 10/30/18

  31. #31
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    I'd argue it's far from that simple. The people do not hold sovereignty in a country whose form of government is, for example, autocratic rule; or plutocracy; or the divine right of kings; or whatever. If the sovereign people decide to use one of those forms of government, they have canceled their own sovereignty.
    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    Precisely. In a democracy they are free to vote for that result.
    Uh, no. Not at all. Democracy and autocracy are mutually exclusive. To vote for autocracy is to undermine and eradicate democracy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    Sure you can pile up the nuance on top of it, all you like. But imprecision obscures. What is the purpose of your deliberate imprecision?
    A perfect object lesson in begging the question, OR. Which logical fallacy will you demonstrate next?

    It's not imprecise to say that "democracy" can be understood quite accurately as a label that applies to various forms of government offering varying levels of direct or mediated citizen input in governing--a representative republic fits nicely under that umbrella.

    In effect, you are (again) making this fallacious argument:

    You: This is not a dog, it's a greyhound.

    Me: It's a dog. There are many kinds of dog, and this is one of them.

    You: Why be so imprecise?

    Me: Sigh...
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    What we have is a democratic republic. As time has gone on, we've made it more democratic, with changes like direct election of senators when it became clear that bribery could get a senate seat when state legislatures elected them.
    A democratic republic is a republic. Democratic is an adjective, republic is the noun. If at some hypothetical point the republic becomes so democratic as to become a democracy, the republic no longer exists.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Uh, no. Not at all. Democracy and autocracy are mutually exclusive. To vote for autocracy is to undermine and eradicate democracy.
    But the vote was democratic. The voters had the power to alienate your right of self-government, and they did. 100% democratic.

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    A perfect object lesson in begging the question, OR. Which logical fallacy will you demonstrate next?

    It's not imprecise to say that "democracy" can be understood quite accurately as a label that applies to various forms of government offering varying levels of direct or mediated citizen input in governing--a representative republic fits nicely under that umbrella.
    Then why didn't Rome call itself a democracy? Do you call the Roman republic a democracy? Did the founders of America make the distinction? Of course they did. Were they wrong? They were wrong then, or they're wrong now. When did the distinction become inoperative? When was the structure of the republic altered?

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    In effect, you are (again) making this fallacious argument:

    You: This is not a dog, it's a greyhound.

    Me: It's a dog. There are many kinds of dog, and this is one of them.

    You: Why be so imprecise?

    Me: Sigh...
    Democracy is not the genus and republic the species. Otherwise all republics would have been democratic, and they weren't.

    You refuse to make the distinction the founders made, and you have a reason. What is it? Since it is ahistorical, it must be moral. I suspect it is some variety of the "innate goodness of man". Which, at this late stage, is a joke in rather bad taste.
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

  34. #34
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Oh c'mon. While Aristotle described the bad version of "rule by the people" as a "democracy" and the good version as a "polity," these distinctions between "democracy" and "Republic" are specious.

    A Republic has a President as the head of state. Period. That's the defining factor - not how that person got the job, not how anyone else in a government role got theirs.

    I understand that a whole lot of time and ink within American political discussions over the years have tried to make a different distinction - but frankly, the Constitutional protections which you think are solely intrinsic to Republics are actually intrinsic to Constitutional models of government. Both modern Constitutional Monarchies and modern Constitutional Republics.

    The positive aspects of the Republics you like and find to be functional and responsive are genuine - but there are also Republics like Turkey, or Hungary, or Russia. And they are actual Republics too. Just ones in which the amount of viable democratic process has been reduced and subsumed under authoritarian intentions. That is, those republics' faults are not due to some excess of democracy, but the absence of it.

    The failures of American political structures at the moment are largely due to various ways in which democracy has been restricted, not over-extended. It is not evidence of some over-extended "democracy" when state legislatures take actions to suppress voting rights. Or when gerrymandered Houses use their illicit authority to further gerrymander. These are the actions of autocrats who have used fissures in the system to steal their authority.

    If you were leading a charge, Osbourne, to reinstitute Aristotle's preferred term "polity" to describe the good version of government by the many ... then I'd be with you. But this narrative is evidence of what Political Scientists call a "categories problem" - an imprecise use of terms from two different categories of analysis, confusing both.

    [/rant]
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    Oh c'mon. While Aristotle described the bad version of "rule by the people" as a "democracy" and the good version as a "polity," these distinctions between "democracy" and "Republic" are specious.
    In American government, they are fundamental.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    A Republic has a President as the head of state. Period. That's the defining factor - not how that person got the job, not how anyone else in a government role got theirs.
    Not so. In a republic, there is a procedure built into the structure of the government. In a democracy, the "government" can choose a procedure by throwing darts at a board.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    I understand that a whole lot of time and ink within American political discussions over the years have tried to make a different distinction - but frankly, the Constitutional protections which you think are solely intrinsic to Republics are actually intrinsic to Constitutional models of government. Both modern Constitutional Monarchies and modern Constitutional Republics.
    Whatever may distinguish a constitutional monarchy from a constitutional republic is irrelevant for these purposes. They are not democracies. Adopting a constitution is a rejection of democracy. "Democracy" is a form of government -- a noun. "Democratic" is an adjective.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    The positive aspects of the Republics you like and find to be functional and responsive are genuine - but there are also Republics like Turkey, or Hungary, or Russia. And they are actual Republics too. Just ones in which the amount of viable democratic process has been reduced and subsumed under authoritarian intentions. That is, those republics' faults are not due to some excess of democracy, but the absence of it.
    As may be. At their best or at their worst, they're not democracies.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    The failures of American political structures at the moment are largely due to various ways in which democracy has been restricted, not over-extended.
    Substitute "right of self-government" for "democracy". A democracy has the power to restrict the right of self-government by mere voting, and almost always does, sooner or later. At some point, it occurs to some that the power of democracy ought to be systematically and permanently curbed. That makes a republic.

    Quote Originally Posted by TomF View Post
    If you were leading a charge, Osbourne, to reinstitute Aristotle's preferred term "polity" to describe the good version of government by the many ... then I'd be with you. But this narrative is evidence of what Political Scientists call a "categories problem" - an imprecise use of terms from two different categories of analysis, confusing both.
    What are the two categories? Aristotle vs. the world?
    Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.

    -- James Madison, Federalist 55

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