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

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

    Quote Originally Posted by htom View Post
    Three wolves, two coyotes, and a lamb voting on who's for dinner.
    Yep.

    In a republic, some questions are not subject to voting.
    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 Chris249 View Post
    Many of us live in countries where most of voters are humans, not wolves or coyotes. YMMV
    Such grand people should have no need of government at all. Talk about exceptionalism.
    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 Chris249 View Post
    I can find no evidence that "American Exceptionalism" is a religious concept, although some from the USA seem to worship their own country as a religion. See, for example;

    https://theweek.com/articles/654508/...exceptionalism

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11...xceptionalism/

    and even Wiki. There is no apparent evidence for your claim.

    It's there. In any case, it is your use of the term, and therefore your definition of it, is what we are referring to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    The "American Exceptionalism" we are referring to includes the belief that the US has a special position on human rights.
    That belief is incorrect.


    You have provided no evidence of that. For example, look at the five rights recognised in Canada;

    "(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    (d) freedom of association.


    You criticised the fact that the Canadian government can limit those powers - but the US government also can, and does. In fact the US government takes away its own citizens right to life itself in a way that no other, if any, other advanced economies do. How can a nation that does that claim such superiority?
    1. They are rights, not powers.

    2. The US government, like every government, takes away people's life, liberty, and property every day, in countless ways, in countless instances, with perfect legal authority and morality. Those are powers.

    3. I don't know what claim of superiority you mean. I guess it comes from some non-religious exceptionalism, but that's just a guess.
    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 johnw View Post
    The term was invented by Stalin. American Communists were trying to explain why they had no success compared to European Communist parties. They said it was because Americans lacked the class structure Europeans rebelled against. Stalin said something like 'I don't believe in this American exceptionalism.'

    Neoconservatives picked up on the term and used it so mean something like 'America is great!' Under the baleful influence of Leo Strauss, they decided it meant something like America is in pursuit of a just society.

    I've been down that rabbit hole. From The Outlaw John Locke:

    https://booksellersvsbestsellers.blo...servative.html

    https://booksellersvsbestsellers.blo...servative.html
    "Invented", pfah. Reification. "This is a clothespin and properly can have no other name, nor any other thing be called a clothespin." Says who? If we are discussing Stalin's definition, in his chosen context, we give a S. Neo-conservatives likewise.

    Meanwhile there is a vast swath of American culture which the term denotes concisely. Therefore it is currently far and away the most common usage. What makes Stalin and the neo-cons relevant to the current discussion?
    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 Duncan Gibbs View Post

    Freedom and democracy aren't simply a set of rules and ideals, but a lived reality if they exist at all.

    I'm not about to argue that the Westminster system as it works in Australia, the UK or Canada aren't without significant problems of their own. But I do argue we are far freer than huge chunks of the US population by a country mile.
    We ran a tread on "FREEDOM". Most contributors could not define how it affected their daily lives, others who had travelled across the pond recognized that in many ways the US was less "free".
    Quote Originally Posted by Osborne Russell View Post
    They are principles of design, and will always exist.

    I'm only talking about one problem -- the protection of human rights. Do I assume correctly that that's part of what you mean by" freer"?
    Principles of design is so much hot air. The actual implementation of the design is what counts. In the US Freedom and Human Rights are not being delivered so your principles are failing.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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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
    (ignoring the nitpicking distinction between 'democracy' and 'republic')
    It's vital. Democracy is one set of tools -- actually just one, direct voting on anything and everything -- and a republic is another.

    This is demonstrated with great clarity when you ask: what remedy is available, and by what procedure is it obtained?

    Suppose Parliament bans a person from the internet. For a good reason or bad is irrelevant. Can a court overturn it? Not if they wanted to. If you get your foot in the courtroom door, it will be only to be thrown out. There is no ready remedy, even if there is a wrong. You can humbly petition Parliament, who may deign to hear you. You can vote in the next election. That's it.

    You think I'm kidding?

    In the US, you can go into court in the morning and get a restraining order against the entire F ing government in as much time as it takes for the judge to say the words. And you can do it today, tomorrow, indefinitely, unless and until the structure of the Republic is changed, not just when some jokers in Congress get a wild hair.

    You call this difference nitpicking? It is based upon the difference between a democracy and a republic.
    Last edited by Osborne Russell; 10-11-2020 at 12:19 PM. Reason: and furthermore
    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 Osborne Russell View Post
    It's vital. Democracy is one set of tools -- actually just one, direct voting on anything and everything -- and a republic is another.

    This is demonstrated with great clarity when you ask: what remedy is available, and by what procedure is it obtained?

    Suppose Parliament bans a person from the internet. For a good reason or bad is irrelevant. Can a court overturn it? Not if they wanted to. If you get your foot in the courtroom door, it will be only to be thrown out. There is no ready remedy, even if there is a wrong. You can humbly petition Parliament, who may deign to hear you. You can vote in the next election. That's it.

    You think I'm kidding?

    In the US, you can go into court in the morning and get a restraining order against the entire F ing government in as much time as it takes for the judge to say the words.

    You call this difference nitpicking?
    House built on sand. Parliaments cannot act against people or organizations in that way, only dictators can do that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    It would be absurd for you, as someone who is not an English constitutional lawyer, to claim that you know more than generations of English jurists know about their own country's systems and to claim that they are wrong and that you know more about their constitution than they do.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    House built on sand. Parliaments cannot act against people or organizations in that way, only dictators can do that.
    Who has legal authority to stop them?
    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

    Boy, I shoulda dealt with my frustration on my own, eh?
    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 Osborne Russell View Post
    Who has legal authority to stop them?
    You are ignorant of the process. They pass statutes and laws, they cannot litigate against individuals. That is the remit of the courts applying existing laws. There is nothing to stop, it cannot happen to be stopped.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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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 vital. Democracy is one set of tools -- actually just one, direct voting on anything and everything -- and a republic is another.
    You are quite persistently ignorant about what democracy means. Again, Oxford, who has more credibility than you when it comes to language:

    a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
    Tom
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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
    "Invented", pfah. Reification. "This is a clothespin and properly can have no other name, nor any other thing be called a clothespin." Says who? If we are discussing Stalin's definition, in his chosen context, we give a S. Neo-conservatives likewise.

    Meanwhile there is a vast swath of American culture which the term denotes concisely. Therefore it is currently far and away the most common usage. What makes Stalin and the neo-cons relevant to the current discussion?
    Here's your claim:

    American Exceptionalism is a religious doctrine.
    Yet how do you justify this claim? I've studied the concept of American exceptionalism, and this is not what most people think of the term. Surely, the way the term has been used by others must have some relation to the current meaning. I think you reject the history of the term because your own definition has no history, it's your own invention.

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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
    You are quite persistently ignorant about what democracy means. Again, Oxford, who has more credibility than you when it comes to language:



    Tom
    In fact, the political party founded by Jefferson and Madison was called the Democrat-Republican party.

    Not all republics have been democratic. Caligula's horse did not join the Roman senate through election, it did so by being appointed by Caligula. The Roman senate was for much of its history more like the House of Lords than the House of Commons.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    In fact, the political party founded by Jefferson and Madison was called the Democrat-Republican party.

    Not all republics have been democratic. Caligula's horse did not join the Roman senate through election, it did so by being appointed by Caligula. The Roman senate was for much of its history more like the House of Lords than the House of Commons.
    No Roman senators were elected--they were all appointed. Only magistrates were elected, I think (consuls, tribunes, etc.)--and many shenanigans with voting procedures and tribal organization limited any real democratic tendencies. The Republic was much less democratic overall than our modern U.S. government--but not entirely non-democratic.

    Other than Rome, what republics are you thinking of that have been non-democratic?

    The horse story is apocryphal from what I've read of Roman history; some versions also have Caligula "planning" to make his horse a consul.

    Tom
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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
    Such grand people should have no need of government at all. Talk about exceptionalism.
    It's obvious I'm not talking about exceptionalism, since I referred to "many of us liv(ing) in countries". I specifically used the plural both for individuals and for countries, because many countries seem to be peopled by those who are not wolves.

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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
    Who has legal authority to stop them?
    In my country, Australia, the Constitution and the Courts could stop them.

    For example, a bill prohibiting one individual, a bill of attainder, has been held to be unconstitutional. And when the government won an election on the grounds of banning the Communist party, the act was held to be unconstitutional.

    I note that at least three people have pointed out that you have provided no evidence whatsover for your claim that American Exceptionalism is a religious doctrine. Surely you should either prove your claim, or withdraw it.

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

    The definition of a 'religion' is rather badly defined in the US at least. If enough people 'believe' and it has a following it may as well be, it has a valid a claim as most others.
    They all started off as cults.

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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
    1. They are rights, not powers.

    2. The US government, like every government, takes away people's life, liberty, and property every day, in countless ways, in countless instances, with perfect legal authority and morality. Those are powers.

    3. I don't know what claim of superiority you mean. I guess it comes from some non-religious exceptionalism, but that's just a guess.
    1- I was writing when tired and meant to refer to the power to take away rights. The point remains the same - in the USA and in Canada the government can take away the rights you listed, therefore your implication that the USA is a special and superior case in the way it protects rights appears to be baseless.

    2- Since you just agreed that the US takes away rights every day, and agreed that unlike most other western democracies it even takes away life itself, there seems to be no basis for your claim of US superiority.

    3- The claim of superiority is similar to the one you showed in post 41 (where you claimed the Westminster systems largely ignored human rights); where you claimed that Canada suffers a "nationwide spasm of self-delusion"; and that it's "dressing up" the Westminster system to call it democracy; and that such democracies cannot protect human rights were a republic can.


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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 term was invented by Stalin. American Communists were trying to explain why they had no success compared to European Communist parties. They said it was because Americans lacked the class structure Europeans rebelled against. Stalin said something like 'I don't believe in this American exceptionalism.'

    Neoconservatives picked up on the term and used it so mean something like 'America is great!' Under the baleful influence of Leo Strauss, they decided it meant something like America is in pursuit of a just society.

    I've been down that rabbit hole. From The Outlaw John Locke:

    https://booksellersvsbestsellers.blo...servative.html

    https://booksellersvsbestsellers.blo...servative.html
    Those are very interesting articles.

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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

    Other than Rome, what republics are you thinking of that have been non-democratic?
    .

    Tom
    These day you could start with The People's Republic of China.

    There are others.

    An outside observer might have trouble seeing the USA as a democracy in any meaningful way.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    These day you could start with The People's Republic of China.

    There are others.

    An outside observer might have trouble seeing the USA as a democracy in any meaningful way.
    Simply choosing to call a nation a republic doesn't make it one. Does China feature citizen control of government through elected representatives? If not, it's not a republic.

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

    That's not the only possible definition of a republic.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

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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
    No Roman senators were elected--they were all appointed. Only magistrates were elected, I think (consuls, tribunes, etc.)--and many shenanigans with voting procedures and tribal organization limited any real democratic tendencies. The Republic was much less democratic overall than our modern U.S. government--but not entirely non-democratic.

    Other than Rome, what republics are you thinking of that have been non-democratic?

    The horse story is apocryphal from what I've read of Roman history; some versions also have Caligula "planning" to make his horse a consul.

    Tom
    Up until 1913, US senators were elected by state legislatures, not voters.
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    Default Re: On Twitter, American Senator Mike Lee downplays the importance of democracy

    This idea that 'republic' and 'democracy' are neat non-overlapping categories is spectacularly silly. Some folks have a strong need to stuff complex continuously-varying reality into boxes with neat labels. The binary distinction that Osborne is so energetically trying to maintain does not contribute to our understanding, quite the opposite.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
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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
    Some folks have a strong need to stuff complex continuously-varying reality into boxes with neat labels.
    liberal elitist snobs
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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

    Again, the defining characteristic of a Republic is that the Head of State is a President, rather than a,Monarch, or a Council, or etc. The defining characteristic is NOT the manner in which that President, or any members of other bodies of government, come to hold their offices. Or leave them.

    There are autocratic republics, and republics of other sorts which identify the sources of legitimate authority in different ways.

    Constitutional Republics by definition use Constitutions to define and regulate such choices. They *may*, as in America, identify citizens' voting behaviors as the way in which that authority (which is deemed to originate in the individual, and is pooled in ways described by the Constitution) is bestowed on those who hold power on behalf of citizens. Some Republics may require that anyone serving in the leadership of the Executive (equivalent of Secretaries or Ministers) must themselves be first elected to some office in order to be eligible to then be appointed into the Executive role ... in America that isn't the case. That is, there are a number of choices which can be made while determining what a Constitution will say. None of which invalidate the description of a Constitutional Republic as one.

    What folks here seem to prefer are measures within that Constitution which give greatest privilege to the citizens' voting behavior in creating a representative democracy (not a direct democracy).

    Which is great. I like representative democracies too, better than Athenian style direct democracies. I see benefits and drawbacks to choosing Constitutional Republic as the specific form of representative democracy, but when it works well, it's great.

    A comment I can make respecting other forms of Constitutional representative democracies too...
    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 Paul Pless View Post
    liberal elitist snobs
    Nah. Conservatives, communists, fascists, monarchists, whigs, you find it everywhere. It's a perennial human failing, trying to make things simpler than they are.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

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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
    Simply choosing to call a nation a republic doesn't make it one. Does China feature citizen control of government through elected representatives? If not, it's not a republic.

    Tom
    I posted an excerpt of their constitution on the first page. Many fine words, through one lens yes, but really no.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    liberal elitist snobs
    Nah. Conservatives, communists, fascists, monarchists, Whigs, you find it everywhere. It's a perennial human failing, trying to make things simpler than they are because we don't want to think too hard..
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

    Richard Feynman

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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
    Simply choosing to call a nation a republic doesn't make it one. Does China feature citizen control of government through elected representatives? If not, it's not a republic.

    Tom
    I posted an excerpt of their constitution on the first page. Many fine words, through one lens yes, but really no.

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

    In the 19th Century in the geography which would soon after become Canada, the push was for what was then called "Responsible Government." That is, legislatures which were responsible to the citizens, through periodic elections - not legislatures appointed by the Crown or someone else. And Canada achieved that - with the exception of the Senate which is still here appointed upon the nomination of the elected Federal government of the day.

    What we learned in Canada in the first 20 years of this century is that the role of the Crown really is only ceremonial. That when we faced Constitutional crises during Harper's time as PM, the PM had the actual power. And the Crown none worth calling by the name.
    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 Osborne Russell View Post
    American Exceptionalism is a religious doctrine.
    I've just finished reading this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantas...a_Went_Haywire by Kurt Andersen. In it, he spends some time discussing the issue of American Exceptionalism. Without quoting vast chunks of the book, the following link is a fair summary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism .

    On finishing the book, I could see quite clearly how Trump came to be elected.

    Nick

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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
    This idea that 'republic' and 'democracy' are neat non-overlapping categories is spectacularly silly. Some folks have a strong need to stuff complex continuously-varying reality into boxes with neat labels. The binary distinction that Osborne is so energetically trying to maintain does not contribute to our understanding, quite the opposite.
    What is the benefit of equating a democracy with a republic?

    Democracy is a noun. A form of government, like republic. There is no such thing as a Democracy Republic, or a Republic Democracy. The fundamental principles are irreconconcilable. The law recognizes and enforces limits on the power of the demos, or it doesn't.

    Democracy is an adjective. You can have a "democratic republic". It's not a democracy. This is felt to be problematic for no reason but pure laziness. Meanwhile, a "republican Democracy" sounds too stupid right from the get go, even for lazy people. "Democracy" is supposed to embody some supreme moral principle. What is that principle? -- I've asked numerous times on this thread, and over the years. No one has answered it, because they can't. It's simply a matter of unchallenged error become habit become prejudice.

    You would understand instantly if you simply gave up on trying to ignore the difference. What do you think you're defending? This is like "Defund the police", where the careless creation of ambiguity is supposed to yield some benefit. The great yearning of the people is too wonderful to be expressed coherently or even carefully. Nothing may stand in its way! That's democracy. It's a denial of human rights. Human rights stand in the way of democracy. That's the principle reason the United States is not a democracy. Do you want the US to stop guaranteeing human rights, in order that it be democratic?
    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 johnw View Post
    Here's your claim:



    Yet how do you justify this claim? I've studied the concept of American exceptionalism, and this is not what most people think of the term. Surely, the way the term has been used by others must have some relation to the current meaning. I think you reject the history of the term because your own definition has no history, it's your own invention.
    I'd be happy to discuss it, after we settle whether the USA is a democracy. Meanwhile, consider whether AE has anything to do with it. It must, somehow, or it wouldn't have come up, and we wouldn't be talking about it.
    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 NickW View Post
    I've just finished reading this book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantas...a_Went_Haywire by Kurt Andersen. In it, he spends some time discussing the issue of American Exceptionalism. Without quoting vast chunks of the book, the following link is a fair summary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism .

    On finishing the book, I could see quite clearly how Trump came to be elected.

    Nick
    From your wikki:
    The current platform, adopted in 2016, defines it as "the notion that our ideas and principles as a nation give us a unique place of moral leadership" and affirms that the U.S. therefore must "retake its natural position as leader of the free world."[109]
    Arrogant aerosols!
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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