Increased government exposure (federal?) places pressure on the question of political power. What it is political power? – power to affect those in office and how government will behave. People or institutions who have power must have authority – “right to use power” The (formal) authority to use power must be legitimized by some means. How is authority legitimized in America or in other words why do you accept laws when passed or judicious decisions when handed down? To govern an individual or entity must have power!
Legitimized power in the US! The US Constitution (the rule of law)
The rule of law is not without its challenges but to Americans government must be democratic in some way. Just how democratic is of great debate! Is the will of the people synonymous with the public good? Do governments need to be democratic to be legitimate?
What is Democracy? Direct or Participatory vs Representative -Greek city state -Schumpeter; “leaders acquire power by means of a competitive struggle for votes” -or disapprovingly the elitist theory which suggests 1. the people have little time, expertise, or interest in public policy. 2. Direct leads to bad policy due to fleeting passions and submission to demagogues.
Demagoguery n : impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, known for his "definitions" of terms, defined a demagogue as "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."
Which issues should be determined through a direct or representative process? Which is better? To ensure the will of the people exists, should direct types of gov’t. exist in the modern society with the advent of technology and improved communication? Are people more informed and do they know more about issues? (referendums)
The Founder’s view! Will of the people Public Good -the role of the governing body is to mediate not mirror public opinion “majority opinion should figure into most gov’t policy but the protection of civil right and liberties should never hinge on popular vote” -Representative Democracy minimizes chance for tyranny of the majority Clip 1 Clip 2 Clip 5 Clip 4 http://www.youtu be.com/watch?v =HGRnPi5gpn4 http://www.yo utube.com/wa tch?v=rJco1Q smbeA
Were the Founders correct? Must ask; how power is distributed? If merely by majority (majoritarian politics) - House? Proximity to election? Power is often divided by the political elites with knowledge of majority or without (those who share a disproportionate share of power) 1.Marxist view – Class that dominates economy controls gov’t; Bourgeoise control!! 2.Power elite – corporation leaders, military officials, and a few politicians 3.Bureaucrats – power in hands of career gov’t workers who carry out law 4.Pluralist view – no single elite has a monopoly on power but power is not equally distributed as well. There is a struggle!
Self Interest and Democracy What is the role of self interest in a democracy and is each power elite driven for personal gain or the Public Good? -Civil War, AFL-CIO
What Explains Political Change? Reflected by complex and sudden shifts in the power elite or mass beliefs about what government should do. 1920’s – Laissez Faire, 30’s - New Deal, 60 and 70’s Vietnam and Great Society, 80’s – Reagan Revolution, Today? Police of World or 1%ers? Difference in how we think about issues are as important as how institutions are organized!