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Author Topic: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?  (Read 1769 times)

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Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #25 on: June 29, 2016, 03:00:23 PM »
A democracy is only as good as its people.  Greek democracy is nearly unrecognizable to modern-day citizens of democratic nations, because it was only open to landowning males.  That's not very democratic when considering universal suffrage.  When you consider what the Founding Fathers of the U.S. had in mind as far as a democracy, it was closer to the Greeks than what we have today.  Some, like Adams, wanted the more well-off, educated class to do the voting.  Jefferson wanted an electorate of educated farmers--but he still wanted them educated.  There's a reason why well-educated people tend to be more liberal.

Currently in the U.S., there is a powerful conflict between the forces of science, education, and reason--and the forces of fundamentalist religion, which, like any cult, despises outside influences like...science, education, and reason.  There have been correlations to the conservative/liberal paradigm with emotion-dominant/reason-dominant brains.  Those who are more emotionally invested are more fired up, and more likely to vote.  Look at any non-presidential election, and see how many more conservatives turn out to vote than liberals.  The Brexit vote was much the same.  Polls may have shown that Labor had more people on its side, but they didn't turn out to vote like the Tories did.

Democracy requires an educated populace making informed decisions.  Without that, you end up with someone like Donald Trump as the candidate for a major party.  Or President.  Nations can't run on fear if they wish to remain free.

Also:  Trump is not an honest lunatic.  He isn't crazy.  He's a lying narcissist.  Any check on Youtube under 'Trump lies' will give documented evidence of such.  He's a greedy bastard surrounded by sycophants and loyal family, and that's not the sort of person you want in the position of most powerful man on Earth.  And while I agree that Hilary is a lying narcissist as well, she isn't going to install Supreme Court justices who will take away my son's rights as a transgender person, or women's abortion rights.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 03:07:17 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #26 on: June 29, 2016, 03:10:39 PM »
Also:  Trump is not an honest lunatic.  He isn't crazy.  He's a lying narcissist.  Any check on Youtube under 'Trump lies' will give documented evidence of such.  He's a greedy bastard surrounded by sycophants and loyal family, and that's not the sort of person you want in the position of most powerful man on Earth.  And while I agree that Hilary is a lying narcissist as well, she isn't going to install Supreme Court justices who will take away my son's rights as a transgender person, or women's abortion rights.

And neither will he succeed at doing so, and the jury's still out on whether he even means a single thing he says. Half the time what he says contradicts the nonsense he said the previous week. To me he just looks and sounds like the world's biggest troll who says whatever so long as he can fill his pockets. Which is why I think he won't do much of anything because he doesn't care about anything. And sometimes, four years of nothing is better than four years of uncertainty.

EDIT: And remember, a few years ago, Hillary was still staunchly against gay marriage, claiming the usual Christian reasons because it served the political climate. Now, she sees that she can gain more vote by playing the other side, and that's what she's done. You're allowed to change your mind, obviously, but she turns coat -constantly-. Which is what I mean by her being a wild card that is completely unpredictable.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 03:11:57 PM by Renegade Vile »

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2016, 03:21:13 PM »
I find her to be reliably predictable...because she goes where the money is.  She's like Obama--socially liberal, but fiscally moderate or even leaning right.  She saw that polls of the nation were heading in the direction of gay rights, so she switched.  She's a panderer.  Trump isn't, because he's a demagogue.  That, for the most part, is the big difference between them.  Both of them are full of themselves, but Hillary is much, much smarter--she knows how to get the most people to like her.  It's a numbers game to her, unlike Trump, who just expects everyone to bow to him out of deference to his utter 'superiority'.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #28 on: June 29, 2016, 03:54:14 PM »
I find her to be reliably predictable...because she goes where the money is.  She's like Obama--socially liberal, but fiscally moderate or even leaning right.  She saw that polls of the nation were heading in the direction of gay rights, so she switched.  She's a panderer.  Trump isn't, because he's a demagogue.  That, for the most part, is the big difference between them.  Both of them are full of themselves, but Hillary is much, much smarter--she knows how to get the most people to like her.  It's a numbers game to her, unlike Trump, who just expects everyone to bow to him out of deference to his utter 'superiority'.

I suppose you have point that she is predictable in where she's going -for now-. But once she has that office? I think even she knows there's no way she'll get it twice. I'm from Belgium, trust me, I know this depressingly well. Most politicians play the crowd, but continue to do so even after getting where they want to be, because they want to stay there longer. But there are those who say screw it, do whatever they want, get the cash, and eject before all blame is put on their shoulders. That's the type of vibe I get from her.
As for Hillary getting the most people to like her, she consistently hated by a large portion of Americans as far as I can tell, to the point where quite a few vote for Trump just because Bernie lost out to her.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2016, 05:36:28 PM »
But there are those who say screw it, do whatever they want, get the cash, and eject before all blame is put on their shoulders. That's the type of vibe I get from her.

Except that the position of US president is not as profitable as being a CEO of a very profitable business. It pays about 400K per year. That's a lot to most of us, but it's pocket change to the very wealthy. I think in Hillary's case, it's more about power and prestige - and possibly a bit of a pissing contest with her husband ( a former us president ). She has a boner for politics too, so I can see that as being another motivation.

In Trump's case, it's also not about the money. He makes enough money that the $400K for being president is a "nice to have" but that's about it. I think in his case, the chance to do more self serving things is what he's after. Being president would add value to his brand and possibly open up further business opportunities. If he is going to work to sharpen the US's finances, then it's only to benefit himself. In this case, his narcissism and greed could possibly benefit us so long as he doesn't prop up the country at our expense.

I think the motivation of the candidates is less important than the actual effect that they will have on the system once they are in. We need to ignore the flaws that drive them and look instead at their past accomplishments and failures.

What I like about (our version of) capitalism and the free market is that it's driven by real demand. The market is merciless and promotes only what is demanded and at a price that is mutually acceptable (generally speaking). I think one of the things that make it work is that greed and competition work to keep it in balance and that works in world where people are greedy. ( Those who are taught not to be greedy are at a disadvantage) Like the free ( or somewhat free ) market, democracy needs to be implemented in a way that it works with real people. By real people, I mean people as they really are, not as they *should* be.

Politicians will do what it takes to get elected no matter how sleazy or dishonest. At this point, it's a competition and the only thing that matters is getting in. Once in, their character and their abilities matter more.


« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 05:37:30 PM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2016, 02:59:43 AM »
Except that the position of US president is not as profitable as being a CEO of a very profitable business. It pays about 400K per year. That's a lot to most of us, but it's pocket change to the very wealthy. I think in Hillary's case, it's more about power and prestige - and possibly a bit of a pissing contest with her husband ( a former us president ). She has a boner for politics too, so I can see that as being another motivation.

I don't know if it's like that over there, but over here most politicians still hold all manner of other positions on the side. Some are even still CEO, but likely because we do not really have the concept of a lobbyist so there is no immediate (obviously there is in reality, but try and prove it...) conflict of interest. Most are on hordes of committees and get all manner of other benefits so that, by the end of the day, being a politician on the side earns them a hefty, additional influx of cash. I guess I just assumed the same would be possible over there.
And why yes, Belgium's a corrupt heap of nonsense!

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2016, 04:05:01 AM »
I don't know if it's like that over there, but over here most politicians still hold all manner of other positions on the side. Some are even still CEO, but likely because we do not really have the concept of a lobbyist so there is no immediate (obviously there is in reality, but try and prove it...) conflict of interest. Most are on hordes of committees and get all manner of other benefits so that, by the end of the day, being a politician on the side earns them a hefty, additional influx of cash. I guess I just assumed the same would be possible over there.
And why yes, Belgium's a corrupt heap of nonsense!

Nope, that's strictly illegal for us - the President's sole paying job is being the President. Here, all the kickbacks and payouts and whatnot are delayed until after you leave office, and get a cushy consulting job or think tank position working for whatever bunch of lobbyists you championed while you had a seat. Or you just go on speaking tours and charge obscene amounts of money to give speeches at universities or whatnot.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2016, 04:06:54 AM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #32 on: June 30, 2016, 06:10:05 AM »
Nope, that's strictly illegal for us - the President's sole paying job is being the President. Here, all the kickbacks and payouts and whatnot are delayed until after you leave office, and get a cushy consulting job or think tank position working for whatever bunch of lobbyists you championed while you had a seat. Or you just go on speaking tours and charge obscene amounts of money to give speeches at universities or whatnot.

It's comforting to know that, even when one part of the system is more fair and correct in one place, that another breaks down and is just as corrupt as everything else. It's nice to have that kind of consistency in the world...

Offline KalebHyde

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #33 on: July 08, 2016, 06:48:43 AM »
Democracy in its purest form is simply mob rule and could never work on a large scale.  Fortunately America has never been this as the end of slavery and women's right to vote, among other crucially historic events, might not have gotten a majority vote for decades if at all.

A representative democracy does depend on the population governed.  The people must maintain actual principles to be able to hold their representatives responsible.  Currently, American government is a product of human natural corruption.  It is natural for most to seek out whatever benefits themselves above any nation.  Special interest groups are always looking for handouts without regard to how the nation might be bankrupted by it.  Politicians know they can gain and hold their positions through promises that can't possibly be kept.  I completely agree with Congressional term limits as neither house was ever supposed to be a lifetime appointment.  I also wish there was a way to ban former congresspeople from working for lobbying groups or special interests afterward.  In the end, however, a society determines what they will allow from their representatives, and both left and right have dropped the ball in favor of getting theirs.

As for the travesty we are now presented with in Clinton vs Trump, both sides are mind numbingly foolish.  As much as any country reserves the right to control immigration, there will never be a wall built.  The funding was already there, it didn't happen.  Trump's will won't make it happen.  Illegal entry into any nation should be a concern as I doubt any country would willingly accept millions of foreigners just showing up and making demands.  European countries have tried this on a much smaller scale and it appears to be a growing disaster.  The wall is nothing but an empty campaign promise, however, as Trump hates Hispanics about as much as Clinton hates military vets and law abiding gun owners.  Neither is likely true despite the rhetoric both use to the contrary.  Neither is in any way comparible to Hitler even if one advocates making secret lists to deny American citizens their rights without due process.

As for the Supreme Court, it really all depends on whose ox is gored.  This is basically because the court has become nothing but a political tool and thus mostly irrelevant.  It is another threat to our democracy as the rule of law has been replaced by which side gets more advocates on the bench.  For every transgender or abortion threat there is an equal religious liberty or gun control fight.  For these laws to teeter on which party's con artist steals control in the fall says quite a bit about the country's downfall. 

I still have faith, however, that this democracy can survive.  I have seen people on both the left and right begin to question their own parties and it will probably take the destruction of both eventually.  Ted Cruz and a few others have the guts to be hated by his own establishment party for standing for what he believes in.  Bernie Sanders and his supporters didn't just sit down for the evil queen's coronation.  Both have been villified and ridiculed by the Media Mafia, but they are glimmers of hope for a greater uprising and return to a true representative democracy.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2016, 06:53:28 AM »
Democracy in its purest form is simply mob rule and could never work on a large scale.  Fortunately America has never been this as the end of slavery and women's right to vote, among other crucially historic events, might not have gotten a majority vote for decades if at all.

For that to be true, you'd need to believe every single person is maliciously intent on never changing their minds, never heeding the words of others and no-one is ever on the fence about something and can be swayed one way or the other through discussion/peer pressure (the latter being the bad one). Despite how cynical I am, that's a bit far even for me.
Democracy in its purest form relies on everyone being completely rational at all times and looking purely at facts, basing their opinion on that and then putting the remaining opinions up for a vote, with majority being the tie-breaker because in that ideal circumstance, odds are high that the majority is also correct. That's all a pipe dream of course, but THAT is it in its purest form. Mob rule is what you get when a significant portion of humanity is a bunch of mouth-breathing idiots. Which is what we have.

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #35 on: July 27, 2016, 03:38:55 PM »
Pure Democracy is impossible in the modern world of nation-states with hundreds of millions of citizens.  But, the best we can do is have an educated, informed populace with the motivation to make those decisions that impact not only their own lives but the lives of others, including those who may be opposed to their viewpoints.  In other words, we need smart, skeptical, energetic people with empathy.  Our very modern standard of living with all of its creature comforts fights against being energetic and motivated.  Our system of mass media goes against being smart and skeptical.  Both combine to bleed empathy from people.  Human nature being what it is, people need to come into contact with different ideas and consider them to be empathetic.  People need to be taught to question everything and base their choices on facts, which strengthens skepticism and intelligence.  I haven't figured out the key to making people motivated, however--if anyone does, please send me a PM :P

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #36 on: July 29, 2016, 01:35:15 PM »
Pure Democracy is impossible in the modern world of nation-states with hundreds of millions of citizens.  But, the best we can do is have an educated, informed populace with the motivation to make those decisions that impact not only their own lives but the lives of others, including those who may be opposed to their viewpoints.  In other words, we need smart, skeptical, energetic people with empathy.  Our very modern standard of living with all of its creature comforts fights against being energetic and motivated.  Our system of mass media goes against being smart and skeptical.  Both combine to bleed empathy from people.  Human nature being what it is, people need to come into contact with different ideas and consider them to be empathetic.  People need to be taught to question everything and base their choices on facts, which strengthens skepticism and intelligence.  I haven't figured out the key to making people motivated, however--if anyone does, please send me a PM :P

When you put it like that you make me think of Lt. Razchak, discussing the failure of democracy. Id honestly be happy in a way with the Starship Troopers government. Yes its oppressive but at least the politicians weren't all silver spoons and had given something back with their service. :P

But then again they had heavy fascist tones. If only we could have our cake and eat it too.


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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2016, 02:40:19 AM »
The issue with democracy - particularly in America as it stands right now - is whether it can get over its current trend of swinging too far to the authoritarian side of things.  (And this is my argument against both the GOP and the Democrats right now.)

Authoritarian regimes are characterized primarily by four qualities.  (This comes from a work in 1964 regarding them.)

1 - limited political pluralism; that is, such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups.

2 - a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency.

3 - minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity. 

And 4 - informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.


The US is currently undergoing massive problems with 2 and 3 - 1, to a degree, has always existed in our culture, and 4 can't happen because the President has clearly defined powers under the Constitution, so if that does happen, that should be our cue to GET OUT NOW - that have developed primarily because A: Americans have allowed themselves to become divided and turned on each other, and B: the slow ebb and drain on culturally shared morality over the last half-century.

Normally, I'm would start with 2, but I'm going to change my usual course and hit 3 because where I stand, 3 is the real cause of what's happened here.  So, minimal social mobilization.  First, the good news - the usual reasons for that lack of social mobility aren't the defined terms above; most people's lack of social mobility these days is tied to their lack of economic freedom.  The idea of America was that you could come here, from anywhere, and if you worked at it, and improved yourself, you and your family could rise above your circumstances - the rags to riches story is powerful in the American psyche for this very reason.

But economic freedom has requirement, and those requirements are slowly slipping away.  When my parents were my age, college was not a requirement in order to seek employment - you went there because you wanted to get ahead, but if you didn't go (or couldn't afford to), then you could go and get a job in manufacturing, working in a factory.  Those jobs peaked in 1979...and have been declining ever since, primarily because it was discovered to be easier to ship the job elsewhere.  Why?  Because in a place like China or India, which isn't as developed, you can pay workers far less than what's legally required here in the US.  Normally, this would be counterbalanced by things like import taxes, but trade agreements between various world governments have slashed them drastically, in the name of 'free trade.'

Nowadays, about the only jobs you can get without a college degree is flipping the grill at Burger King or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.  So, more people started going to college.  Good thing, right?  Go there, get more education, more experience, more money, that will actually work out better for us in the long run, right?  Well, yes and no.

Yes - having a better-educated populace is one of the ideals that Jefferson strove for, because someone who is more intelligent and capable of critical thinking will be able to make better decisions than someone who is not.

No - because then you are resetting the economic start point at the level of 'college educated' rather than a high school degree. 

The question has been asked many times why it is that, with the often crippling debt that comes with student loans and tuition payments, young people continue to go to college.  The answer is quite simple - because they believe they have to.  Because if they don't, all they can look forward to is a life of standing in front of a hot grill or being told to head over to Housewares to unload a cart of box fans.

This reset would not be a problem, if the new level at which people were expected to start from was publicly available.  (And not 'publicly available' in the O'Reilly sense of the word.)  The government - pick a level - pays for the operation of every single public school within US borders.  Students are not required to pay the costs of educating them.  One of two things needs to happen, depending on what becomes of the economic start point.  The guiding principle needs to be this: economic freedom must be achievable through wholly public means.  To illustrate.

If you want to go with the 'no universal college' route, then that's fine - but then you need to make available jobs here in the US that can be attained with just a high school degree, or high school needs to be expanded so that it can occupy jobs that will provide a basic standard of living.  Otherwise, universal college needs to happen.

I can go on, but time is a constraint, sadly, and I can always elaborate later.

What the problems with social mobility have done is that they have inspired emotionally-based movements - on both sides of the political spectrum - to come forward and present their case to the American people, about how things feel wrong in America, and about how they're the only ones that can fix it, so please ignore our glaring faults and histories while we do that.  This is 2 on the four qualities of authoritarian regimes.

These movements - both on the left and on the right - have been gaining more and more momentum as the years go by. 

On the right, the movement is based on fear - fear of 'good old America' being taken away and replaced with a socialist hellhole that pays people (usually minorities) to go and irresponsibly have babies and generally be poor excuses for people, whereas 'real Americans'  are the ones who get up and go to work everyday and are suffering under the weight of a looming, oppressive government.

On the left, the movement is based on outrage - outrage over all the things that happened to minorities (most frequently blacks) in the past; outrage over the fact that not all opinions are equally valid, and that there are people who disagree with their opinions; outrage over this injustice and that wrong thing and so on.

Neither of these movements are good, because both of them basically want - in the end - a country where everyone ascribes to their particular vision of what the US should look like.  Both of them want to sanitize our history and our past - how they intend to do that, I'll leave up to your imaginations.