From Democratic Theory

Why is it considered a theory? The factors by which democracies are established and sustained is a matter of debate.

Maybe Trump And His Ilk Are Pivotal Against The Political Apathy In America?

When I was in college years ago I remember reading that political apathy being one of the greatest threats to democracies, especially to modern liberal types. It probably still is. Think of it. How can democracies work if the governed don’t care to even give their consent? What happens to the quality of the democracy when constituents feel too comfortable with their own lives, or when they believe an afterlife is more important than politics, or when they don’t fully realize their own self-interest, or when they just “feel” disenfranchised?


The educated vote at higher ratios than the less educated. But for how decently educated America is, I don’t think our voting turnouts for the last 50 years have matched. I may be wrong. Records show that barely over 50% of our VAP (voting age population) have voted in the last 20 years. Then if education won’t cut it, then what could help?

ANGER. It’s a great motivator. In some ways it’s better than conscious, and rational, and deliberate action. The former can get you off the couch and on your feet in less than a second. The later, whilst can give time for contemplation, might be interrupted by the next commercial or be forgotten by tomorrow’s end. Anger can help you remember because anger leaves brain-waffling impressions in your mind. Dwelling on the anger does make you think, which is not to say it naturally comes with fair-mindedness followed by some sort of enlightenment, and makes you reassess the things you care about. Is this way, anger has it’s political uses.

Is it possible that Trump can help drive voter turnout for Democrats in numbers that can shatter the elections of 2008 and 2012? Whether or not Trump wins 2020, I doubt his supporters will fade way. Remember, Trump is more the symptom than the cause. Demoralized, yes. Less fanaticized, I think it’s only going to get worse.

Mobilizing the people who would vote against you is less than getting your agenda done without them noticing. I have heard that Trump’s tactic relies on creating dumpster fires to distract you from the bigger fire elsewhere. The importance of this is to put out both fires, albeit starting with the more dangerous one first, if you have no choice to prioritize. But if the dumpster fires churns out swarms of apathetic people to leave their houses, then who does it really help?

The Master Synthesis

“Deliberation can help transform interests and reveal previously unrealized areas of agreement. If can sharpen participants understandings of their conflicts.”

—Jane Mansbridge

Some are alarmed at the cynicism and viciousness in today’s political climate in America; understandable, but lest not forgot the alternative to talk, violence. Taking the stand in court, an hour behind the podium fighting for policies, or moments discussing feelings about political candidates are not meant to be attractive. But so in working. It’s simply necessary. Avoiding politics, common as it is among large swaths of people in every demographic, should have the same concern as the unemployment rate; they both are a sign of health of a country. The number of political participants is just as important to a democracy as workers to the workforce, the more the better.

Let me clarify. Political participants can be anyone, be it a politician or pedestrian. As soon as you open your mouth or write to influence another person on an issue, you become is some sense a political participant. Constant arguing is inherent in democracy and participation helps define is quality. It seems what topics are at the forefront of the political agenda is the reflection of the people participating in a political arena. Political arenas are areas where politics is discussed and is both formal (political conventions, media interviews, academic policy debates, etc) and informal (blogs, discussions between family and friends, protests, etc). They are a place where influence can inhabit and exist on television and on print as well as in the living room or park bench. To varying degrees both are important, because the constituents of any society needs to figure out who gets what, when, where, and why; or in other words, politics.

Democracy is not to be taken for granted and its inherent problems should be seen as an issue of quality and control, not dysfunction. It is a well-known fact in political science people who participate in primary elections tend to be people who are from opposite sides of the political bell curve. It becomes obvious listening to and reading the rhetoric of presidential candidates in primaries, rhetoric that is extreme for many moderates. As the presidential nominations end and the mono-e-mono race for the oval office begins (aka general election), you tend to see a bit of backtracking to appeal to the broader public (Mitt Romney is a good contemporary example). But what if more moderates in America participated in primary elections? I believe that itself will profoundly change the American political system. I would argue there would be less influence of both Christian extremists on the Right and environmental extremists on the Left, among other undue influences. What people should be sick of is not politics itself, but the low quality of it.

Therefore, the reasonable course of action is for the citizenry to participate in quality and control and to not shy away from any political arena. The more participate, the more of the agenda-making process shifts from extremists views to moderate views. Instead of a few religious zealots believing there should be no Jeffersonian wall between church and state (Jefferson’s Wall of Separation Letter 1802), moderate religious devotees can focus what, among other things, has been important imperatives in most religious belief systems like helping the poor, the sick, the orphans, etc. Instead of a few environmental zealots believe preserving some obscure species of rodent takes precedence over any and all business opportunities, moderate eco-activists may actually be inclined to accommodate both goals.

But to get back to the quote above. If more people take part in politics, than more moderates will influence politicians and policy. My main argument is this: the cynicism and viciousness in today’s political climate in America are not from moderate voices. It is the moderate who tends to deliberate while the extremist is entrenched in their respective belief system as they are concerned with only what they think is right (you know who is an extremist when they view their truths are eternal). To agree is not a trait of extremists.

This bell curve pretty much generalizes the public, with the extreme Left and extreme Right on their respective ends while most Americans (probably most people in every country) make the middle.

How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig

How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It <——-Click to see the lecture.

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and the Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Although Lessig is not a theorist his argument above, I believe, should be looked into by actual democratic theorists.