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Lesson 4 - What is a Democracy Before we begin our lesson...

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What is a Democracy? Before we begin our lesson, it is important that you have a general understanding about the  differences between a  democracy , an  autocracy , and an  oligarchy . DEMOCRACY  -  The term democracyis generally defined as  "Government by the Many"-  Power is in the hands of many individuals. The people are the source of power in a nation. AUTOCRACY  -  A democratic state is very different from anautocracy where only one person  holds power like King Louis XIV of France, an absolute monarch, or a dictator like Adolph  Hitler or Saddam Hussein. OLIGARCHY  - In an oligarchy, only a few people hold power in a nation, e.g. a group of  nobles. THEOCRACY  - Today we are more familiar with atheocracy when power is in the hands of a  few religious clerics like in Iran or the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. At this time, I want to turn your attention totwo definitions of democracy: 1. pure/direct democracy 2. representative democracy  (known as a  Republic  ) In a  pure democracy , the people participate in actually governing their communities. They  write the laws and administer and enforce laws like in New England town meetings and the  Athenian assembly in 500 B.C. We live in a  Republic , a  representative democracy , where  the people elect other individuals known as representatives to govern--make laws and  implement and enforce the laws. These elected officials are accountable to the people at  election time. Why did the Framers Decide to Establish a Republican Form of  Government? In  Federalist #10 , James Madison analyzed the  problems created by factions or interest  groups or political parties  in our society. The framers were concerned that a majority group  might dominate our government at the expense of other smaller groups and individual  liberties. Madison was concerned, for example, that debtor interests would be promoted over  creditors or a majority within the public might pressure their representatives to equalize the  distribution of property at the expense of property owners.
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The cure for the mischief of faction  -  the best way to minimize the influence of a  majority interest group was to establish a representative democracy, a republic. If you had the people elect their representative, that public official could consider both  individual constituent concerns and all the interest groups' concerns as well before making a  decision regarding a bill. The lobbyists from various organizations representing labor,  business, professionals, farmers, gun owners, advocates against abortion would have to  compete for the representative's attention - it would dilute the power of any one interest group.
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