Lecture Notes 2

Lecture Notes 2 - Why is Government Necessary Lecture 2 Pol...

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Why is Government Necessary? Lecture 2 February 11, 2008 Pol 1101
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Democracy Ancient Athens and a few other Greek city-states had direct democracy All the major Greek philosophers thought democracy was the worst form of government Remember: the founders of American democracy were avid readers of Plato and Aristotle – who believed that the best form of government is rule by the best (smartest, most reflective, most mature, most educated bravest): the aristos Like the Greeks, the framers of the U.S. constitution feared that direct rule by the people would mean rule by the mob
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Democracy American government is a fusion of democracy (the people elect their representatives) and aristo cracy, in Plato and Aristotle’s sense (the people elect those who are the best and most qualified) Look at the speeches of the primary candidates: they shift between “too democratic” (+ or -) and “too aristocratic” (+ or -). “Washington insider”, experienced, competent vs “Need for change”, understands ordinary people, willing to try for something new
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Democracy Which is the world’s oldest democracy? Which is the world largest democracy? Which government has ensured that all adult citizens regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity may choose representatives to exercise the power of government longest? Which are the most democratic countries in the world?
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Democracy Which is the world’s oldest democracy? Iceland (parliament in 930) or the Iroquois Which is the world largest democracy? India Which government has ensured that all adult citizens regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity may choose representatives to exercise the power of government longest? New Zealand (1893) or Isle of Man (1881)
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Democracy
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Hidden Tensions The ideal of democracy vs the realities of a representative republic The never-ending problem: ‘faction’ What happens when a group of people who strongly share a belief or opinion have to function inside a larger group?
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Hidden Tensions “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve” George Bernard Shaw
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Why is Government Necessary? The word government is ultimately derived from the Greek kybernan , which means "to steer" Government plays a significant role in our lives – like it or not Government is complex, because the problems of running a big country are big Governments rely on Force (government is the only institution that has a monopoly on its legitimate use) Legitimacy (the perception as much as the reality)
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Ubiquity of government Government plays significant roles in most spheres of contemporary society. … but conservatives and liberals alike are concerned that provisions in the Patriot Act of 2001 and the workings of the Department of Homeland Security have expanded the role of government in our everyday lives Americans are ambivalent about the role and scope of government … Americans see themselves as being deeply suspicious of government
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Lecture Notes 2 - Why is Government Necessary Lecture 2 Pol...

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