Professor- Ernest Smith
Due date- 01/16/16
Models of Democracy Paper
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressman and government officials, but the voters of this country.” Which he is right, we the people have a lot of say in government and democracy. Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Democracy has two different parts which are called models of democracy, they are majoritarian and pluralist democracy. Majoritarian democracy is the classical theory of democracy in which government by the people is interpreted as government by the majority of the people. So in other words it is basically the way the government lets us have a say in what goes on. They make a set of rules of what is required and the people that fit those qualifications run against each other and we the people vote them in. That is why it’s called majoritarian because of majority rule. Of course there are other rules besides just winning the majority but that is beside the point. The other one is pluralist democracy which is an interpretation of democracy in which “government by the people is taken to mean government by the people operating through competing interest groups”. An interest group is an organized group of individuals that seeks to influence public policy; also called a lobby. This evolution all started when they needed a change from the majoritarian democracy because it was “government by some of the people” in the 1950s. Some examples of interest groups in this time period was the Future Farmers of America, Chambers of Commerce, and Animal protection groups. There is innumerable amount and they often shared things like race, religion, culture, and economic etc.
The majoritarian democracy worked in some ways that the pluralist democracy did and the other way around. The majoritarian mainly got the opinion of the people by polls they would send out. But when only 40 percent answer the polls it isn’t a very reliable source. Which is why the saying going from “government by the people” too “government by some of the people”. This pluralist model is saying, “democracy exists when many (plural) organizations operate separately from the government, press their interests on the government, and even challenge the government.” (Quoted from our textbook The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics. page 39) The best way for the pluralist democracy to succeed is in a decentralized structure. In a centralized structure of government, the decisions are made at the top of the hierarchy. The Pluralist model doesn’t work in the structure because the top is too busy to listen to all the interest groups so they don’t get a say in the decision making. With a decentralized structure there are loop holes and more than one person in charge so they can voice their opinion. I think that depending on where you live and your income deters which structure you think is better. More money means more power in our society so the more money you have the more say you have in government. The more money you give to the government the more pull you will have in decisions. They say that the interest groups in Washington are doing great because they live so close. But for someone who lives in California and doesn’t have a lot of money besides mail it is hard to voice your opinion to people who live on the opposite side of the country. Which really sucks for those who don’t have money because they should get a say and it is really hard for them. The majoritarian structure is a lot different than that. It says in the book that the way they control and get a say in what they want is they pick someone who has the same values in the first place. Which is not a very good system because their views could change or they could lie to get elected and then what are they going to do? They would have to wait until that term is over to reelect someone else. But it also has more than just electing in this model. Some candidates (in the 24 states that allow it) do a policy question in a ballot and allow them to vote on it like that. About the same twenty-four states allow something called an initiative. Which is where people can send around a petition and if they get enough signatures they but their question on the ballot. Eighteen states approved that the state can have a recall on a state judge or sitting governor to get booted out of office. Initiatives are actually very common you would think more states would allow it. For example, Ohio passed a law that workers like teachers and police officers aren’t allowed to have restrict unions. This happened to fall on an election year so it got put on the ballot and the law got overturned with a 61 percent vote to change it. I would say the main difference between the two models are where the say and authority comes from. In pluralism that comes from the government with interest groups saying their opinion and the government doing what they want with it. The majoritarian model is more authority from the people. Also majoritarian is more traditional while pluralism in more classical way of government. In my opinion I also think the pluralist model gets more things done because the interest groups have people with similar interests come together to get their opinion. The majoritarian model is more of everyone coming together which never really works when not everyone agrees on things. Republicans and democrats never work very efficiently together because their opinions are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The things that majoritarian and pluralist have in common are slim to none honestly. It wasn’t very hard to come up with things that were different because the pluralist model was made because at that time the people didn’t think the polls were working because less than half of the adult population wouldn’t answer the questions. Which doesn’t help the government at all with no constructive criticism. It is easy to say something isn’t working but it is hard to actually do something about it. The way I look at it, it seems like the only thing in common is they both have to do with the government. But even then that is very vague.
In my opinion I think that neither of these are better. They all have stronger sides and weaker sides like most things in life. I think the majoritarian model is better in the way that it is more of an opinion from everyone while pluralist is only the opinions from thee interest groups. I like the pluralist democracy better because it has more say in actions the government takes while majoritarian is just really the election process. I also like the idea of majoritarian model needing mass participation to succeed while the pluralist model using the interest groups opinion if they want. It is hard to pick one that is better because they both could use some work. The one that I think fits are United States government the best is majoritarian model. This one is more textbook democracy because it is older while the other one is newer. I think it also changes by who is the president because everyone is different. I think Donald Trump, being a business man before being elected president, will use the pluralist model more. I think Barack Obama was more majoritarian and more by the textbook. But of course that is just my opinion. I also think that if I had to pick which one was better I would pick the pluralist because it gets more people involved in what is going on in the government. I don’t like that it basically says in the majoritarian model that once you pick someone then there is nothing really left to do. You just have to learn to pick better in the next election.
If I had to make my own model of democracy, I would make it a perfect medium between the two. I would still have the voting and all the polls. But I will also still have a decentralized government and allow the interest groups. Who says you have to only pick one? The interest groups are more of the top tier people. I would change that too even people without money can have an interest group and have a say. Not make it the people with money are the ones who have a say. The government is supposed to be for the people not just the rich people. While money does move peoples’ opinion I can’t solve that problem. No one can solve that problem unfortunately. But there are bigger fish to fry here. I would have initiative approved in all fifty states because it is another way for the people to voice their opinions.
All information and quotes were from our textbook “The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics”