Sunday, March 09, 2008

Democracy (Fetishism) in America

The debate over whether to initiate new primaries in Florida and Michigan demonstrates, once again, the almost sacred status bestowed on arguments from democracy, elections and the principle of majority-rule. In recent American politics arguments anchored in these institutions have often functioned as trump cards - once they are drawn all debate must end. After all, who among us is against democracy?

Lately this dynamic is found not only in the commonly held view that Senator Barack Obama simply cannot oppose the inclusion of Florida and Michigan in the delegates tally or resist the alternative of a new vote, but also in the notion that the super delegates to the Democratic Party's convention must not cast their votes in defiance of the sanctity of the majority's vote; even though the very reason for having super delegates is to supplement and at times even override the outcome of the majority.

This fetishism with voting, elections and "democracy" has characterized the administration of George W. Bush from its unexpected dawn to its currently fading dusk: the obsessive counting and recounting of hanging chads; the insistence on the recent elections in the Palestinian territories, which led to the rise to power of Hamas; the calamity of "bringing democracy" to Iraq; the continuing dogmatic insistence on free elections in Cuba as a precondition for recognition and the obsessive hostility to "judicial activism."

Democracy, elections and majority rule are obviously important and valuable principles and institutions. But their value is not absolute. Arguments from democracy should not be used to silence or delegitimize arguments from other principles, such as efficiency, finality, stability, rationality, welfare and autonomy that often override the benefits of holding a popular vote. One would hope that the currently prevalent discourse of change would shed the often disastrous fetishism and religious-like devotion to the institutions of voting and elections – after all, "The Greatest Danger to the American Republics Comes from the Omnipotence of the Majority."

Posted by Ori Herstein

15 comments:

Hamilton said...

It seems to me that any blame here is more on elementary school history and "social studies" classes which teach that America is the best because we have democracy and everyone gets to vote and you can become President.
Unless that elementary school is in a U.S. Military zone in Panama, then that second part isn't as clear.

Mithras said...

It's overly simplistic to lump the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination or the 2000 Florida voting debacle with Bush's use of "democracy promotion" as the pretext for his foreign policy. The latter is clearly a sham; the former are very real questions of how strongly we value the republican form of government and the rule of law.

Ethan said...

Great post, Ori. Seems to me the hanging chad-obsession might be as well justified by an argument from stability--an effort to comply with ex ante rules--while efforts to seat the MI & FL delegates could not.

Separately: have any thoughts on an electorate's "right" to act irrationally? E.g., should a majority terrified of genetically modified organisms be able to require disclosure, even if there's evidence GMOs present no risk? [Pls. assume the costs of irrational fear don't make a disclosure statute itself rational.] (See Vt. Dairy, 92 F.3d 67 for a negative answer.)

Look forward to your next post.

egarber said...

Democracy, elections and majority rule are obviously important and valuable principles and institutions. But their value is not absolute. Arguments from democracy should not be used to silence or delegitimize arguments from other principles, such as efficiency, finality, stability, rationality, welfare and autonomy that often override the benefits of holding a popular vote.

Overall, I think there is a proper respect for other components within our larger system. For instance, few people advocate that we utilize direct democracy as a way to vote on complex legislation (although I'll grant that there is an over-reliance on state-level voter initiatives in some places). And I don't know anybody who thinks voters should decide proper EPA rules for pollution levels, or SOX compliance standards.

"Democracy" as a value certainly hits home in the election process itself; that's where you really see its elevation as the final word. But to me, that's a good thing. However much the system requires us to trust leaders who make decisions on our behalf, pure democracy IS the right formula for electing them in the first place.

Sobek said...

I'd be very interested in seeing you develop your contention that considerations such as efficiency and stability should sometimes trump democracy. I'm not saying I necessarily disagree with you (for example, the Commander in Chief designates where troops go, not a majority vote), but it seems like only a highly unusual situation should result in disenfranchisement for the sake of efficiency.

Concerning the counting and recounting of hanging chads, that was done at Mr. Gore's instigation, not Mr. Bush's.

"But their value is not absolute."

Again, without disagreeing with you, I just wonder if you have any kind of framework for when and how other considerations should trump democracy. Elections are inherently inefficient: if the money spent on campaigning were instead spent on welfare, or private sector development, or the military ... well, you see where I'm going with this: no one would argue that we dispense with elections in the name of efficiency. And stability and finality could be firmly established with a nice hereditary monarchy, but no one seriously recommends that, either. Indeed, the Constitution seems designed to impede efficiency, and allow the public to countervene stability when it's time for the old regime to go.

egarber said...

Concerning the counting and recounting of hanging chads, that was done at Mr. Gore's instigation, not Mr. Bush's.

Yeah, Bush preferred to have the actual election bypassed in favor of a judicial appointment.

Sobek said...

"Bush preferred to have the actual election bypassed in favor of a judicial appointment."

Certainly it's more efficient.

Less sarcastically, there was an election and the first count showed Bush as the winner. Gore wanted to re-count only in three heavily-Democratic counties. To do so would inevitably skew the results, thus giving residents of those three counties more than their proportional say in the process.

egarber said...

To do so would inevitably skew the results, thus giving residents of those three counties more than their proportional say in the process.

But Florida law was playing itself out. The Supreme Court jerked the Fla Supreme Court around -- and then stopped the final recount cold, partly because the Fla Court was paralyzed by the earlier ruling.

The larger point is that the state of Florida should have been allowed to count votes without federal interference. Every state has recount laws with similar arrangements; the Supreme Court's way around it was to claim that no precedent was being set. That was laughable, imo.

egarber said...

And the last Fla court ruling called for a statewide recount of undervotes (and maybe overs?) -- not simply the counties Gore requested earlier. That last ruling is what the SCOTUS halted.

路傑 said...

免費A片, ut聊天室, AV女優, 美女視訊, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇, 情色交友, 免費AV, 線上a片, 日本美女寫真集, 同志聊天室, 聊天室交友, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, A片,H漫, 18成人, a漫, av dvd, 一夜情聊天室, 微風成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, 成人, 中部人聊天室, 080中部人聊天室, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 成人電影, A片, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 成人遊戲, 成人影城, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲, 成人網站, 麗的色遊戲, 色情網站, 成人論壇, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 自拍, 癡漢, , 俱樂部, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊交友90739 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室 免費視訊聊天室 視訊聊天 視訊交友 美女視訊 視訊美女 視訊 免費視訊 免費視訊聊天 視訊聊天室 辣妹視訊 一夜情 色情a片 aio交友愛情館 情色電影 情色視訊 色情遊戲 色情 情色小說 一葉情貼圖片區 色情小說 色情聊天室 情色交友 成人論壇 成人網站 色情網站 情色論壇 小高聊天室 女同志聊天室 6K聊天室 080苗栗人聊天室 080聊天室 聊天室尋夢園 UT男同志聊天室 男同志聊天室 尋夢園聊天室 UT聊天室 聊天室 豆豆聊天室 A片 成人電影 成人貼圖 嘟嘟成人網 美女交友 本土自拍 成人交友 成人影片http://ssff01.3b8mm.com/

kutyhgvd said...

I am so happy to get some hero gold and the hero online gold is given by my close friend who tells me that the hero online money is the basis to enter into the game. Therefore, I should buy hero gold with the spare money and I gain some hero money from other players.

. said...

酒店喝酒,禮服店,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,制服店,便服店,鋼琴酒吧,兼差,酒店兼差,酒店打工,伴唱小姐,暑假打工,酒店上班,日式酒店,舞廳,ktv酒店,酒店,酒店公關,酒店小姐,理容院,日領,龍亨,學生兼差,酒店兼差,酒店上班,酒店打工,禮服酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,經紀 彩色爆米花,經紀人 彩色爆米花,酒店傳播,酒店經紀 彩色爆米花,爆米花,童裝,童裝拍賣,童裝大盤,童裝寄賣,童裝批貨,酒店,酒店,童裝切貨,酒店,GAP童裝,酒店,酒店 ,禮服店 , 酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,招待所,

wsty said...

www.eshooes.com .
www.pumafr.com.
www.myshoess.com.
[url=http://www.pumafr.com]puma shoes[/url]
[url=http://www.eshooes.com]chaussures puma[/url]
[url=http://www.myshoess.com]nike air max ltd[/url]

酒店經紀ㄚ君姐姐 said...

,,姐.,便服/,,

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店經紀, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店工作, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀,,