Two- or multiparty systems

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Imported, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. Imported

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    Javierdude22: Hey

    I have had this question for some time now, so I thought I'd put it up.

    What do you think works best as a political system? Two parties, or a multi party system?

    I ask this because of recent events, and me finally understanding a bit more about American Politics (cough, I think). I have been getting the feeling that US administrations seriously lack a good political opposition. Sure, there is enough popular opposition but nobody seems to listen to them.

    I understand there is checks and balances, but I think that has not created and active, empowered political opposition to the administration in power.

    I'll try to come up with examples that worry me. I favour multi party systems, not because my country happens to have that, but on the basis of several criteria.

    For example, IMO a two party system creates a disproportionate power for the parties themselves, without handing it over to the people. With that I mean that parties are assuming their role as managers of party interests, but are forgetting their role as people that should govern 'In the best interest of the people'.
    I'll clarify by example. It is obvious that if and when the US (and Europe for that matter) let go of agriculture subsidies, our foodprices will go down, and our taxes can finally be spent on education and health care. It won't effect employment as much, as agriculture is the lowest provider in employment. Yet they don't do that, because of disproportionate influence of farmers in politics. This example could of course be used on environmental issues, economics, human rights etc.

    Then there is transparency. To be very honest, I think the US is about as transparent as a Central American country in the 80'ies. Nobody really knows whats going on, there are more scandals than anyone can remeber anymore, and because of that, the shock factor per scandal has dropped so much it is affecting democratic values. Like I said before, some of the things that happen in the US without a problem, are considered wrong-doings in European politics, and have serious consequences for the people involved. Only by virtue of a few newspapers do we find out some of the things really going on in the U.S.. If there was a parliament with more political parties, with different profiles, control would automatically increase.

    Also, elections could be a bit more about party profiles, more choice, and not depend on charismatic features of the candidate of either two parties. There would also be less need of huge campaign budgets. This would probably automatically be impossible since the business-sector and wealthy individuals would see less benefit out of supporting one party with a buttload of money. The chances of them getting a majority in parliament would be slim to none, therefore also less influence, therefore also less benefit/influence for the now-donors of partypolitics. I won't even mention what it would do for current corruption levels.

    And as a personal favor....it would also cancel the ridiculous election campaigns, ads, flags, hysteria, phonecalls, letters, namecalling etc. Now you only have to demonize one party, easy enough. Fifteen party wpould be quite the effort, better promote your own virtues then.

    I am aware it would need a HUGE culture change along with a multi party system, were it ever to be installed in the US or Britain (Saying that it would be better of course being my personal opinion). Because this rubbing up against the two big parties of the Greens and Independants only paralyzes the system more. More heterogenity.

    Anywayz...what's your opinion on it?
     
  2. jonb

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    The two-party system is fallacious. There aren't just two sides to any issue. I mean, take abortion: The extreme ends are eugenists and theocrats. LOL
     
  3. jay_too

    jay_too New Member

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    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#0 date=04/09/04 at 12:34:39]And as a personal favor....it would also cancel the ridiculous election campaigns, ads, flags, hysteria, phonecalls, letters, namecalling etc. Now you only have to demonize one party, easy enough. Fifteen party wpould be quite the effort, better promote your own virtues then.[/quote]
    Dude..
    You are trying to stir things up. It is the American way to vote against a candidate. With so many parties, who would ever know whom we are voting against? Do you expect us to make rational decisions based on positions, issues, and beliefs? C'mon.

    Is America ready for positive campaigning? Sadly, no.

    jay
     
  4. Imported

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    robzranger: As I discussed with my Russian and Eastern European friends who were debating this in terms beyond simply academics - you can't argue with success. Two parties seems to work better. It may be like socialism, works great on paper, but...
     
  5. jonb

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    But communism's a one-party system.

    The problem is, we have two parties which are identical, which is basically the same thing as communism.
     
  6. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    I like the balance of the two-party system.

    Multiparty systems end up with confusing coalitions and bargaining that seems (pardon me) foreign to me.

    Give me Senator Foghorn and Congressman Soggybottom's party against Senator Taxem and Rep. Deeppockets any day.
     
  7. BobLeeSwagger

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    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#0 date=04/09/04 at 12:34:39]I have been getting the feeling that US administrations seriously lack a good political opposition. Sure, there is enough popular opposition but nobody seems to listen to them.[/quote]


    I think it's easy to think that if you look at recent history, but there have been numerous instances where a majority party overextends itself and the voters kick them out for doing so. Most recently, in 1994 Republicans took over both houses of Congress for the first time in decades. There has almost always been major opposition to a presidential administration. The last time a minority party was really marginalized was in the early 1930s, when FDR's Democrats had such a large majority that it could do almost whatever it wanted. As partisan as things seem today, it's been like that many, many times before.

    There have been a few short-lived third parties in U.S. history, usually because one party splintered or it collapsed completely and was replaced by a new one. For example, the Whig party fell apart in the 1850s and the Republican party emerged from its wreckage. One major difference in the American system is that it has a stronger executive than the parliamentary systems that most European countries have. So the president need not be from the same party that has a congressional majority. From 1995-2001, Democrat Bill Clinton faced a Republican Congress. Who is the opposition party then, exactly? Ask Clinton if he had any real "opposition"! Believe it or not, checks and balances are alive and well.



    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#0 date=04/09/04 at 12:34:39]I'll clarify by example. It is obvious that if and when the US (and Europe for that matter) let go of agriculture subsidies, our foodprices will go down, and our taxes can finally be spent on education and health care. It won't effect employment as much, as agriculture is the lowest provider in employment. Yet they don't do that, because of disproportionate influence of farmers in politics. This example could of course be used on environmental issues, economics, human rights etc.[/quote]


    I don't see how the number of parties makes a difference regarding agricultural subsidies. Farmers just need to buy off enough legislators either way.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#0 date=04/09/04 at 12:34:39]Then there is transparency. To be very honest, I think the US is about as transparent as a Central American country in the 80'ies. Nobody really knows whats going on, there are more scandals than anyone can remeber anymore, and because of that, the shock factor per scandal has dropped so much it is affecting democratic values. Like I said before, some of the things that happen in the US without a problem, are considered wrong-doings in European politics, and have serious consequences for the people involved. Only by virtue of a few newspapers do we find out some of the things really going on in the U.S.. If there was a parliament with more political parties, with different profiles, control would automatically increase.[/quote]


    I think that's a very short-sighted observation. Italy has the ultimate multi-party system and it's been among the most unstable, corrupt governments of any Western democracy in the last 50 years.

    In fact, I think it's the opposite. As recently as pre-Watergate, U.S. presidents got away with a lot more than they do now. The press is vigilant to the point of excess. There are always mini-scandals going on because half of them are media events instead of major wrongdoings. You assume that all of these different parties are independent of one another, but the reality is that they have to form coalitions to get any governing done, so they're often looking out for their allies, if only temporarily. You do have a point about not being enough media voices out there though.



    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#0 date=04/09/04 at 12:34:39]I am aware it would need a HUGE culture change along with a multi party system, were it ever to be installed in the US or Britain (Saying that it would be better of course being my personal opinion). Because this rubbing up against the two big parties of the Greens and Independants only paralyzes the system more. More heterogenity.[/quote]


    You know that Britain has three major parties, right?
     
  8. Imported

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    Javierdude22: [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]I think it's easy to think that if you look at recent history, but there have been numerous instances where a majority party overextends itself and the voters kick them out for doing so.  Most recently, in 1994 Republicans took over both houses of Congress for the first time in decades.  There has almost always been major opposition to a presidential administration.  The last time a minority party was really marginalized was in the early 1930s, when FDR's Democrats had such a large majority that it could do almost whatever it wanted.  As partisan as things seem today, it's been like that many, many times before.  [/quote] Yes, that is 'opposition' during elections, where people get to express how they feel about an administration a the polls. But in all honesty, judging from the current administration, that is too late and a lot of harm can be done by then. I meant direct oppostion, with political power, to get information, pass laws on your own, and oppose actions taken by the administration during their four years. Not after.

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]
    There have been a few short-lived third parties in U.S. history, usually because one party splintered or it collapsed completely and was replaced by a new one.  For example, the Whig party fell apart in the 1850s and the Republican party emerged from its wreckage.  One major difference in the American system is that it has a stronger executive than the parliamentary systems that most European countries have.  So the president need not be from the same party that has a congressional majority.  From 1995-2001, Democrat Bill Clinton faced a Republican Congress.  Who is the opposition party then, exactly?  Ask Clinton if he had any real "opposition"!  Believe it or not, checks and balances are alive and well.  [/quote]

    I'm not sure it was opposition as much as simply frustration. The way I understood it, checks and balances were not installed to form an active agile opposition, but to slow down the pace of any new laws, in favour of self governance of the individual states. It also doesn't account for the times that a President does have a majority in Congress, and the Senate. I'm not sure, but I think Bush at the moment has majority in both houses which to me is a very dangerous thing, and proven to be so in recent months. The checks and balances system is structured in a way where one party, one interest, one ideology simply can have too much power. At the same time the progress can be paralyzed if a President faces a majority of the other party in both houses. Two extremes which don't happen often, but what if they do?

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]
    I don't see how the number of parties makes a difference regarding agricultural subsidies.  Farmers just need to buy off enough legislators either way. [/quote]

    The way I see it it helps. In Holland for example there is a Christian party with traditional support from farmers. Therefore, they oppose letting go of subsidies, which could impede any progressive laws on this. However, since we have a lot more parties that do not depend on farmer support, the laws have a better chance of being accepted. Political strength is spread out a bit more. [/quote]

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]
    I think that's a very short-sighted observation.  Italy has the ultimate multi-party system and it's been among the most unstable, corrupt governments of any Western democracy in the last 50 years. [/quote] 

    But at least we know about it ;). No, of course a multi party system isn't the automatic ticket to transparency and less corrupcion, but I do think it is structured better than a two party system to facilitate it. Italy has a history of corrupcion and the influence of maffia which of course disturbs the picture.

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]
    In fact, I think it's the opposite.  As recently as pre-Watergate, U.S. presidents got away with a lot more than they do now.  The press is vigilant to the point of excess.  There are always mini-scandals going on because half of them are media events instead of major wrongdoings.  You assume that all of these different parties are independent of one another, but the reality is that they have to form coalitions to get any governing done, so they're often looking out for their allies, if only temporarily.  You do have a point about not being enough media voices out there though. [/quote] 

    I beg to differ on the pre Watergate thing. Maybe this is an example of our different perceptions of scandals. I mentioned somewhere earlier that in Holland, Belgium etc. if a Minister doesn't inform the parliament correctly, he can get kicked out. Inform! We'd have had to sack a lotta people throughout the years in US politics if that was the standard.

    I also don't agree on presidents getting away with a lot less since Watergate. I think the entire Reagan administration proves that. What they did in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador is simply appauling, appauling man. Just because he had an anti-left agenda? I won't even bring up Iran. I takes Congress, or anyone way too long (on a human impact scale) to find these things out, to me it's a form of dictatorship.

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#6 date=04/09/04 at 21:41:10]
    You know that Britain has three major parties, right?
    [/quote]

    I had no idea, I have to admit I don't know the first thing of British politics. I always thought the Conservatives and the Labour party were the only ones with the real influence who made up all the governments since the Second World War.
     
  9. BobLeeSwagger

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    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#7 date=04/10/04 at 09:41:04]
    I'm not sure it was opposition as much as simply frustration. The way I understood it, checks and balances were not installed to form an active agile opposition, but to slow down the pace of any new laws, in favour of self governance of the individual states. It also doesn't account for the times that a President does have a majority in Congress, and the Senate. I'm not sure, but I think Bush at the moment has majority in both houses which to me is a very dangerous thing, and proven to be so in recent months. The checks and balances system is structured in a way where one party, one interest, one ideology simply can have too much power. At the same time the progress can be paralyzed if a President faces a majority of the other party in both houses. Two extremes which don't happen often, but what if they do?[/quote]

    I can't help but think that you believe that (based on your recent posts) because you just don't like George W. Bush. It's OK to oppose the current president's policies; in fact, I usually do.

    Your comments make me think you don't have much background on American politics. Most U.S. presidents have been of the same party that controlled both houses of Congress (32 of 43). And 13 of 43 had to deal with a Congress controlled by the other party. The situation you consider "dangerous" is actually the norm. And the reverse is common enough that most Americans have seen it happen. What you consider two "extremes" are the two most common situations in U.S. presidential politics. Some other presidents whose party also had a majority in both Houses: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Somehow that concentration of power did not ruin the country, and all of those I just listed have been praised by many as great presidents. I'm not saying G.W. Bush is a great president. (Far from it.) Only that this situation is about what the leadership makes of it at the time. I suspect that you think that one party having the presidency and Congress is "dangerous" because you think Bush is dangerous.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#7 date=04/10/04 at 09:41:04]I beg to differ on the pre Watergate thing. Maybe this is an example of our different perceptions of scandals. I mentioned somewhere earlier that in Holland, Belgium etc. if a Minister doesn't inform the parliament correctly, he can get kicked out. Inform! We'd have had to sack a lotta people throughout the years in US politics if that was the standard.[/quote]

    If you really think that politicians in Belgium and Holland are more honest with each other than in the U.S., then I've got a bridge I can sell you. Prime ministers don't get away with lies? That's pretty naive.

    Now if you want to argue that the U.S. political system creates crappy candidates in both parties who only care about getting elected, then I'm with you. But very, very few Americans think it's because of the two-party system. If there are decent leaders, you'll have decent leadership, regardless of how many parties there are.
     
  10. jonb

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    [quote author=Pecker link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#5 date=04/09/04 at 17:06:41]I like the balance of the two-party system.[/quote]
    Except that the whole philosophy behind the two-party system is fallacious. It basically takes the logical statement "You must choose X XOR NOT X." and perverts it to "You must choose X XOR Y." where Y is a subset of NOT X.

    It's called a false dichotomy. Ever heard that song lyric "Don't mess with Mr In-Between"?

    Jon (Don't blame me; I voted for Kodos.)
     
  11. Imported

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    Javierdude22: [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#8 date=04/10/04 at 12:44:27]
    Your comments make me think you don't have much background on American politics.  Most U.S. presidents have been of the same party that controlled both houses of Congress (32 of 43).  And 13 of 43 had to deal with a Congress controlled by the other party.  The situation you consider "dangerous" is actually the norm.  And the reverse is common enough that most Americans have seen it happen.  What you consider two "extremes" are the two most common situations in U.S. presidential politics.  Some other presidents whose party also had a majority in both Houses: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.  Somehow that concentration of power did not ruin the country, and all of those I just listed have been praised by many as great presidents.  I'm not saying G.W. Bush is a great president.  (Far from it.)  Only that this situation is about what the leadership makes of it at the time.  I suspect that you think that one party having the presidency and Congress is "dangerous" because you think Bush is dangerous. [/quote]

    Aloofman: Although I really dislike Bush and his policies, really to the second power actually, I have tried to focus mainly on the two party system in itself. Recent events only underline the dangers, to me at least they are dangers.  

    What you mention above though, actually is the point I am trying to make. I didn't realise that throughout history it is actually common for a president to have both houses. I grew up under Clinton (I was in dipers when Reagan took office) and as I recall he only got both houses late in his second term. But the fact that it is the norm, makes my belief in multi party system even stronger.

    Because if that is the norm, we have cancelled the oppsoition I was hoping for. If a president usually has both houses it is Lala-land for the man and he can pass any law he wants. I understand that a majority in both houses doesn't mean any bill turns into a law, but on overall it does. My point is that in multiparty systems, the political system reflects better the heterogenity of the population. The population isn't either Democratic or Republican. You have leftist republicans, green republicans, atheist republicans, Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, democratic businessmen, bible-belt Democrats, etc etc. Race, geography, demographics, religion, interests all make for a colourfull array of political opinions. Especially in a multicultural country as the US. But no, people can only choose between two parties.

    In either party a few congressmen and two Senators represent your state. Let's hope their personal profile and interests identify with how you want to be represented by this person. And that is my problem with two parties.

    If indeed one party has a majority in both houses, it means that a huge chunk of the population is going to be underrepresented, if represented at all. I am going to use the Bush administration simply cause it is the most recent example. Bush won with a 1% difference. The Senate is 50-50% as well, with a slight majority for the Republicans. The same goes for Congress. This means that because of slight majorities, almost half of the population loses realpower in national politics. That disturbs me.

    I know a multiparty system means bargaining, something that annoys me as well sometimes. But is does make sure that you have a diverse group of people behind you who voted on strict political profiles of parties (leftists greens, social left, Christian left, Liberal right, Liberal green, Christian right etc.) and thus might feel a more direct response to their personal interests. Also, any bill needs 2/3 of the parliamentary votes.

    The chance of underrepresentation,and polarization in US society, is just to big with a two-party system in my view.

    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#8 date=04/10/04 at 12:44:27]If you really think that politicians in Belgium and Holland are more honest with each other than in the U.S., then I've got a bridge I can sell you.  Prime ministers don't get away with lies?  That's pretty naive.  
    [/quote]

    Of course our Prime Minister lies as well. But those are electorate lies. Before parliament, our Prime Minister cannot lie. I have seen him sweat and divert questions, much like Rice did a few days ago, but a direct lie means he's out of there. It's not naive, it's how our political system is structured. The Cabinet of Wim Kok (the most sucessfull we had in along time) fell 3 years ago because of lies in a document on Srebrenica. That is how it works, or at least how I think its should work. Transparency, accountability towards the people, trust, and democratic values.
     
  12. Imported

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    Javierdude22: Sorry, pushed quote instead of modify ;D
     
  13. BobLeeSwagger

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    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#10 date=04/10/04 at 14:55:34]

    What you mention above though, actually is the point I am trying to make. I didn't realise that throughout history it is actually common for a president to have both houses. I grew up under Clinton (I was in dipers when Reagan took office) and as I recall he only got both houses late in his second term. But the fact that it is the norm, makes my belief in multi party system even stronger.[/quote]

    On the contrary, Clinton had a Democratic Congress for his first two years. It was his erratic policies of those first two years that inspired American voters to elect more Republicans to Congress in 1994. It was a landslide election against Clinton that was so strong that the Democrats still have not recovered from it. About one-third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives faces re-election every two years. If the president's party is seen as too extreme or ineffective, people vote against them.

    I've got news for you. The Republicans are in power in the United States because Americans voted for them. (OK, in Dubya's case you might argue that point.) If they slip up enough, they'll be voted out. These things tend to be cyclical. History suggests that eventually more Americans will tire of Republican policies and vote for change. It could happen this year. Or maybe later. And after the Democrats are in for a while, people will get tired of them and kick them out.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#10 date=04/10/04 at 14:55:34]Because if that is the norm, we have cancelled the oppsoition I was hoping for. If a president usually has both houses it is Lala-land for the man and he can pass any law he wants. I understand that a majority in both houses doesn't mean any bill turns into a law, but on overall it does. My point is that in multiparty systems, the political system reflects better the heterogenity of the population. The population isn't either Democratic or Republican. You have leftist republicans, green republicans, atheist republicans, Black, Hispanic, Asian, White, democratic businessmen, bible-belt Democrats, etc etc. Race, geography, demographics, religion, interests all make for a colourfull array of political opinions. Especially in a multicultural country as the US. But no, people can only choose between two parties.[/quote]

    I have no quarrel with your point about Americans having a lack of choice among parties. But the two parties we do have reflect much of the diversity you cite. The different groups you mention are -- for the most part -- included within the two parties. A Republican in Mississippi is usually very different from a Republican in Connecticut, but they have enough in common that they both still go by that name. Some are Republicans because they're very pro-business and anti-regulation, but they couldn't care less about prayer in school or abortion. Some Democrats are against affirmative action and don't care about the environment. Just because there are two parties, doesn't mean there are only two belief systems.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#10 date=04/10/04 at 14:55:34]In either party a few congressmen and two Senators represent your state. Let's hope their personal profile and interests identify with how you want to be represented by this person. And that is my problem with two parties.[/quote]

    Occasionally there have been third-party movements that have threatened the two-party system. For better or worse, the two parties have neutralized them by co-opting their issues. It wouldn't bother me if there were three or four parties. But that two-party system has worked in this country for more than 200 years, a record of stable democracy that no other country can match. Your concerns have been debated by political scientists for a long time and they probably always will. If you look at the short-term and you don't like who's in power now, it seems like the sky is falling. But in the long term, things have a way of evening out, which is why democracy works no matter how many parties there are.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#10 date=04/10/04 at 14:55:34]If indeed one party has a majority in both houses, it means that a huge chunk of the population is going to be underrepresented, if represented at all. I am going to use the Bush administration simply cause it is the most recent example. Bush won with a 1% difference. The Senate is 50-50% as well, with a slight majority for the Republicans. The same goes for Congress. This means that because of slight majorities, almost half of the population loses realpower in national politics. That disturbs me.[/quote]

    May I make a suggestion. Those exact concerns were debated when the United States proposed and approved the Constitution in the late 1780s. Read The Federalist to see how those arguments were addressed. Kind of dry reading, but it's exactly what Americans worried about when the current system was proposed.


    [quote author=Javierdude24 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#10 date=04/10/04 at 14:55:34]Of course our Prime Minister lies as well. But those are electorate lies. Before parliament, our Prime Minister cannot lie. I have seen him sweat and divert questions, much like Rice did a few days ago, but a direct lie means he's out of there. It's not naive, it's how our political system is structured. The Cabinet of Wim Kok (the most sucessfull we had in along time) fell 3 years ago because of lies in a document on Srebrenica. That is how it works, or at least how I think its should work. Transparency, accountability towards the people, trust, and democratic values.
    [/quote]

    And I maintain that the lies that get a leader thrown out of office are the ones that people find out about and care about. Different systems have different rules, but that principle stays the same.
     
  14. lacsap1

    lacsap1 New Member

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    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#12 date=04/10/04 at 17:20:28]
    But that two-party system has worked in this country for more than 200 years, a record of stable democracy that no other country can match.
    [/quote]

    Maybe, but not always very wize....

    As your greatest democracy of the world seems perpetually unable to chose its allies in the world. Its tract record for at least the last half a century is dotted with alliances and friendships with some the most despotic regimes, outright inhuman dispensations and almost consistently against the democracy or urges for it. From Africa to Arabia, and her own backyard of South America, the globe is littered with what could be called American mistakes, so don't be to proud of it........
     
  15. Max

    Max New Member

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    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#12 date=04/10/04 at 17:20:28] But that two-party system has worked in this country for more than 200 years, a record of stable democracy that no other country can match. [/quote]

    This Limey can't let that pass. However you define 'democracy', that statement can't possibly stand up. If you require universal suffrage for true democracy, I'm not aware that any country passes the 200 year test. If you require only a system with parties providing alternative governments, and regular opportunities for the electorate (even if a restricted one) to make a change .. then the two party system in this country can be traced back to the Whigs and Tories of the reign of Charles II, ie around the 1670s. There have been changes of name since, but only once has a third party ousted one of the two majors (Labour replaced Liberal in the 1920s). It may of course happen again, as it seems to have done in Canada.

    Some here favour the introduction of proportional representation; I am against it precisely for some of the reasons given above -- much of the power ends up in the hands of horse-traders who assemble coalitions and dismantle them at will. The 'first past the post' system we have may well be unfair on third parties, but in the end it is fairer for the electorate.

    The real point of democracy as I see it is the ultimate safeguard and control of being able to turn the government out (rather than to dictate their policies on an issue by issue basis).
     
  16. jonb

    Gold Member

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    Let's not forget the various eugenic experiments in the US, Pascal. Back in the 70s, they sterilized almost half of Indian women, and even today, there are no uniform 'informed consent' procedures for Norplant or Depro-Provera (which were given to Indian women BEFORE the FDA approved it) at IHS. They've gone so far as to blame overpopulation for what they did a century before, never mind mounds of osteological evidence to the contrary. (Yeah, I'd say soldiers killing buffalo for sport's overpopulation. So's missionaries intentionally giving us smallpox.)

    *sigh*
     
  17. lacsap1

    lacsap1 New Member

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    [quote author=aloofman link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#8 date=04/10/04 at 12:44:27]
    I can't help but think that you believe that (based on your recent posts) because you just don't like George W. Bush.  It's OK to oppose the current president's policies; in fact, I usually do.    
    [/quote]

    And this is the problem of the US system,

    The American preference that you have is a long tradition of support for the aphorism "the government that governs least, governs best" ! adherents of this belief do not dismay the apparent inability of government to accomplish significant tasks. Behind this belief is quite likely a preference for "passive" rather than "active" government. Yet in a search for passivity, the result often turns out to be simply inefficiency.

    The main enduring and fundamental shortcomings of the American majoritarian/Presidential system are;

    1. The impeachment process and its cause. Its more fundamental flaw is that it highlights the constitutional confusion between the two functions of the US presidency: head of state and head of government. In Parliamentary systems these two functions are performed by two different people. Why try President Clinton the first elected American executive to be impeached due to a (sex) issue and for example, Presidents Johnson (Vietnam), Nixon (Watergate), Reagan (Iran/Contra) are criticized, they then become invariably more remote and inaccessible. In short, when criticized for actions taken in their head of government capacity, they all retreated to the Rose Garden and sometimes created the impression that criticizing the President, now wearing the head of state hat (or perhaps, crown), was somehow unpatriotic.

    2. Persistent divided government. From the "do nothing" 80th Congress elected in 1946 to the 106th elected in 1998, a total of twenty seven congresses, the United States has experienced divided government for more than two-thirds of this period. In only eight of those twenty seven congresses has the president’s party enjoyed majorities in both houses of congress.

    3. The costly, never- ending campaign process. The cost to run for political office in the United States dwarfs that spent in any other advanced industrialized democracy. The twin problems are time and money. More specifically a never-ending campaign "season" and the structure of political advertising that depends so heavily on TV money. Listening to the debates about "reforming" the American campaign finance system are bizarre to students of other democratic electoral systems. Quite literally no other country does it this way.

    4. The lowest voter turnout among all of the leading OECD countries. One seldom-examined reason in mainstream American electoral analysis is the two party system and the electoral method that produces it: the single member district, first past the post, or winner take all system. The US is a diverse country with many regional, religious, racial, and class divisions. So why should we expect that two "catch all" parties will do a particularly good job in appealing to the interests of diverse constituencies? The solution to lower voter turnout is a greater number of choices for voters and a different electoral system.

    So Prime Ministers, unlike US presidents, are seen much more as active politicians not remote inaccessible figures. In a parliament, the prime minister as the head of government is required to engage, and be criticized, in the rough and tumble world of daily politics. In short, he head of government must be accountable. The prime minister, for example, is required to participate in a weekly "question time" in which often blunt and direct interrogatories are pressed by the opposition. There is no equivalent forum for the American president to be institutionally questioned as a normal part of the political process. The political impact of destroying any particular individual in a collective body such as a cabinet or governing party or coalition is much less than removing a directly elected president. The head of state would be above that kind of criticism generated in no confidence votes and simply serve as an apolitical symbol of national pride. In nation states that have their monarchies, ceremonial presidents or constitutional monarchs do and are much more inexpensively as the American president.

    So, God save the Queen and my constitutional monarchy

     
  18. lacsap1

    lacsap1 New Member

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    [quote author=lacsap1 link=board=99;num=1081539819;start=0#16 date=04/20/04 at 16:21:29]
    In nation states that have their monarchies, ceremonial presidents or constitutional monarchs do and are much more inexpensively as the American president.

    So, God save the Queen and my constitutional monarchy
    [/quote]


    GW Bush is asking AGAIN more money to waist in Iraq??
    BTW, who is taking the blame of does prison pics?
    Probably not a high placed executive but some soldier or lance corporal....
     
  19. Imported

    Gold Member

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    Javierdude22: Apparently not Rumsfeld.

    The puppetry in American Politics in the most hilarious yet sad thing the world is witnessing these days. Come on, we as a people have grown so accustomed to the misinformation, lies, unethical politics, and the sitting-on-my-hands policy this administration exhumes, that something simple as torture pictures gets a pant and a sigh out of Congress and the Senate.

    'Rumsie, ya shouldve informed us about those pics man'. But ya know...your older than the Pentagon itsself and youve served in politics longer than you yourself can even remember so that automatically exempts you from any consequences when you screw up miserably.'

    O well...it doesnt really matter, even though American Politics is letting this one slide AGAIN, the Arab world and certainly Iraq will not. Wow Powell, weird huh that you still have this much resistence from the Iraqis. THe 'plan' said you should be having cake and coffee with the SHii'tes already in June.

    Damn uptight Iraqis...so Iraqi prisoners are systematically tortured, humiliated, and violated in their religious beliefs, so what?!? Get over it.

    And where is the Defensebudget now? 400 zillion a year?

    Funny, America went out there to fight a war because the terrorists crashed into the WTC killing 3000 sad enough. For that America spents so much money that it indirectly kills as many Americans because of a lack of food, health care, or a roof over their head. But I guess they don't have oil'stocks.
     
  20. johnstone1985

    johnstone1985 New Member

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    I'm going to take the opportunity to put the cat amoungst the pigeons and throw in my alternative views on democracy. As very many of you have pointed out the multi party and two party system both has it's benefits and it's flaws, but I believe it's not the systems that don't work, but maybe instead it's the form of democracy that is flawed, and that it's Representational Democracy that doesn't work.

    I believe that the major problem facing the political word is the low voting turn out and the strong criticism EVERY politician suffers from the media is due to the fact that people are fed up with representative democracy. What tangable impact has Tony Blair had on my life? Is my only political influence going to be a piece of paper stuck in a ballot box every four years? More and more we see politicians taking action and then having to explain those actions, surley if they were acting truly representative their actions would reflect the actions we would take?

    In my personal opinion I would embrace a more participative democracy where Joe Blogs' influence extends to more than just a vote. How do we do that... that's another story for another day, but I do believe that we are slowly making baby steps towards it with things such as advancement in technology, postal voting, media interest and Proportional Representation.

    Although Max pointed out it's weaknesses in an earlier post, devolution and proportional representation has had a major impact in Scotland. Smaller political parties such as the SSP, The Greens and Independants have had the opportunity to raise their own issues, and if it wasn't for proportional representation, the Scottish Parliment would have been without a Conservative for the first four years, and if all these parties just say the same thing, what difference does a Coalition make? With the introduction of devolution Scotland now has the power to govern itself and manage it's own affairs, which should also leave England to do so aswell.

    We all know that Democracy originated in Athens, and it was participatory democracy which the whole concept was first built on, so if it worked for the originators of democracy, why can't it work for us?
     
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