Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Democratic Responsiveness to Economic Circumstances

 Posted in response to this question on Quora:

Democracy: Is a pure democracy equally well suited to rule in times of growth and depression?

The term 'pure democracy' is imprecise, but I'll answer as well as I can.

If the term means public issues are resolved by having everyone in the electorate 'vote' on proposed solutions, the economic circumstances do not matter.  The organizations most expert in exploiting the media will sway public opinion to the advantage of the vested interests they represent, at the expense of the people.

If the term means the people have a mechanism by which they can select their wisest, most virtuous, and most experienced citizens to lead them, pure democracy will work equally well in either situation.  The people will choose leaders for their ability to address the circumstances and resolve the issues that face them.  (Obviously, this does not describe the kind of 'democracy' we endure in the United States.)

Fred Gohlke

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