Democracy in a Fair and Free Election Essay

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In a fair and free election, the resultant outcome comes from the majority ruling of votes. In an ideal democratic environment, such votes are the consequence of all participant voters -- the legitimate populace as allowed for such voting -- and thus officials are elected in service of the majority of the peoples. However, this utopic democracy is limited in that not all participant voters are knowledgeable in decisions affecting themselves and affecting the government. The other branch of democracy -- one of polyarchy -- calls for the distribution of power within a selective few branches, with which to run government. This is only a minimal progression out of the term "monarchy." Why not, then, a view of democracy that encompass both types of governance -- one in which the population is allowed election of those numerous knowledgeable representatives with the proper background into voting for the electoral democracy? That is, make minimalist, slightly liberal democracy the perfect democracy.

There are three types of democracies to be discussed in this paper: the polyarchal democracy conceptualized by Robert Dahl, pluralism as described by Nicholas Miller, and the minimalist and extended liberal democracy as argued and defended by Adam Przeworski, James S. Fishkin, and Larry Diamond. Each type of democracy contains many basic human rights as pertaining to the subject of liberty and freedom. The manner of election and governance between the three ultimately differ, however. There are downsides to all three, with major setbacks in the outcomes of the former two democracies mentioned. Thus, the lesser evil to be obtained would be to take the liberal, minimalistic view of said democracies.

Polyarchal Democracy

Robert Dahl's polyarchy is a "state of affairs constituting a limit, and all actions approaching the limit will be maximizing actions." In his definition of the best democracy, the populace is allowed its voting rights, though the voting results in the investiture of power within more than one person -- though not succinctly similar to "of the people." The voting process has its limits, in which populistic democracy upholds three characteristics; one of these characteristics pertaining to what is referred to as "The Rule," which pertains to the choosing of alternative forms of power (Dahl). The Rule illustrates the voting in of alternative peoples into power, as following a set of eight limited conditions. In summary, the conditions listed call for the populace's decisions, in which the alternative choice with the majority's votes -- where the votes are equal in weight for every individual -- is the clear victor, displacing any other alternative in the voting process. These conditions are also known as the "eight norms," of which makes a polyarchy "functional" (Dahl).

Herein lies the problem of said polyarchal democracy. The ideal conditions have not been met in full, and the bestowal of power within few various heads of government can be closer tied to the literal forms of oligarchy than democracy. A further problem with this polyarchy is that the ordinary people are limited in the participation of the voting process. Those of the lower income infrastructure are less than likely to participate in the political process, if at all capable of doing so. Furthermore, representation within higher heads of state do not seem to apply in certain areas -- an example would be the U.S. governments exclusion of the voting populace of its territories: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.).


Democracy can be taken further past the limitations of the people's voice. Instead of the heavily-conditioned polyarchal democracy, there is the aspect of pluralism, which means to promote the "stability of democratic political systems" (Miller). Here, the people are divided into groups supporting one fundamental concept over another. These groups then have preferences over various public policies, in which the votes are determined largely by the decisions of the group with the group who have bounded towards that particular interest. The arguments defending this pluralist political theory include moderate behaviors and attitudes, as well as the distribution of political satisfaction (Miller). Individuals in a pluralist society have less violent tendencies in their preferences, creating a more moderate form of argument within the groups' interests. The theory also allows for the encouragement in using political strategies, maneuvers highly prevalent in the pluralist system. In pluralism, dialogue ultimately leads to mutual understanding and compromise, which…[continue]

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