Does Democracy Ensure Freedom?
Question of Concept Analysis Notes and Essays
Does Democracy Ensure Freedom?
1. Model Case:
(a) In 1787 the United States Constitution called the federal government into existence, however the Founders did something very unique for the times in that they used the Constitution itself to expressly limit the powers of their own government. The reason they did this was that the people of this time had little trust in governmental officials with political power, even if those officials had been elected by themselves.
The American people were wise enough to realize that historically democracy had sometimes even been a threat to freedom, therefore those who wrote the Constitution had to carefully convince Americans that their governing powers would be limited, therefore ensuring individual freedom along with democracy.
v Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution expressly limits Congress to the exercise of only eighteen enumerated powers.
v The American people wanted democracy, however they did not want their fundamental rights to life, liberty and property infringed on by this very government.
v The American people wanted to make certain Congress would never be able to, say, require attendance at a certain church.
1787 Government begins
Article 1 Section limits Congress to 18 powers
People wanted a democratically elected government
People wanted to retain their rights to life, liberty and property.
Bill of Rights enacted
Should have been called “Bill of Prohibitions” because it expressly prohibited government from interfering with rights of the people
Democracy became a convenient and peaceful method in which to change elected officials and have freedom as well.
Freedom, while not the same as democracy, is a component of democracy and protected in the Constitution.
2. Contrary or Opposite Case:
(a) Democracy can be used as a cover for tyranny as often as it can be used as
a protection for liberty because while many countries call themselves
democracies and have elections they nonetheless systematically oppress their own people. North Korea calls itself the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” and China calls itself the “People’s Republic of China.” Yes, they do have regular elections, elected legislatures, and even some choice of candidates. However, realize that voting is mandatory and the only party allowed to run candidates is the Communist Party. Anyone who objects strongly or attempts to create another party may end up dead or in slave labor camps.
v Democracy places essential political power with the group rather than the individual which effectively makes everyone’s freedom subject to the passions or mob or those with the most money or power.
v Democracy is a method of deciding who shall rule, however does not determine the morality of the resulting government.
Democracy can be as tyrannical as a dictatorship
When voters decide to vote themselves money from the treasury, it ceases to be called freedom.
If most voters support freedom of speech, press, religion, their elected government will probably respect those ideals.
Government will probably respect those ideals, but there is no guarantee of that.
Government has popular support
No guarantee the government will protect your freedom
The word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution
Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution guarantees “to every State in this Union, a Republican Form of Government.”
3. Borderline Case:
(a) Ronald Reagan stated that “…man is not free unless the government is
limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and
predicable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty
contracts.” In essence President Reagan was saying that the more we
allow our government to take control of our day to day lives, the fewer
freedoms we will have. The only way to ensure freedom in our
democracy is to curtail the government’s power and stand up for the
rights of the people.
v Democracy and freedom are words we use interchangeably, especially in our invasion of Iraq, however their meanings are quite different.
v George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words,” that are repeated endlessly in the political arena, and freedom, democracy and justice certainly fall into that category.
v These political words are often used in a dishonest way
v Americans have been conditioned to believe that freedom and democracy are the same, therefore we tend to believe that democracy is inherently good.
Democracy is Majoritarianism
Majoritarianism could also contain freedom within its boundaries
The weaker party can be sacrificed.
The obnoxious individual may still be heard and have the freedom of expression
John Adams said that democracies grant revocable rights depending on the whims of the masses
John Adams further said that a republic exists to secure and protect pre-existing rights.
A truly democratic election in Iraq without US interference would certainly result in a Shiite theocracy.
Shiite majority rule in Iraq might mean complete political, economic and social subjugation of the minority
The outcome would be democratic
Would it be free?
4. Related Concept:
(a) What people think determines how they behave.
(b) This is a good related concept because controlling the behavior of people is simply a matter of shaping their world by defining the concepts that form the basis of their thoughts, therefore by defining democracy in a way that is appealing to the people, this shapes their ultimate behavior.
(c) Can we redefine concepts and ideas slowly, over a period of time to
accommodate the changes we desire?
(d) a) Model Case—The process of controlling people through language
has been fine-tuned to an absolute art by those in government, with
the cooperation of our media, educational institutions and
v The use of socially acceptable phrases bears this out.
v Politically correct thoughts are nothing more than those acceptable to the ruling establishment
v Principle, reason, logic or constitutional concerns have nothing to do with determining their degree of acceptability.
Successful thought process control
Acceptance of change
Change in situation
Unaware of change
Changes might be good for harmony and tranquility
People not paying attention, the danger is that the government can wield this kind of power.
Changes can be made at our expense
These changes might not be in our best interest
a) Our Founding Fathers added an amendment process to our
Constitution for the very reason that they believed it is morally
reprehensible four the government officials to use “stealth” to make
changes in how we are governed.
v While the nature of government may in fact be to con the people, we, as those governed, have some recognition of the fact that we are often conned. We even have a name for it—we call it “politics.”
v While there is a certain amount of apathy by the people being governed, we do tend to recognize when we are being ravaged and looted, especially in the economic realm. When our pocketbooks are hit hard we tend to look closer at those who are making the rules and pay attention to what they are saying vs. what they are doing.
We are fed deception on a regular basis
We have a realization of this deception.
Freedoms we enjoy today are the same as those in the past.
Americans realize the falseness of this statement, and know that our Nation is democratic in name only.
If the Founding Fathers rose from their graves today they would be proud.
No—they would each and every one know that we are a subjugated people who have traveled far away from their original intentions.
a) The behavior of people, while certainly influenced by what they are told, by the media, or by the politicians, is also influenced by the general savy-ness of the American people. We realize the limitations to freedom, beyond the idealistic concept.
v We are free to jump off a building, however there is a consequence.
v We are free in the individual sense until it conflicts with another’s freedom.
v The more people that exist in the world, the less individual freedom we will enjoy
We are told the President is a fine, upstanding, Christian man.
While we want to believe these things, especially about our chosen leader, we realize that just because we are told those things it doesn’t make them true.
We are told that we have absolute individual freedoms in our democracy.
We realize that we only have freedoms that don’t conflict with the freedoms of others.
5. Invented or Imaginary Case:
a) Person A has absolute freedoms in this world. He can say whatever
crosses his mind no matter how offensive it is to others, he has absolute
freedom of property, even if it involves taking property from others, he
has absolute freedom to pursue absolutely any road that gives him
pleasure of happiness, no matter if it tramples on anyone else’s happiness
or not. In Person A’s world, democracy does not exist, only freedom—his
v Person A decides he finds a certain woman attractive and decides to take her as his wife. The woman in this scenario has no rights, and must become the wife of someone she neither knows nor likes.
v Person A decides he only wants Baptist churches in the world, and every other person in the world must attend a Baptist church, no matter what their true religious affiliation.
v Person A decides that because shrimp is his favorite food that it must become mandatory for every person in the world to eat shrimp on Mondays.
Democracy for all
Decision to create a certain religion that all must follow
Freedom to choose our own religious beliefs
Decision to create a national mode of dress
Freedom to choose our own style of dress
Decision to require all human beings to attend six years of college
Freedom to choose whether or not and for how long we attend college
6. Social Context
(a) A sociologist might ask the question of personal freedom vs. the needs of
(b) A sociologist asks (and answers) the questions that shape our individual
behavior by shaping our social and economic surroundings. What we are as individuals is completely shaped by what we are born into.
(c) The determination of how Person A would evolve if he were given
absolute personal freedom as related to how the rest of the world would react to Person A’s freedoms to infringe on their own freedom is something that a sociologist would find fascinating. The world would evolve in a completely different manner than it presently does.
(d) This tells me that the concepts of absolute freedom, while ridiculous,
would have such an impact on the world as a whole. While we realize that absolute freedom is not a realistic concept in any way, the thought of how the absolute freedom of one would affect the freedom of millions is a fascinating concept.
7. Practical Results
(a) If the answer to “Does democracy ensure freedom,” was an unqualified
“yes,” then our world as we know it would be a much different place. If
the fact that we elect our officials guaranteed us unlimited personal
freedom, we would have to completely re-think our ideas about our
world and the people in it.
(b) If the answer to “Does democracy ensure freedom,” is “no”—which I
personally believe it is, then the real world is just as we currently see it—
we have a system that is probably the best thing out there, yet it has flaws
and problems that need to be addressed.
(c) These answers to the question tells me that while democracy certainly
does not equal freedom, that there is a learning curve there, and that
there are plenty of realistic things that can be done to improve our
system and guarantee maximum freedoms to the individual while
maintaining our democratic process.
8. Results in language:
v Social equality
v Lack of restrictions
v Free will
(b) I believe that the word “liberty” or “free will” best explains the concept
of freedom. We have free will on this earth to do what we will, and we
are guaranteed certain freedom by our Constitution, however there are
always consequences to free will or liberty. I see the word “consensus” as
the best description for democracy in that in a perfect world a consensus
of opinion creates a path that is desirable for the most people.
(c) Democracy involves a fundamental conflict between balancing the will of
the majority with the rights of the minority. King George III demonstrated
to the Americans the dangers of centralized control of power, and
Americans were very cognizant of not repeating that mistake. This is why
the concept of de-centralizing power came about. However Americans
were equally conscious of something known as “mobocracy” which could
be known as rule of the tyrannical majority and trample the rights of the
minority. One of the best attributes of the Constitution and Bill of Rights
was that it placed limits on majority decision making, and listed the
fundamental rights of citizens which guaranteed the absolute fundamental
political rights of the minorities as well as the majorities. Does democracy
guarantee freedom? Absolutely not, and most of us can point to instances
where freedom has been curtailed in ways that it perhaps should have not
9. Interior Dialogue
(a) Is there a better system than democracy, one that can afford the citizens
more individual freedoms? Although there are many changes that can be
made, and “tweaking” to do on our current system of democracy, like Winston Churchill noted, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.” So, yes, we need reform and certain changes (although we seem to be going in the opposite direction), but do we need to discard our present system of democracy and start all over? In my opinion, the answer is an unqualified “no.”
(b) Does democracy guarantee individual freedom? Absolutely not. The
power of the vote is essentially the power to control other people’s lives,
most especially their pocketbooks. The spread of democracy, as noted by
South Carolina Senator John Calhoun, tends to “separate the population
into the distinct classes of taxpayers and tax consumers.” Thus democracy
only ensures that we are taxed, or that we become the taxpayers and the
wealthy sector become the tax consumers.
10. Essay Outline
Does Democracy ensure Freedom?
Democracy is the system of government led by the great body of the people themselves (at least in theory) Democracy in reality can be a cover for tyranny and even in our “great” United States there are rumblings that votes are not being counted, that electronic voting makes fraud easier and undetectable, and that third parties like the Libertarians and Greens have virtually insurmountable obstacles as far as becoming a working part of our democracy. Democracy is essentially a method of determining who will rule, however it does not decide the morality of the resulting government.
Freedom can also be known as a person’s substantive rights, and give one the ability to control their own life and property. These are the core elements of freedom and include our rights to life, liberty, property, freedom of speech and press, right to trial by jury, freedom to travel, freedom of religion, freedom to educate your children as you see fit, the right to own and run your own business, the right to defend yourself which includes the right to own guns, and the right not to be spied on by the government. The Declaration of Independence holds these things to be “self-evident” and states that all men are created equal.
Democracy is rule by the majority of the people, freedom is the right of the individual. Democracy is no guarantee of freedom nor of peace.
While democracy is, in theory, supposed to support the wants and needs of the majority, there are instances of societies that didn’t have either elections or legislatures but in which the individual’s rights were strongly protected.
To have a free and peaceful world we must create a society where the inalienable rights of the individuals are respected and the powers of the government are strictly limited.
The objection would come certainly from those in power, those for whom the present way of government offers many benefits to those in power, to the wealthy, or the well-connected. These people would of course not want the status quo changed in any way, shape or fashion, for the present circumstances are exceptionally beneficial to their own liberties and freedoms, not to mention their pocketbooks.
Does a government controlled by those who have ostensibly been elected by
the people and for the people ensure the life, liberty and happiness of all the
rest of us?
Recap main points
v Our governing system as we know it came into being in 1787
v Even at that time in history the people who were implementing the system had some reservations.
v The people did not trust government officials even in that day and time and wanted assurances in place that would prevent the government from having too much control over our present-day lives.
v Parts of the Constitution limit Congress to certain powers
v Democracy can be used as a cover for tyranny
v Democracy in theory places essential political power with the group rather than the individual
v Democracy does not determine the morality of the resulting government.
v Although democracy and freedom are often used interchangeably, they are worlds apart in absolute definition.
v People are moved to behave in certain ways based on manipulation by those in power of words.
v Controlling human behavior is a matter of controlling what information they are given and what they think.
v Our media does a fabulous job of controlling human behavior and our political system feeds into the media.
v Absolute personal freedom is hardly the answer either as it can severely infringe on the personal freedom of others.
v Changes need to be made in our present system of democracy to ensure that money is not the deciding factor in the choice of those who govern.
v It is a practical impossibility for a dirt-poor man to be elected President of the United States in this day and age.
v Individual freedoms need to be protected, democratic values as we know them need to be altered.
Essay follows on next page…..
Does Democracy Ensure Freedom?
In this essay I will argue that democracy in no way equals freedom. Although our original Founding Fathers developed the Constitution of the United States that created the federal government as we know it, they also wisely used the Constitution itself to limit the powers bestowed on their own government. They did this for very specific reasons, most of which were centered around the people of the time who had little trust in governmental officials with political power. Not so surprising, actually, as these people had come to America to find the freedom that was missing in other countries. These simple people realized that democracy had, in some instances, been a threat to true freedom, therefore demanded that the governing powers be limited in their scope.
As we know democracy today, while it can be a protection for liberty, many countries call themselves a democratic nation, and in fact have elections, however consistently and systematically oppress their own people. Although Australia is ostensibly a democratic country, most citizens would tell you that is nothing more than a farce. The government is structured and run by a very few, and those few take great pains to ensure that a government that is truly for the people never comes into power. While the people are certainly allowed to vote, they are very limited in their choices, and often it comes down to the lesser of two evils rather than an elected official with the people’s best interests at heart.
Even President Ronald Reagan knew that men are not truly free unless they exist under a limited government. He also knew that as our population base continues to grow, the individual freedoms will grow lesser and lesser. When we as citizens of the United States show apathy and a refusal to change the things we complain about, we make the very system we are complaining about that much stronger, and our own personal freedoms that much weaker.
Although we often use the words “democracy” and “freedom” interchangeably, much of that is a result of the propaganda we are fed on a daily basis. Words are just that—words, yet we empower them with tremendous influence over our lives. Words are often used by immoral people in a dishonest way, yet even though we are not a stupid nation, and are certainly aware on some level of the deception involved, we choose often to turn an apathetic demeanor, assuming that one person cannot make a difference. This is where we are wrong, however; history shows unequivocally that one person can absolutely make a difference if they feel passionately about their beliefs. The media, entertainment industry and political area spoon-feed us what they want us to know, what they want us to believe. This in turn determines how we behave.
While our Founding Fathers believed it was morally reprehensible for our governmental officials to use “stealth” to determine how we are governed, the fact is that this kind of governing is an everyday occurrence. To truly have a free and peaceful world we would be required to create societies in which the inalienable rights of the individual are respected and the powers of the government are limited. This would mean, among other things, that our government would have to end the confiscation of property without trial, secret arrests, imprisonment without conviction and torture of prisoners. We would have to abolish sovereign-immunity laws which make government agents exempt from legal responsibility when they kidnap, steal, torture or murder. So you believe none of these things could possibly go on in America? Open your eyes—they go on daily in our great country.
These are the reasons the amendment process was added to our Constitution, and while it affords some protection, it surely does not protect us from our own government’s dishonesty. Absolute individual freedom would not be a great thing either, as the bestowment of absolute individual freedom would certainly infringe on the freedoms of others. Individual freedom only works if all those involved have an absolute respect for the individual freedoms of others; in other words you are free to do absolutely anything you desire so long as it does not hurt another human being, or infringe upon his rights to freedom. That is a difficult, and likely impossible balance to reach.
Unfortunately, our current system of democracy comes down to the “haves” versus the have-nots—a system that grows more beastly every day. While on the surface we are all created equal, the reality is that those who have the money are certainly head and shoulders above the rest of us and have a power that the poor in no way have.
I believe I have the right to not be spied upon by the Federal Government, and I believe that this practice will continue until the people of the United States remember that we are afforded this freedom, stand up en masse and say, “no more.” The tyranny of the rich ruling class will continue until we stop it, and if we choose not to stop it we are victims of our own apathy.
Democracy does not equal freedom, and freedom is hardly the same thing as democracy. Let’s bring them closer together!
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