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Video transcript

what we're going to do in this video is dig a little bit deeper into the notion of democracy and the reason why this is going to be valuable is this going to inform the decisions that the founding fathers had to make when they thought about whether to ratify the Constitution it'll also inform our thoughts on government as it is today in the United States what flavor of democracy does it take on especially at different layers of government so just as a review and this is something that we have talked about in other videos democracy comes from Greek for from rule by the people demo from demos which is referring to people and crisi coming from Crotty a-- which is referring to rule so rule by the people now broadly speaking we can think of three general flavors of democracy the first we can consider to be participatory participant Ori democracy the second we can call pluralist democracy and I'll define these in a second and then the third let's call that elite democracy elite democracy now what do you think participatory democracy means based on the word participatory yes as you might have guessed it implies broad participation of the population broad participation what are examples of a participatory democracy well imagine a small town that has maybe a few hundred or a few thousand people and if there's an issue of whether to build a stoplight at an intersection or change some of the zoning laws you can imagine a large chunk of the town showing up to weigh in on that decision now what are some of the benefits of a participatory democracy and what are some of the the negatives well the benefits are and I'll do those as pluses a benefit is well it kind of seems closest to the original spirit of a democracy it's coming out of ancient Greece ancient Athens the birthplace of democracy where you did have residents go together and debate the major shoes although even in ancient Athens you have to take participation with a grain of salt because it wasn't everyone who was participating it was for the most part wealthy men who had the time to actually sit and debate these issues but if we want to give a participatory democracy its credit say in a small town is that you really are representing the views of the people representing the people well the people are directly involved now what are maybe some of the negatives well it can get logistically difficult we talked about a small town but what if the town gets a little bit bigger or what if we're dealing with a state or we're dealing with a country where we're talking about tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions or tens of millions of people how do you get all of those people to weigh in on an issue even logistically how do they get informed about it and are they even prepared to be to weigh in on those issues sure if you're in a town you can think about whether intersection should be there or whether they should put a stop light there but if we're talking about matters of national or international importance influencing hundreds of millions of people can you depend on people to be informed about the intricacies of the banking system or the military or foreign policy and so this is really a question of does this scale and there really aren't any good examples in history of direct democracy scaling in significant ways beyond fairly small groups of people in the United States the biggest scale where you might see this are in things like ballot measures at the city or the state level where people are directly voting on certain measures or certain laws but even there it's a limited scope for what the people will actually weigh in on now the next category that we talked about is a pluralist democracy pluralism is referring to the idea of many different parties same root as the word plural you have many things so you have many different parties and many different competing interests that are going to have a vigorous debate with each other on deciding what are the best ideas and what are examples of pluralist democracies if you think about the United States there are many different interest groups you could think about all the different lobbyists all of the different groups that represent different types of people trying to convince members of Congress either at the national level or even at the state level that their interest is right even within Congress even though you have two major parties you can have different factions that are really trying to argue it out now what are the benefits of a pluralist democracy well you can imagine that because there's this vigorous debate maybe the good ideas surface good ideas surface you don't have domination by just one party no one group one group or a small group of people domination but then on the other side of it maybe there are some negatives what might those be well maybe all of this debate and argument is very inefficient maybe it takes a little maybe it's slow decision-making slow decisions or in extreme no decisions some things like gridlock because people can't agree to things that in order for anything to get done you have to make too many people happy and they all have their interests maybe the opposite of good ideas surface maybe good ideas die because it's very hard to make everyone happy now the last category that we're going to talk about is the idea of an elite democracy and this is where you have more limited participation so in some ways it's almost the opposite of a participatory democracy so this is limited limited participation and even though I gave ancient Athens as an example of a participatory democracy it really was more of an elite democracy where the people had the time and the influence and the money those were the ones who are really weighing in on the issues of ancient Athens and if you were to go to the Roman Republic the Rome and Senators these were once again elite men so what would you think are benefits of an elite democracy well one might be that these elites so to speak maybe they are more educated than the general public and so that allows them to make more informed decisions they especially on things that are quite complex that would be hard for everyone to weigh in on if we're you're gonna change a new accounting standard or think about how do you how do you regulate the telecommunications industry or some very sophisticated trade negotiation or foreign policy negotiation that education might help and maybe it's also more decisive than either one of the pluralist or the participatory the participatory they might be able to appeal to maybe baser instincts just you know people's passions while the pluralists since you have all of these groups competing even if something makes sense they might not be able to make that decision but if you have a smaller more limited group limited participation maybe they can make these decisions a little bit clearer but what are the negatives here well the negative the clearest negative is well maybe this goes against the whole idea of a democracy if it's all about the elites maybe they do a good job at truly representing the interests of the people but maybe they are good at representing the interests of the elite so do they really represent represent the people is this a democracy where the people are sovereign were the people rule or is this an oligarchy where only a few people rule and they rule in their own interests and so after watching this video look at the world around you think about in the United States or whatever country you are watching from what elements of a participatory democracy do you see what elements of a pluralist democracy and what elements of an elite democracy do you see and as we'll see in other videos these dimensions of democracy were vigorously debated by the founding fathers when they thought about whether to ratify the Constitution will see this debate when we look at the anti Federalist Papers especially we'll look closely at Brutus number one we'll see this debate when we look at the Federalist Papers especially Federalist number ten written by James Madison and I'll let you decide when we look at that who was right and what flavors of democracy are most dominant in the United States at different levels
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