Is America really a democracy

United States: Is America Still a Democracy?


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Now that critical journalism has weakened in television, there is still a counterweight to the government in America: the judiciary. But can she really play her role to the extent that the founding fathers wanted?

Let us turn to the "Bible" of democracy, the Federalist Papers. In it James Madison writes: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judicial, in the same hands (...) can rightly be seen as a defining characteristic of tyranny." It is no different from Thomas Jefferson in his autobiography: "A good government is achieved not through the concentration of powers, but only through their distribution." And Alexis de Tocqueville writes in his book About Democracy in America: "What repulses me most in America is not the freedom that prevails there, but the low level of protection against tyranny, because in some states the judges are even elected by the majority (...) I am not saying that in America one is from tyranny makes frequent use, I am simply saying that there is no security against tyranny there. "

Now it is not only Bush who owes his first presidency to a decision by the Supreme Court that was legally shaky. This court has been politicized by Reagan and Bush senior in their sense, and George W. Bush's second term of office could also be under the sign of a "conformity" of the judiciary (TIME No. 03/05). Richard Dworkin, one of the most important American constitutional lawyers, even fears: "Above all, the religious fundamentalists want to appoint judges who share their views in the courts, and Bush has complied with this wish by only nominating lawyers for the federal courts who are successful mark their conservative uncompromising attitude towards abortion, race, civil rights, labor protection, gay rights, religion or the environment. In fact, many of them are embarrassingly unqualified for judgeship (...) A Supreme Court dominated by Bush's candidates would probably have a whole Generation available in which it could destroy all those constitutional rights that the Court of Justice has built over decades. "

So again: is America still a democracy? The facts tell us that in the US there is a dramatic confrontation between democracy and populism, that is, between the advocates of democracy and those who are indifferent or even hostile to it. We are witnessing a crusade of populism against democracy. It is a victorious crusade for the moment, but if bad goes, it could drive American democracy to glorious doom.

It is fair to say that given the historical and political differences between the continents, Europe cannot learn a valid "lesson" from the American elections. But if we try anyway, then this lesson will be extremely "straightforward". It teaches us, first, that you win by winning non-voters and politicians disaffected - and less by wresting votes from your opponent.

Second, the American election teaches us: only with powerful messages can you get people to vote - with radical decisions of high existential importance. The American lesson teaches us, thirdly, that one does not counter one's political opponent by making concessions and giving the impression that one is pursuing the same policy, only better and more moderately. Fourth, the Bush election teaches us: Neither the reality content of election programs nor their ideological message is decisive. The decisive factor is the extent to which existential values ​​are relentlessly represented. The alleged opposition between "concrete economy" and "abstract values" has been taken ad absurdum. The left in particular has so far misunderstood that values ​​are also concrete, and as concrete as the material. Sometimes even more specifically.

So it is not decisive whether one speaks of values; what matters is which values ​​you mean. Before we get into that point, we should answer two questions: What is the superstition based on the talk that elections are "won in the middle"? And why is it that the conflict over values ​​is escalating in the heart of the West?