This story was written by Christopher Kromphardt, Daily Eastern News
The quickly dwindling days of the primary season have raised a number of difficult questions, and the one getting the most attention at the moment - thanks primarily to Hillary Clinton's insistence on the seating of the full delegations from Florida and Michigan - is the position democracy holds in American government.
Harold Ickes, an adviser for Sen. Clinton, following the Democratic National Committee's decisions to allow those states' delegates half a vote each, said "This body of 30 individuals has decided that they're going to substitute their judgment for 600,00 votersnow that's what I call democracy."
Now pardon me, but is that not the idea behind Congress? 535 democratically elected representatives whose collective will is taken to represent that of the American populace? I acknowledge that the concept of a ruling body's will trumping that of the People isn't democratic; it's republican, a concept equally if not more integral to the federal government.
Democracy means rule by the people, whereas republicanism means rule by elected representatives. Even a cursory glance at the structure of American government shows that at every level representatives act on behalf of their constituents, and rarely are citizen's opinions considered on major issues.
The foremost exception to this rule is the initiative, which allows proposed laws to be placed on voters' ballots for approval. Like Congress, a majority of votes in favor leads to the proposal's adoption as law. Several states have adopted this form of governance. The initiative is the closest America comes to democracy on a large scale, but critics of it point out the considerable role money plays in statewide initiatives. Because the road from idea to law involves extensive signature-gathering, lobbying, and get-out-the-vote efforts, those proposals with significant financial backing stand a better chance of emerging from this gauntlet successful, while proposals with only modest funding typically suffer an ignominious fate at the hands of voter ignorance.
So is democracy really the ideal form of government? Clinton argues as such, and the American people seem to believe that America is the great bastion of democracy. However, examples such as Congress and the Supreme Court show that America relies on much more than democracy to function, and those states violated established rules by moving up their primary dates. Even the Clinton camp, back in September 2007, issued a statement approving the DNC's proposed calendar, which barred actions like Florida and Michigan's, and claimed that the calendar would "provide the necessary structure to respect and honor that role." It is only after the popular vote of those states became a crucial determinant in her quest for the nomination that she became such an advocate for the people.
This begs the question: does Clinton truly support democracy in all avenues of government, thus betraying her September statement, or is she taking advantage of the heartstring pull the ideal of democracy has on the American people? You decide.