American Government and Politics
Spring, 2000

Kenneth Janda, Instructor

Week 3, Lecture 1

Democracy and the Constitution

Week 3, Le
Administrative Matters
  • Importance of viewing Videopaths
    • Will be a component of your section participation grade: 4 of 15 points
    • We will have knowledge of who accessed the site
    • Look at results 
  • Are there problems with Internet connections?
  • "Democracy, the Musical" on our web site


A Democratic View of Elite Theory

  • Traditionally, Elite Theories are regarded as undemocratic models 
  • A democratic view of elite theory
    • Only elites internalize democratic values of tolerance and freedom of speech
    • The Irony of Democracy: It's a good thing that elites rule; the masses would not practice democracy

Two models of democracy: majoritarian & pluralist
  • Let us revise the Constitution with the exclusive objective being to maximize majoritarian democracy, which means redesigning institutional mechanisms. 
  • We are transformed into "The People's Convention to Revise the Constitution of the United States."
  • Call to the Convention:
    • "Whereas the Constitution of the United States, as ratified and adopted in 1788, contains many patently undemocratic features that serve to block the operation of a majoritarian model of government, and 
    • "whereas those assembled here are interested primarily in increasing governmental responsiveness to the popular will, 
    • "we do hereby convene as an august and sovereign body to define, create, and otherwise establish a new set of political institutions intended to maximize governmental responsiveness to public opinion."
  • By-Laws of this Convention:
    • Proposals are limited to procedural desiderata: no proposals that bear on the substance of government policy will be considered.
    • Proposals must serve the intent of maximizing majoritarian democracy.
    • Proposals are invited under these categories:
      • Changes in the structure and powers of present national bodies: 
        • How should we change the presidency?
        • How should we change the Congress?
        • What should we do about the Supreme Court? 
      • Changes in eligibility to vote?
      • Changes in powers of the national and state government?
    • All proposals must be accompanied by a reasoned argument for its contribution to maximizing democracy.
    • Worthy arguments will be published in the Populist Papers, which we will publish to help sell the new majoritarian constitution to the American people.
  • All proposals can be challenged from the floor as being counter-revolutionary, if they do not actually promote majoritarian democracy.
cture 2