American Democracy : Is It Unhealthy And Who Is Blame?

1555 Words Mar 30th, 2015 7 Pages
American Democracy: Is it Unhealthy and Who is to Blame?
Despite being one of the oldest and most consistently stable democracies in the Western world, the American government, and American democracy as a whole, has frequently come under fire in recent years. Whether it is political parties, pundits, bloggers or citizens, Americans and non-Americans are all lining up to take shots at what they diagnose as a storied democracy crumbling before their eyes. Two of Robert Dahl’s criteria for a healthy democracy are enlightened understanding: are citizens able to acquire the political information necessary to participate in their own democracy, and control of the agenda: do the American senators and members of congress have exclusive and unmolested control of the issues debated and bills proposed in congress. Through specific examples, I will argue that the US government does indeed fail to foster enlightened understanding in their citizens or effectively limit external control of their agenda, but that its failure to adhere these two of Dahl’s criteria is a product of a modernizing world with centralized media and high monetary campaign and political costs.
Enlightened understanding refers to what extent citizens “…have equal and effective opportunities to learn about the relevant alternative policies and their likely consequences.” (R. Dahl, 1998, p 37). The simplest way to analyze how well the American government fosters enlightened understanding in their citizens is how well…

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