The Theories of Democracy

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July 4, 1776 was the date that the United States of America gained its freedom from the monarchy of Great Britain. The U.S. citizens could not take anymore of King George III’s rule and fought for a different government system, one where they could have a voice and independence. The U.S. was founded based upon these desires and therefore they formed a democracy. The question however, is which kind of democracy did the U.S. become? There are three theories of which America could be, being pluralist, elitist or direct. A pluralist democracy consists of groups that are formed by people who share a common interest and compete against other groups, while an elitist democracy is the belief that those with power and money are the only ones that influence the government and lastly in contrast, a direct democracy is a system in which the individual citizen directly participates in politics (“Who Governs?” 2016). All three theories of democracy can be viewed inside America. Chinatown and Little Italy are examples of a pluralist democracy because they keep to their own culture while continuing to contribute to the U.S. with their opinions (“Examples of Pluralism” 2016). Senators and house representatives can be considered elitists, due to the fact they hold a political position where they have a direct voice to the situation, which also most likely means they came from a wealthy family and were given a superior education. For instance, Barack Obama, the first black president came from Hawaii, a very expensive state due to tax imports and attended a private school. It was found that in a 2003 survey, 41% of house representatives and 46% of senators had their children attend private schools. It was also recorded that an amendment to provide scholarships to students from low performing public schools was turned down because that would have meant those students would have been able to attend schools in the same area as the congressmen's children (Chen, 2011). Many believe that America is a direct democracy because the constitution states “we the people.” Although this historical document is meant to determine the country belongs to the voices of the individuals, the United States can be best explained to be a pluralist democracy.

Although many congressmen are considered to be elitist, they are chosen to be the people’s representatives. Individuals all have a standpoint on what they desire. To make these desires come true, they form into a group. For example, democrats and republicans. These groups of people who have common beliefs on how the government should be run bond together and choose a representative. This representative is the larger voice for all the individuals that make up the group and despite they are part of a higher class, they maintain the same interests, therefore the elitist is more of a group member than above the rest. Another example was, “In Sturges vs. Crowninshield the question was whether the State of New York had the power to pass a bankrupt law, it being alleged that the power to pass bankrupt laws was vested exclusively in Congress.” (Ritcher, 1929, p. 515).

Both the state government and congress in this case, were the competing groups that were fighting over who had the power to pass the law, bringing the question which group has more power? The U.S. is considered to be a melting pot, being one of the more diverse nations with all kinds of different ethnicities, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. All these different beliefs mean that these groups compete for different objects, such as money, power, resources, anything that would be in the groups best interest. This competition may create some conflict but overall is more beneficial since each group is able to listen, understand, and respect one another (Norman, 2018, p. 2).

America is a society with a democratic government system to express its ultimate value of freedom. It involves representation but is a pluralist democracy. Individuals make up a group who have an elitist that speaks for their beliefs but is considered an equal member because of shared ideals. Many groups within the U.S. compete against each other over what they want or believe is best for that group, making the pluralist democracy theory the best theory to describe the United States of America.

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The Theories of Democracy. (2019, Feb 13). Retrieved May 29, 2024 , from

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