Critiques of Democracy

The United States often is singled out as a shining example of democratic governance; however, the U.S. system of governance is not immune to criticism. Scholars from the right and the left point out flaws in the U.S. system from its founding to its present state. An interesting feature of democratic governance is that loyal opposition and dissent are built into the system. Some democracies, including the United States, have benefited greatly from those who criticized the status quo. Not everyone who criticizes aspects of a democratic system is a detractor. On the other hand, not all criticisms are valid. In fact, some criticisms may be destructive or easily refuted. One asset of democratic systems is the ability to improve and reform successfully when faced with a legitimate criticism. Evaluating which criticisms provide an adequate justification for reform is a more difficult task.

To prepare for this Assignment:

  • Review the article “Democracy, Nationalism and Culture: A Social Critique of Liberal Monoculturalism” in this week’s Learning Resources. Take note of critiques of democracy in the article.
  • Review the articles “Plato’s Criticisms of Democracy in the Republic” and “Is Democracy Possible?” in this week’s Learning Resources. Pay particular attention to dissenting arguments about democracy.
  • Think about why critiques of democracy might be an important element of democratic governance.
  • Reflect on the role of critiques of democracy in reforming and improving democratic governance.
  • Using the knowledge you have gained from this course, the Learning Resources for this week, and/or your own research on democracy, select two critiques of democracy for this Assignment.
  • Consider (as they relate to governance and public policy) the validity of the critiques, their constructive or destructive nature, and how they might be rebutted.

The Assignment (3–5 pages):

  • Briefly describe the two critiques of democracy that you selected.
  • Evaluate them as follows (as they relate to governance and public policy):
    • Explain why and how the critiques might be valid and constructive.
    • Explain why and how the critiques might be invalid and destructive.
    • Explain how you might refute or support these critiques.
  • Share insights and/or draw conclusions based on your evaluation of critiques of democracy.
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