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Counterintuitive Behavior. To render the selection less than wholly accidental, all those upon whom the lot falls are subjected, before taking up their duties, to a rigorous dokimasiaor character examination, conducted by the Council or dissertations and thesis database courts. The candidate must show Athenian parentage on both sides, freedom from physical defect and scandal, the pious honoring of his ancestors, the performance of his military assignments, and the full payment of his taxes; his whole life is on this occasion exposed to challenge by any citizen, and the prospect of such a scrutiny presumably frightens the most worthless from the sortition.
If he passes this test the archon swears an oath that he will properly perform sample essay of argumentative essay obligations of his office, and will dedicate to the gods a golden statue of life-size if he should accept presents or bribes.
You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
The state includes the dead, the living, and the coming generations. Each of us has a right to cast a vote for an individual to represent us in the legislative assembly.
The elected person then goes off to represent all of his constituents, whether they voted for him or not, indeed, whether they have even voted. How is he to look at issues and how is he to vote assuming, for the moment, that he has a free vote in parliament. Should he vote on the basis of what he perceives the majority of his constituents want, right or wrong; or, as Burke suggests, does he vote his own conscience, vote as a "better and more informed person" than his average constituent; or does he, as it seems our system obliges, just vote the party line.
Popular election, as thus practised, instead of a security against misgovernment, is but an additional wheel in its machinery. The problem, as is so clearly set forth by Mill, is quite aside from the further and separate problem "that issues at stake in political life are too many and too complicated and that very many of them [issues] are actually unknown both to the representatives and to the people represented.
It would not be enough to make a man competent to decide whether to amputate a leg, and it is not enough to qualify him to choose war or peace, to arm or not to arm, to intervene or to withdraw, to fight on or to negotiate.
When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute.
There is an inherent tendency in opinion to feed upon rumors excited by our own wishes and fears. We should never hope or aim to choose a bully, but the elective process will give no guarantee that the people will not end up with one.
Democracy, no matter its imperfections, is a way by which the people can bloodlessly turn out leaders; but, the democratic process will only work with the consent of the leaders. The best that can be expected of a constitutional democracy, the best that can be expected by any political system, is a process by which the people turn up a leader or leaders which are prepared to deal with both the bullies amongst us and those at our borders.
Hopefully, the leader or leaders, so turned up by the "democratic process," do not turn out to be a worst set of bullies then that which might exist in an ungoverned state.
If, in the "democratic process," an elected leader turns into a bully; well, then, one should not rely on democracy, except as a rallying cry, to turn him out. To turn out a powerful bully, great quantities of spilt blood are needed.
The people have acquired power which they are incapable of exercising, and the governments they elect have lost powers which they must recover if they are to govern. They can elect the government. They can remove it. They can approve or disapprove its performance. But they cannot administer the government. They cannot themselves perform. They cannot normally initiate and propose the necessary legislation.
A mass cannot govern. Where mass opinion dominates the government, there is a morbid derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern.
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Democracy is not a government; it is a way of thinking, a responsibility.