America is a democracy all right. And Americans vote on the wallets just as soldiers march on their stomachs.
Life is good here. Maybe it is a Matrix-like existence and maybe it isn't. But evena modest school teacher like myself can afford more than I should and live in calm and security.
Americans have the power to change their government whenever they wish. Here in America you are considered a bore if you harp too much about politics. We generally learn about politics as things go wrong and react in outrage if the mood suits us.
I don't believe in the Matrix and a range of other ongoing conspiracies. People are just too inept to have a master ring of control over everything. Look at how accurate the CIA was about Iraq and then rethink its ability to shape the world the way it wants to.
We are a complacent people. We need to see real damage at home before we will react. We like short speeches, and Americans react a lot more strongly to "let's nuke 'em and turn it into a glass desert" then we do to "In order to stave off terrrorism for the long run we need to better understand 'why they hate us'. It is far easier to paint the threat as evil and leaving it ill-defined.
But make no mistake about our political system being a democracy. Just because our first past the post system makes it difficult for smaller voices to be heard, does not mean that populism cannot shake people out of their seats in Washington.
We are also a capitalist system, and as in any other society I can think of, people with lots of money have an inordinate impact on the policies of our country.
Complacency lets the milionaires club rule through influence peddling. The people get the governmnet they deserve. That is democracy.
Working with John's definition of democracy: A government in which the supreme power is exercised by the people directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving free elections… the absence of class distinctions or privileges; then no. If "the absence of class distinctions or privileges" is part of the definition, no reasonable person could define America as a democracy.
America is more accurately defined as a capitalist society (for better or worse). Money buys political influence, favors, and power. This is true on both sides of the political aisle in America- left and right, democrat and republican. Though we elect our officials, they are/become subordinates of corporate wealth and desires. Money talks. Protest all you want. Vote with your head and your conscience. But have no illusions, your voice, the will of the People and the good of the population buys rhetoric and lip service. Money buys legislation. Money buys action. Money buys policy decisions.
I hate to sound so cynical, but even if an elected official starts out as an idealist with higher values and a broader, more enlightened vision, he or she quickly learns who signs the checks in America.
Perhaps I'm too cynical, but IMHO, a more accurate description of today's America would be a plutocracy.
1. the rule of power of wealth or of the wealthy.
2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.
Government by the rich and powerful. "A weapon in that struggle [between democracy and plutocracy] is the Court system, more often than not used to greatest effect by the plutocracy. An example is the series of injunctions taken out by European Pacific to prevent these matters being exposed [in the Media or Parliament]." [PCW p326]
Rule by wealth
a political system governed by the wealthy people
A plutocracy is a government system where wealth is the principal basis of power (from the Greek ploutos meaning wealth).
The word "democracy" has come to be nothing more than a corporate marketing buzzword employed by politicians as often as possible, preferably with the flag waving in the background and a patriotic score playing in the throughout. And the masses gobble it up like crack-flavored pringles, slapping American flag bumper stickers all over their cars and basking in their self-righteous, ethnocentric world view.
Of course the alternative would be to turn off the TV for awhile, start thinking critically and independently, and face the today's realities with a more educated and open-minded world view. I frankly can't see that happening.
Karl Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Karl, meet today's entertainment industry (television, Hollywood, professional sports, consumer electronics). The greatest ally the plutocracy has had, aside from the media, is the distraction, errrr... entertainment industry. We're sheep. Sheep who have become all too comfortable and do not wish to be inconvenienced by today's political and economic realities.
Of course, that's just my opinion. Sorry about the rant.