How to Assess American Democracy?

Wassim Daghrir

Abstract


This article proposes a framework to evaluate the functioning of American democracy and to suggest, accordingly, suitable reforms. Reform, literally, means to form again, to reshape and restructure, sometimes to return to basic values that had been lost and sometimes to pursue newly emerging ones. It implies an improvement over the status quo in pursuit of some objective, and it is the question of goals and objectives that raise problems. This article’s main findings suggest that there are seven general values or criteria by which government and the political process – and therefore reform proposals – are to be evaluated. Governmental institutions and processes above all must be (1) effective, implying that its actions must be determined by a process of (2) reasoned and fair deliberation and judgment and that its operations should be (3) efficient. At the same time, government must be controlled and limited, leading to the criteria that apply to the citizenry: (4) responsiveness, (5) representativeness, (6) accountability and (7) participation. Any government that meets these criteria is very likely to be perceived as fair and legitimate by the governed, and is likely to be safe and protect liberties.


Keywords


American democracy, American constitution, evaluation framework, political reform.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18533/journal.v4i10.801

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