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RE: [dvd-discuss] Lexmark Decision

  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: noah silva [mailto:nsilva@atari-source.com]
  > Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2003 2:33 PM
  > To: dvd-discuss@eon.law.harvard.edu
  > Subject: Re: [dvd-discuss] Lexmark Decision
  > > >As an aside:  My friend (not from the US) recently asked 
  > me "If the
  > > >polls show that less than 50% of Americans  support war 
  > in Iraq? Then
  > > >why is the US there?  Isn't it a democracy, doesn't 
  > majority rule?".
  > > 
  > >   No, the United States is a  Representative Republic, 
  > not a Democracy.  We
  > > don't vote on our laws.   We elect the representatives 
  > who make our laws.
  > > There's a big difference, for better or worse.
  > > 
  > > >   In this case, it may have been the president's 
  > decision (though he should
  > > >do what the public that elected him wants I would 
  > think!), but in most
  > > >cases, it is congress/senate that passes things through...
  > > 
  > > The alternative is the coalition system, where the 
  > government can be
  > > effectively ousted at any moment by a vote of no 
  > confidence.  This is
  > > the political system in place in England, and the result 
  > is that the
  > > Prime Minister, or President, or head of state finds himself bound
  > > tightly to the opinion polls.  Any single false move can 
  > result in the
  > > collapse of his government.  Such a political system essentially
  > > eliminates the ability of government officials to make independent
  > > decisions.
  > More and more I like Switzerland's "Direct Democracy", 
  > where individual
  > citizens vote on each law, bymail, or computer.  
  > Originally, I thought
  > this was a bad idea, as individuals can be more racist, sexist,
  > ignorant, etc. than Senators, etc. usually are when they 
  > have to face
  > the people they wronged.  It has worked out rather well for 
  > Switzerland
  > though.  
Actually, the US founders were very much opposed to "Direct Democracy". They considered it to be not much better than mob rule.  Thus the need for a set of "rights" that could not be voted out by the majority to the detriment of the minority and that had to be applied equally.  Even with flaws, the US Constitution serves this purpose well.

  > > In the U.S., you have the opportunity to force a change 
  > in government
  > > every 2, 4, or 6 years, for Representatives, the 
  > President, or Senators
  > > respectively, but not every day or every hour.  I believe 
  > that this leads
  > > to better government, as our elected officials are not as 
  > closely bound
  > > to opinion polls, but are still subject to removal on a 
  > regular basis.
  > > 
  > The problem is that I as a voter don't have a choice in who 
  > to elect, I
  > only realistically have a choice between two people pushed 
  > in front of
  > me.  I just get to choose the one I dislike the least, 
  > based upon the
  > limited information available to me, and what the canidate 
  > says.  Then,
  > if the canidate lied (or "Changes his mind"), too bad.  
  > i.e. Bush's [Sr]
  > "Read my Lips: No New Taxes" quote.
  > > >and it has become abundantly clear that senators and
  > > >congresspeople vote the way they want to (or they are told to..),
  > > >not the way their constituants want them to.
  > > 
  > > ... and here's the rub.  Congresspeople have two groups 
  > of constituants.
  > > The people who vote for them, and the groups that give 
  > them campaign
  > > money.

I think that this problem was exacerbated by the XVII amendment (1913).  By allowing senators to be directly elected, it made it easier for big money to influence the senatorial selection process (when you review the history regarding this amendment, you will see that big money was behind it while promoting it as a democratic reform).  When the state legislatures elected the senators, special interest groups would have to legally 'bribe', ahem, I mean contribute to many more representatives in order to get the senators elected to do what they wanted and makes it much more difficult to influence the actual senators through contributions.