Term Paper Assignment


TermPaper Assignment


I.INTRODUCTION– this will provide the background of the issues to be discussed inthe paper and provide an analysis of what will be discussed in thepaper.

II.MADISONIANDEMOCRACY – this section would provide a brief summary of theMadisonian democracy and how this form of democracy aligns with thedemocratic values of popular sovereignty, liberty, and equality.

III.POPULISTICDEMOCRACY – this section would provide a brief summary of thepopulistic democracy and how this form of democracy aligns with thedemocratic values of popular sovereignty, liberty, and equality.

IV.POLYARCHALDEMOCRACY – this section would provide a brief summary of thePolyarchy democracy and how this form of democracy aligns with thedemocratic values of popular sovereignty, liberty, and equality.

V.THEORY OF SUBCONSTITUENCY POLITICS –this section would offer asummary of the theory and discuss how it considers the values ofdemocracy.

VI.ANALYSIS–this section would tend to concentrate on the thesis of the paper

VII.CONCLUSION – this part would offer closing remarks and personalopinion on the issues discussed.

Governmentdemocratic theories argue that the outcomes of public policy mustmirror the will of the majority. Dahl discusses this common idea inhis arguments concerning different democracies. In case the majorityof Americans opposes or favors a given policy, it is obvious thattheir representatives would abide by their wishes (Kriesi,2013). It is apparent that most of American politics observers seethis as the representation that grossly identifies with the mannerthat things actually work. However, in the book “Tyranny of theMinority”, Bishin provides a compelling theory, which tends toexplain why politicians do not live up to the democratic idealalways. According to the Bishin’s subconstituency theory, there arepowerful motivations for Congress members to furnish the concerns ofparticular minority interests even if the concerns contradict thewill of the majority (Bishin,2009). The subconstituency theory is of the opinion that most ofcitizens usually know little and care less concerning most politicaldevelopments. The aim of this paper is to discuss the extent thattheories evaluated by Dahl are consistent with Bishin’s theoryconcerning how American politics work subconstituency politicstheory will be discussed.

II.Madisonian Democracy

TheMadisonian idea of democracy can be understood as a model, whichfavors a compromise amid the power of the minority and majority so asto avoid a non-tyrannical republic. The Madisonian democracy isperceived as an attempt of balancing the political equality of alladult citizens on one side and the desire of limiting theirsovereignty on the other (Dahl,2006). The chief problem with the Madisonian democracy is that thereare many unspoken presuppositions and premises in achievingpractically the compromise amid the equal rights of the majority andthe liberties of the minorities of certain power, status, and wealth.Madisonian idea of democracy attempts to protect minorities from theabuse of the majority the tension amid the two is balanced byincorporating universal voting rights, where institutions control thesupremacy of legislative majorities (Dahl,2006). Madisonian democracy tends to protect the minorities throughconstitutional mechanisms like checks and balances, a bill of rights,and representation. This kind of democracy has been indicated by Dahlto put heavy accent on the liberal principle Madisonian democracyseeks to protect the liberties of certain minorities (Kriesi,2013). Madisonian democracy goes ahead and prevents the tyranny ofthe majority, while still keeps the boundary of democracy. Thisimplies that it supports the principle of popular sovereignty. On theother hand, since it tends to bring a balance between the interestsof the minorities and majorities, Madisonian democracy tends tosupport the value of equality. However, although the interests of theminority are protected by this kind of democracy, the majority stillemerge as the big beneficiaries practically. Thus, this democracy isquestioned on promotion of equal rights between the minorities andmajorities.

III.Populistic Democracy

Thiskind of democracy clearly stands in contrast to the Madisonian ideaof democracy. In populistic democracy, the majority has unlimitedpower. Theoretically, populist democracy favors political equality,popular sovereignty and majority rule it tends to restrain the powerof the majority in practice (Dahl,2006). This is indicated, especially when one mirrors on theempirical fact that in every society, a ruling class is likely todevelop over time. The chief question that emerges is how realisticit is for an individual to demand equality and from where. It is notclear whether one should hand back the controlling powers to societyand rely on voluntary self-restraint, or one should favorinstitutional security mechanism like the Supreme Court. Dahl raisesthis question and indicates a serious problem of this democracytheory. According to Dahl, populistic democracy is not in a positionto deal with an indifferent voter and cannot deal with ties. Besides,it cannot be in a position to deal with intensity of preference andcannot be satisfied using any practical voting method. Dahl raisesobjections of this kind of democracy on its attempt to maximizepopular sovereignty and political equality at the expense of allother political goals.

IV.Polyarchal Democracy

Accordingto Dahl, this kind of democracy comprises of a complex descriptiveprocedure because it tends to look at different forms of socialorganizations and attempts to identify those patterns that favordemocratic arrangements and participation (Dahl,2006). The chief problem associated with the idea of this democracyis that it has to consider a variety of circumstances andexperiences, which its proposals in the end become chaotic ormeaningless while applying it to a specific case like America.Polyarchy democracy characterizes a form of political system that isinclusive, open and competitive (Kriesi,2013). In reality, polyarchy democracy is guided on the principle ofrepresentation instead of direct democracy. Therefore, it constitutesa kind of minority rule. Besides, in polyarchy, there is imperfectdemocracy because the power of the elite groups is limited byinstitutions like regular and free elections. This kind of democracyis likely to support democracy for the majority in its operationalterms. According to Dahl, polyarchy does not identify the group inwhich it is going to apply and is usually subject to the iron law ofoligarchy (Dahl,2006). In addition, this democracy can allow the majority toterminate a system. This makes this kind of democracy accept thevalues of liberty, equality, and popular sovereignty.

V.Theory of Subconstituency Politics

Thetheory of subconstituency offers an explanation concerning howpoliticians defeat the problem of individual disinterest. Usually,politicians exploit a broadly accepted characteristic of peoplethrough energizing groups around concerns. This is a common findingto see people form groups based on their interests, outlooks andexperiences. It is these groups that politicians use in order to getinto the positions they require. Subconstituency theory of politicsperceives group as a constellation of individuals, organized or not,that share a social identity which owes to a common experience thatresults to shared preferences and concerns (Bishin,2009). The subconstituency theory of politics explains the behaviorof politicians in a democratic process. According to this theory, thesuccess of a political representative is usually determined byhis/her ability to convince the different supporters insubconstituencies. According to the Bishin’s subconstituencytheory, there are powerful motivations for Congress members tofurnish the concerns of particular minority interests even if theconcerns contradict the will of the majority (Bishin,2009). The subconstituency theory is of the opinion that most ofcitizens usually know little and care less concerning most politicaldevelopments. The subconstituency politics theory supports the ideaof equality, which translates to ‘one man one vote’ and how wellpoliticians can win by considering the views of the minority.


Consistencyof Dahl Evaluation with Bishin’s Description of American Politics

Theevaluation of Dahl is consistent with that of Bishin on the issue ofrepresentation in indicating how the American politics work.According to Bishin, the American politics work in a way such thatone has to seek support from different groups that have differentjoining forces. Although these groups may not be politicallyinclined, politicians can activate latent identities through raisingrelevant issues to create or activate new groups (Bishin,2009). Politicians use groups because they realize that groups arepowerful. In order to win the groups, politicians have to identifyand raise issues that are designed to highlight what individuals in agroup have in common. It is through these groups that a politicianand his political ideas become manifested. Therefore, Bishin is ofthe opinion that although groups may be perceived to have interestsof a certain minority group, they are very critical in politics(Bishin,2009). Representation is thus seen as the basic element forming theAmerican politics.

Theidea of representation as being the basis for American politics isnot different from that of Dahl from the evaluation that he makes.According to Dahl, polyarchy democracy emerges as the best form ofdemocracy for Americans since it is inclusive, open and competitive.Polyarchy democracy is guided on the principle of representationinstead of direct democracy (Dahl,2006). Therefore, it constitutes a kind of minority rule, which isadvocated for by Bishin. Therefore, both Bishin and Dahl areconsistent with the idea of representation in forming the ground forAmerican politics.

Towhat extent and how does subconstituency politics address and resolvethe tension among the competing values that Dahl identifies

InDahl’s evaluation, he lays out the problem of democratization interms of the degree to which a political system satisfies thepreferences of its citizens. This preference satisfaction is assumedto rely upon the extent to which the political system allowseffective opposition to the regime that is prevailing. The chiefprinciple forming the arguments presented by Dahl concerns themajoritarian democracy. As Dahl presents his ideas, he seems to argueon the principle of majority will. However, subconstituency politicstends to address the tension between the minority and the majorityprinciple. Subconstituency politics argues that minority rule canhelp in solving political problems that are brought about by themajority rule. Majority rule may tend to make the interests of theminorities not be represented in a political system, but the minorityrule allows for openness and inclusion. It is possible to bring outthe democratic values of sovereignty, liberty and equality throughthe use of the minority rule. Therefore, subconstituency politicsaddresses the issue of maintaining democratic values of liberty,equality, and sovereignty through the use of the minority rule.

Specifically,which value conflicts does subconstituency politics resolve and bywhat mechanism?

Thevalue conflicts that subconstituency politics try to resolve isdemocratic representation. There is a conflict between the use of themajority and minority rule. When the majority rule is used, theinterests of the minority are ignored. However, through the minorityrule, it is possible to include the interests of almost everyindividual regardless of whether they are politically inclined ornot. This makes minority rule solve the conflict betweenrepresentation of the interests of minorities and majorities.Subconstituency politics uses the mechanism of groups in resolvingthe conflict. According to subconstituency politics, it is possibleto form a representative political system through taking intoconsiderations of different group interests. It is throughconsideration of the different groups that interests of every groupwould be incorporated into the political system. This is seen ascritical since almost the interest of all individuals is representedin the political system. Therefore, subconstituency politicsperceives groups as significant in solving the problem ofrepresentation.


Fromthe analysis of the ideas presented by Dahl and Bishin on the issueof majority rule and minority rule in the attainment of democracy, Ithink both are right considering the argument that they considerrepresentation as being the main issue that the American systemshould focus on. Although Dahl is seen to offer limitations to thedifferent forms of democracy, he does not seem to make corrections onwhat these forms of democracy should include or remove in order tomake them better. However, through indicating his preference, it isclear on what kind of democracy he can support. In personal opinion,I think the best suited form of democracy that can work well with theAmerican system is that of considering the minority rule. This isbecause through the concentration of particular interests ofdifferent groups, it would be possible to represent differentindividuals having different opinions, which shows representativedemocracy. Besides, this form of political system is favorablebecause it would tend to initiate competition amid politicians.Competition is important in politics because it helps people to havedifferent leaders that they can choose from.


Bishin,B. G. (2009).&nbspTyrannyof the minority: The subconstituency politics theory ofrepresentation.Philadelphia, PA: Temple Univ. Press.

Dahl,R. A. (2006).&nbspApreface to democratic theory.Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Kriesi,H. (2013).&nbspDemocracyin the age of globalization and mediatization.Hampshire:Palgrave Macmillan.