Sample Scholarship Essays

Majority Rule Guarantee of Democracy

What is majority rule? Majority rule is where a group, party, or faction has more than half the votes (Websters). The statement In theory and in practice, majority rule is not a reliable guarantee of democracy is true of the US government today. It is hard for the majority to rule in the United States government, even with the system of checks and balances. There are so many interest groups and organized groups of citizens who can undermine majority rule in our government. These groups cut into our democracy and buy their way into our government, thus influencing policy. Especially in todays government where there is not a clear majority, and the era of candidate politics exists, interest groups have a great advantage.Not to mention that our government is a republican democracy, not a pure democracy, which means that the people elect the person who gets the majority of the votes to represent them in government. In a republican democracy the candidate is more susceptible to flaws and is more likely to take money from major corporations to win an election. In the paper I will be looking at articles that illustrate arguments for and against the statement that majority rule is not a reliable guarantee of democracy.

In the essay Why We Still Need Real Political Parties, Kay Lawson argues that the political parties of the United States have moved from party politics to candidate politics where there is more emphazisis placed on the candidate, which makes them more susceptible to the mercy of elites, interest groups, and other small groups of organized citizens, rather than the issues.Lawson says that the modern day political parties do not perform the tasks that they were given since the day they were founded. She says that they used to aggregate interests, recruit candidates, structure the vote, and they provided a means of holding elected officials accountable. Her argument is that now is that the elites and interest groups have the candidate by the throat, making it hard for them aggregate interest, even though it may look like they do. Thus, the candidate will not aggregate his or her interests to that of the constituents, but rather to the interests of the interest group or elites that are supporting them. Next, Lawson says that parties recruited and trained candidates and now, she says, that they do not do this any more because the candidate is recruited by the interest group, not by the party, todays parties do not perform the second function of recruiting candidates.Her third argument is structuring the vote. She says that todays parties do structure the vote, but not by using the party label. She says that the parties of today do not control their own nominations, and that their party label is now associated with the interest group they represent which have become their nominations. This idea is almost one hundred percent true in the party system today. For example, The National Rifle Association is known for its representation by the GOP, and the Pro-Choice interest group is represented by the Democratic Party. Finally, Lawsons fourth argument is that the only thing that holds the elected officials accountable is the force that is needed to open a wallet. In other words, the elected official is only accountable to the interest group, not to his party. They have to represent the interest group other wise the money is not going to be there. Over all Lawson believes that the government has been taken over by the elites and interest groups, therefore not representing the majority in government.
The counter argument to Lawsons essay is that a system of checks and balances protects the majority from the factions that may undermine democracy. In The Federalist, No. 10 the author James Madison forewarns the people to watch out for factions, especially majority factions. Madison knows that factions are sown in the nature of man, so by destroying factions he says you destroy liberty. He also says that if you could give the citizens the rights of the factions to even out the playing ground between the citizens and the factions, but that is irrational and impossible. So what to do? Madison created a system of checks and balances to neutralize the power of the factions. So if an interest group had its way on the congress, there would still be the President and the Supreme Court to keep the Congress in check. The point is that in theory and maybe fifty years ago this would be true, but now, in practice this idea of checks and balances does not work. The problem is that Madison designed this idea of checks and balances over two hundred years ago. The question is does this system still hold up today, with the overwhelming amount of interest groups in America today? I think that the system of checks and balances does not work today, with over seven hundred interest groups in America today that have deep pockets and an enormous amount of resources, they can tap into each division of government and influence them all, thus canceling out the system of checks and balances and overruling the majority.

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Next, with the low number of citizens participating in government it is hard to call them a majority. Only about forty nine percent of Americans vote in a presidential election, even less in non-presidential elections. So how is it possible to call these forty nine percent of Americans a majority, when clearly it is not a majority? In the essay Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam describes the problem of declining citizen participation in government and social activities, which he believes is harmful to our democratic values. Less and less, voter turnout is decreasing, so less and less people are not caring about government. A generalization could be made that the people who participate and care about government have a high socioeconomic status and are more likely the people being represented by the interest groups or have a strong stance on a certain issue. They give them money and support to back up their ideas, which threatens majority rule.
Everett Carll Ladd, made another point in the essay The No Majority Realignment Continues, which says that there is not a clear majority in todays political parties. If there are not any clear majorities between the two parties, then that meant that there is not a clear majority between the participating citizens of the United States who are represented by the parties. So this essay helps to support the Bowling Alone essay by Putnam. Putnam says that there is low citizen participation and that hurts the US democratic values, so even if there is only a small number of citizens participating and who care about the government today, and there is not a clear majority between them to set one group aside and say they are the majority leader, which in practice does not guarantee democracy to them.

The essay Of Political Parties Great and Strong by Everett Carll Ladd argues against the idea that less citizen participation threatens democratic values. Ladd says that since there is not a lot of voter participation he seems to think that the people are happy with the status quo, and if there was more participation and stronger parties then that would mean that the people would want a stronger government…right? How so? This essay counters the Putnam essay by the way that Putnam believe that less citizen participation in government is bad and threatens democracy, while Ladd seems to think that the reason why there is a low number of citizens participating in government is because they like the government the way it is. They do not want a strong government, otherwise if they did they would participate more. This may be true for some people, not everyone though. So not having a large number of citizens participating in government can lead to interest groups undermining the majority.
In conclusion, majority rule does not always guarantee democracy. The growing number of interest groups and organized groups of citizens who can buy their way into government and make it hard from the majority to rule. Looking at essays about interest groups and voter participation you are able to see how you do not have to be in a majority group to rule. Kay Lawsons essay suggests that the political parties of today have been captured by elites and other insiders; these elites and other insiders do not represent the majority, but a small number of citizens. James Madison suggests that factions will not be able to take over government and undermine the majority. In theory the idea of checks and balances sounds good, but in practice it does not work now a days because the interest groups and insiders play a part in every area of government, congress, president, and Supreme Court. Low voter participation also plays a key role in having interest groups run government. If people really do not care about what is going on in government and the only people who do care belong to an interest group. Again, interest groups have the high hand over the majority in democracy. So in theory and in practice, majority rule is not a reliable guarantee of democracy.


Bibliography:
American politics BY: Cigler and Loomis

Majority Rule: Guarantee Of Democracy?

Swiss Bank Controversy: Whos Money Is It?
It is hard to imagine having everything you ever owned taken away in a split second. Many Jews experienced this after the years of oppression by the Nazi regime. The Jews had everything stripped away: their families, their possessions, their futures, and their dignity. I would give that money away for anybody. I should have had some relatives survive. I mean most of my friends, they had sisters, or cousins, or aunts or somebody to belong to. I had nobody, said Gizella Weisshaus (Jones 1996). It has been about fifty years now since the end of the Holocaust. Up until recent times, the survivors of the Holocaust have decided that they deserve their money that they put into the neutral Swiss bank accounts before the war. They did this to protect their assets from the Nazis. This then provides the controversy, fifty years later, do the Holocaust survivors and their families deserve the money back from the Swiss banks, or are the Swiss banks even responsible for paying back the money? The controversy first arose with Gizella Weisshaus, when she could not receive her fathers money after the war ended because she did not know her fathers bank account number. When she was a young girl, her father had been taken away to the concentration camps. As he was being taken away, he mentioned to her that he had put money away in a Swiss Bank account and that she should go and claim it when the war ended. Years after the war she went back to claim the money, and the teller told her that with out an account number she could not do this. They then told her it would take five years to research the dormant account; therefore she would have to wait. Her response was, It made me angry that even now they claim they need five years to find these dormant accounts, as if fifty years wasnt enough (Jones, 1996). Weisshaus was the first one to raise the red flag of the Swiss Bank controversy. Which has three main sides to the issue, the Swiss side, the United States side, and the side of the Holocaust victims. The Swiss believe that they do not owe the survivors and their families any money because of the laws that protect them. They said that they are a neutral country and that the money put into the accounts was not claimed in time. The United States took the position that if the money belonged to the victims of the Holocaust, the money then should be returned back to them, regardless if the claim is made one or fifty years later. The money belongs to the victims just as it did before the war. The Holocaust victims position is that they are owed this money back because it was theirs in the first place before the war, no questions asked.

Switzerland was a neutral country at the time of the war, and is still a neutral country at this period of time. The Swiss position on this controversy is that they do not believe that they owe the unclaimed money to the Jewish survivors and their families, if there is not proper documentation to back up the claims. The Swiss are examining the situation and are unable to conclude what happened to the money in the accounts and where the money went. The Swiss are very defensive with the allegations from the Jewish survivors. They do not like being accused of destroying bank accounts and being called an ally to the Nazis during the war (Border 2, 1998). That, therefore, is the reason why the banks are so hesitant to giving the money back to the survivors. They have a valid excuse why the documents may be gone after fifty years, but the banks as a whole, do not like being seen as the bad guys. The Swiss even have laws protecting them and their reasons for not returning the money back to the survivors. Switzerland does not provide for the government to receive the unclaimed property of those who have died with out leaving a will or heirs. Therefore, the banks themselves are permitted to retain such money(Levin, 1998). After the war, the documents that showed proof of accounts were destroyed and/or came up missing. The Swiss do not like the reputation they are receiving for this mistake in the past. They are examining all of the allegations and are determined to get to the bottom of the problem (Defrago, 1997). They are working with the Jewish, British, German, and United States officials in recovering information and documents that would exonerate or prove corruption of the Swiss accounts. Either way, the Swiss are cooperating and are willing to give the money back to the survivors, if the documents hold true to the accusations (Border 1, 1998). The Swiss have pledged that at the end of this process searching for documents, not one penny will remain in Switzerland that may have belonged to a victim of the Holocaust, said Jeffery Taufield, a spokesman for the Swiss bankers Association (Jones, 1996). It was only until a great outcry from the Holocaust victims that the Swiss agreed to form a committee to investigate the missing bank accounts. If the documents do not appear, they propose giving the survivors one lump sum to be divided up equally amongst themselves.
Next is the position of the United States. The Unites States of America was an ally during the war. They have a biased position towards the Germans and the Swiss because of their stance on the war. The US does not listen to the facts presented and is quick to point fingers of who is at fault. They are sticking with their guns in that they say the Swiss took the money, they were not neutral during the war, and they owe the Jewish survivors the money back (Jones, 1996). The United States claims that the Swiss took the money, and that the case is cut and dry. The controversy should be resolved soon. The US then appointed officials to look into the findings of the documents. Working along side the US officials are officials from other countries including England and Germany. They are working hard to find out the facts of the situation. The US also formed a Senate Banking Committee, which is headed by Senator Alphonse DAmato. The committee has been holding hearings with survivors and their families. They said that they found evidence that supports the claims that the Swiss withheld many deposits (Jones, 1996). The United States also granted American citizenship to a Swiss guard who was caught burning account documents. The guard was granted citizenship after he told on the Swiss for what they have been doing to the documents. Yet, even more proof for the Holocaust victims.
The final position is that of the Holocaust victims and their family members. They believe that the money they put into the accounts in a neutral country should be given back to them, after all it was theirs in the first place. They say that they deserve the money back no questions asked. They believe that what the Swiss did was wrong in destroying the records, and playing dumb to the whole incident is inexcusable, but the Jews are willing to let bygones be bygones if the Swiss return the money. They realize that everyone makes mistakes and is a shamed of things they have done in the past, they just want them to forget about the past and do the right thing. The Jews themselves find the whole process of recovering the money back very painful. They recall the horrible moments from the war and some find it is not even worth going through the painful memories all over again just to recover the money. Another position of the Jews is that they reject firmly to the Swiss proposal of giving only the survivors one lump sum divided up in equal parts, if proper documentation is presented. They dislike this idea because the family of the victims would not be able to claim money from their family and because not everyone had the same amount of money, everyone deserves the money that they put in, not more or less the amount of the original account (Levin, 1998).
In conclusion, the controversy of the lost Swiss bank accounts has many different positions and opinions from countries and nationalities involved. There is the Swiss view of that they acknowledge the disappearance of Holocaust victims bank accounts and they are trying to get to the bottom of the problem. The view of the United States, who is standing up for the victims and are trying to help them recover their money. Finally, there is the view of the Holocaust victims, who are furious at the Swiss for the disappearance of their bank accounts after the war. They are also disappointed in the Swiss because they are giving the Holocaust victims a hassle when they try to recover their money. They feel that the money is clearly theirs and they want it back. Over all, there are many viewpoints and opinions over these issues neither of which are either right or wrong.
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