Letters

Readers respond to "The Dangers of Democracy," an interview with Fareed Zakaria.


Salon Staff
April 23, 2003 11:00PM (UTC)

[Read the interview.]

Mr. Zakaria's notions of democracy in America gave me an idea of how the U.S. can "democratize" Iraq, without that nation becoming an Islamist theocracy.

First, divide Iraq into states. Put the majority Shiites into one very large state; then, divide the secular-minded pro-U.S. minority into a whole bunch of small states. This is key: Assign these states, despite their huge differences in population, a more or less similar number of electoral votes; and declare a winner based not on the popular vote, but rather on the electoral vote. Thus Iraq can avoid the problem of too much democracy.

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As a last safeguard against the dangers of too much democracy, Iraq's election can be supervised by a team of experts from the state of Florida; and the U.S. Supreme Court can be standing by, ready to step in and decide the whole thing, if need be, on a moment's notice.

-- Jim Morava

I find it more than a little odd that anybody is worried about an excess of democracy at a time when political participation rates are in sharp decline and governments in North America, Europe and Japan routinely ignore the desires and values of their citizens. The coalition against Iraq would have been small indeed if the regimes in England, Australia, Spain and Eastern Europe reflected the wishes of their people.

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What is the real meaning of an attack on democracy at a time when alert and ruthless elites have, with increasing success, barricaded themselves from public control behind partisan courts, bogus research institutes and a corrupt, omnipresent media that monopolizes the means of propaganda?

-- Jim Harrison

Zakaria's account of democracy run amok in America is strikingly commensurate with the bureacracy-bashing that has becomes so fashionable with the right and the left. Any value-neutral political science course will teach that bureaucracy is the linchpin that holds democracy together. As such, Zakaria's idea is not a new one.

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Unfortunately, with the Bush administration's assault on the GAO, the American Bar Association and other nonpartisan technocracies, it appears things will get worse before they get better. Factor in a fear-laden populace -- with a government so eager to pander to it -- and it appears that bureaucratic rationality will be further diminished.

-- Shawn Hill

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