Exportable Democracy: The Failed American Mission

Topics: Democracy, Form of government, Representative democracy Pages: 3 (999 words) Published: February 25, 2014

Exportable Democracy: The Failed American Mission
William Vazquez

POL 115: Introduction to International Politics
Dr. Chris Rosato
April 25, 2013
Over the past several years, the United States has adopted a neoconservative stance in trying to export democracy worldwide. To be clear, neoconservatives wish to combine the spreading of democracy with the use of force. This practice has become somewhat of an American tradition in recent years. In trying to export democracy, the U.S. used an exportable definition of democracy. However, the idea of an exportable definition of democracy is not exactly a recent concept. Robert Dahl actually developed the notion of a procedural minimum as a fixed set of essential features for large-scale democracy back in 1982. Dahl’s procedural minimum consisted of elected officials, free and fair elections, suffrage, the right to run for the office, freedom of expression, access to alternative sources of information, associational autonomy, and inclusive citizenship.1 Basically, the idea behind exporting democracy on a global scale culminates in a universal definition of democracy. Most countries that are considered to have successful democracies follow Dahl’s procedural minimum, employing all of its institutions. However, the problem here is that democracy is too ambiguous a term to apply to merely one, unique set of rules and institutions. It is because of this that democracy cannot be successfully exported on a large scale. First and for most, democracy is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Democracy must evolve from other types of government. It cannot be implanted into the wrong type of government and get lasting positive results. According to John Stuart Mill, representative government “is the ideal type of a perfect government,” but it is not applicable under all social conditions. In particular, it is ill suited to “barbarous” or “backward” peoples, who are likely to need...

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Dahl, Robert. In Annual Editions: Comparative Politics. 30th ed. Chapter 14. New York:
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Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Social Contract & Discourses. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1913;
Bartleby.com, 2010. www.bartleby.com/168/.
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