The Actors in a Democracy


In this lesson, the instructor ties discussion to a visual representation of modern republican democracy.

The instructor starts by putting two ideal-type flow charts on the board.  One represents ancient democracy:

People --> Policy

The other represents modern republican democracy:

People --> Representatives --> Policy

The students are asked under what conditions will the second flow chart be a good approximation of the first?  In other words, if democracy is rule of the people (so, people are picking their own policies), then the ancient version captures the concept pretty well.  Under what conditions does the modern system approximate it?

As the class goes through the readings, students' observations are added to the chart; players are added (e.g., parties, special interests, separating "the people" into voters and non-voters) and the students assess how the arrows change with the addition of more complicated factors.