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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

'Passive Citizenship' and the Role of Judicial Review

During a lecture last January, a thought occurred to me: perhaps judicial review is a major contributor to passive citizenship.

By establishing Judicial Review, the US Supreme Court effectively took the job of monitoring legislation from irritated citizens and gave it to learned lawyers. In and of itself, this may be a more efficient way of reviewing legislation, striking bad law, and keeping legislators in line.

However, "passive citizenship" is a common problem in America, which I personally categorize as a general disinterest in politics, issues "beneath" learned citizens, and debates. The latter may cause a drop in participation if one fears confrontation, offending someone, or failing to make a point (or simply making an ass of one's self).

In a country where the government takes over this role, what incentives do citizens have in participating in the political process if their vector of preferences includes risk-averse behaviors noted above.

Then does a multiparty system actually encourage debate? More views expressed publicly by politicians or celebrities may make more people feel comfortable with expressing their own views, writing their congressman, or by participating in a local peaceful protest. Power to the people.


indianshawls said...

nice blog

NeoAuteur said...

A multiparty system would put our government at an even greater deadlock. To get majority support, political parties would have to sell out some of their fundamental values.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the comments, both of you.

NeoAuteur: How do you suppose I multiparty system would create more deadlock? Perhaps more bureaucracy, as one e-mailer pointed out, but certainly not "deadlock" in the classic sense. Examine any European parliament that has several parties.

And, as far as selling out their values, politicians do it every day. Compromising on issues does not necessarily lead to degradation of values. You've got a nice blog, and you seem interested in history, so you probably already know that when it comes to a legislature, compromise does not equal losing your ground.