Do we have a democracy in the US, or a plutocracy? Or somewhere in between? Or something completely different? How much does money really influence American politics?

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I meant "infested" - we are too infested into the reality show culture. It means what the word means:
infest
verb be present in large numbers, typically so as to cause damage or disease.
   overrun in large numbers, swarm in or about in a troublesome manner; invade, harass
Synonyms: parasite, parasitize

Basically, to take over and destroy in a vile and negative way.

And I meant "themselves" as I was speaking of citizens of a nation. This isn't grammar school. Nice try to divert the issue by attacking the messenger in an irrelevant manner.
Your point was that a person has an opportunity for a good education, if he wants one, in the U.S.  My point is that we may think we are well educated when, in fact, many of us can't speak, and write our own language.   And, yes, grammar does matter.  It allows us to express our thoughts clearly.  Math, and Science are not the only subjects American students require.
Not to mention that schools in poorer neighborhoods are not the same quality ans in the richer neighborhoods.
You're right, Susan. In a rich neighborhood, if the school lacks something, the parents pitch right in with fundraisers and private donations, and they volunteer in the classrooms, and really have a lot of information as well as resources to contribute, because they have the money AND the education. In a poor neighborhood, the parents don't have the resources to even buy their kid a pencil or a notebook, and don't have the time or background to volunteer to help in class. However, they DO care. I taught in both kinds of schools and the difference, even in the same school district, was appalling.
Also, if you think the only thing holding this country back is the undervaluing of education and illigal immigration, then you are not only exposing your ignorance of American politics and the realities of our socioeconomic dynamics, but you are also conveniently glossing over the many actual arguments made in this very discussion of the problems we face. You might actually want to address those arguments as a part of this discussion. It is called "The US: Democracy, or Plutocracy?" Have you got any responses to the arguments made by the many responders who have argued that what we have got is more a plutocracy than an actual democracy?
Everything else will fix itself naturally. Capitalism as an economic system is the most sound and solid system that affords the most number of people the greatest opportunity. Any other economic system simply doesn't equate with the track record of success than capitalism has had. You will always have poor people and we can help them to a degree - but people do need to take personal responsibility and stop giving themselves self-defeating mindsets.
Yeah, Capitalism would have prevented the economic crisis we had.  Oh, wait, Capitalism caused the economic crisis.  Must be nice to live in a black and white world.  I am going on two years unemployed and I resent the implication that I am somehow the cause by being lazy and caring more about Dancing with the Stars then my own future.

It is a sad reality but the problem was with the wrong regulations in the wrong places without oversight. The problem wasn't capitalism. And as I have said, if we were educated enough as a people (I am not talking about you) we would be able to fill the high-tech jobs that are going unfulfilled as we don't have enough qualified candidates to fill those positions.

In addition, despite our problems, we still have one of the greatest economies in the world. We simply have higher expectations than rest of the world which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Sassan, you are surely right that a lot of people have it a whole lot worse in much of the rest of the world. When I "bitch" about the problems of the US, I am not usually bitching for myself, because I DO have it good, even though I'm in the lower 40% of income and standard of living. I have a small house, a car, enough money to pay my living expenses (including the computer!), good health insurance and enough money to pay for the low-cost entertainment that pleases me.

But I DO bitch for those who don't have it as good as I do. I have a friend who has severe migraines once or twice a week, but no health insurance and no job, so even while migraines are treatable, she is receiving no help. I see way too many homeless people pushing shopping carts on the street and sleeping under bridges. Homeless people freeze to death here every winter. It angers me that Republicans swear that they will accept no new taxes, while cutting programs like Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security for people who have no other source of income or health care. For the elderly, in particular, many of them worked their whole lives in low-income jobs, which means their SS benefits are low to begin with (the rich pay a smaller percentage of their income into SS and get higher benefits) and if Social Security and Medicare are cut, they may not even be able to save their homes, let alone keep food on the table. Doesn't that reduce them to just about the same place as the poor in other countries?

There is an upsetting number of people in this country who want to turn it into a theocracy. How is that different from the Muslim world? Germany was supposedly the most enlightened and advanced country of Europe, but that didn't stop it from sliding downhill and creating the biggest genocide in world history.

What I am getting at is that, although the US HAS BEEN a great country, it may not stay that way if the Christian extremists get their way. And their propaganda machine is impressive. Electing charismatic candidates who then turn their backs on the poor and middle class is not the way to keep our country great. So can you understand our bitching? It's not really bitching as much about now as it is about the seeming wave of the future. Which doesn't look good.

I did take a little hostile attitude to start off and I apologize. I agree that we are far from perfect as a nation - but I don't think making the claim that we are somehow not a democracy is a non-hostile or accurate position to take. While we do live in a free country and we have the right to express that sentiment - the very fact that we have the right to express that sentiment is what makes us a free and democratic country.

I agree we have a lot of faults in our system and we need to make improvements - but the type of people my original ranting or frustration was directed at were those atheists who call themselves rationalist but come across with such claims that America is a "dictatorship" or that we somehow don't live in a democracy (although we don't live in a democracy by definition) but for all practical manners. In addition, these people tend to give excuses for terrorists who commit acts of terror and they themselves ramble up with anti-American and anti-west sentiments by calling us imperialist. Sort of - the Nim Chimpsky and George Galloway types of atheists - those defeatists, isolationists, and apologists. So I apologize if my ranting came out the wrong way to others such as you.

One more thing: I do see the extreme religious right as a threat - but we have a great constitution which the courts have upheld. I don't think anyone, including those on the right that pander to the religious elements of their base, truly want to turn America into any sort of theocracy - but I too see that as a threat and would never vote them into office, including Ron Paul. On the other hand, I don't consider George W. Bush as that type of Christian or religious fundamentalist. I hope you would agree with that sentiment. I see maybe Michelle Bachmann and some other loons like that to some extent - but nothing comparable to the Islamic world. In addition, I don't think any of those loons have a chance of being elected and making a difference with their visions in contrast to the apocalyptic and dangerous loons which compromise the Islamic Republic. I don't see how some atheists can ignore the very threat civilization faces with nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic maniacs.

"I did take a little hostile attitude to start off and I apologize." -Thank you!

"I agree that we are far from perfect as a nation" -Thank you!!

"but I don't think making the claim that we are somehow not a democracy is a non-hostile or accurate position to take. While we do live in a free country and we have the right to express that sentiment - the very fact that we have the right to express that sentiment is what makes us a free and democratic country."

Of course it was a non-hostile position - did the question I posed as the subject of this discussion sound in any way hostile? If you violently disagree with me, that is one thing, but remember I violently disagree with you as well. And notice how I can make my arguments to you without being rude or disrespectful, characteristics which undermine reasoned discussions by the way.

There is a lot you are unaware of Sassan. Did you know, for example, that 94% of elections go to the candidate who has spent more money? That means, without knowing anything about the candidates or their politics, I could tell you who won any given election with 94% accuracy. This is not rule of the masses, it is de facto rule by the rich. The fact that I can point this out, that I have free speech for example, does not make this a democracy, because I could point it out until I am blue in the face, but it wouldn't give me the money I would need to win an election. Obviously, if elections can be bought, and THEY ARE (if you think they aren't you just haven't done the research), then the richest, most powerful people in this country can and in fact do influence American politics to make it easier and easier for them to continue to do so. It's all about power dynamics - I would suggest turning off Fox news, turning on MSNBC, watching Dylan Ratigan for example, and get yourself informed.

I will make it brief: in regards to elections being "bought". I do agree that it was unfortunate that the Supreme Court struck down the "Campaign Finance Reform Laws" as unconstitutional which would have made things better. Saying this - look at the way Obama raised money when during the primaries and on his way to the Presidency - from significant numbers of small donors; and he ended up raised more money than John McCain. So "technically", you can say that "money bought the election" but it was the people that put him over the top and enabled him to have raised more money than McCain and the Republicans - so I don't think that election was "bought". In addition, although we need some campaign financing laws on the books that are not unconstitutional, both parties have the same opportunities for raising money. I do agree this is a problem though as we need a viable 3rd party such as in Europe which often times have 3,4,5 multiple parties that garner a good % of the vote and in turn are necessitated to form alliances between the different political factions.

I would suggest turning off Fox news, turning on MSNBC, watching Dylan Ratigan for example, and get yourself informed.

There goes your judgement. You ASSUME that all I do is watch Fox News and that I don't have a brain of my own to judge on the issues. In fact, you couldn't be more wrong. While Fox News certainly does lean to the right and sometimes goes over the top - I would contend that MSNBC is much more to the left than Fox News is to the right. Fox News at least has Democratic commentators on the various shows and more often than not, they present both sides of the issue. Did you see how rudely Ed Schultz treated Rick Santorum the other night on his show? Anyhow, I enjoy Rachel Maddow as I don't see her as a phony or a panderer but if you rely on MSNBC for your news you are more than an ideologue. From time to time I like to watch Fox News as they are more entertaining and from time to time I like to watch MSNBC (Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews) although Chris Matthews is not the old Chris Matthews, he has gotten rather boring - but if I do watch any of those channels, it is for analysis, not news. I find CNN to be more unbiased with their news than both of those channels - in addition, I don't rely on my news simply with American media. I like to watch BBC everyday which I do; I like to watch EuroNews which I do; from time to time (especially on coverage of the Middle East) I even watch Al Jazeera. In addition, I access most of my news from various internet sources and base my views on multiple sources rather than a single source of biased news (as at the end of the day everyone has their biases) and I make sound decisions based on the issues and the experience I have on particular issues that are important to me such as Islam, foreign policy, and the Middle East.

So again, if you base your news habits on MSNBC - that speaks volumes in by itself.

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