Discussion: Dramatizations of Politics

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Discussion: Dramatizations of Politics

Discussion: Dramatizations of Politics

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Discussion: Dramatizations of Politics

Whether it’s a play by William Shakespeare or a Steven Spielberg film about politics, the characters are always flawed, the plot involves intrigue and betrayal, and the endings are seldom happy. Dramatizations of politics in Shakespeare’s day when monarchs ruled and today when democracy is well-established in many countries are not that different. What does that say about the success or failure of democratic institutions in creating a new kind of political culture, one conducive to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness“? Think about it

(Hint: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Is it true? Winston Churchill is often cited as the source of this comment. Assuming he said it, was he celebrating or denigrating democracy?)

In the United States, elections are held at regular intervals that never change; voters always know exactly when the next election will be held. Not so in the British system. Parliament is required to stand for election every five years, but the prime minister can call for elections earlier if it looks as though the mood of the electorate momentarily favors the ruling party. By the same token, Parliament can force the government to resign by a vote of “no confidence.” In this event, either a new government is formed under new leadership or the queen dissolves Parliament and calls new elections.

The authority to decide when to call new elections can be a big advantage for the party in power. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made particularly shrewd use of this authority in 1983, for example. After serving only four years, the “Iron Lady” (as she was often called) capitalized on a surge of British patriotism, spurred by a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, to renew the Conservative Party’s mandate to rule for another five years.

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