Political Science Response Paper

Title: Political Science Response Paper: Political Democracy and Repression

In this chapter, Davenport (2013) is arguing that political democracy is related to state repression. In his view, political institutions in which the governed are involved in the governing process play a vital role in reducing the level of state-sponsored human rights violations. This occurs because leaders are subjected to a degree of accountability and oversight. According to Davenport (2013), democracy plays a more significant role than economic development in diminishing state repression (p. 126). Moreover, democracy is widely viewed as the most crucial solution for state repression. The author adds that democracy and repression have not been disaggregated across space and time (Davenport, 2013, p. 127). This problem is explained through reference to the way repression was linked to democracy in the United States between the 1940s and 1980s. According to Davenport (2013), governments perpetuate repression whenever the benefits outweigh the costs, repression is highly likely to succeed, and no viable alternative forms of social control exist. Democracy discourages repression by increasing its costs, establishing values regarding tolerance, and providing alternative methods of social control.

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In this chapter, the author observes that there is a debate on whether repression is diminished by the clarity with which leaders govern or by the extent to which an administration is democratic. Repressive agents in a country may be influenced different by various elements of political democracy. At the same time, scholars are preoccupied with economic development as a cure for repression, thereby neglecting the role of democracy. Against this backdrop, it is noteworthy that the United States has been the most successful democracy for two centuries, yet it has perpetuated repression against African Americans. They were subjected to slavery, voting rights restrictions, and segregation, and prohibition of intermarriage.

Davenport (2013) expresses the view that to understand why repression was perpetuated against African Americans, one must focus on two aspects of U.S. democracy that have often been neglected: party democracy and suffrage. The case of the United States shows that repressive behavior tends to have a significant impact on political democracy. Based on these observations, Davenport (2013) concludes that it is obvious that democracy influences repression, and future research should focus on determining where are how this influence occurs. To do this, researchers need to create a better connection that addresses aspects of policy making, political activism, and academic research. This will help them to understand, in a nuanced and disaggregated manner, how and where the relationship between democracy and repression occurs.

This reading is persuasive particularly in the way it explains the idea that political democracy influences repression and vice versa. It also persuades the reader to look closer home to realize that repression can occur even in the world’s most successful democracy. The reality of America’s repression against African Americans is best captured in Azikiwe’s (2016) article reporting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of African Americans’ civil rights struggle through the Black Power Movement. The reading by Davenport (2013) fits in well with Azikiwe’s (2016) article because it explains how America has oppressed African Americans despite being the most successful democracy for two centuries. Davenport’s reading can be improving by providing more details of day-to-day experiences of the repressive experiences. On the other hand, Azikiwe’s article can be improved by blending the analysis of the struggle with diverse scholarly perspectives.

 

References

Azikiwe, A. (2016). “Black power–White backlash: 150 years of struggle for national liberation and socialism.” Global Research. February 28, 2016. Web.

Davenport, C. (2013). “Political democracy and state repression”. Michael Goodhart. (Ed.) Human rights: Politics and practice, second edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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