John Francis Burke (2004) in his text Mestizo Democracy argues that as the diversity of the United States increases, changes will occur in the context of democracy. In particular, this author contends that as cultural diversity increases in the United States, the rise of a mestizo democracy will occur. Although the term mestizo means mixture Burke does not see the assimilation of cultures; rather what Burke envisions is a democracy in which the cultural identities of each group are brought together in a symbiotic manner that works toward the development of the greater good. While Burke's conceptualization of the mestizo democracy appears to provide a novel approach to the development of democracy, it is evident that the key elements of mestizo democracy that Burke identifies appear to be commensurate with the idealistic conceptualizations of democracy developed by many of the Founding Fathers. As such, the development of a mestizo democracy in many respects represents the culmination of the republic that the Founding Fathers saw as essential for maintaining equitable social discourse.
With the realization that Burke's mestizo democracy has many elements that represent the idealistic intentions of the Founding Fathers, it is important to consider what Burke writes in the context of the basic ideologies of the Founding Fathers
[...] When examined in this context, it is evident that while Burke's argument for the development of a mestizo democracy does indeed have a clearly theoretical basis, it is not clear as to whether or not efforts to create this type of democracy would indeed bear fruit. With respect to the paradigm of the extended democracy, it is evident that even though Madison saw this method of expanding democracy as the most viable means to ensure equality, this process has not occurred, even despite notable increases in the number of immigrants to the United States. [...]
[...] When Madison's idea of an extended republic is placed in the context of what Burke notes about the development of a multicultural government, it is evident that the mestizo democracy envisioned by Burke is one that holds true to Madison's general idea of the extended republic. Burke believes that when the mestizo democracy is formed, it will not attempt to assimilate different cultural values and ideas. Rather, by the sheer virtue of the multicultural diversity that exists in the country, elected representatives will have no choice but to place specific cultural preferences aside and develop policies that are beneficial to all mankind. [...]
[...] In the end, it is clear that the vision of the mestizo democracy has been developed by Burke is one that may not work in practice. Even though the paradigm encompasses some of the best theories and ideas on democracy, the theory does not provide a concrete method for those involved with this democracy to get from theory to practice. Thus, even though Burke has provided a strong theoretical foundation for the development of an ideal democracy, the basic nuts and bolts that are needed to make this process happen are not clearly delineated. [...]
[...] Although it is evident that Burke covers a number of pertinent issues in his text, the concept of mestizo is obviously the most important. In defining this term, Burke makes the observations that mestizaje provide a mechanism for cultures to “combine without any one necessarily becoming dominant or hegemonic” (Burke, 9). Burke goes on to argue that, “Mestizaje initially refers to the mixing of the Americas. Una nueva raza—a new race—emerged from this intersection—the mestizos” Burke contends that by accepting this basic principle of culture and cooperation and applying it to the context of democracy, citizens will be able to develop a republic that meets the needs of all citizens. [...]
[...] By applying these concepts to the mestizo democracy, Burke attempts to recapture some of the rudimentary foundations that the Founding Fathers once envisioned for the development of democracy in the United States and create a democracy in which all citizens have equal access to social, political and economic resources. The Extended Republic Clearly the most important concept espoused by Burke in his text is the concept of mestizo. While the concept of the mestizo democracy is one that appears to carry with it the implication that a mixed democracy that assimilates each culture will be created, this is not the case. [...]
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