Democracy, Language, and Diversity: Developing a Voice for Language Minority Communities
Using the United States political system as a case study, and drawing parallels from similar democracies in South Africa, Israel, Ireland, Canada, and Great Britain, the article will develop a normative theory in support of a broad need for a democratic system to accomodate and embrace linguistic diversity. The basis for the theory is that a government harms its own efficacy in policy development when it does not fully embrace and involve the voices of linguistic minorities. The proposed model for improving accommodation will address questions of belonging and voice that are facilitated through a majority system that promotes democratic engagement of linguistic minorities. It will also address issues of anti-immigrant backlash and voter suppresion that such an accomodationist policy risks enflaming or potentially reducing. The paper will offer a detailed critique of existing accommodationist policies in the above countries and set forth a proposal for a flexible legal and political infrastructure that can address the existing inadequacies identified in the United States and elsewhere.
Keywords: Language, Diversity, Language Minority, Politics, Democracy, Voice, Representation
Prof. Jocelyn Friedrichs Benson
Assistant Professor of Law, Law School, Wayne State University Law School