POLI100 Paper

POLI100 Paper - 713652774 - 1 Throughout this countrys...

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713652774 - 1 Throughout this country’s history, questions have arisen regarding whether the United States is a liberal democracy based on liberal ideals. Alexis de Tocqueville certainly thought so – his thesis was based on the idea that “America has been most shaped by the unusually free and egalitarian ideas…that prevailed at its founding” (Smith 549). But Tocqueville’s thesis contained assertions that were inegalitarian by nature, including that which stated that nature had “created such great differences between…men and women” (552). Alarmed, Roger Smith wrote an essay to challenge that Tocqueville’s thesis failed to “give due weight to inegalitarian ideologies…that have shaped…American politics…deeply” (549). And so was born the Multiple Traditions thesis: that “American politics is best seen as…the interaction of multiple political traditions,” including liberal and inegalitarian ones (550). The question now rises as to which tradition prevails today in the United States. Regarding gender and sexual preference, evidence can be seen, through the actions and opinions of both the citizens and the government, of both liberal and inegalitarian traditions, affirming Smith’s Multiple Traditions thesis. To some extent, the United States exists today as the liberal democracy that Tocqueville had so highly praised during the 1830’s. The twentieth century brought about tremendous advances for women in the eyes of both the citizens and the government. For example, women are gaining an increasing presence in the workforce, and “just about everyone” favors political equality, equal opportunity, and generally opposes discrimination against women in the workplace (Kernell 404). In Manhattan, Madison Square Garden was ordered by a federal jury to pay a “fired top executive…$11.6 million in punitive damages for sexually discriminating against her.” Since this case was decided by jurors, it reflects the public’s stance that sexual discrimination in the workplace is wrong, corroborating the idea of a liberal democracy. Furthermore, political scientists have ascertained that the Garden will suffer a smeared reputation
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713652774 - 2 if “hundreds of women jointly file claims of harassment” (Sandomir). U.S. citizens also recognize a woman’s right to choose: 40% favor no restriction on abortion, 61% think that “a woman should be allowed to have an abortion if she wants to and her doctor agrees to it,” and 70% oppose a constitutional amendment outlawing abortions. Americans have realized that, regardless of one’s own values, the right to abortion is an important one – 78% say they “personally feel that abortion is morally wrong, but [they] also feel that whether or not to have an abortion is a decision that has to be made by every woman for herself” (Kernell 408, 409). Such an advocacy for women’s reproductive rights can be seen in the “heated public debate” that arose after a Pittsburgh radio station pulled messages advertising Planned Parenthood. Many listeners
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POLI100 Paper - 713652774 - 1 Throughout this countrys...

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