Democracy & US Const 1787 - Notes on Democracy,...

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Notes on Democracy, ‘Constitutional Democracy’ & US Constitution 1787 Democracy is a system of government (govt) in which ‘the people’ hold the ultimate power versus (vs) gov’t by one person (monarch, king, dictator) or a small group (oligarchy or aristocracy) The roots of European & American politics can be traced to ancient Greece(500 BC); Plato wrote ‘The Republic’ , discussing the ideal govt and his student Aristotle wrote ‘The Politics’ about existing, actual govt’s. The word ‘democracy’ comes from the Greek words ‘demos’ meaning ’the people’ & ‘kratein’ meaning ’to rule’ The word ‘democracy’ was not used in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of 1787, nor was it a term used by the founding fathers. To them, ‘democracy’ meant ‘appealing to the emotions of the masses’ or ‘mob rule’ or ‘rabble’, vs the clear thought process by the educated (as they considered themselves). There are several ways to define ‘democracy’… We say that America has a constitutional democracy ; ie, a govt in which those who exercise govt frequent elections , and then are subject to recognized, enforceable limits on their power … the elections make it democratic & recognized, enforceable limits on power make it constitutional Democracy can be direct or participatory as in ancient Greece or a ‘town hall meeting’, or an indirect, representative democracy such as we have in the US (also called a republic ). Our govt derives its power indirectly from ‘the people’, who elect ‘representatives’ in the ‘free & frequent elections’ & then delegate decision making to them; these representatives we call ‘politicians’ and what they do is called ‘politics’ Democracy can be many things: a way of life, a form of government, or a type of nation . One way to define it is (1) a ‘system of interacting values ’, (2) ‘a system of interrelated political processes and (3) ‘system of interdependent political structures’ (1). Belief in ‘democratic ideals’ is widely shared around the world today; this varies greatly, but is generally accepted as upholding the values of: (1) personal liberty ; freedom from & freedom to, self determination (2) respect for the individual ; belief in human dignity, inalienable rights (3) equality of opportunity; (4) popular consent; consent of governed (at least the majority) (2). To become reality, these values must be incorporated into a political process : ; frequent, wide participation, 1 person=1 vote, choice (2) majority/plurality rule ; majority rule, with respect for minority rights (3) freedom of expression ; free media, access to facts, competition, choices (3). Interdependent political structures
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This note was uploaded on 05/02/2011 for the course POL 1013 taught by Professor Dr.j.philiprogers during the Spring '05 term at The University of Texas at San Antonio- San Antonio.

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Democracy & US Const 1787 - Notes on Democracy,...

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