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Copy of Chapter 1- Principles of Government
Transcript of Copy of Chapter 1- Principles of Government
Principles of Government
What is Government?
Government- the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies.
Government is made up of those people who exercise its powers. All those who have authority and control over people
Powers of Government
Every Government has and exercises three basic kinds of power:
Purpose of Government
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America"
Because governments are the products of humans' needs and experiences, no two governments have ever been exactly alike. However, overtime classifications have emerged that define governmental structure.
Who can participate in the governmental process
The geographical distribution of governmental power in the state (who has the power)
The relationship between the legislative (law-making) and the executive (law-executing) branches of government
Basic Concepts of Democracy
The American concept of Democracy rests on FIVE basic notions:
Public Policies- things a government decides to do
Ex- taxation, environment, education, civil rights, transportation, working conditions... the list is endless
Government MUST HAVE POWER to carry out public policies.
Power is the ability to command or prevent action, the ability to achieve a desired end.
The power to make law
and to frame public policy
The power to execute, enforce,
and administer law
the power to interpret laws, to determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society
Where does the United States government get their power?
The U. S. Constitution
The U.S. Constitution is our body of fundamental laws (powers) setting out the principals, structures and processes of our government
When the responsibilities of those powers/laws are held by a single person or small group the type of Government is a DICTATORSHIP.
In the U.S. the responsibility of those powers/laws rest with the people, also known as a DEMOCRACY. IN a Democracy- the supreme authority rest with the majority of the people
In a dictatorship, those who rule cannot be held responsible to the will of the people.
A body of people living in a defined area, organized politically (with a government) with the power to make and enforce laws without the consent of a higher authority. There are close to 200 states in the world today. They vary in size, military power, natural resources, and economic importance. However, they share the same four characteristics
of a State
A state must have people. The number of people has nothing to do directly with the existence of a state
Ex. San Marino compared to the People's Republic of China (both are states)
Within a state, it does not matter if the people are homogeneous or not (same customs, language, ethnic background, etc.
A state must have land (territory) with recognized boundaries. The size can vary.
Ex. San Marino and Russia are both considered states even though their territory size varies significantly
A state's right to supreme and absolute power within its boundaries. It can determine its form of government, frame its economic system (capitalism) and shape its foreign policies. Each state in the U.S. is subordinate to the Constitution of the U.S. This is our document of sovereignty.
Sovereignty is the characteristic where the states in the U.S. do not follow and thus, are not considered "states" in the international, legal sense
Every state is politically organized. A government is the agency in which society makes and enforces its public policies. It is the agency through which the state exerts it's will and works to accomplish its goals
-this characteristic includes the machinery and personnel by which the state is ruled
Said that government was necessary to avoid what he called, "the war of every man verse every man"
What could he have meant by this?
Without a government of some form, conflict is inevitable.
Examples in recent times: Lebanon, Bosnia, Somalia, etc.
All of these places have had their governmental systems disappear and be replaced by conflict and chaos
Preamble to the Constitution of the United States
Purpose of Government
Form a More Perfect Union
By winning independence from Great Britain, the U.S. faced an uncertain future. The Articles of Confederation (1781) created a firm league of expectations and friendship between the original 13 states. However, that league soon fell apart due to rivalries and jealousies over have and have nots. The Constitution of the U.S. (1787) was written to link states and the American people more closely together. The belief was with union there is strength.
Side note: the Articles of the Confederation was the United States' first formal Constitution, yet it failed because, instead of creating unity and collaboration between the states, it formed competition.
Over time in the U.S. Justice has come to mean that the
, in both its content and its administration, must be reasonable, fair and impartial.
America has not always met that goal; however, our government continues to pursue the goal of, "equal justice for all"
Insure Domestic Tranquility
Order is essential to the well being of any society. Keeping peace in the U.S. (at home) has always been a primary function of our government. In other words- play fair with your neighbors.
"If men were angels, no government would be necessary"
James Madison- Founding Father of United States
Side Note: Madison knew that most humans fall far short of this standard and kept this knowledge in mind during the formation of the Constitution, as we will see in later sections.
Provide for the
This means to defend the U.S. against foreign enemies; the security of our nation. This function can mean both policy and action (war). Some believe that as the world's most powerful nation, te U.S. must maintain its armed strength (weapons, armed forces) to protect our nation from enemies.
General welfare is how the government protects and takes care of its citizens.
Can you think of any ways the government serves its citizens?
The ways in which the government serves its citizens are countless; public schools, police, fire, roads, and environmental protection are a few examples.
Secure the Blessings of Liberty
Freedom to make your own choices, and pursue dreams and goals; that is what is meant by liberty. Though Liberty is the most valuable right of an individual of the U.S., recognize that no one has absolute liberty to do as one pleases. For that behavior would interfere with the freedoms of others.
"You can only be free if I am free"
There are two types of Democracy...
Also known as a pure democracy, exists where the will of the people is translated into public policy directly by the people in mass meetings. Direct democracy only works in small communities where the problems faced are few and simple. This type of democracy does not exist anywhere in the world today at a national level
Also known as representative democracy, small groups of persons chosen by the people act as their representatives to express popular will.
These agents are responsible for carrying out the day to day conduct of government, the making and executing of laws.
These agents are elected officials held accountable at election time.
The United States is neither of these! Instead, they are a Republic, also known as a Representative Democracy (the people hold sovereign power, representatives hold political power).
A Dictatorship exists where those who rule cannot be held responsible to the will of the people. The government is not held responsible for its policies or how they are carried out.
There are two types of dictatorships:
1) Autocracy- a government in which a single person holds unlimited political power
2) Oligarchy- a government in which the power to rule is held by a small elite group, usually self-appointed
All dictatorships are
. Those in power hold absolute and unchallengeable authority over the people
Who Can Participate
To many people, the most meaningful classification is who can take part in the governmental process.
Supreme political authority rests with the people
The people hold sovereign power
Government is only conducted by the consent of the people
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people"
Worth of Individual
The fundamental worth and dignity of every person is a firm bias in democracy. Each person, no matter what his/her station in life, is a separate and distinct individual with rights
The welfare of one may be subordinated to the interests of many in democracy
Ex- taxes, stop signs
That the majority decision is most often best for all, and is the will of the people
Unchecked, a majority could destroy its opposition and, in the process, destroy democracy as well
SOLUTION: Majority rule restrained by minority rights
Individual choice is essential to democracy. However, it is obvious that we cannot exist on complete freedoms. Total freedom only exists in a state of anarchy (absence of government).
In a democracy- individuals are as free as possible to do as they please with the constant consideration of the proper balance between individual freedom, and the rights of society as a whole
"The right to swing my fist ends here the other man's nose begins"
Compromise is an essential process in democracy. Public decision making in a Democracy is full of give and take. Compromise i what helps maintain different interests and opinions. It is a way to insure the positon to the majority is heard.
most public questions have several ways it could be answered. Compromise is necessary to decide on the best answer in the eyes of the majority
Equality of All Persons
"All men are created equal."
Democracy is based on the idea of
. Each person must be free to develop him/her self as fully as they care to or as little as they choose. Democracy does not insist on equality of conditions for all persons. Thus, it recognizes that people are not born with the same mental or physical abilities. Nor does it argue that all persons have the right to an equal share of wordly goods.
Equality before the law
. Each person should be treated as the equal of all others under the law.