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The Democratic Republic, Part I
Transcript of The Democratic Republic, Part I
What's an INSTITUTION?
How does Government affect daily life?
The Democratic Republic
The process of dividing power and deciding who gets what, when and how; or...
An ongoing organization, group or set of principles that performs functions for society
The United States is a
LIBERTY VS. ORDER
The struggle over power and influence within a group that can grant or withhold benefits or privileges; or...
Resolution of conflicts between competing interests
What’s a political interest?
A business or cause in which a person or group has a share, concern or responsibility
Examples: Development vs. conservation, tax cuts vs. increased education spending are examples of competing interests
Top Institution in a Society?
Sets framework for rules of politics
Helps resolve conflicts of who gets what
Ultimate authority for making decisions and establishing political values
Government funds education and provides financial aid to students
pays for roads, bridges, infrastructure
....and what else?
regulates environment to protect resources like air,
regulates voting and political process
Why do we need government?
Government provides order and security, which allows citizens to conduct business and feel safe to go about their lives.
Places with barely functioning government...and barely any order:
Balancing act to preserve democracy
LIBERTY VS. ORDER
Too much order = not enough liberty
Too much liberty = not enough order
LIBERTY VS. ORDER CON'T
What’s allowed by the Constitution?
In U.S., post-9/11 era has highlighted clash between civil liberties and tighter security measures
Patriot Act, warrantless wire-tapping, NDAA, drone attacks, due process, military tribunals
LIBERTY VS. ORDER:
Should liberty be sacrificed for order?
Is it better to be safe than free?
LIBERTY VS. EQUALITY
Should equality be a right?
LIBERTY VS. EQUALITY
Different kinds of equality:
economic, social, equality of opportunity and treatment
Equality of treatment
Equality of opportunity
Who was equal in 1800? What about in 1900? In 2000?
LIBERTY VS. EQUALITY CON'T
Why isn’t the U.S. more egalitarian?
For one reason, we would need to redistribute more wealth (not popular!)
Would infringe on private property rights and liberty
Americans have strong desire to own private property
AUTHORITY VS. LEGITIMACY
Is authority always legitimate?
Americans believe U.S. gov’t has legitimate authority...
...because that power comes from the people
In other words, the U.S. gov’t has consent of the people
The technical meaning of democracy comes from ancient Greek: demos (people) and kratos (authority)
TYPES OF GOVERNMENT
Totalitarian (government or dictator has total control)
Cuba, Saudi Arabia,
Authoritarian (ruler controls government; others control economy, society)
, China, Venezuela,
(royal family and nobles rule the country)
, Saudi Arabia, some Pacific Islander states
Theocracy (religious clergy rules country)
Oligarchy (a small group rules the country)
Russia after fall of Soviet Union
Somalia, much of Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan; Greece soon?
Democracy (rule of the people)
U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, most of Latin America, South Africa
KEY PARTS OF A DEMOCRACY
a governmental body that’s responsible for making laws
an election in which voters decide on a measure created by a legislature
an election in which voters decide on a measure created by members of the general public
an election to dismiss (fire) an elected official before his/her term is complete
Democracy has different forms....
people make all decisions directly (no representatives)
(through ballot measure system)
representatives make decisions in legislatures
U.S., Mexico, Germany, France
representatives make decisions, but country still has a ceremonial monarch or figurehead
Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Japan,
Republic or direct democracy?
The American Founding fathers
didn’t trust the people
; thought voters were not informed and could be easily persuaded by potential dictators
"The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right."
"In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority."
could lead to mob rule (
Athens and Socrates
) and budget deficits when people make tax and spending policy (
The Founding Fathers believed
between the government and the masses while protecting political minorities
Example of direct democracy—Ancient Athens
with two years of military experience could vote in the Athenian Assembly
were forbidden from voting
Decisions made by
; no political parties
The Athenian Assembly declared war, sent citizens into exile, elected officials to office and appointed judges
What could go wrong with a direct democracy?
It could descend into mob rule (like frontier justice in Wild West)...
could use their power
to take away rights
(like in Ancient Athens) from certain citizens
DEMOCRACY IN THE UNITED STATES
Is the U.S. a
This means government does what the
majority of the people
desire — winner-take-all
This theory suggests that a small number of people run a country to help their own interests
In the U.S., this system was more obvious when country was first founded. Today? Probably less so
That means democracy is based on competition between
...which is a very good description of modern U.S. democracy—but
not very ideal
for encouraging most amount of political participation
This country has a
a system that protects minority political rights
American government is a
, which means many
compete for money and political power.
Examples: marriage, private property rights, education, law enforcement, justice system
Critics say this an unlikely model for the U.S. because of low turnout and the high number of uninformed voters
In U.S., government's
is also legitimate because that power is
by the Constitution
Compare to the United States....
The Founding Fathers wanted to limit political participation to white, male property owners.
Slaves and women were not allowed to vote or hold office
The U.S. Congress could declare war, raise taxes and confirm members of the federal government
Power was limited by Constitution; political majority couldn't dominate the political minority
Some facts about the Golden State...
Tenth-largest economy in the world
Home to 38 million people
Current governor is Jerry Brown; he last served as governor from 1975 to 1983.
Known as a "blue" state because a plurality of California voters are Democrats (44 percent)
California has a State Legislature that's sort of like Congress.
The Legislature, which is based in Sacramento, has 120 members who pass laws affecting all Californians.
Just like Congress, the Legislature is "bicameral." There are 40 senators in the Senate, and 80 Assemblymembers in the Assembly.
26.7 percent of Californians were born in another country (nation's average: 12.9 percent)
California has 55 members serving the state in Congress: 53 House representatives and 2 senators.
California is the 31st state, and entered the Union on September 9, 1950
99 problems but this state ain't one...
Some critics believe California to be "ungovernable"
Some of the state's problems include:
high cost of living
volatile state budgets
California has a "hybrid" government that combines direct democracy with republicanism
This system allows voters to participate directly in the political process, but is also chaotic
In California, direct democracy means that voters can put initiatives on the ballot and residents can make their own laws.
In 1978, California residents put Proposition 13 on the ballot, which prevents government from raising property taxes without a 2/3 majority
But direct democracy also means that voters and special interests can get laws passed that create expensive programs, leading to