Democracy refers to a system of government where laws and policies of a state are directly or indirectly made by individuals who are elected to represent the people. The fundamental principles of democracy include popular sovereignty, whereby people are the cornerstone of the constitution, and Federalism, where power is divided between national and state governments. The separation of power between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches ensures checks and balances as no branch of the government becomes too powerful. The judiciary ensures that laws made by both state and local governments do not violate individual rights.
United States of America constitution and challenges encountered.
Civil liberties in the United States include freedom of religion, as the government has no right whatsoever to interfere with one’s religion of choice. Freedom of speech as everyone is obliged to communicate with relevant institutions and individuals to ensure that they are not discriminated against. Freedom of the press as portrayed by the New York Times versus United States of America government case held in the Supreme Court in 1971. A guarantee to a fair and unbiased trial is also another of the civil liberties exercised in the United States of America.
United States of America citizens also enjoy many civil rights, including voting, a free and fair trial, government services, public education, and the right to use public facilities. These were put in place to protect the minority population, such as the African Americans, from discriminative policies created by government institutions (Christiano & Thomas 2018). Several civil rights struggles are going on right now, including employment discrimination of members of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender Community (LGBT). Human trafficking, where individuals are transported from their homes to a foreign land to participate in forced labor, and sexual exploitation, is another civil rights challenges Americans face today. The use of excessive force by the police, particularly when dealing with African Americans, and discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace are also some of the challenges being faced by the civil rights community.
The majority rule in the United States of America starts from the electoral process where Congress representatives are elected into the house by most residents of a state. This rule extends to the judiciary, where the supreme court requires the support of at least ten judges out of the total of twelve judges to make a decision. Citizens of the United States of America are encouraged to participate in elections to elect suitable candidates to represent them and their interests. Although the United States of America uses a multi-party system, there are two major political parties, namely the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
There are four hundred and thirty-five elected members from the fifty states into congress, the house of representatives, and one hundred senators. Each state elects two into the senate. Congress members are tasked with making laws that affect citizens’ daily lives and holding hearings to inform the legislative process or conduct investigations to oversee the executive branch. These elected individuals’ primary purpose is to act as the people’s voice from the states.
Individuals who have been convicted of criminal offenses in the United States of America are disenfranchised by suspending and withdrawing their voting rights. It is argued that individuals who have been convicted have broken the social contract, therefore, losing their right to get involved in civil society activities like voting. The electoral college is a process that involves the meeting of electors with the sole purpose of electing the president and the vice president. Approximately five hundred and thirty-eight electors are selected from each state as the District of Columbia is allocated three electors, thus treated as a state. Electors are picked by individuals running for the presidency, forming a group known as a slate. A political party chooses Slates, and their responsibilities vary according to their states of origin (Janda, Kenneth, et .al., 2021)
Protests against police brutality, particularly towards African Americans, have led to the rise of the civil rights movement in some states. Citizens now call an end to the famous “broken windows policing” where police should abandon making arrests for non-violent crimes such as sleeping in parks, looking “suspicious,” and having mental health crises. Law enforcement agencies are also supposed to be regularly evaluated on their mental health to ensure they are in the right state of mind to perform their duties.
The first ten amendments of the United States of America spell out American rights concerning their government. This Bill of rights has made the Citizens of America be named the freest people on earth. These amendments were put in place to ensure the government does not interfere with individual rights, such as expressing one freely to the press—the right to protest against government policies and prevent them from favoring one religion over the other.
Individuals who have been accused of a crime are protected by the sixth amendment of the ten Bill of rights. This amendment indicates that accused individuals have a right to a speedy and public trial involving a fair and reasonable jury not related to the court. This amendment also states that one should be informed of their charges before being arrested. The accused is allowed representation by a lawyer and their witnesses. For one to be indicted, a witness should be presented, and the crime proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The United States of America constitution also protects its citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of property exempted only in case of national security or risk of public safety.
Christiano, Thomas. The rule of the many: Fundamental issues in democratic theory. Routledge, 2018.
Janda, Kenneth, et al. The challenge of democracy: American government in global politics. Cengage Learning, 2021.