Download 1b Characteristics of American Democracy

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 is the idea that governments draw their
powers from the governed.
 the natural-rights concept that
ultimate political authority rests with
the people and can be exercised to
create, alter, or abolish government
 the concept that the people possess
supreme political power pervades the
Declaration of Independence and the
U.S. Constitution
 holds that only those policies that
collectively garner the consent of a
majority of citizens will become law.
 the value and focus placed on individuals
in our democracy and culture.
 holds that the primary function of
government is to enable the individual to
achieve his or her highest level of
 makes the interests of the individual as
important as or more important than those
of the state.
 Contrasted with concept of collectivism,
which describes those systems in which
primary emphasis is placed on the rights and
welfare of the group.
 Central to the political doctrine of
constitutional democracy and in the
economic theory of laissez-faire
 The broad guarantees afforded to each person
and to his or her property by the Constitution
exemplify the American focus on individual
 Places emphasis on the worth,
freedom, and well-being of the
individual rather than on the group,
society, or nation.
 describes various theories and social
movements calling for the ownership and
control of all land and means of
production by the state or groups rather
than by individuals.
 Collectivism rejects the economic
freedoms and individual rights of
capitalism in favor of groups action and
social welfare.
 Emphasized the advantages of
cooperation and group effort, while
individualism focuses on the
advantages of freedom, competition,
incentive, and individual enterprise.
 the idea that everyone is equal under
the law
 usually refers to individual freedoms.
 initially referred to freedom from
government interference;
 today it includes demands for freedom
to engage in a variety of practices free
from governmental discrimination.
 refers to a political system in which
power is shared among the various
levels of government – in the case of
the United States, the federal
government and the states.
 Local governments are created by their
 refers to the splitting of power between
the legislative, executive, and judicial
branches of government.
 creates an intricate system of checks
and balances.
 a political model in which political power
and resources are scattered so widely in our
diverse democracy that no single group or
individual can dominate or monopolize
any substantial area of policy.
 Interest groups are a critical component
of pluralism; a collection of individuals
organized to express attitudes or positions
held in common in a effort to influence
public policy.
 a set of values, attitudes and beliefs
that people hold about how political
and economic life should be carried
 considered to be an extension of
 an economic system that favors private
control of business with minimal
government interference and
regulation in private industry.
 a political, economic, and social theory
based on a collectivistic society in
which all land and capital are socially
owned and political power is exercised
by the masses.
 refers to a specific course of action that
people want government to take.
 Most of the population adheres to one of
the four dominant ideologies in the United
States: liberal, conservative, libertarian,
and populist.
 It is a clash of ideologies that helps shape
public policies in the political arena.
 the ultimate written law of the land. It
establishes the institutions of
government and their powers, and
specifies a wide range of civil liberties
for citizens.
 The American political system is based
on written law, all of which stems from
the Constitution.
 closely related to the Constitution.
 the idea that we are governed by laws
that are created in a democratic process
rather than by the whims of kings or
those in power.
 We elect officials such as presidents,
mayors, city council members,
members of Congress, as our
representatives; they make and
implement the law.
 As citizens, we obey the laws and abide
by the rulings of courts and other
administrative agencies.
 The rule of law allows due process and
the right to appeal decisions.
 If a majority of citizens are unhappy
with a law, democracy provides various
ways to change it.