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Department
Political Science
Course
POL 201
Professor
Sylvia Thompson
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 1: Democracy and American Politics  08/22/2012 Democracy An entity of some sort is needed to bring law and order; to protect against external aggressors;  and to provide essential public goods Democracy’s central idea­ ordinary people want to & are capable of ruling themselves Best protects human rights Rational policies from a pool of knowledge Leaders enjoy a sense of legitimacy among citizens Conducive to economic growth Allows people to develop natural capacities and talents Democracy remains an aspiration, rather than a finished product Democratic Origins Many of our ideas on democracy originated with the ancient Greeks Democracy­ a system of government in which the people rule; rule by the many Oligarchy­ rule by the few, where a minority group holds power over a majority, as in an  aristocracy of clerical establishment Monarchy­ rule by the one, where power rests in the hands of a king or queen Democracy is a set of ideals rather than a description of real societies Must serve all of the people Athenian government showed democracy, except limited to male property holders Direct Versus Representative Democracy Direct democracy­ a form of political decision making in which the public business is decided  by all citizens meeting in small assemblies (possible only in small community) Representative democracy­ indirect democracy, in which the people rule through elected  representatives Benchmarks of Representative Democracy Popular sovereignty, political equality, and political liberty Popular Sovereignty­ the basic principle of democracy that the people are the ultimate source of  government authority and of the policies that government leaders make ♦ Government Policies Reflect the Wishes of the People ♦ Government Leaders Are Selected in Competitive Elections ♦ Elections are Free and Fair ♦ People Participate in the Political Process ♦ High­Quality Information is Available ♦ The Majority Rules Political Equality­ the principle that says that each person carries equal weight in the conduct of  the public business ♦ Also involves what the Fourteenth Amendment calls “equal protection”, meaning that  everyone is treated the same by the government ♦ Civil rights­ guarantees by government of equal citizenship to all social groups Political Liberty­ The principle that citizens are protected from government interference in the  exercise of a range of basic freedoms ♦ Basic freedoms in First Amendment: speech, conscience and religion, press, assembly and  association  ♦ Social contract­ John Locke’s idea that government is the result of an agreement among  people to form one, and that people have the right to create an entirely new government if the  terms of the contract have been violated by the existing one Objections to Liberal Democracy “Majority Tyranny” Threatens Liberty James
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