Constitutional Democracy


The basic premise of a constitutional democracy is that government has
rules and all of the people have voices. Through free and fair elections we
elect candidates to represent us. The Constitution of the United States
guarantees us the right to do this, and to live democratically. The framers
attacked tyrannical government and advanced the following ideas: that government
comes from below, not from above, and that it derives its powers from the
consent of the governed; that men have certain natural, inalienable rights; that
it is wise and feasible to distribute and balance powers within government,
giving local powers to local governments, and general powers to the national
government; that men are born equal and should be treated as equal before the
law. The framers of the U. S. Constitution sought to make these ideas the
governing principles of a nation. Constitutional democracy has three basic
elements. Those being interacting values, interrelated political processes and
interdependent political structures.
The first idea of interacting values is popular consent. Popular
consent means that government must obtain consent for its actions from the
people it governs. It is similar to majority rule, a political process, in that
the most popular acts or ideas of the people will be adopted by our government.
There must be an allowance or willingness on behalf of the unpopular group to
lose.
Popular consent may provide a means for judging parental consent laws
for minors seeking abortion. Since minors are not legally allowed to be
competent to engage in sex, to enter into contracts, or to form sufficient
"informed consent" to agree to their own medical treatment, it is incredible
that they would be regarded as competent to make a life and death decision about
something that later in life they might themselves regard as a real person, with
individual rights
Drawing on several major contributions of the enlightenment, including
the political theory of John Locke and the economic ideas of Adam Smith,
individualism posts the individual human being as the basic unit out of which
all larger social groups are constructed and grants priority to his or her
rights and interests over those of the state or social group.
Individualism in its original form means looking at people as discrete
but whole units, without all the impressions of his social standing, the make of
his car or his postal code. It is a way of deliberation, to tune out the clink
of money in the background when you talk to somebody, so that you can
concentrate on that person\'s message and judge it on its own merits.
It means looking at someone and not saying to yourself, "That\'s my aunt"
or "That\'s my boss," but rather, that is someone with his or her own
inclinations and desires, in other words, a true Individual who incidentally
happens to have this relation to me, as a relative or a superior.
On a grander scale, individualism is putting the individual above the
state and country. In those countries that have always been proud of their
traditional values of emphasis on the family or the country above self they see
Individualism as a direct attack on these values. However, we live in a
democratic country and we believe in individualism and equal opportunity for all
persons.
Equal opportunity for everyone is idealistic. Roosevelt outlined a
second bill of rights which the book states answers the question, "what kind of
equality?" This second bill of rights was four freedoms. They were freedom
from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech & expression and freedom of
worship. There are laws and acts to guarantee equal opportunity. For example,
the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which requires equal pay for equal work and the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination in programs receiving Federal
funds.
But on a more personal level, we don\'t all start at the same line. What
about children beared with AIDS, or children born to the poor? Is it believable
that they have the same opportunities as a child born to middle class parents
who are still married? While every American can be denied almost nothing
because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or
disability, a lot of Americans aren\'t in the position to be discriminated
against. This means that many Americans do not have the opportunity to fully
exercise their liberty. Personal liberty is freedom. It means all persons must
be given the opportunity to realize their own goals. It translates to self-
determination.
The Constitution states all people have the right to life, liberty and
freedom. This is a bit idealistic because one person\'s liberty may infringe
upon another person\'s freedom.