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AMERICAN IDEALS and the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION PowerPoint Presentation
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AMERICAN IDEALS and the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION

AMERICAN IDEALS and the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION

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AMERICAN IDEALS and the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION

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  1. AMERICAN IDEALS and the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION Cont’d May 14th, 2003

  2. 3.) Limits on Government • Bill of Rights • the first Ten Amendments (1789) • “Congress shall make no law...”

  3. Amending the Constitution (Article V) • Methods of Amending the Constitution • Proposing Amendments... • 2/3 of both Houses of Congress • or 2/3 of state legislatures • Ratifying Amendments... • 3/4 of states (either by the state legislature or special convention)

  4. Recent Amendments/Proposals for Amendment • 27th Amendment (1992) -- Congressional Pay • Equal Rights Amendment • Flag Amendment • Balanced Budget Amendment

  5. Assessing the American Constitutional Framework (...from a democratic perspective) • bicameral legislature • indirectly elected president (e.g. electoral college) • unelected Supreme Court • separation of powers/checks and balances • federalism • formal limits on the powers of government • rigid constitution

  6. Democracy -- Protection of Individual Rights Protection of Individual Rights Low (Emphasis on General Welfare) High UNITED STATES

  7. Final Point... • American Constitution grounded in emphasis on rights of individual and limits on government • American emphasis on mass political participation emerged out of American political context, political culture and political practice

  8. AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE American Political Ideals May 14th, 2003

  9. POLITICAL CULTURE: What is It? • value consensus regarding the appropriate method of making political decisions and the appropriate spheres subject to political decision-making • constitution (formal rules of the game)/political culture (operational rules of the game) • both about process and outcome

  10. POLITICAL CULTURE:What is It? • CHARACTERISTICS • consensus -- not monolith • enduring -- not transitory • different from (but related to) political ideology • more complex, less consistent than ideology

  11. Elements of American Political Culture • liberty • egalitarianism • equality of opportunity • mass democracy/populism • individualism and individual responsibility • voluntarism • moral absolutism • patriotism

  12. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • IMMIGRATION • religious/ethnic background • fleeing religious persecution • emphasis on liberty • puritanism • moral absolutism • protestantism • distrust of hierarchy • protestant work ethic • voluntarism

  13. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • GEOGRAPHY • more land than labour • undermined development of rigid social hierarchy • reinforced emphasis on individualism • frontier imagery • settlement preceded authority

  14. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • HISTORICAL EVENTS • American Revolution • patriotism • emphasized liberty and democracy • American Civil War • emphasized idea of “one nation”

  15. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • ECONOMY • dynamic, rapidly growing economy • reinforced notions of equality of opportunity, individualism, and individual responsibility

  16. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS • reflect political culture but also reinforce it • constitutional emphasis on individual rights and limited government • political practice emphasizing mass participation

  17. POLITICAL CULTURE:Where Does It Come From? • PLACE IN THE WORLD • major superpower • doctrine of isolationism ultimately unsustainable • reinforced patriotism and moral absolutism

  18. Main Point! • American politics is shaped by various values (sometimes contradictory) which arose out of the historical context in which the US political system developed • these values and the historical context have been self-reinforcing • this political culture is widely shared and deeply embedded • commitment to these values is often shared by those critical of American political practice