American Government Chapter One: The Democratic Republic
Why do we need government? • Government is the institution which makes decisions to resolve conflicts and allocate benefits and privileges • Government maintains order and security in all sectors of the nation (order and liberty are two core political values often at odds) • Concept of legitimacy: Popular acceptance of the right and power of a government to exercise authority
Representative Government • What is the difference between direct and indirect government? • Which would you rather have?
Why isn’t Direct Democracy a Perfect Ideal Form of Government? • Could lead to instability • Are average citizens truly capable of making big decision? • Can we be too easily swayed by demagogues? • Are we likely to hand over our rights to “go with the flow?”
Is the US a direct democracy? • NO! • We are a democratic republic based on popular sovereignty but which uses representative democracy to achieve the ends set forth by the people
Types of Government • Totalitarianism (fascism and communism) • Authoritarianism (different from totalitarianism because not all of society is controlled by the ruler, just the government) • Aristocracy (rule by the upper class) • Theocracy (rule by a religious group) • Oligarchy (rule by a select few) • Democracy (rule by the people) • Anarchy (lack of a government)
Political Socialization • What is it? It’s the process by which political beliefs and values are transmitted to new Americans. • What are its sources? Its two main sources are family and the educational system. How do you see family and schools instilling political beliefs into young people?
Ideological Grid • See Figure 1-1 in your book, page 20
Open Question: Could America Elect a Dictator? • Free elections • Role of the courts • Checks and balances (impeachment, power of the purse) • Patriot Act?