unit 1 Portfolio
LO 1.A.1: Compare how various models of representative democracy are reflected through major institutions, policies, events, or debates in the U.S.
- These models of democracy are seen through the unique ideals and beliefs that they portray. For example, if all the members of a small town get together to discuss politics, it is evident that this is a participatory democracy. Additionally, when various organizations seek to influence the government through their numbers and shared ideology, it is clear that a pluralist democracy is under way. Another democracy that is seen is the elite democracy. This form of democracy is evident when a small, wealthy minority attempts to control the government through their status and power.
- Some of theses foundational documents are the Federalist Papers and the Brutus Papers. In the Federalist Papers, there was a strong dislike of factions and they often shared a common belief that a republic was the only way to control the effects of these factions and unify the vast United Sates. Similarly, the Brutus Papers also believed in a Republic because they thought that a confederation of small republics would be insufficient to control the United States. They also believed that the powers of the large states should be restricted so that the small states could have a fair say in the government.
- Federalists and Anti-federalists shared some common ideas about the betterment of their government, but most of their beliefs were very different. Federalists believed in a strong national government and they favored a central banking system and central financial policies. They also completely supported the Constitution. Anti-Federalists, on the other hand, believed in a weak central government and preferred that power be held in the states and local governments. They also opposed the ratification of the Constitution because it did not address unalienable rights. Later when the Bill of Rights was passed, Anti-Federalists also came to support the ratification of the Constitution.
- The fear of a strong central government is evident in the provisions of the Articles of Confederation. Because the United Sates had just defeated Britain, they feared that creating a central government would be seen as an act of dictatorship and a return to the old form of government. This is why the Articles of Confederation called for a complete approval by all of the states for any changes to the articles; something that is nearly impossible to accomplish and which demonstrates the fear of a central government. The central government was also not allowed to collect taxes from the other states and often had to borrow money in order to maintain order and fund their army.
- An example of a constitutional compromise that addressed an economic issue was that seen during the Great Depression. Because the impact of the Great Depression was so great, neither the state or central governments could fix the problems on their own. It wasn't until Roosevelt proposed his new Deal reforms that the economy started to get better. Roosevelt understood that in order to fix this issue, the national and state governments would have to work together, and by doing so, they were able to reverse the effects of the depression and put the economy back on its feet. This practice was unheard of before because the Constitution had a strict set of rules that were reserved for both the central and state governments. However, this union was made possible through the utilization of the necessary and proper clause and it allowed for a cooperative form of government to exist
- The issues raised in the ratification debate are still seen in the controversy over central v. state rights. There is still discussion regarding whether the national government is too powerful or if it should be given more power to ensure cooperation between the other states. There is also controversy over federal laws restricting the laws that the states themselves pass. An example of this is the legalization of marijuana in some states. Although the states have legalized this drug, the national government still sees it as illegal and will sentence a jail sentence if they prosecute victims in a federal court.
- Separation of powers and checks and balances are both designed so that no one branch of government becomes too powerful and renders the other branches obsolete. Separation of powers divides the government into three branches; Judicial, Legislative, and and Executive. This maintains a balance of power in the government and it keeps tyranny from taking over the government. Checks and balances grant each branch of government a unique set of powers that are used to check the power of the other branches. This way, no one branch of government can become too powerful and the government is left open for fair and equal representation.
- The distribution of power among the three branches of government affects policy making in many ways. For example, passing a law that is unpopular with any of the other branches of government is very difficult because of their ability to veto. This leads many of the branches of government to utilize alternative methods to pass their laws and often result in campaigning strategies that market their ideas in the hope of gaining support for their beliefs.