Is The United States A Model Democracy? Writing Sample

Introduction

A democracy is defined as a system of government that gives power to the people, who exercise it directly or indirectly by electing representatives to act on their behalf. The United States of America (USA) adopted a democratic style of government in 1776 that gives citizens the power to elect individuals who make laws to govern the country. The nation’s democracy is characterized by six main factors: free and open elections, majority rule, popular sovereignty, individual rights, inclusion, and free elections.

In that regard, the US is a model democracy because it holds free, frequent, and inclusive elections, its citizens enjoy a wide range of individual freedoms and rights, and it promotes political equality and the inclusion of minorities. In addition, its institutions and processes are relatively transparent, and the system offers a meaningful choice among political alternatives.

Free, Frequent, and Inclusive Elections

One of the major qualities of a democracy is a free, frequent, and inclusive election process. Modern democracies conduct elections every few years in which voters are allowed to choose their leaders: they can either retain the existing ones or replace them with new ones. The US holds the presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives elections every four years in the federal, state, and local jurisdictions. Members of Congress are directly elected by voters in each state.

The citizens get the opportunity to choose individuals who represent them at all levels of government (Tocqueville 45). The president and the vice president are elected indirectly by citizens through the Electoral College. If none of the candidates receives a majority of the votes cast, the winner is chosen by the House of Representatives. If the House fails, the winner is elected by the Senate (Tocqueville 47). Members from all ethnic groups are allowed to vote and hold office at all government levels.

Meaningful Choice among Political Alternatives

The United States political system functions under a two-party system. Critics have argued that this system is inefficient because it does not offer enough choices to citizens who have diverse political ideologies. However, the two parties offer opposing alternatives that represent both ends of the American political spectrum. The two parties have different ideologies that the electorate can choose from when deciding the candidate to support in an election.

For instance, Democrats advocate for the establishment of a government that will improve the country’s social structures (Jackson 39). On the contrary, Republicans promote enhanced equality and communal responsibility (Jackson 40). They favor a government that plays a minor role in people’s lives. Both parties hold differing views on controversial matters such as abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, climate change, and voting rights, thus offering the electorate meaningful political alternatives.

Political Equality and Minority Inclusion

Political equality in the United States allows citizens to access political institutions, and it is founded on the Declaration of Independence that treats all people as equal and gives them the right to alter political institutions in order to protect their freedom (Allen). The proposition that all people are created equal is the basis of the United States’ political system (Jackson 45). Moreover, it promotes the inclusion of political minorities in the affairs of the nation. In that regard, all individuals are free to associate and express themselves, vote, and hold office (Allen). These rights are enjoyed by everyone, including political minorities.

Political analysts have argued that in modern democracies, the most important characteristic of political equality is the rights of citizens to the association and free expression (Tocqueville 58). The rights to vote and hold office were considered key elements of political equality in traditional democracies. The Constitution of the United States protects the citizens’ rights to association, expression, and contract, and as a result, promotes human dignity, capitalism and curbs social discrimination (Allen).

Individual Freedom and Expression

The Constitution of the United States protects the rights of American citizens. The Bill of Rights guarantees all citizens certain personal freedoms and rights and limits the power of the government with regard to key proceedings. It states that powers that are not awarded to the federal authority are reserved for the people of the states (Tocqueville 76). In that regard, people are free to express themselves, associate, keep and bear arms, belong to a religion of choice, decline unreasonable searches and seizures, and enjoy a speedy and public trial if accused of a crime. The government cannot use legislation or judicial interpretation to abridge or violate any of the aforementioned civil liberties without due process.

Transparency of Government Institutions and Processes

The Department of Justice issued the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines in 2009 in order to reaffirm the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability (Tocqueville 83). The guidelines require government institutions to engage in proactive disclosures and give timely responses to requests from the public. Government institutions and agencies utilize technology to disseminate information to the public and give timely responses. In 2013, President Obama issued the Open Data Policy that was aimed at increasing the level of data transparency and public accountability within government institutions (Jackson 61).

Great milestones have been attained, even though the policy’s implementation is lacking in some areas. Government institutions and processes are relatively open to public scrutiny. In the past few years, the police force has come under scrutiny due to reports of discriminatory arrests, excessive use of force during arrests, and brutality. The situation has improved because of increased accountability, primarily due to the implementation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that allows the Department of Justice to bring suits against law enforcement agencies that violate the rights of American citizens (Jackson 74). Many police officers have been sentenced to prison for violating the rights of individuals during arrests.

Conclusion

The United States is a model democracy because it fulfills all the requirements of modern democracy. It holds free, frequent, and inclusive elections, citizens enjoy several freedoms and rights, government institutions and processes are relatively transparent, and its democratic system promotes equality and offers meaningful political alternatives. Minority groups are not maligned even though they could be underrepresented in certain states. Moreover, these groups enjoy similar political privileges as those enjoyed by the majority. Elections are held regularly, and registered voters are given the opportunity to elect their leaders.

Moreover, they can contact them during the process of making laws to make suggestions or offer recommendations regarding new legislation. American citizens are free to express themselves, and they enjoy several rights that are protected by the constitution. Additionally, government processes and institutions are relatively transparent and accountable because several laws and policies have been implemented to make access to public information easier. In that regard, the United States can be regarded as a model democracy because it fulfills all the requirements of modern democracy as suggested by political scientists.

Works Cited

Allen, David. “Political Equality and the Task of American Democracy.” ABC Religion & Ethics. 2018. Web.

Jackson, John. The American Political Party System: Continuity and Change Over Ten Presidential Elections. Brookings Institution Press, 2015.

Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Xist Publishing, 2015.

Sociology Of Power And Women’s Rights History

Abstract

Women have been oppressed throughout the course of human history. In order to oppress others and enforce their will, a dominant group is required to have power. Without power, any human and humanitarian rights have no support and protection. For women, real changes began with the industrial revolution and the revolution within the household, enabling them to become financially independent. As it stands, women’s rights in western countries are protected by state laws. To ensure the longevity of these winnings, women must become physically equal to men as well.

Introduction

The 21st century is often called the century of female liberation, with women reclaiming their rights, agency over their actions and their bodies, and tarnishing down the last bastions of male privileges, such as the pay gap, the glass ceiling, and the underrepresentation of women in nearly every political institution on the planet. Numerous researches on the subject show that the enslavement of women throughout history was reinforced by various social institutions, such as religion, education, employment, tradition, military, and politics.

However, in order to understand the evolution of human society, one needs to study history from the very beginning, back when humans were little more than animals, with primitive tongues, cultures, tools, and societal organization. At some point in humanity’s early history, women were equal to men, if not superior. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the social evolution of women in relation to the sociology of power.

What is Power?

Before evaluating the evolution of women’s rights throughout human history, one must understand the relationship between rights and power. The definition of power fluctuated over the years, as different schools of sociology provided different meanings to the word. One of the most popular definitions of power was developed by Max Weber in 1922, stating that the word describes the ability to exercise one’s will over others (Wrong 2017).

The power lies at the core of dynamics in any social group, ranging from the smallest dyads and expanding towards families, organizations, and governments. There are different kinds of power, such as physical, intellectual, social, financial, political, and others (Wrong 2017). Some sorts of power are derived from others, with physical and intellectual powers being the primary parameters available to human beings.

The concept of power is invariantly connected to the concept of rights. It was created by humanistic philosophers, who theorized that individuals have certain unalienable rights to themselves, some of the most basic rights being the right to live, believe, and express oneself (Coates 2017). However, the legitimacy of rights is typically supported by moral values rather than physical power. In events of war and civil disorder, rights are often violated and broken, with no regard for the people suffering or moral retribution.

Based on these evaluations, it could be concluded that rights not protected by power are subject to being violated. In modern society, the rights of individuals are protected by the government and the police, who wield political and physical power in order to protect individuals whose rights are being violated and coerce the violators into submission. In the absence of legal power, lesser forms of power are being wielded by individuals to impose their own will upon others unchecked. Therefore, the aspect of rights in sociology is invariably submissive to the aspect of power.

Female Rights and the Historical Development of Human Race

As it has already been established, certain forms of power precede others. The majority of powers we know today, such as political, financial, social, and other types, exist within the realm of the state, which sets up the playing field and establishes the rules for others to follow. At the beginning of human existence, governments and other similar institutions did not exist. Humans as a species formed primitive groups and tribes, similar to animal packs (Stearns 2015).

Just like with animals, the primary type of power available to individuals was physical power. In addition, physical power could be used to purchase other kinds of power (such as social power) through physical performances to benefit themselves and the tribe (Stearns 2015). Hunting and gathering were the primary methods of providing sustenance, and doing so more successfully than others earned a person more goods and materials, which, in turn, could be turned into a rudimentary economic power over others.

If we compare an average male and female against one another, it will become obvious that physiologically, males had several advantages that females did not possess. On average, males are stronger than females, thus providing the potential to use physical power as a way of enforcing one’s will upon others. The second disadvantage females had was the necessity to give birth. However, during the period of pregnancy as well as birth, women are extremely vulnerable, unable to effectively hunt and gather, thus forced to rely on others for protection (Stearns 2015).

Unlike wild animals, who have specialized skills and physiological capabilities to help them survive and raise families on their own, the strengths of humans as a society lie in numbers, intelligence, and collective action. Thus, from the beginning of humans as a species, women were at a physiological disadvantage in terms of their capability to use certain forms of power.

Thus, in a tribal society, women were placed in a position where they were necessary for the survival of the tribe (thus more valuable to the group than the average male) while at the same time lacking the ability to exercise power to the same degree (Stearns 2015). Early states and governments that evolved from large tribes following the switch from a hunter-gatherer society and towards farming communities allowed males to limit women to the role they perceived fit them the best – the role of the mother and housekeeper. These parallels can be found in nearly every society, from Aztec and Mayan cultures to Europe and China (Hughes and Tripp 2015).

The rights of women were further obstructed by religion, which was used by many countries to solidify the power of a monarch (male) over others by lending them divine authority over their domain. Although nearly every country has an example of a strong and powerful female ruler at some point in their history, neither of them managed to create lasting change or significantly undermine the position of males in power within their society (Little and Winch 2017). The position of women thus worsened, when compared to their standing in early societies, as in addition to physical power, they now (as a class) lacked social, economic, political, and religious power.

The situation for women started to change only with the increased technological progress. With industrial growth and the development of home products that significantly improved the speed and quality of household chores, it became possible for women to enter the workforce, giving them one source of power they rarely possessed – financial independence (Oakley 2016). This significantly reduced the reliance of women on men as home providers. At the same time, the significance of physical force became much less of a factor in the majority of law-abiding western societies. With the relative equalization of opportunities, women became capable of purchasing other forms of power, including political, social, economic, and educational forms.

Matriarchy as a Historical Anomaly

Although there is no conclusive evidence about the existence of large societies and states with women holding the dominant position on all levels of societal hierarchy, there have been tribes and localities with women holding more power than in other countries around the world (Goettner-Abendroth 2018). These cases typically resulted from events that led to significant reductions in the male population (such as wars), which forced women to take their place and fill in the power vacuum left behind. One such example includes Vietnam, which traditionally had more women in positions of power when compared to their neighbors, such as China or Japan (Peou 2017). Even then, however, males were able to replenish their population and, in time, wrestle the power in the society back to the patriarchate.

Conclusions

Historical oppression of females started in the early history of humankind and continued throughout its course up to the present day. In the 21st century, women have more sources of power than they had 200 years ago, thanks to automatization and the introduction of women into the workforce. However, the security of women’s rights relies completely on the capability of the government to protect and enforce them. In other areas of the world, where the rule of law is not enforced (Middle East, Africa, parts of Asia), the position of women is much more vulnerable. In order to ensure complete equality and resilience of female rights, it is required for women to acquire physical power to enforce their will in order to compete with males in eventualities where all other systems of control and enforcement go down.

Reference List

Coates, Rodney D. 2017. “If Human Rights Mattered.” Sociological Forum 32(1): 217-291.

Goettner-Abendroth, Heide. 2018. “Re-thinking ‘Matriarchy’in Modern Matriarchal Studies Using Two Examples: The Khasi and the Mosuo.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 24(1): 3-27.

Hughes, Melanie M., and Aili M. Tripp. 2015. “Civil war and trajectories of change in women’s political representation in Africa, 1985–2010.” Social forces 93(4): 1513-1540.

Little, Ben, and Alison Winch. 2017. “Generation: the politics of patriarchy and social change.” Soundings 66(66): 129-144.

Oakley, Ann. 2016. “Interviewing Women Again: Power, Time, and the Gift.” Sociology 50(1): 195-213.

Peou, Sorpong. 2017. Cambodia: Change and Continuity in Contemporary Politics. New York: Routledge.

Stearns, Peter N. 2015. Gender in World History. New York: Routlege.

Wrong, Dennis. 2017. Power: Its Forms, Bases and Uses. New York: Routledge.

Election Campaigns And Logical Fallacies

Introduction

An election is a process of selecting a new person who will be responsible for representing the government or some other body. The general direction of a country’s movement depends on the decision of voters, who determine a specific composition of state and local bodies. It is important that people understand the essence of this political process and participate in the elections consciously. This paper aims to discuss three logical fallacies, an unfair election case and gerrymandering.

Campaigning, Voting, and Apportionment

The first fallacy is anecdotal that refers to using personal experience and omit sound arguments and evidence. For example, a candidate states that his or her brother avoids vaccination for his family, and none of them have related diseases. It is anecdotal, especially if the person denies the existing studies that prove the positive impact of immunization for children. The second reasoning failure is the appeal to emotions means that a person manipulates voters by evoking hatred, pride, fear, and other feelings (Thou Shalt Not).

For instance, if a candidate points to poor people of Africa while offering to increase the value-added tax, he or she refers to pity. Tu quoque (“you too”) is the third fallacy that implies avoiding to engage with criticism and support the argument. In case a person accused the opponent of being indifferent to women’s rights, the latter also claims that he or she failed to advocate for the same or some other problem. It is tu quoque since the opponent was expected to properly defend the argument instead of shifting the focus back.

A first-past-the-post (FPTP) is the voting system that is currently applied in the US and means that voters identify their choice, while the majority of voices determine the winner. For example, the recent elections were won by Trump, who is Republican, but Democrats won the House since the elections were held according to FPTP (Smith). The results of the mentioned case may not have been “fair” as Clinton seemed to have more voters, yet the coalition of those who gave their choice proved to be greater. The voting paradox is associated with the fact that the mentioned system’s goal of identifying the majority of voices was not met. One of the potential alternatives is approval voting, when a person may select several candidates, which can be implemented by steadily rejecting the existing system.

Apportionment is the challenge of dividing a particular number of objects among various groups of different sizes. It is significant since political representatives should be allocated properly among voters. For example, US history shows that the number of seats in the Senate is equal to every state, while the apportionment of the House’s seats is marked by the relative population of states. The recent article published in “Reuters” states that the Republican-managed legislature of Michigan should be reconsidered since the current geographical lines weaken the political power of Democrats (Ax). In this case, Republicans benefit from gerrymandering since they improve their impact on elections in their favor.

Conclusion

To conclude, the election system has various aspects that should be taken into account during campaigning and voting. It was revealed that there are various reasoning fallacies used by candidates to persuade their voters. The example with FPTP voting scheme was provided, and its results were discussed. The apportionment was considered an important issue to ensure that elections are fair, while gerrymandering was specified as the negative aspect that violates the balance of political powers.

Works Cited

Ax, Joseph. “U.S. Judges Order Michigan to Revamp Republican-Drawn Districts in Gerrymandering Case.Reuters, 2019. Web.

Smith, David. “’Democrats Won the House but Trump Won the Election’ – And 2020 Is Next.” The Guardian, 2018. Web.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Logical Fallacies. Logical Fallacies, n.d. Web.

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