History of democracy of the USA



           THE HISTORY OF DEMOCRACY OF THE USA



WHAT DO AMERICANS MEAN WHEN THEY USE THE WORD УDEMOCRACYФ?
     Abraham Lincoln, one of the best-loved and most respected of  America's
presidents, said that the US had a government Уof the people, by the  people
and for the peopleФ. He called the United  Slates  "a  nation  conceived  in
liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men  are  created  equal."
No one has formulated a better way  of  describing  the  principles  of  the
American political system, as Americans  understand  it.  The  Constitution,
laws and traditions of the United  States  give  the  people  the  right  to
determine who will be the leader of their nation, who  will  make  the  laws
and what the laws will be. The people have the power to change  the  system.
The Constitution guarantees individual freedom to all.



HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF DEMOCRACY

  - Democracy as a form of government disappeared from ancient  Greece  and,
over the  centuries,  the  translation  of  the  principles  and  ideals  of
democracy into practice has  been  very  rare  throughout  the  world.  Most
people have been ruled by kings, queens,  emperors  or  small  elite  groups
and, except for certain members of the nobility,  the  people  have  had  no
voice in their government. That was the situation in Europe in 1492.
- By the 1700s, England had established 13 colonies in the eastern  part  of
what is now the United States.
- Some of the early British colonists had come to the New World in hopes  of
enriching themselves; others came because. Britain forced them  to  leave  Ц
they were troublemakers or people who could not pay their debts.  Some  came
because of the opportunity, which did not exist for them in Europe,  to  own
land or practice a trade.
- In the course of its long history as a nation,  Great  Britain  had  taken
several steps toward democracy. England (including Wales) had  a  parliament
winch made laws, and most people enjoyed a degree of individual freedom.
- William Penn, a member of the Religious Society of  Friends,  founded  the
colony of Pennsylvania, where he set up laws protecting freedom of  religion
and speech. Those laws also enabled the Pennsylvania  colonists  to  have  a
voice in their local government.
- Life in the colonies also helped strengthen democratic ideas. They had  to
work together to build shelter, provide food, clear the land for  farms  and
in general to make their new home land  livable  for  them.  This  need  for
cooperation  and  sharing,  combined  with  a   belief   in   individualism,
strengthened the idea that in the New World people were equal; that  no  one
should have special rights and privileges.
- Each colony had its own government



WAR AND INDEPENDENCE

- The British government required people to pay  taxes,  but  gave  them  no
voice in pausing the tax laws. The British motherland  determined  what  the
colonists could produce and with whom they could trade.
- In  1774, a group  of  leaders  from  the  colonies  met  and  formed  the
УContinental CongressФ, which informed the king  of  the  colonistsТ  belief
that, as free Englishmen, they should have a voice in determining laws  that
affected them. The king and the conservative government in  London  paid  no
heed to the concerns of the colonists, and many  colonists  felt  that  this
was an injustice,  which  gave  them  reason  to  demand  independence  from
Britain. In 1775,  fighting  broke  out  between  New  England  militia  and
British soldiers.
-  On  July  4,  1776,  Continental  Congress  issued   a   Declaration   of
Independence, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson,  a  farmer  and  lawyer
from the colony of Virginia. The Declaration described  them  as  "free  and
independent  slates"  and  officially  named  them  the  United  Stales   of
America.The document says that all people are created equal, that  all  have
the right to УLife, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
-With help from France, England's old enemy, and from other  Europeans,  the
American armies, led by George Washington, a surveyor and  gentleman  farmer
from Virginia, won the War of  Independence.  The  peace  treaty  signed  in
1783.



                 THE AMERICAN


            POLITICAL SYSTEM



CONSTITUTION

- During the war,  the  states  had  agreed  to  work  together  by  sending
representatives to a national congress  patterned  after  the  "Congress  of
Delegates" that conducted the war with England. It would raise money to  pay
off debts of the war,  establish  a  money  system  and  deal  with  foreign
nations in  making  treaties.  The  agreement  that  set  up  this  plan  of
cooperation was called the Articles of Confederation.
- Many Americans worried about the future. How could they  win  the  respect
of other nations if the states did not  pay  their  depts?  How  could  they
improve .the country by building roads or canals if  the  stales  would  not
work together? They believed that the Congress needed more power.
- The plan for the government was written  in  very  simple  language  in  a
document called the Constitution of the United Slates. The Constitution  set
up a federal system with a strong central government. A  federal  system  is
one  in  which  power  is  shared  between  a  central  authority  and   its
constituent parts, with some rights reserved to each. The Constitution  also
called for the election of a national leader, or president.
- Two main fears shared by most Americans: one fear was that one  person  or
group, including the majority, might become  too  powerful  or  be  able  to
seize control of the country and create a tyranny,  another  fear  was  that
the new central government might weaken or take away the power of the  state
governments to run their own affairs. To deal  with  this  the  Constitution
specified exactly what power central government  had  and  which  power  was
reserved for the states.
- Representatives of various states noted  that  the  Constitution  did  not
have any words guaranteeing the freedoms or the basic rights and  privileges
of citizens. Though the Convention delegates did not think it  necessary  to
include such explicit guarantees, many people felt that they needed  further
written protection against tyranny. So, a "Bill of Rights" was added to  the
Constitution.



LEGISLATIVE BRUNCH

- can make federal laws, levy federal taxes,  declare  war  or  put  foreign
treaties into effect.
Х The House of Representatives: two-year terms,  each  member  represents  a
district  in  his  state  according   to   the   population   of   it,   435
representatives in the United States House of Representatives.
Х The Senate: six-year terms each state has two senators, only one-third  of
the Senate is elected every two  years,  experienced  senators  in  Congress
after each election.
- A bill is read, studied in committees, commented on  and  amended  in  the
Senate or House chamber in which it was introduced. It is then  voted  upon.
If it passes, it is sent to  the  other  house  where  a  similar  procedure
occurs. Members of both houses work together in "conference  committees"  if
the chambers have passed different versions of the  same  bill.  Groups  who
try to persuade Congressmen to vote for or  against  a  bill  are  known  as
"lobbies". When both houses of Congress pass a bill on which they agree,  it
is sent to the president for his signature. Only after  it  is  signed  does
the bill become a law.



THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH

- The chief executive is the president, who is elected to a two-year term.
- The president,  as  the  chief  formulator  of  public  policy,  can  veto
(forbid) any bill passed by Congress. The veto can be overridden by  a  two-
thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. As head of  his
political party, with ready access to the  news  media,  the  president  can
easily influence public opinion regarding issues  and  legislation  that  he
deems vital.
- The president is commander in chief of the armed forces.
-  The  major  departments  of  the  government  are  headed  by   appointed
secretaries  who  collectively  make  up  the  president's   cabinet.   Each
appointment must be confirmed by a  vote  of  the  Senate.  Today  these  13
departments are: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice,  Interior,  Agriculture,
Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and  Urban  Development,
Transportation, Energy and Education.
- The president is primarily responsible for foreign  relations  with  other
nations.  The  president  often  represents  the  United  States  abroad  in
consultations with other heads of state,  and,  through  his  officials,  he
negotiates treaties with over countries. Such treaties must be  approved  by
a two-thirds vote of  the  Senate.  Presidents  also  negotiate  with  other
nations less formal "executive agreements" that are not  subject  to  Senate
approval.



THE JUDICIAL BRANCH

- The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme  Court,  which  is  the  only
court specifically created by the Constitution. In  addition,  the  Congress
has established 11 federal courts of appeal  and,  below  them,  91  federal
district  courts.  Federal  judges  are  appointed  for  life  or  voluntary
retirement, and can only be removed  from  office  through  the  process  of
impeachment and trial in the Congress.
-  Federal  courts  have  jurisdiction  over  cases  arising  out   of   the
Constitution: laws and  treaties  of  the  United  States:  maritime  cases;
issues involving foreign citizens or governments; and  cases  in  which  the
federal government itself is a party.
- The Supreme Court today consists of a chief justice  and  eight  associate
justices. The  Court's  most  important  function  consists  of  determining
whether  congressional  legislation  or  executive   action   violates   the
Constitution. This power of judicial review  is  not  specifically  provided
for by the Constitution.


CHECKS AND BALANCES

Х If Congress proposes a law  that  the  president  thinks  is  unwise,  the
president can veto  it.  That  means  the  proposal  does  not  become  law.
Congress can enact the law despite the president's views only if  two-thirds
of the members of both houses vote in favor of it.
Х If Congress passes a law  which  is  then  challenged  in  the  courts  as
unconstitutional. the Supreme  Court  has  the  power  to  declare  the  law
unconstitutional and therefore no longer in effect.
Х The president has the power to make treaties with  other  nations  and  to
make all appointments  to  federal  positions,  including  the  position  of
Supreme Court justice. The Senate, however, must approve  all  treaties  and
confirm all appointments before  they  become  official.  In  this  way  the
Congress can prevent the president from making unwise appointments.



BILL OF RIGHTS

- To  all  Americans,  another  basic  foundation  of  their  representative
democracy is the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791. This consists of  10  very
short paragraphs, which guarantee freedom and individual rights  and  forbid
interference  with  the  lives  of  individuals  by  the  government.   Each
paragraph is an Amendment to the original Constitution.
- Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom  of  religion,  of  speech  and  of  the
press. Americans have the right to assemble in  public  places,  to  protest
government actions and to demand change. They have the right to own  weapons
if they wish. Because of the Bill of Rights,  neither  police  nor  soldiers
can slop and search a person without good reason. They also cannot search  a
person's home without legal permission from a court to do so.
- Bill of Rights guarantees  Americans  the  right  to  a  speedy  trial  if
accused of a crime. Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden.
- 16 amendments to the Constitution as of 1991:  guarantee  citizenship  and
full rights of citizenship to all people regardless  of  race,  gives  women
the right to vote and another lowered the national voting age to 18 years.




	

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