Heather Arnold Essay, Research Paper
Democracy is a form of government in which citizens agree to work together in ruling a state. Today, the essential features are that citizens bee free? in speech and in assembly. This agreement between the citizens must be accomplished in order to form competing political parties, so all voters are able to choose the candidates in regular elections. The tem democracy comes from the Greek words demos, meaning people, and kratia, meaning rule. The first democratic forms of government developed in Greek city-states in the sixth century BC. Although the term demos is said to mean just the poor, Aristotle?s Constitution of Athens shows that all citizens were included and fully participated in the government. Minors, women, slaves, and foreigners were even included, although about ninety percent of the population were not citizens. Then the Greek democratic establishments collapsed. Democratic ideas did not reappear until the seventeenth century. The new United States of America became the first modern democratic state. In the twentieth century, most states have called themselves democratic. Aristotle wrote that constitutional democracy might be the ideal form of government. ?A man is by nature a political animal. He believed that the community and its people try to do good in the eyes of the government. Everyone is equal, whether they be a statesman, a king, or a household manager. They all have the same rights. The government should be divided into smaller parts rather than one large government. Nothing is broken faster than a man?s word. A man is trusted to make a promise and to keep that promise. Aristotle also believe that everything starts out small and simple. Then it grows and grows, forming the circle of life. This also includes communities becoming cities and states. Communities start out as families, the eldest ruling the rest of the family. Even a family needs some type of government. Another belief is that everything is natural. What is meant to be will happen. It is the people?s fault if they are not willing to accept the truth and let nature take its course. If people refuse to agree with what is meant to be, the whole body shall be destroyed. If a man is unable to live in society, he must be either a beast or a god. He is no part of the state. A social instinct is inborn in all men by nature. What is meant by a democratic government? This country?s morals are based on a constitution. Everything in the Constitution of the United States is a basic knowledge to everyone in America today. Three philosophers are famous for influencing our American form of government. These philosophers are John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Locke argued that the political state was made to protect the ?natural rights? of the citizen to life, liberty, and property. If the state does not fulfill that guarantee, the people have the right to overthrow the government. These rights remain with the individual. According to Hobbes, the individual?s natural rights to be self-governed was given by the means of a social contract to an absolute ruler. The natural state of humans is a constant war with each other; their lives are nasty, brutal, and short. Each man could do as he pleases, and in the manner that he chooses. Hobbes concluded that a rebellion against the state breaks society?s basic contract, and is punishable by law. Rousseau stated that political authority reflects the general will of the people. One important principle is freedom, which the state is created to preserve. The state is a created union and expresses the general will of the people. The general will is to secure freedom, equality, and justice within a state, regardless of the will of the majority. The most important of these is that humans are basically good, and the natural goodness of the individual can be protected from the corrupting influences of society. Individual sovereignty is given up in order for these goals to be accomplished. Society must be dealt with. The element of Rousseau?s thinking is also viewed as the basis of totalitarianism?s, where a dictator interprets the general will. All three of these men believed in the idea that all men are born free, meaning that all men all men are not born bound by any certain country. They also believed that all men strive for an order in life, and strive to remain free. These men do not want to be on the bottom of the social totem pole, so to speak, and do what the can to better themselves and their lives. Men also organize by agreements, by forming contracts. This brings us to writing these contracts, such as a constitution. A social contract is written down between those who wish to be governed and those who wish to govern, example being President Clinton governing the United States. This contract defines and regulates the relations among members of society and between the individual and governing authority. Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau also believed that if a leader is chosen and is not honorable to and for the people, he can be removed from his political office. If a man agrees to be governed, he also agrees to obey the law. No man has the right to lay down another man?s law. This must include the punishments ?dished ? out for a crime he has committed. Take, as an example, a man who has just murdered another man. No man shall have the right to kill anyone else. Therefore, he gets the electric chair, lethal injection, or some serious jail time. The laws are different in each state, but they all revolve around the same principle. Man is the best of animals when perfected, but he is not separated from law or justice. The laws of justice are influential for want of natural support. If a man did not agree to be governed, there would be total anarchy. And if he that judges , judges incorrectly in his own or any other case, he is answerable to the rest of mankind.Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau helped influence some of our founding fathers of this great nation, along with an English philosopher named James Harrington. He believed that a strong middle class is necessary for a stable democracy. He also believed in a limited, balanced government.Another man who helped influence our founding fathers was Alexis de Tocqueville. He helped establish the European view of the United States as the land of unlimited opportunity, equality, and political wisdom. He felt that democracy was an inevitable force. He feared that the ideas that he valued would be jeopardized by the tyranny of the majority.All of these influences mentioned were taken into consideration when the Constitution of the United States was written. If you read the Constitution, you will notice that it has the same basic theme as these men?s ideas and beliefs.