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American Government Structure and Foundation" to a group of new citizens, what would you say?
I want you to know that it just doesn't get any better than this. In everything I say today, you're going to notice some really negative things. But every time you think I'm complaining, keep in mind that I know -- it just doesn't get any better than this. America has the worst form of government imaginable, except for every other kind of government in existence.
Let me tell you a few secrets about American Government Structure and Foundation. Officially, it's a republic. That means the people get to elect representatives who they trust to govern them, and those rulers are subject to other external checks and balances such as judges, and constitutions and so forth. The external checks serve to protect the rights of the individual from the tyranny of the majority, and representation serves to protect the rights of the majority from the tyranny of the individual. In theory, everyone's rights are equally protected, and representatives are chosen whose interests and decisions reflect the interest and decisions of the majority. The greatest strength of the American Government is in its theory.
However, it doesn't really work like that. In reality, the majority is not entirely represented, and the oppressed minority does not have its rights protected. This is because America now functions like a Psuedo-Republican Ogliarchy. Elections are decided by financial concerns, as are decisions made in office. The greatest weakness of the American system, since the beginning, has been considered by thinkers such as Tocqueville to be its tendency towards tyranny of the majority over the minority. Strangely, it has shown its true weakness to be the ease by which the majority can be coerced into tyrannizing itself.
The system was designed for small, independently functioning states, in which representatives could be largely known by their constituents and in which federal power was limited so that all issues could be understood on a local level by an honestly informed public. The creation of mass media and its dominance by the financial giants of the new aristocracy changed this dynamic. Today representatives are largely known as "public" figures filtered and in many ways created entirely by the corporate media. People make decisions based on information which is skewed, and elect representatives who are more dedicated to their donors than their voters. Ignorance combines with fear to convince the majority that they control their own lives and decisions.
By playing the majority against the minority (with straw-man issues of race, abortion, sexuality, and even welfare) the corporate aristocracy is able to convince them to waive their own freedoms in return for the illusion that they are controlling negative aspects of culture. The majority tyrannizes the minority, while being itself tyrannized by a smaller aristocratic minority.
Because our system depends so heavily on the media, it is prone to manipulation. Because it depends on the will of the majority, it is prone to over-reaction. Because it depends on the wealthy, it is prone to abuse. Yet the foundation is strong.
The foundation of the system is a deathless belief in the equality of rights protected by law, a strong libertarian sentiment of freedom of rights from interference of law, and a belief in the ability of people to control their own lives. To the degree that these beliefs are able to influence the system, it will remain strong. To the degree that these beliefs are eclipsed by the fear mongering of the media and the money mongering of the corporations, the system is weak and destructive.
It just doesn't get any better than this, of course. It doesn't get better until citizens are willing to force it to be better, by taking responsibility as a majority for their decisions, and depending on something other than the media and the corporate aristocracy. Whether or not the current system has gone too far to be redeemed to that point it hard to say.
2. Our United States Constitution guarantees the right to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." What does this mean to you? Is it possible to have too much freedom?
I do not believe it is possible for a nation to allow for too much freedom, though it may be possible for an individual to allow themselves too much freedom. Yet that is a moral decision to be left to the individual's conscience. As for the nation or state, there is no freedom too great to be reserved for the people save freedom which directly interfere with the freedoms and rights of another. Freedom is the greatest expression of human existence. Though it is difficult to explain the importance of freedom, it has been understood by children, revolutionaries, and philosophers everywhere as that aspect of existence which makes the fullest advancement of the human spirit possible.
To me, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that each person out to have an undenied right to do whatever they like --no matter how annoying or repulsive or unusual those choices may be-- so long as their choices do not actively endanger or destroy the physical integrity and health of others, or violate their intrinsic rights to integrity of property and person. Likewise no person should be forced to do any thing against their will, unless they have violated the social contract by first forcing their will on another and thus violating their rights of personal and intellectual integrity. This is freedom in its most basic form -- the freedom to do and to abstain from doing as the conscience sees fit.
Such freedom allows for the evolution of society and the individual. By allowing the uncomfortable and the strange to coexist with the daily, to allow for radical ideas and radical changes, such freedom is the building blocks of a developing society. Even those things which seem strange may in time prove to be progressive. Those things which may seem least productive to a good society may prove most important to a free society.
Of such freedom, there cannot be too much. These freedoms need not extend to "corporations" or organizations, which are not human and do not have human rights -- it would be fair to demand action and refraint from action for such groups. Individuals should be allowed to do as they please, and to do as they please with their own money. However, when the organization reaches the point that it is beyond a mere individual or individual business, then it seems more legitimate to restrict the actions of the organization itself.
The idea that there can be "too much" freedom is only suggested by those who do not truly love freedom. Any destruction of freedom, no matter how small, begins to erode the love of freedom inherent in the people. By taking away their choices in small measures, they become accustomed to surrendering them in large measure. So freedom must be maintained diligently in all matters, large and small.
Freedom which is dependent on the government's permission to exist, rather than being recognized as superior to the government, is inherently at risk. It has become increasingly popular in the ages since the foundation of America to impinge on small freedoms in favor of greater security. However it seems true, looking over the course of history, that those who sacrifice freedom for security end up with neither security nor freedom. For security must be security of some thing -- of life, or of property -- and it is freedom which protects this things, more than anything else. Giving up the guardianship of one's rights to the government makes it doubly likely that they will be abridged, both by those who were originally posing a threat and by the government itself. To sacrifice freedom, which protects rights, for security which is nothing more or less than the enjoyment of those rights, is senseless.
3. Discuss the differences between a dictatorship, aristocracy and democracy, including advantages and disadvantages of each.
Three main forms of government have dictated the lives of people, through history, though there have of course been many incarnations of them. These are dictatorship, aristocracy, and democracy.
Dictatorships are the dominance of a single individual over the people of a nation. These range in strength from a depotism in which that single individual has absolute power, to a more limited case in which the dictator must answer to the army or to powerful land owners, elders, or other forces. However, it is not considered to be a dictatorship, obviously, if the dictator (which may alternately be referred to as a king, emperor, or even president) does not have the majority of the power consolidated within his hands.
An aristocracy is a situation in which powerful land owners or other wealthy individuals have significant power, though they generally answer to a leader of some sort. The strength of control within this situation may vary between a…[continue]
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