Democracy in America Analysis of Government Actions Term Paper

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Democracy in America:

Analysis Of Government Actions In Recent Times

Tocqueville visited the United States back in 1800s and it was then that he wrote his masterpiece, Democracy in America. This book contains details of what the philosopher witnessed during this trip. His views and thoughts were then collected to form a theory of politics and art in connection with democracy and presented them in this book. Tocqueville thus is considered one of the most important authors to have written anything on the democratic system of the United States in philosophical terms. His book is similar to ancient philosophical works of Plato and Aristotle in nature and style even though the actually contents differ. Not only did Tocqueville talk about democratic form of government in our country, he also presented his views on how democracy affects the art and literature. It is in these passages that we get to hear something truly enlightening and different and come to understand that political system does affect various facets of a society. Not only the type of regime that exists in one's country influences one's thinking, it also has a profound impact on the literature written and poetry composed in that region. As Drescher (1968) observed:

OF all the projections of social development written at the juncture of the industrial and democratic revolutions in Western Europe, or, at least at the moment of greatest psychological impact, Alexis de Tocqueville's analysis remains one of the most enduring and remarkable. It takes its place beside the optimistic vision of a scientific-industrial society, forecast by the Saint-Simonians and Positivists, and the specter of total social crisis and transformation prophesied by Marx. All three portraits of the future were derived from an emphasis on a salient characteristic of the present, perceived as its principal tendency." (p. 1)

Tocqueville offered clear and precise analysis of American democracy and felt that while the aim of democratic states to look after the well being of its people, it should not shoulder the responsibility of thinking for its people. This is a very intelligent observation made by Tocqueville, which needs to be studied closely with reference to our current democratic structure and the way, our government has behaved in the last few years.

America is one of the most influential democracies in the world and it also staunchly supports democratic rule around the globe. But what exactly is meant by democracy, what exactly are the responsibilities of a democracy and how are people supposed to live under a democratic rule, what are their rights and how much freedom should they expect. These are some very important questions must be answered carefully in order to judge how much real freedom do we have. Are we allowed to think for ourselves or does the government control our thinking, our lives, our budgets and our view of the world. Let us begin this questioning session with the long standing conflict between state and church and let us asks ourselves if we actually enjoy the freedom as promised by the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution. The first amendment explicitly states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

However while the first amendment clearly implies that religion will be used for discrimination and that every citizen will be free to practice his religion, we need to question the implementation of this law especially in these days when religion has become a basis of discrimination and Moslems are being presented as terrorists. If five followers of a certain religion resort to terrorism, does it mean that the religion itself is to blame? That is what we are being taught by the government and the media. The American public is being told repeatedly that Islam and terrorism are synonymous and the media is shaping public opinion in this connection only to gather enough support for President Bush's actions against Iraq and Afghanistan. Media is controlling our view of one religious group and we must not forget that this media is in turn being influenced by our government. The government uses media to shape public opinion as Susan Akram (2002) writes in her very informative article:

Feeding already-existing stereotypes in American society about Arabs and Muslims, media and film have found a ready audience for dangerous and one-dimensional images. Jack Shaheen's meticulous work reviewing 900 Hollywood films over a period of four years is the most convincing evidence of deliberate vilifying of Arabs and Muslims by the movie industry...Moreover, the U.S. Department of Defense has cooperated with Hollywood in making over 14 films showing American soldiers killing Arabs or Muslims."

The Bush administration has not only violated the rights of Muslims granted by the Constitution but they have also been denied their basic human rights. They no longer feel safe and secure in their homes and even Moslems living in far flung areas of the world are being threatened with military actions simply because they follow Islam. This is discri9mination at its peak, which shows that our present government doesn't believe in keeping religion separate from state affairs.

If the government had been doing this in isolation, we probably wouldn't have had any complaints, but Bush administration is using media to influence public opinion. Most Americans today feel that President Bush is waging a war against terrorism and completely fail to see that the main target of his actions is one specific religious group. What is common between Afghanistan and Iraq? Their religion. This says a great deal about the way our present government discriminates on the basis of religion.

Isn't freedom to think and choose, the most fundamental right granted by democracy. This doesn't appear to be the case in present day America where government determines everything from the way we think about an issue to the amount of money we can spend on certain goods. I wonder how is democracy, as it exists in America today any different from totalitarian rule of socialist governments.

The fact that government controls and molds our thinking is evident from the results of one poll in which people widely supported Bush's military plans against Saddam even though we know better the reality of weapons of mass destruction. This is what Price of Washington Times (2001) found:

Americans overwhelmingly support making Saddam Hussein a target of the U.S. war on terrorism, with three-quarters of those contacted saying the Iraqi dictator should be attacked, according to a new Reuters/Zogby poll. The survey of 1,023 registered voters found that 56% of respondents "strongly agree" and 18% "somewhat agree" the war against terrorism - now focused on Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime - should be expanded to include Saddam's regime in Iraq."

The government today has clearly decided to not let the public think for itself. We have allowed the government to make decision for us and to do our thinking for us which is the sole reason government now feels free to take any kind of action not taking its long-term consequences in account. One concrete example of this is the misguided obsession of Bush administration to topple government in Moslem states. What Bush fails to realize is that this will never bring an end to terrorism and is most likely to out American citizens in grave danger around the world as Gray (2002) notes: "One reason why the Bush administration's obsession with securing a change of regime in Iraqis so badly misguided is that it will do little to hamper the activities of terrorists, and -- by further alienating the Arab world -- may end up making the job of containing…[continue]

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