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  • Subject area(s): Philosophy
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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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How has our readings and discussions influenced your understanding of the American political system? Highlighting the arguments from at least 3 readings explain how your understanding of our government has changed.

As a political science major there are two places to draw information from. Both current events and historical knowledge are important if one wishes to truly understand politics more deeply. Current events are more prevalent often because they are the circumstances surrounding people daily. They are more likely to influence political thoughts and perspective, because the people of a time period have more involved steaks in a situation that they are experiencing. However, the circumstances of people change, but never become irrelevant to the present. In this class what I\'ve learned the most is how disimular times can have similar problems. This knowledge base is completely relevant to my entire major.T his senior project class has allowed me to improve my knowledge across many other classes by supplementing it with documents that give context and background to many topics.

The most relevant reading is John Locke as his theories are a turning point, especially for American politics. John Locke is well known for the idea of the social contract. Around this time many political philosophers spoke about natural rights for humans in different forms. Some described it as unalienable right given by God. Others describe them as the freedom that mankind was born into. No matter what definition there was for this matter it was still believed by people that some rights humanity were born into, and no governmental body should have the latitude to take those away. What made John Locke\'s ideology so groundbreaking was he took natural rights to the next level with the concept of a social contract. One of the easiest ways to visualize the social contract is in the context of the United States Constitution. The colonies latched on to the ideas of John Locke. The U.S government was designed to be a social contract that was drafted by the people for the betterment of the people. A social contract calls for people to give up a certain amount of rights in exchange for a secure governing body, but still upholds some rights that should never be taken away. The U.S. Constitution, is a contract, that outlines a baseline of rights that then establish the relationship between government and the governed. By having his roots, so ingratiated into the Constitution learning from him is relevant completely in modern government.

Federalist paper 51 is also very comprehensive. The ideas of the Founding Fathers are expressed her. Publius, which is the Pseudonym for writings by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, on the other hand comes to the same conclusion but differs on the way it work. Throughout this essay the series of checks and balances are described as a necessary tug of war between each branch. Each branch has the incentive to take try and take power from the other branches, this is the check, while lacking the authority to actually take it, the balance. Publius takes the concept of ambition as something that will always be there for a branch of government. Though, the right to use that ambition should be earned, and should always be in the context of a role. None of the branches of government established were completely new concepts; what was new was the way they were set up and established.  This is where the contradictions of setting up checks and balances take place.

Finally, reading about Karl Marx gives an outside perspective on government that American readings avoid.The collection of text titled Marx and Marxism begins with by describing Communism as a specter haunting Europe. This metaphor introduces Communism as two things to the reader. The first being something  as something that is unknown, and delivers fear towards the haunted. The second is something that's is around and exist, but isn\'t truly alive. The former is a synopsis of the author\'s feeling towards the matter. The latter however gives the truest assessment of what Communism was at actually at that time. Marx and Marxism covers two text one from and written by Karl Marx and the other an interview of him. The throughlines of the text are the same though. These are the well-organized and heavily considered ideologies of a man who believed that people\'s selfishness(economic differences) prevented them from greatness, and then decided to craft a government around these ideas. Classism remains to be a untalked about root of many social ills of the modern time. Class division often perpetuates itself in other areas such as racism. Marx theories on Communism are one thing, but his way of describing the world as a struggle of class is wholly relevant.

These text each give insight into the time period they were written. They are also easily compared to the present. This class has been useful as it has helped guide expand my perspective on political thought through the use of text.

3) After the declaration of independence, what model of democracy prevailed in the states? What were its effects and how did that shape the view of the founders and their view of democracy? What tyranny was the states concerned with, what tyranny were the founders concerned with? How was each achieved? Which model of democracy do you believe is best for our system and why?

One of the best ways to gain insight on the government is to look at the documents that establish it. With regards to the United States to documents that do this well are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution states that we the people establish the government for justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare, and secure the blessings. The declaration of Independence, which precedes the Constitution, stakes claim to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Both of these documents state their purpose at the start. Government is an institution of the people for the people, which is why people are always considering the why of government. Each of these documents give important, yet different reasonings; the Declaration of Independence talks about civil liberties and the Preamble focuses on securing that liberty. The declaration of Independence main declaration was for a call for liberty for the British colonies. The famous slogan no taxation without representation embodied the sentiments of the American colonies or that time. The ideas of social contract theory combined with the people\'s need to prevent tyranny led to the want of a Participatory democracy that was also a Republic democracy. These beliefs eventually led to the first Government of the United States the Articles of Confederation. The idea was that a strong central government would be the same form of tyranny that existed earlier as the British government. The states just fought to gain independence from that, so why would they go back. The faults with the Articles were quickly acknowledged, and the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution afterwards. The United States Constitution still showed the Founding Father\'s fear of tyranny by a strong single entity as expressed by the various checks and balances in place. Today America has moved toward a cosmopolitan democracy model along with many other nations, but we still maintain that common thread.

The Founding Fathers common enemy was the British monarch which had already largely lost it\'s power. The true reason for animosity between the Founding Father\'s and the British government is that they understood how being ruled over by a non-present entity could inhibit the growth of an area. This along with their strong beliefs in natural rights gave them a focus to avoid when drafting both governments. Each state had a stake in this too. The states understood tyranny as a Central government that would prevent them from effectively ruling over territory which had different geographical needs. All involved parties however understood the importance of giving certain rights that a Democracy could not run without. Also, each side wanted to give concessions allowing no side to gain to much traction. Eventually, the need to avoid tyranny gave the United States a naturally methodical and slower government with many parts. Each part though has a stake in affecting our way of democracy. For example the Senate is bicameral meaning the states get equal representation in Congress, and so does the population.

The most important part of our system of Democracy is that it was claimed on the relationship between people made official by a document. That has allowed our government enough room to change certain aspects of the government towards the time. The best form of Democracy for the United States is the one that people believe in. Our country has been effective in different types our democracy without it affecting the overall population to heavily. At current times people use a Cosmopolitan Democracy. This means the states are mostly willing to treat the problems of the nation over the individual concerns of the nation, but largely work independently of another. Our states have different laws, education standards, and many other differences, but on larger issues the country moves together toward a direction. This is currently the best system, because technology has changed the amount of differences between individuals across states. If technology were to change again the model of democracy might also need a change.

Our Founding Fathers trepidation over power held in the hands of an unrepresentative entity is important, because they understand the importance of trust for the system. The United States has held up this long, because people trust this system even if they don\'t trust the people running it.

4) How does Separation of Powers prevent control, responsiveness, and accountability over government? What is the Jeffersonian model? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing (defend your answer)? Is it still viable (why/not)? What are the roles of Congress and the presidency? What did the founders intend the roles to be? What are some possible solutions to the problems of Separation of Powers? Do you think the Separation of Powers needs to be fixed, or that it's not broken?

From the time people are born into U.S. citizenship, whether that be through actual birth or immigration, they are bound to the social contract known as The United States Constitution. This specific contract is the strongest source of all political ideology and discourse that occurs in the United States. The reason it is so important to approach the subject regarding Separation of Power beginning with speaking about the people is because people are an integral part of Separation of Powers. Separation of Powers is a working system when the government is aware that justice is the end goal of society. Ambition is also important for a country to be able to move forward, but it should be made difficult for the country to forget why it\'s moving forward, which is to ensure justice. Basically, uninhibited ambition can lead to many problems. If the majority is represented in one branch the minority has to be protected by the other. A judicial branch can be approved by a Senate, only if chosen as a candidate by the people, in representative form by the president. People will be in different classes, different factions will always vye for power and different branches of government will push and pull, but the most important thing is the goal. It\'s not about the most efficient government, but the most just and representative one. Currently, technology has decreased the differences in people\'s lives based on geography alone by communication, lessening the need for a Jeffersonian model of Democracy. Our system of government has naturally adapted towards our needs thanks to ambiguity. Though Separation of Powers does affect the government\'s ability to prevent control, responsiveness, and accountability.

The Jeffersonian model of democracy is all about state sovereignty.  Jefferson and his people were against strong central government, because it could lead to situations like the American revolution. Geographical differences were really importantly that time. It did ultimately lead to the Civil War. Though after that war was resolved America decided a strong Civil government was right. The Republican Party still has threads of the Jeffersonian many model and continues the fight on States rights, but not to the same degree.

The control of the government in a Separation of Powers model is rarely in the hands of one branch of government. The system of Checks and Balances gives reason for each branch to make an effort towards getting more power for themselves. This constant struggle for control helps the system from tilting to heavily in one direction with exception to times of war where the president rightfully allowed more power. Since no one branch ever holds all the control more thought is placed in individual decisions.

The extra considerations taken when making decision also plays into our governments accountability. This manifest in both negative and positive ways. Even when the source of blame for an issue is apparent in the United States blame goes to the most influential branch, not the root cause for an issue. This means that sometimes politicians can get away with more, but it also means that they won\'t don\'t have to regain the trust of the people after every shortcoming of the government. Term limits and Separation of Powers help prevent accountability from ruining our social contract.

Finally, both of these direct the responsiveness of the U.S government. The government is less likely to more slowly on issues, but this is a good thing. The average issue is well thought and organized before action is taken out on it. Basically, the slowness of the United States is a strength only because the ambiguity of the Constitution allows for small immediate actions and then overarching change later.

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