This section will be comprised of a synopsis of political news videos watched. One of the videos was viewed on 3rd March 2017, “Citizenship: Making Government Work” addresses the basic concepts of politics, citizenship, and the government. The videos look into the tensions between preserving freedoms and maintaining order. The video also looks into the essential role played by politics in addressing the people’s will as well as the need for the citizens to participate in politics to make democracy effective. The other video was watched on 5th March 2017, “Federalism: U.S. vs. the States” addresses federalism and asserts that the concept was born as a compromise of the Constitution. The compromise was mainly because of the different opinions and perceptions between people. That is, some believe that that power should reside in the national government while others think the authority of the government should be retained within the states. The third video was watched on 7th March 2017, “The Courts: Our Rule of Law.” The video addresses the role played by the courts as institutions to resolve conflicts. The video also analyzes the power bestowed on these courts in applying and interpreting the meaning conveyed when the law is on the trial as well as the appeal to courts.
The video, “Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy,” was watched on 10th of March. The video addresses the role played by the two-stage electoral system. The first stage involves the opportunity presented to the citizens to organize, choose, and also elect candidates of their choice. Here, such candidates are those in a position to pursue the interests and policies that favor the citizens. The second stage emphasizes the need for campaigns in increasing the turn-out of voters where by citizens are educated on the influence and importance of their votes.
The lecture notes, “The United States Government Managing over 350 Million People,” address the concept of democracy. From the notes, democracy is identified as self-government. The class notes have also gone further to outline the principle of democracy among them being popular sovereignty which indicates that the fundamental principle of democracy is that individuals base the majority rule. Additionally, the same laws and regulations made in such a system should reflect what the citizens want. The policies made by the government are made and determined by the people through votes. According to the same notes, the other essential principle is political equality. The principle addresses the fact that every individual has equal weight in the management of the government. That is, every individual has one vote whose voice is of equal measure as that of the others. The notes have also identified political liberty as a fundamental principle in that people have the right to expression. Freedom of individuals is as indicated in the bill of rights.
The notes correlate with the test in the textbook, but the book has gone deeper in explaining the concept of representative democracy. The book asserts that representative democracy is where people are ruled by the people they have elected to leadership positions. Additionally, the book goes deeper in outlining examples of fundamental freedoms which include the right to speech, conscience, and association (Greenberg 279). The book has also gone further in explaining another form of a system, that is, majority tyranny. In such a system, the liberty, as well as a right of the minority, are suppressed by the majority people (Greenberg 283).
The topic of federalism has been addressed in chapter 3 of the textbook. Federalism has been identified as the system where the authority of the government is shared between the states and the central government. It has been recognized that it has become a common challenge for most developed countries in that they are ever in struggles over the relative powers of both regional and central governments (Greenberg 53). The United States of America has adopted the federal system where the national government and state are allowed to exercise separate authorities in different spheres.
The class notes, Federalism, have sought answers for many questions, of which are all answered in the textbook. One of the questions aims to identify the different forms of federalism. The class notes have only identified two types of federalism, but they are not put to detail while the textbook has identified more. One of the types is dual federalism, one in which power between the central government and the state have been clearly stated (Greenberg 54). The powers between the two are equal with respective to the sovereign of power. Between the two, none has power over the other. This type of federalism is also identified as layer cake federalism and has predominated from the year 1790 to 1930 (Greenberg 55). The second type of federalism is cooperative federalism where the state and national governments share functions. The two governments also come together to address national priorities. Cooperative federalism is also identified as marble cake federalism (Greenberg 57). The other form of federalism is the creative type. It is also identified as picket fence federalism. However, federalism system was not voted for but was as a result of constitutional compromise. The compromise was mainly because of the different opinions and perceptions between people. That is, some believe that that power should reside in the national government while others think the authority of the government should be retained within the states.
From the summary, “The Courts: Our Rule of Law,” the video addresses the role played by the courts as institutions to resolve conflicts. The video also analyzes the power bestowed on these courts in applying and interpreting the meaning conveyed when the law is on trial as well as the appeal to courts. In the same note, the textbook has looked into the role played by the Supreme Court with the main one being that it determines if the actions taken by other branches and organizations are constitutional or unconstitutional. In the modern era, the manner in which the judiciary and the courts interact with other legal professionals, the community, and other litigants have also evolved (Greenberg 424). Primarily, because of the increased costs of litigation as well as the long time taken by the court proceedings, it has led to a greater focus in the manner in which the courts are handling and managing their cases. Additionally, both the judges and the court officers have also been called upon to be vigilant and also ensure that people can access the courts in a cost-efficient manner (Greenberg 425). However, in some countries such as Australia, it has been noted that access to courts has met increased obstacles. Therefore, citizens of this country have met increased obstacles in the attainment of justice, especially for individuals in the middle earning bracket. In these kinds of events, seek help from alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (Greenberg 430). Here, the citizens of a particular country find such systems as facilitators to access to justice. Not only do these systems enable the citizens in accessing justice, but also reduce the cost and time for litigation. At the same time, not all laws are straightforward and therefore calls for a need of interpretation.
Some issues are dealt with using the common law that has been developed based on the principles set out by the judges. However, most of the law and regulation have been set out in legislation (Greenberg 430). Most legislators have however had however sought to write these laws in simple and plain English for a normal citizen t, to the judges and other officials. At the same time, the interpreters do so because some laws outlive the people they were created for and thus a lot of ambiguity has faced most of these statutes (Greenberg 430). Most of the citizens, therefore, differ in the way they interpret these laws and therefore the need for interpretation.
Interpretation of the laws is not made by the poor job done by the people who initially drafted them, but instead because many words attract different meanings depending on the people reading them (Greenberg 432). With such, lawyers are obliged to construct some element of ambiguity to meet the claims of their clients. Therefore, a lawyer will argue or against for ambiguity of a word depending on whether it favors the interests of their clients. There are numerous reasons as to why an individual is tempted to persuade the court to a particular way of comprehending the words contained in the laws and statutes, and this happens when the person in authority has a varying view (Greenberg 432). For examples, if an individual is accused of having gone against an act of law, is eligible for punishment, or have committed an offense. The courts are also supposed to determine if legislation made by the Parliament and other organization bodies are within the border of the constitution (Greenberg 435). It, therefore, proves the need for interpretation, that is, it plays an integral part in keeping the lives of the citizens orderly. It also allows the judges to put to use the discretion, in handling issues brought to them.
Elections and Democracy
In summary, another problem that has been addressed is on the role of elections in maintaining democracy. In the book, voting has been identified as the cornerstone of democracy. Through voting, every person has the same influence on the government policies. The book has also addressed the role of balloting in ensuring continued use of democracy (Greenberg 281). For example, when citizens of a country elect an individual to offer them services, the notion is that the people have total influence on how they want to be led, which according to the previous chapter of the book is identified as a representative democracy (Greenberg 285). Additionally, it has been identified voting not just as a right, but a representation of what an individual decides their country be.
In my point of view regarding the “Citizenship: Making Government Work,” the government should strive at ensuring that the right of every individual has been met when there is no order. The citizens should also be educated more on the power associated with their voting ability. I believe that if the citizens are well educated about the power of voting in maintaining democracy, the turnout during elections would be impressive. Regarding federalism, I support it was a good idea even though it was a result of constitutional compromise. This is because different states in the USA have different practices and views on the rule of law. In such a way, the power bestowed on the states will be used to the attainment of their success and peace. Concerning “The Courts: Our Rule of Law,” especially on their role in interpreting the law, I support it because many citizens would not understand the political language used by the drafters.
Annenberg Learner. Citizenship: Making Government Work. https://www.learner.org/resources/series173.html#. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.
Annenberg Learner. Federalism: U.S. vs. The States. https://www.learner.org/resources/series173.html#. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.
Annenberg Learner. The Courts: Our Rule of Law. https://www.learner.org/resources/series173.html#. Accessed 6 Apr. 2017.
Greenberg, Edward S, and Benjamin I. Page. The Struggle for Democracy. 1st Ed. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2014. Print.