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American democracy has Greek (direct democracy),
Roman (Republic) and English (limited govt.,
individual rights, rule of law) influences. However, we
are a representative democracy which is a govt. in
which voters hold power and elected representatives
(responsible to the people), exercise that power.
By creating 3 branches of govt., the founding fathers
built a "check and balance" system into the
Constitution. This system was built so that no one
branch of our govt. could become too powerful
(power corrupts; we did not want another absolute
John Locke promoted life, liberty, and property. He
influenced American democracy because we are a
nation that focuses on natural rights and the govt.
has an obligation to protect those rights. Also, we
hold his belief that power comes from the people.
The Establishment Clause prohibits the govt. from
creating an official or established church (separation
of church/state). The Free Exercise Clause prohibits
the govt. from interfering with the practices of any
religion except in the 'compelling interest' of the
greater society (for example, human sacrifice as part
of your religion).
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments of the
Constitution. It was prioritized by the Anti-
Federalists during ratification, so that our individual
freedoms/rights would be safeguarded/protected
For the most part, speech is protected under 1st
Amendment. However, freedom of speech can be
limited when dealing with: clear and present danger,
fighting words, libel/slander (defamatory speech),
You may not be tried twice for the same crime
(double jeopardy); you don’t have to testify
against yourself (self-incrimination); you have right
to a speedy trial, lawyer, and an impartial jury.
5th Amendment protects people from being
held for a crime unless they are properly
indicted (accused); cannot be tried twice for
same crime (double jeopardy), plead the 5th =
don’t have to testify against yourself
By participating in the democratic process
(voting), electing quality representatives, and
becoming educated about major issues in society
The President has the power of the veto, which
means he can stop legislation from becoming law.
The president's veto power is an example of
separation of power and "checks and balances" of
the United States government.
Congress writes/votes on a law and the president signs
it, making it official. But if someone feels the law is
unconstitutional, they can bring a suit against it to the
Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may decide the
law violates the constitution, and 'reverse' it (i.e. cancel
it). That's called Judicial Review.
Formal amendments are proposed by congress with a
2/3 vote in both houses. They are ratified (made
official), by a 3/4 approval of the states. Example of
federalism (states working w/ federal govt.)
“2/3 of both houses, 3/4 of all states”
Congress can collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises,
to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense
and general Welfare of the United States.
Collect $, to spend $
Can also borrow $ and coin $
Our 2 senators in California are: Diane Feinstein &
Barbara Boxer. They represent our state on a federal
House (many based on population): Must be at least 25
yrs. old; US citizen for at least 7 yrs.; live in the state you
represent. (Term length: 2 yrs.)
Senate (each state gets 2): Must be at least 30 yrs. old;
US citizen for at least 9 yrs.; and live in state you
represent. (Term length: 6 yrs.)
1. House and Senate introduce bill
2. Committees approve, rewrite, or kill a bill
3. Each house debates and votes on their version of the bill
4. Both houses agree to create one version of the bill
5. Both houses vote separately on final version
6. Goes to President who can accept or reject (veto) it
7. If vetoed, congress can override it w/ 2/3 vote
8. Bill is passed, law is made!
22nd Amendment = The President can only
serve for 2, four-year terms (8 years total)
The Constitution states that Justices "shall hold
their Offices during good Behavior." This means
that the Justices hold office as long as they
choose and can only be removed from office
For life, unless they do something bad
Protest is linked to freedom of assembly.
includes the right to parade and
demonstrate in public. Protests must be
peaceful and mindful of the rights of others.
Picketing, boycotting and going on strike
must uphold peaceful intentions.
People can volunteer their time to help out
candidates (fundraising $, telephone calling,
lobbying, distributing information/signs, etc.).
Political parties bring people together to
achieve control of the govt., develop policies
favorable to their interests or the groups that
support them, and organize and persuade
voters to elect their candidates to office. They
align their members to express like-minded
political ideas (platforms).
Political parties (1) select candidates, (2) mobilize
voters, (3) facilitate governance by setting
policies, and (4) monitor the opposing party when
it's in power
A political party is a group of individuals with broad
common interests who organize to nominate
candidates for office, win elections, conduct
government, and determine public policy. The
basis of their formation originates with the rift
between Alexander Hamilton (federalist) and
Thomas Jefferson (anti-federalist) following George
The purpose of a third party is to offset the
polarization between the two major parties in
American politics. 3rd parties rarely win, but they
introduce novel ideas that are generally unpopular
at the time they are presented. However, many
times, 3rd parties offset key votes geared toward
Democratic or Republican candidates.