Democracy and Civil liberty and Voting polls





Democracy / Civil liberty/Voting polls:

Magna Carta, originally issued in 1215, was a formation of the English and was aimed at limiting the authority of the monarch of the time. It was about granting liberties to people and ensuring that laws of the land were followed when administering justice. It was drafted by the feudal barons at a time when open defiance and dissent to the king was common-place. They aimed to shift power from King John of England by determining that he should announce some specified liberties while accepting that his prerogative was not absolute.

They put up a sustained defiance to force the King to accent to the ‘Articles of the Barons’, a document that had elaborate clauses that could enable the barons overrule decisions made by the King if they were contradictory to the Charter put in place ( Clause 61). It included a section that allowed them to seize the property of the King if they deemed that appropriate. This is familiar to the current day provision that allows for freezing of assets which applies to every American citizen as well as foreigners with property within the jurisdiction of the United States. Our constitutional liberties have a resemblance to what was done in Britain in those days of yore. They both subscribe to and insist on the rule of law when handling criminal cases. The original constitutional document has a legislation that guarantees trial by jury (Article III, Section 2).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had the following major provisions: It encouraged elimination of discrimination based on race, religion, and origin or skin color. It banned discrimination in public places (title II) and pushed for desegregation of public schools (title IV). The 1965 Voting Rights Act repealed hindrances to voting, highlighting the only requirement of American citizenship. These had included poll taxes and tests on literacy. The emergence of black crusaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., a proponent of equality and the rights of Black citizens, added a major voice to this cause that led to the inclusion of these Acts. Graham states that the pace with which disquiet was gathering steam enabled for these pieces of legislation to be enacted (121). It may have taken long because it faced resistance from the more conservative Whites both in Congress and among the citizenry.

Political socialization is a process. It involves people and society as a whole and how they acquire political attitudes and cultures. Several factors affect this process, which include religion, the media, one’s gender, age, social group that one belongs to and many others. The publicity of the 2004 neck-to-neck presidential polls that pitted former president George W. Bush against John Kerry left an impression on many about how polls were advantageous to the incumbency because despite his seemingly shaky campaigns and a strong opposition, President Bush still won, albeit by a ‘mere’ 34 electoral votes. It is difficult to separate an incumbent from the advantages that come with the government he is serving in during elections.

In the 2008 presidential elections, opinion polls showed a consistency as to the direction the outcome would take. Polls carried out at the end of October 2008 by all major pollsters such as Gallup, ABC News, NBC News, American Research Group and Reuters showed Senator Obama leading John McCain by a margin of between six to fourteen percent. The polling methods used by the polling agencies were stratified and included sections such as “likely voters” and “registered voters”. The consistency of the opinion polls shows that they were reliable.

Poll results indicate the popular opinion of the public; it would therefore be my positive proposition that they can be used to shape public policy. However, discretion is advised when dealing with foreign policy as it involves non-Americans whose views may not be in sync with those of American citizens.

Is there something wrong with political socialization in the United States? This question, as general as it is, should be directed to the definition of Political socialization. Citizens of the United States have no way of escaping the factors mentioned above such as religion and their respective social settings that lead to it. Furthermore, it is appropriate to say that it is due to political socialization that Democrats have distinct political views from Republicans that determine how they respond differently to State and National issues.

Does political equality deserve merit? Socioeconomic benefits of political equality are diverse if considered that every American Citizen has the same rights as any other in terms access to service and privilege.

On issues of democracy, Robert Dahl, an American scholar and an authority on political issues, outlines clearly why democracy is important in the whole well-being of a Nation State. He talks of the privileges that come with it such as tolerance, all-inclusive participation to progressive development and an environment that limits the chances of a dictatorial authoritarian rule but without repealing the fact that there is no guarantee that those elected through democratic systems will be inclined to uphold democracy.

Dahl examines the issue of political equality and addresses whether it is an attainable feat or whether we are better of looking for other ways to reduce inequality. Through looking into the growth and development of the democratic space, he tries show us how political equality is realizable. He also explores the impediments to political equality and how they can be overcame, as well as the reasons that drive the quest for this equality. On civic competence, Dahl attempts to show how people can charter the course of their own governments by participating in policy making such that it reflects on the people’s opinion. It is important to note that there is a variance on the level of civic competence from State to State depending on the system of governance and the room for democracy in which one can stretch to express his opinion on geo-political issues. Large-Scale Democracy i.e. democracy on wide proportions, requires such political institutions as Law Courts that uphold the rule of law and which cannot be viewed as tools of government to suppress dissent, a free Press service that is not biased nor stifled by externalities as well as political parties with clear mandates and vigilance to State activities.

In a democratic country, a free press sure plays an important role. It is the people’s vigilant-eye on how they are governed; it provides an avenue for free flow of information and allows for freedom of expression. Currently, the media in the USA can pride itself for its efforts towards democratization. All major News agencies can be said to be politically active. They hold debates that pit political opponents against each other, and these are usually streamed live allowing for public participation. They are known to set agenda on issues affecting Americans such as jobs and the ever-explosive healthcare debate. However, there are instances where the media fails the objectivity test, sometimes choosing to focus on sideshows such as why the First Lady’s dress won at a Press conference should have been light blue and not the dark amber that reeks of dullness.

Reference: BIBLIOGRAPHY l 1033

Dahl, Robert A. On Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Graham, Hugh Davis. Civil Rights in the United States. Pennyslivania: Penn State Press, 2004.