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What gives government legitimacy? 8/31/09-9/1/09
Where has authority come from in the past? • Military Ability • Sumer- the leaders of ancient sumer were called “lugals” or “big man”. They were skilled military leaders who became exalted almost to the status of gods. • God • Rome- the Emperors of Rome were said to be descended from the gods and had the divine right to rule. • This is also true of most monarchs and the Chinese and Japanese Emperors. • Wealth • Carthage, Some Greek City-States, Venice, Genoa, and Florence • People • The United States, Revolutionary France, and The United Kingdom • From the tradition of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke these democracies believe that in a Social Contract • USG.1.10 Describe the sources of authority from ancient to modern times that provided governmental legitimacy. (History; Individuals, Society and Culture)
So, what is a Social Contract? • Social Contract- theoretical agreement by all members of a society to form a nation and maintain a social order. Common to all of these theories is the notion of a 'sovereign will', to which all members of a society are bound by the social contract to respect. • So what if you don’t agree with what the nation is doing? • Plato says- “get out!” • Locke says if it is not upholding the “general will”- Overthrow the corruptor of the contract! If the government violates the contract they will get thrown out, if the people make poor decisions they will lose their cherished rights.
Limited Government • So, in a limited government it is the responsibility of the people to make sure rational choices are made and that the government does not take away their natural rights (life, liberty, and property). • Effectively, the people in a democracy must limit their government through actions • How do people do this? • Education, media, protest, voting, violent opposition • Civil disobedience- is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence. The acts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi are examples of civil disobedience. • USG.1.7 Explain how civil society contributes to the maintenance of limited government in a representative democracy or democratic republic, such as the United States. (Individuals, Society and Culture)
Constitutionalism • Writing a constitution is a way of having a written social contract. It tells the government what it can and cannot do.
Popular Sovereignty • Popular sovereignty- is the belief that “the people” are the sovereign or independent power and their will must be followed. • This is pretty much Locke’s idea of “the general will”
Rule of Law • The 'rule of law', in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. Thomas Paine stated in his pamphlet Common Sense (1776): "For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.“ • All are subject to the law and everyone must conform to the will of the “general will” as Locke would say. • A written constitution establishes a place for people to point to and hold the government accountable • USG.1.9 Explain the importance of a written constitution in establishing and maintaining the principles of rule of law and limited government.
Protecting the Rights of Individuals • Rule of law, limited government, popular sovereignty, and constitutionalism all work together to try and prevent the government from being able to infringe upon the rights to life, liberty, and property in the United States and other constitutional democracies. • What are some examples you see of • Rule of law? • Popular sovereignty? • Limited government? • USG.1.8 Define and provide examples of constitutionalism, rule of law, limited government and popular sovereignty in the United States Constitution and explain the relationship of these three constitutional principles to the protection of the rights of individuals. (History; Individuals, Society and Culture)
Minority Rights • So how do you make sure to protect the rights of people who disagree with “the general will” if you believe in popular sovereignty? • The constitution attempts to do this through the bill of rights- the first ten amendments to the constitution • The constitution sets forth a host of individual liberties that the government must not intrude upon (i.e. freedom of speech, religion, assembly, habeas corpus) • Effectively the minority may speak their mind without fear of reprisals from the government. In this way they may persuade others and make their opinion the “general will”. Also, because of the Rule of Law, anyone in the majority who violates these amendments can be held accountable! • USG.1.11 Describe how the United States Constitution establishes majority rule while protecting minority rights and balances the common good with individual liberties. (History; Individuals, Society and Culture)