Example Of American Exceptionalism Term Paper
Type of paper: Term Paper
Topic: Politics, United States, Government, Democracy, Law, Elections, President, America
American exceptionalism - worldview based on the assertion that the United States have a special place among other nations in terms of its national spirit, political and religious institutions. Belief in American exceptionalism is more typical for conservatives than liberals. The key moment of American exceptionalism is the assertion that the United States and its people differ from other people, at least in historical terms, as an association of people who came from all over the world, but who take a common position in defending certain self-evident truths, such as freedom, inalienable human rights, democracy, republicanism, the rule of law, civil liberties, civic virtues, the common good, justice, private property and constitutional government.
The basis of the functioning of the state mechanism of the United States is constitutional principle of "separation of powers", implemented through a system of "checks and balances", and involves the organizational independence of the three branches of government - legislative, executive and judicial - and the distinction between them of the functions. At the federal level, the three branches of power are represented by the US Congress, the US President and the US Supreme Court. The United States is a presidential republic. Its features: a combination of powers of the head of state and head of government in one top official - the President; extra parliamentary method of electing the President and the formation of the government (in the US heads of ministries are appointed by the President); absence by the President to dissolve the highest legislative body, and by the Congress - to take a votum of mistrust to the government; prohibiting members of the government to be members of Congress, and vice versa.
The principle of separation of powers requires a certain interaction, in which one branch of government does not reinforce at the expense of the other. Hence appear the idea of mutual control and balance of powers, which found embodiment in the system of "checks and balances". So, Congress, the carrier of legislature can reject bills submitted by the Chief Executive - President. President approves the bills passed by Congress, and has the right to veto those with which he disagrees. Many powers of the President are implemented only with the approval of the Senate (the conclusion of international agreements, for example). The carrier of the judiciary - the Supreme Court of the United States (as all other federal courts) is formed jointly by the President and the Senate: the first nominates candidates for the posts of judges, the second approves these appointments. The Supreme Court has the right to completely invalidate (as not corresponding to the Constitution) the laws of Congress and the executive acts. Interaction and mutual influence of the three branches of government aims to ensure the stability of state institutions. (Charles Lockhart 6 – 10)
Legislative power is exercised by the US Congress, which consists of two chambers - the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators (100 pers. - 2 representatives from each state) are elected for six-year terms; every 2 years occurs renewal of the composition of the Senate on 1/3. Elections to the House of Representatives are held every 2 years, during which all 435 representatives of the relevant constituencies are re-elected. Congress has broad prerogatives in most areas of state activity, especially finance. It confirms the federal budget, sets taxes and other charges, regulates foreign and interstate commerce, supervises the activities of government departments and their spending of federal funds. Congress is also granted powers which enable take "necessary and appropriate" laws for the effective functioning of the state mechanism. Congress is not only legislative body. They also receive complaints of citizens on officials. For consideration of these complaints a senator or congressman in average spends almost as much time as he goes into the legislative work. Congress draws attention to important social problems and political alternatives, conducting special hearings and investigations.
Federalism - the constitutional principle assuming relatively rigid delineation of competence of the federal and state governments, with a significant portion of the rights of "sovereign" states is transferred to the federal government. Regarded as the sovereign public entities, states, in fact, do not have all the attributes of sovereignty: they are deprived of foreign powers, their power is limited in the financial sector; no state has the right to change the form of government designated by the US Constitution; states do not have the right to secession - a way out of the federation of their own will. The circle of powers of states includes the adoption of its own laws and constitutions, the regulation of trade and economy within the state, the formation of institutions of state power, protection of public order, the establishment of the principles of judicial system and legal proceedings, the holding of elections in the state governments and local governments.
The basis of the political process in the United States is the existence of a two-party system. Leading parties: Democratic and Republican, among which basically is fighting for the leadership of the country. Based on different social groups in society, Republican and Democratic parties divide the starting positions underlying the American political and socio-economic system. They can be distinguished by approaches to address specific issues of domestic and foreign policy, a determination of degree of government regulation and reforming of social and economic life of the country. At different stages of historical development of the United States, there were many other parties, which have never been able to hold their own candidate for the presidency or take a dominant position in the US Congress. Usually in the presidential elections are taking parts from 5 to 8 parties, including the two leading. The so-called third parties do not have any significant impact on public policy. Financing of the party activities is carried out mainly by voluntary donations through fundraising among supporters of their respective parties. A clear organizational structure and an official membership in parties are not provided; the popularity of the party and its political influence are determined only during election campaigns by the number of votes for their candidates. Their activity (mainly in the form of fund-raising and campaigning) is manifested only in run-up to and during election campaigns. Formal party leader is considered the current President put forward by a particular party, or (until the next election) candidate for president of the party, defeated in the previous election. (Pradeep Chhibber et al. 174 – 178)
Political interest groups or pressure groups are trying to influence the government to achieve its goals. National Association of Manufacturers, the trade unions, the American Association of Farm Bureau and professional groups such as the American Medical Association are examples of organizations working in this way. Pressure groups can be important intermediaries between the people and the government. Unlike political parties, pressure groups, as a rule, do not seek to place their people in government. Their mission is to influence government decisions and actions of officials. Some groups have close ties with the ministries, committees and commissions. Members of groups organize meetings, disseminate information, organize campaigns, negotiate with politicians, speak at a meeting of legislative committees, participate in the drafting of legislation or administrative procedures, and make donations to political organizations.
United States is federal republic with a presidential form of government. The Constitution came into force in 1788, includes 27 amendments adopted since its ratification. The first 10 amendments - Bill of Rights - were adopted in 1789. Amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the states. Bill of Rights of the United States is regarded as a democratic reform of the Constitution. It is based on natural legal concept of rights and freedoms. Amendment 1 guarantees freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, the press, the right of the people peaceably to assemble, refer to the government with petitions. These rights, according to a broad official interpretation, guarantee the freedom of expression. Bill of rights of the United States provides protection of the personality, houses, papers and property (Amendment IV), a speedy and public trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases (Amendment VI, VII), the defendant's right to protection (Amendment VI), the right not to incriminate oneself (Amendment V), as well as a ban on the use of harsh and excessive punishments (Amendment VIII). In the Constitution there is no norm about the equality between men and women. Socio-economic and cultural rights do not apply in the United States among the major. During the 200 years after the adoption of the Bill in the Constitution was made 9 more amendments regulating the legal status of a person. The progressive forces of the United States are fighting for compliance with Bill of rights against racial discrimination and strangulation of political freedoms. (Michael Ignatieff 27-57)
Media, as part of modern life with all its contradictions, conflicts, turmoil, in one form or another play them back. Therefore, the flows of information are composed of many conflicting, often incompatible with each other messages and materials. One person or a particular group of people can neither vote for all the parties or candidates, nor buy all promotional items, nor agree with all the proposed ideas. Often these messages and materials neutralize each other. There is no doubt that the combination of programs and materials of mass media influence on formation of public opinion, but they do not stamp it. The public is not a homogeneous mass but represents a set of various social groups, layers, included in the family, work and other relations with their habits, attitudes, orientations, values and tastes. There is no average viewer or reader, television or newspaper are just some of the many canals that connect the individual with society, and the influence of the media is carried out largely mediated through these kind of filters. In particular, the decision to vote for a particular party or a particular candidate is determined by a complex of factors, among which are the social structure and form of the political system; political culture and system of value orientation; state of public opinion, as well as conjunctural factors determining domestic and foreign policy conditions, economic conditions and others. The impact of the media is modified by influence of family, school, church, community, and other institutions. But here we can not ignore the fact that these institutions themselves also are affected by the media.
The United States occupied a special place among all countries, because in the United States appeared the first working representative democracy. Representative democracy - a political regime in which the main source of power is recognized the people, but the management of the state is delegated by various representative bodies whose members are elected by the citizens. Representative democracy is the leading form of political participation in modern states. Its essence lies in the indirect participation of citizens in decision-making, in the choice by them of representatives in order to express their interests, to make laws and give orders. Representative democracy is needed especially when due to large areas or due to other causes is difficult a regular direct participation of citizens in voting, as well as to make difficult decisions, hard for non – experts understanding.
Manifestations of representative democracy are the adoption of laws, budget, setting of taxes and charges, ratification and denunciation of international treaties by Congress. Currently in the United States laws and the budget are adopted by the Congress and approved by the president with the right to send the draft law or budget for reconsideration by Congress. The principal disadvantage of representative democracy is the formation of bodies of power through elections, during which voters are forced to vote for candidates less familiar to them, who do not represent the interests of all segments of the population. (David Keith Adams et al. 241-243)
Proponents of American exceptionalism argue that the United States is exceptional because they were based on republican ideals, rather than the common heritage, ethnicity or ruling elite. According to the statement of President Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg speech, America is a nation "conceived on conditions of freedom and dedicated to the assertion that all men are created equal." From this perspective, America is inextricably linked with freedom and equality. Politics of the United States since their formation was characterized by federalism and the system of checks and balances that were designed to prevent excessive growth of individuals, factions, regions or government agencies. Some proponents of the theory of American exceptionalism argue that this system and its accompanying suspicion of concentration of power prevents the United States from suffering the "tyranny of the majority", maintains a free republican democracy, and that it allows citizens to live in an area where laws reflect civic values. The consequence of this political system is that laws can vary widely across the country. Critics of American exceptionalism argue that this system simply replaces the power of the national majority state on power of similar entities within the state. In general, the American political system, compared to a unitary state, probably provides the dominance of local authorities and prevents excessive state dominance.
Michael Ignatieff. American Exceptionalism and Human Rights. 2005. Print.
Charles Lockhart. The Roots of American Exceptionalism: Institutions, Culture and Policies. 2012. Print.
Pradeep Chhibber, Ken Kollman. The Formation of National Party Systems: Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India and the United States. 2004. Print.
David Keith Adams, Cornelis A. van Minnen. Reflections on American Exceptionalism. 1994. Print.