Free Essay About American Government
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: America, United States, Democracy, Politics, Government, Society, Greenberg, Market
The exclusivity of the American government has been always a subject of scrutiny. The widespread perception is that the world superpower, the US practices democracy in true sense. Some credit liberalism for this, while other points out towards a realistic approach of the US government. In this paper, the main argument will be formed around the centrality of cultural and economic factors that led to a thriving democracy in the United States. But, does democracy actually sustain equality among its citizens? This will be answered by discussing and analyzing perceptions of eminent scholars like Tocqueville, Lipset and Greenberg. Their viewpoints will be utilized to check if the early US governmental strategies match with priorities of the contemporary government.
Tocqueville, Lipset and Greenberg’s perception of the American government
According to Greenberg (1989), the democratic capitalist society of America is based upon liberal principles. In the liberalist American society, individualism, private property, a free market and limited government regulation forms the central aspects. Modern liberals and modern conservatives are essential parts of the traditional classical liberals. The culture of the United States is rooted in competitive individualism. This culture is developed by the Americans unique perception of hard work and destiny. They believe in making their own destiny. Other than death, no force can stop the Americans from achieving power. The individuals have the natural right to possess, cherish and transfer private property. Property that is acquired by hard labor supersedes any societal or governmental claims. Purpose of the US government is to protect the natural rights and not interfere or impose dictatorship. If the government crosses its stated responsibilities, the citizens have the right to form a new government. Notions of limited governance have been a constant factor in the American political culture. A free market thrives in the American economic sector. Individuals have total freedom to pursue their interests in a free market. In this type of market, goods are produced keeping in mind the preferences of audience. The prices are set based upon their willingness to buy. People are free to test their skills and abilities in a free market, which encourages them to be more competitive. Any interference with the free market mechanism creates inefficient citizens and a dull market place (as cited in Greenberg, 1989).
According to Tocqueville (2003), social lives of the Americans display total democracy. It was impossible to impose a powerful aristocracy in America. They emphasized more on equality than liberty. The Americans focused on apprenticeship and their education ends where it begins for the Europeans. The youths catapult into rich Americans by molding themselves into skilled business professionals. There is no class in America, and the desire for power and wealth is common among all. Anyone with intellect can transform their fortune from poor to a wealthy man.
Tocqueville (2003) noted that democracy is all-powerful here, and this freedom has led the Anglo-Americans’ enjoy equal status with others. They have escaped from complexities of absolute power, and through their intelligence; circumstances and moral feelings have been able to sustain sovereignty of the people. The greatest strength of the Americans is that they enjoyed full democracy without any democratic revolution. The citizens have not become equal, they were born equal. They have maintained notions of both private rights and local freedom. These were partially inspired by the aristocracy of England (as cited in Tocqueville, 2003).
According to Lipset (1963), the conditions during the early phase of development of the US government were different from that of other new nations. For instance, it didn’t have the internal tensions that bother other new nations. There was no authoritarian conspiracy to hamper the social and economic progress of the US. The country was not overloaded with revolutionary ideas of heightening expectations. The citizens were satisfied in their environment. There were no gaps in the country’s social structure that would isolate its citizens from the government. Class segregation was not as evident as in Europe. The United States gradually built its national authority, and was not burdened with a powerful military class that would have killed civilians. Religion was also a predominant factor as it greatly helped in shaping the evolutionary phase of the US. The form of Christianity that was prevalent in early America was a ‘democratic and republican religion’. Conservatism and traditionalism had no place in the American society. It wanted to be different from religious practices of the European nations (as cited in Lipset, 1963).
Greenberg (1989) argued that the liberal stances prevalent in the American society are not witnessed anywhere else. Often, the American people exercised rights over virgin lands offered to them by Gods. The authoritarian governments were no close to this rule and even the governments of Europe or England, were either familiar to the culture of private ownership or feudal patterns of land sustenance.
The central factor among the observations laid by Tocqueville, Lipset and Greenberg is that of a democratic America, which is unique and helped in forming a national identity. They all painted a positive picture of the country that tried its best to avoid the stereotypical image of other developed and new nations. Religious issues, competitive spirit and economic policies didn’t deter people from achieving what they wanted. But, the rose-tinted pictures that have been created by the authors hardly reflect Americanism in true sense.
In my opinion, the US is exceptional, but not due to positive images created by the authors. I acknowledge that America has always enjoyed democracy, but this does not mean America had no classism. Race and class differences have been persistent throughout and its discriminatory factors are reflected in mass media.
The US is exceptional because it has retained many political and social factors in contemporary times that it valued during the evolution phase. It managed to become the superpower and ran ahead of several developed nations. The rules and regulations that have molded ancient and present day United States are based on its own preference. No wonder, one can see demand for gender and sexual equality receiving complete justice in the US. The country has witnessed same-sex marriages; it has huge influx of immigrants and has created success stories of many Asians. The social and economic flexibility make America unique in every sense.
Despite all these encouraging traits in the American society, there are few aspects that give the nation a snobbish image. Firstly, there exists serious classism amongst American themselves. No wonder, it has the largest number of children living in poverty. From child labor to racial discrimination, the American society jostles to cope with these unavoidable realities. These factors didn’t just evolve all of a sudden. It always existed and the modern American society is a reflection of its agendas set out in the early phases of its development. The African-Americans have always suffered and discrimination began right form schooling.
A thorough analysis of Tocqueville, Lipset and Greenberg’s perception of the American government suggests that its democratic norms are praiseworthy. But, it would be wrong to say that the Americans favored equality above all. Class segregation is a part of the American society even now.
Greenberg, E. (1989). The Cultural Milieu: America as a Liberal Society. The American Political
System: A Radical Approach. Glenview.
Lipset, S. M. (1963). The First New Nation. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
Tocqueville, A. (2003). Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America. Penguin Classics.