I’m trying to study for my Political Science course and I need some help to understand this question.

1. DISCUSSION QUESTION: One of the most divisive issues that the framers faced during the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia was slavery. The Northern states as well as many Southern delegates denounced it as repugnant. However, upon threats by Georgia and Carolinas, the Northern delegates did not insist on banning slavery or slave trade, and they even gave in to those Southerners by admitting a provision on returning fugitive slaves to the Southern states.

During such foundational moments of forming a union, many members of such constitutional conventions face similar dilemmas: When they get together to form a “more perfect union” they have to make compromises on their strongly held convictions. In many cases, if they insist on those ethical convictions, there will be no union. A lot of their interlocutors may be sexist, racist, religious bigots, or insist on preserving abominable practices for the sake of preserving their way of life. But they are still part of the society and they form a significant constituency.

For the sake of inclusion and unity, people with strong ethical objections often make such compromises, hoping that these issues will be solved over time. But in many cases those concessions become petrified and recognized by legalization. In some cases, they come back to haunt this union and embroil it in perpetual conflicts, and even in the form of more serious challenges, such as civil wars. This is exactly what happened in the U.S. history. Lingering as an unresolved issue, tabling the issue of slavery cost a Civil War almost a century later with very atrocious actions and crimes in between against humanity in the context of the American people of African descent.

If you were part of the 1787 Convention, or any such convention anywhere during those foundational moments, what would you do? Would you insist on your strongly held ethical conviction at the risk of jeopardizing the unity of the country (this means keeping on an ongoing civil war sometimes), or would you prioritize having a deal and compromise at that moment, tabling the issue to a later date to be solved gradually. Which one do you think is a better course of action?

1) State your position and provide a clear reasoning and justification. You can give logical justifications and illustrate your position by examples from current or past politics.


2.Now that you have built enough groundwork to discuss about democracy as a conceptual ideal as well as a set of institutions that are geared towards realizing that ideal, we can debate about American democracy (or its lack thereof).

We have seen in the chapters and class discussions we have covered how the founders approached democracy (that they were afraid of ‘mob rule’ and instituted electoral college to preempt it; that they had a bitter experience with Shays’ rebellion and common people getting too much power; that they compromised on slavery with the South, etc.).

But on the other hand the U. S. is known to have the longest popular government, perhaps the earliest mass politics (remember Jacksonian democracy), the most durable constitution to protects basic rights and liberties and a very clear system of separation of powers and checks and balances that disperse power even at the cost of efficient governance.

Still, racism has lived on first in the form of slavery, then Jim Crow laws that institutionalized an apartheid regime, continual lynching practices to deliberately intimidate and indignify people of African descent, official voter suppression policies that still effectively disenfranchise blacks, and the blatant spectacles of police brutality that can be argued to be the 21st century version of the officially sanctioned lynching policies.

Given all of these complications, since when has the U.S. been a democracy if it has ever been? Would you consider it a defective democracy that is work in progress or simply an undemocratic regime that has yet to become a democracy? If it is not,then which country can be considered a democracy after all? Or is democracy just a utopian ideal that is given lip-service all the time by politicians without any real intention or possibility of realization? What do you think?

1) State your position and provide a clear reasoning and justification. You can give logical justifications and illustrate your position by examples from current or past politics.


3. DISCUSSION QUESTION:

We have repeatedly underlined in class discussions that the U.S. has a very unique and exceptional case of presidential system that resists perversion into a clear dictatorship. Often times, if a country adopts a presidential regime it is a grab of power (like the recent transformation of Turkey from democracy into autocracy under Erdogan) that effectively eliminates checks and balances and separation of powers to concentrate the whole power in the person and office of the president. The U.S., on the other hand, stands out as a regime where the presidents have amassed enormous power for themselves at the expense of the Congress, which is designed to be the preeminent institution of government by the framers. Nonetheless, there are still very few scholars and observers who would argue that the U.S.presidency is a tyrannical institution.

What is your position in this debate. Is this much expansion of presidential power good for democracy or has it made the American regime more susceptible to tyranny? Has it reached an alarming level where executive orders and other unilateral presidential actions threaten the very existence of democracy in the U.S., or do you believe the Congress, the Supreme Court, and federalism with considerable power at the hands of the state governments can still protect the U.S. democracy against the potential or real transgressions of the presidency? Is the U.S. government vulnerable to perversion into a dictatorship?

1) State your position and provide a clear reasoning and justification. You can give logical justifications and illustrate your position by examples from current or past politics.


4. DISCUSSION QUESTION: In your opinion, should congressional representatives act more as delegates or as trustees?

In the delegate model, a representative will make their best effort to reflect the constituency’s preferences without basing it necessarily on their own conscience or notion of what is right or wrong on this issue. On the other hand, a representative who considers representation as doing what is best for the common good of the constituency and what is the right thing to do think that she or he is not an embodiment of the net sum of individual demands, interests or preferences on the policy issue being discussed. Refer to the textbook or class discussions for further details.

Explain why you think the representative must act like a delegate or a trustee.

  1. State your position and provide a clear reasoning and justification. You can give logical justifications and illustrate your position by examples from current or past politics.

5.DISCUSSION QUESTION:

The power of the Judiciary is an interesting case for democracy. In democratic countries, more often than not the judges and justices of the judicial branch are appointed, unelected officials, although in some cases we come across popularly elected judges in the world as well as among the U.S. states The purpose of appointing the justices and giving them life terms in office is to insulate the courts from day to day political pressures and transient political majorities. But this creates a problem of democratic accountability in that the justices do not answer to people or anybody else for that matter. But is not this undemocratic?

Proponents of this arrangement would bring up the necessity of this insulation in order to protect the basic rights and liberties necessary for a democracy and enshrined in the constitution against the tyranny of majority. But this also looks very much like a clerical regime as in Iran where a body of law (in Iran’s case shariah) governs the society against the wishes of the popular forces and a certain tutelary power is established over popularly elected forces.

In your opinion, is this insulated power of the judiciary good for democracy or is the judiciary in this current form an undemocratic body? Would you rather support the popular election of the officials in the judicial branch?

  1. State your position and provide a clear reasoning and justification. You can give logical justifications and illustrate your position by examples from current or past politics.


 

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