Compare and contrast the elements of American democracy with the critiques or support of democracy presented by ancient and classical political theorists. How was the American Founding influenced by ancient/classical political theory when establishing our democratic republic?
In light of America’s influence by ancient and classical political thinkers, should a Christian support or critique democracy as a political regime, and why?
American democracy comprises governmental and political players, all dedicated to ensuring that the constitution is upheld at all times. The elements of American democracy allow holders of public office to connect with citizens while reassuring them of their commitment to dispensing their duties appropriately. Liberty is one of the most popular elements of American democracy. It is a provision that allows citizens to exercise a level of control over their entire life and is now ranked top among tenets of political philosophy. Enlightenment thinkers such as John Stuart Mill regarded liberty as an essential element for the ultimate benefit of democracy. It allowed individuals to live freely in their country and, in turn, enjoy the stability introduced by pieces of legislation. Individualism is also an element of American democracy. It is a philosophy concerned with safeguarding autonomy while avoiding oppression by social institutions.
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On the other hand, liberty has its philosophical foundations in the social contract where individuals are accorded with a level of autonomy and natural rights. Enlightenment thinkers asserted that laws were created to rule man in his mortal affairs and heavenly issues. Liberty in the American context was tied to political self-definition for many of the country’s inhabitants. Equality is also an integral element of democracy where citizens all bear the same status and respect. Every individual within the United States is granted equal rights under the law and access to social amenities. Democracy assures citizens of equal participation in government activities and maintaining self-determination. To gain legitimacy, a government has to be elected and endorsed by its people after giving their consent.
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The American Founding Fathers were influenced by ancient and classical political theory that went a long way in the democracy that it is today. Western Civilization, as we know it today, is the product of democracy and other similar concepts developed in classical antiquity. In particular, the ideological origins of democracy can be traced back to ancient Rome and Athens. Since the rise of the Greek and the Athenian Civilization beginning in the 5th Century BCE, political thought was developed and served as a considerable part of their culture. Democracy, for instance, was meant to introduce discipline among the people while ensuring that they strove in the right direction. The development of democracy in ancient Athens gave birth to a political ideology that would influence the Founding Fathers greatly when establishing their new territory after the end of the American Revolutionary War. The revolution witnessed in North America is also similar to one that swept through Roman regions in ancient days. After the Revolutionary War, democracy was viewed as the only viable option that would ensure the survival of a young United States. The United States was formerly a British colony in North America. Rome was also under the direct rule of the Etruscan monarchy, but incepted a revolution and rejected direct arbitrary leadership. Romans developed their written constitution, which outlined customary law. The American Revolution was mainly a neo-Roman upheaval. It is critical to acknowledge that the bone of contention was neo-Roman conceptions which the Founding Fathers wanted to preserve.
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It is the religious duty of every Christian to support democracy as a political regime. Christianity and democracy are compatible systems that can help each other while working side by side. However, ancient political philosopher’s ideas mean that coexistence is a complicated endeavor. Ideas in Christianity and democracy do not contradict each other. Contrary to popular belief, democracy is not a type of Christian government. However, it is critical that democracy is typically in congruence with the Christian worldview. Democracy has, time and again, been regarded as an ideal type of government from a Christian standpoint. Even so, the interests of these two groups may overlap, creating operational difficulties for all those involved in this intricate relationship. Christianity is based on a set of ethical principles, while politics is preoccupied with controlling individuals and the amount of power that they can bear1 .It is no wonder that the Founding Fathers also suggested the inclusion of a clause on the separation of church and state since perspectives may differ significantly. This way, the two institutions are kept separate from each other and cannot exert undue influence on each other. The common type of government cited in Romans13; 1-6 is perhaps the only instance where God specifies the form of government-approved by God. Christians are also reminded that God’s word takes precedence over human laws. It is a concept stated in Acts 5; 29 where Christians should always obey their spiritual laws if they happen to conflict with the human government. Thus, Christianity and democracy can partner together in a contemporary environment where compromises can be reached to ensure no one misses out on unique activities. The logical relationship between a stance on democracy and Christianity is, therefore, non-existent since the two are compatible but entirely dissimilar.
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