American Government Written Assignments

Political Systems

January 18, 2019

The different typed of political systems are democratic, authoritarian and anarchic systems. Each of them are very different in their own ways. However, there are no actual examples of an anarchic system because they have never happened before. There are plenty of democratic systems and authoritarian systems though. To really understand these two, we have to look at what they actually are.

A democratic system, like we have the United States, is one that “vests power in the people” (Barbour and Wright, pg G-2). This means that the citizens of that system can engage in politics and vote using majority rule for people in power. It’s a way for people to get representation in their government and allows for social equality to occur. The United States isn’t the only democracy, however.

The United States’ government is specifically a constitutional federal republic, which is a federation of states with a government that is republican. There are democratic systems in the world like Iceland and Hungary and Ireland, which rely specifically on what is called a parliamentary republic. Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia and Latvia are also examples of places that have a parliamentary republic.

These places all have something in common. The head of their system is a President. Every fourth year, there is a large vote to see which representative will be the President. The President is picked by the most popular vote. This is very similar to our United States government. However, there is a difference. Unlike the United States, these places have something called Parliament. The Parliament has legislative power as well as the President.

The other type of political system is an authoritarian system. In this type of political system, the government values order and control of people rather than the people’s freedom. There are some places that use an authoritarian system, such as Syria and Saudi Arabia. They run very differently than what we are used to here in the United States.

When it comes to an anarchic system, there are no real examples of one. However, we do know that an anarchic system would lack any authority over citizens. There would be no superior person and there would be the ultimate freedom to do as one wishes. This is actually a terrible system, as there would be no one to enforce any rules regarding safety or to settle disputes between people. As discussed in the textbook by Hobbes, it would truly be an awful society to live in.

In conclusion, a democratic system has much more liberties and freedom than that of an authoritarian government. The government in a democratic system values the freedom of its citizens unlike the authoritarian system. An anarchic system would be an impossible government, as there would be no government at all to manage its citizens. Many different countries share the same type of government with few differences, but each one is still changing and evolving to work with its citizens each day.


Types of Speech

February 7, 2019

Freedom of speech is something that is very important to our American society, but when does free speech impede on illegal? For this reason, our American Court system implemented something called symbolic speech and offensive speech. Our textbook discusses what events in our nations history has stayed within the limits and which have crossed into illegal.

            Symbolic speech, as a crude description, is expressing your freedom of speech through actions about different topics. Some instances of symbolic speech may not be illegal yet still infuriate some citizens, such as sports players not saluting the American flag before a big game. While it may anger some people, it doesn’t make it illegal. Our textbook expresses that symbolic speech crosses over to illegal when it is threatening or actually breaking the law.

            Back in 1968, there was a court case called United States v. O’Brien. What had happened was a man burned his draft card for the Vietnam war as a way to protest the draft. However, during this time, not adhering to a draft was very illegal. This could mean outright ignoring it or leaving the United States in order to not get drafted. O’Brien just outright burned it openly at a rally, giving the United States every excuse to persecute him, as it was not about him having a voice but rather going against the law. Personally, I agree with the decision of the court because O’Brien could have expressed his distaste in the draft in a better way that wasn’t breaking the law. He knew prior to burning it that it could mean some serious consequences for him yet did it anyway.

            Another court case that happened was United States v. Eichman. What lead to the court case was Congress passing the Flag Protection Act in 1989 which made it a crime to destroy or harm the American flag in any way. However, because burning the flag doesn’t insinuate anything but disagreement for something the United States has done, it was overturned and is now considered protected speech. Despite this, a lot of people even today disagree with this. I personally don’t mind this being protected speech, as it doesn’t outright hurt anyone or insinuate that one wants to harm another person.

            There are less controversial examples of symbolic speech despite draft cards and the flag. In 1969, our Court system overturned a school rule that originally forbid students from expressing their dislike for the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands. The only time the Court rules something as more than symbolic speech is when it either breaks a law, like the draft card being burned, or if it is a sign of bringing harm to another person, such as the KKK burning a cross. Now onto the topic of offensive speech, which is much different than symbolic speech.

            While symbolic speech is expressing speech through an action, offensive speech is literally spoken or written words. However, offensive speech can be slippery grounds for the Court. One example of regulated offensive speech is called fighting words, which are words that equate to violence to the person who hears the hate speech. An example of offensive language would be when the Court said that a man named Paul Cohen in California was allowed to wear an offensive shirt about the draft. As the message was not inherently harming someone, it was allowed through the Court’s eyes.

            When it comes to Paul Cohen, I agree with what the Court decided. It didn’t inflict any direct harm on anyone and it was his own personal thoughts on the draft. If people didn’t like it, they didn’t have to look at it. They could just as easily look away as they easily looked at it for the first time. Limiting that freedom of opinion would be completely against our American society.


Comparing Constitutions

May 5, 2019

The United States Constitution and the Constitution for the State of Georgia hold a few similarities that many citizens do not fully recognize. The first similarity is that both constitutions have a two house legislature, which consists of The Senate and The House of Representatives. Both constitutions also have three branches. These branches are the Executive, Judicial and Legislative. Like the United State Constitution, the Constitution for the State of Georgia had the head of the executive branch being someone that has been elected by citizens. On the same topic of the head of the executive branch, the head serves a four-year term but can only server two consecutive terms for both constitutions. Lastly, all three branches of both constitutions are elected the same. While there are many similarities, there are also differences.

            When it comes to differences, the United States supreme court judge is appointed while the Georgia supreme court judge is elected. There are also more members in the United States government than the Georgia government, which is understandable as the Georgia government is only responsible for the state while the United States is responsible for pretty much everything. Names also vary between these two constitutions. For example, the United States legislative branch is called Congress but the Georgia legislative branch is called The General Assembly. Lastly, the United States and the state of Georgia have different segments within their Judicial branches. What this means is that the United States Judicial branch has the supreme court, lower courts and special courts. In regards to the state of Georgia, the Georgia judicial branch only has the appellate courts and trial courts.

            In regards to the amendment process, it’s a bit different between these two constitutions. For the United States Constitution, Congress will propose an amendment and the Archivist has the responsibility for conducting the ratification process. The amendment process then requires a two-thirds majority vote from the House of Representatives and the Senate. For the state of Georgia, amendments are proposed two ways. One way is through constitutional conventions and the other is through legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

            For the legislatively referred constitutional amendments, its proposed in either the Georgia House of Representatives or Senate of Georgia. The amendment has to be approved by two-thirds of each chamber before it can reach the state voters. For the constitutional conventions, it also requires two-thirds of each camber’s votes and sent to the state voters. While there are a bit of similarities between the two in regards to amendments, there are many differences.

            Personally, I find that the United States Constitutions’ way of going about amendments seems easier than the state of Georgia’s. Georgia seems as though it has to jump through more hoops than the United States Constitution. However, I do like the idea that the citizens of the state get a say in the amendments that are proposed. However, I can see how this could pose as an issue when there is an amendment that really needs to get approved but the voters do not want it as a majority.

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