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Assessment 1: Democracy's Needs

Due February 18
Assessment #1: What democracy really needs
In chapter 1, your textbook introduced you to 5 basic concepts of democracy. American democracy, our textbook claims, exists because people believe in these 5 basic concepts, and that it will continue to exist “only for as long as we, the people, continue to subscribe to – and practice – those concepts” (15).  

But is that true? Do Americans today really value, and practice, those 5 basic concepts? If so, where in today’s society are those ideas strongest?  If it’s not true, why not, and what are the consequences of failing to value those concepts? Will we truly lose our democracy if we fail to practice these concepts? Have we lost it already?

Wow! That's a lot of questions. Here's how you might try answering some of them in your first assessment in a more orderly fashion.

FIRST, CHOOSE ONE of the 5 key concepts that interests you and you think you understand:

  1. A recognition of the fundamental worth of every person (15)
  2. A respect for the equality of all persons (16)
  3. A faith in majority rule accompanied by respect for minority rights (17)
  4. An acceptance of the necessity of compromise (17)
  5. An insistence upon the widest possible degree of individual freedom (17) 

Suggestion: Once you choose your focus concept, re-read the section (pages shown above) to make sure you truly understand what it’s supposed to be

SECOND, start thinking about how important it is in our democracy today. See if you can think of examples in your life, or in what you know of our society and government. 
The links below will take you to recent news events or opinion pieces that are related to each of the 5 concepts. Use them to start thinking about your answer:

A recognition of the fundamental worth of every person

A respect for the equality of all persons
  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-on-affirmative-action.html?hp
  2. http://www.whptv.com/news/local/story/New-poll-on-marriage-equality-released/LU7xV4kXY0mlhJGhSPwNJg.cspx
  3. http://www.thedp.com/article/2013/01/equality-not-meritocracy
  4. http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/columnists/mark-davis/20130129-mark-davis-sometimes-equality-just-doesnt-make-sense.ece
  5. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/01/25/should-disabled-students-have-equal-access-to-school-sports

A faith in majority rule accompanied by respect for minority rights

An insistence upon the widest possible degree of individual freedom


THIRD, create a thesis statement that you will use to focus your response. Your thesis should clearly answer the question:
Is your chosen concept alive and well in our democracy today?

FOURTH, begin drafting your response, with a focus on some, or all, of the following questions.
  • Is the concept you chose truly a foundation of our democracy? (Do you think it is as important to a democracy as the book claims?) 
  • Does the United States continue to value it? (Do you think people in the United States today are aware of it, or aware of its importance?)
  • Can you see it at work in the world around you? (Include a couple of examples from government today where you can see it in action, or...)
  • Do you think it might be a “lost concept”? (If you can't find/think of any examples, maybe that's because we really don't value it anymore, if we ever did.)

FIFTH, as you start writing your assessment, you'll want to compose your answer in Google Docs (open up Google Documents and Create New Document) which will help with spelling, punctuation, and automatic saving. 


Ready to begin? Great!
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