Importing Democracy: Ideas from around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government

Importing Democracy: Ideas from around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government

Importing Democracy: Ideas from around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government

Importing Democracy: Ideas from around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government

Synopsis

This unique work brings together a comparative analysis of American institutions, a tour of the world's political systems, and a manifesto for reform, offering insights on democracy that could revitalize U.S. politics and government.

• A comprehensive glossary defines key terms used throughout the text

• Conclusion charts provide a rank ordering of the proposed reform and a suggested "blueprint" for change to U.S. politics and government

Excerpt

There is much to be proud of in the history of American democracy. Breaking free of a colonial power, the United States forged itself into what has been called the “first new nation.” Rejecting hereditary monarchy and nobility, the founders took the idea of popular sovereignty out of the realm of abstract theory and made it a political reality. It began with a scope of voting rights that was unprecedented at the time and that has steadily, if at times slowly, expanded over the past two centuries. In the space of the single summer of 1787, the framers created the world’s first effective written constitution, which established true separation of powers, invented federalism, and enshrined the supremacy of law over inherited privilege. Through civil war, domestic upheaval, depression, the Cold War, and terrorist attacks, the essentials of this democratic system have been maintained intact.

From its earliest days, the United States saw itself as an exemplar of democratic virtue, a “shining city upon a hill” that could serve as an example to others. Nearly all the newly independent nations of the Americas adopted the basic principles and structures of American democracy, and the idea of enshrining democratic ideals in a written constitution with a bill of rights has become nearly universal. In the twentieth century, as the United States rose to global prominence and eventually to superpower status, the country strove more and more explicitly to “export democracy,” whether to the shattered countries of postwar Europe, to Asian outposts such as Japan and Korea, to the former Soviet bloc, or, most recently, to the Middle East.

Although the results have varied widely—due in no small part to the role played by the United States—there are thriving democracies to be . . .

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