Illiberal Democracy

Specifically speaking democracy has the tendency of being indicative of a government in which the people have a fair and equal say in the “procedures for selecting government“, but not necessarily afforded the protection of what we as Americans view as inalienable rights as defined in our constitution. This definition however is just one of a plethora of definitions dependent upon whom you are speaking with. Nearly forty years ago North America and Western Europe, as well as a few other countries, were the only countries considered to be democratic, liberally democratic to be exact.

Liberalism is an individuals right to independence, freedom from persuasion from peers, churches, the government itself, or any other source. Liberal democracy is the combination of political liberties (democracy) with that of constitutional liberties (liberalism), the latter half not nearly as present in the modern day democratic country. Constitutional liberties calls for the assured protection of the rights of every individual like those of speech, religion and property, just to name a few.

Albeit that 118 out of 193 countries at the time of this paper were credited with being democratic, most were considered to be of an illiberal democratic nature. Illiberalism is essentially the ignoring or deliberate stripping of the constitutional liberties, such as restrictions on speech, clothing, and religion. Concentration of power is not present in a liberal democracy as it is in an illiberal one, therefore the act of going to war is usually a more lengthy thought out process than that in the illiberal democracies.

The leaders in the liberal democracies must also answer to those that votes for them and are usually more inclined to seek out other opportunities to resolve what ever the matter at hand may be. Illiberal democracies try to make it so that everyone has the same ideals so decisions like those to go to war are simplistic in nature. This mindset can cause a government to perform genocide to ensure that anyone who is “different”, whether it be in religion, ethnicity, racial backgrounds, and so on, are systematically destroyed to preserve their views.

In having a liberal autocracy, a country is more likely to end up in a liberal democracy. An individuals rights tend to be more important than their actual representation in the government. Establishing these rights and freedoms makes it easier to eventually elect to select a procedure for the representation of these rights, thus creating a liberal democracy. Zakaria makes it explicit how liberalism and democracy go hand in hand in the formation of our government. I feel that he is correct in this conclusion.

Prior to the writing of the constitution a primary concern was having the same type of rule in the land as the one they had left. When they arrived in America the hope was for more freedom for each individual, or liberalism. This happened to also be happening at the same time that America was in need of the formation of a unifying government as they had finally declared themselves a free country. So the formation of a government surrounding the ideals of the people were formed and so our constitution was born.

This is seen in the Constitution when they describe the breakdown of the government establishing the three branches, their election processes, and ways to impeach them should they not be able to uphold their positions faithfully. Liberalism is seen in the amendments where they dictate that no matter what the government has control over it can not infringe upon the peoples rights, like those of speech, unreasonable searches, right to a jury and so forth. In 1995 a movement known as the Civil Rights movement began in order to end racial discrimination and to restore the voting rights of the African

American population within the United States. Since slaves became free their political rights have been trampled upon and denied. For over seventy years prior to the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws reigned over African Americans. They were unable to vote for any members in Congress that might embody their interests, were discriminated in public by being forced to use separate facilities, being differentiated against in a multitude of opportunities such as housing and that is only the beginning.

Many blacks were denied economic opportunities forcing them far below the poverty line. They were the targets of mass racial brutality via law enforcement, organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and several individual attacks. Legal action was the primary for utilized in the bringing about of desegregation prior to the movement. Their crowing achievement was the victory in the Brown V. Board of Education case in 1954 ending segregation in the school systems that set in motion the events of the Civil Rights movement.

Following what most consider to be the biggest win legally for African Americans since being freed, many got restless and turned from the legal approach to what became known as civil disobedience. Through the end of the movement in 1968 innumerous acts of nonviolent opposition, or protests, and civil defiance occurred. These included marches, “sit-ins”, Freedom rides and boycotts all aimed at creating equality no matter what race, nationality, or ethnic background. When Rosa parks refused to give up her seat on the bus it gave way to the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott that made Martin Luther King Jr. major figure in the fueling of this movement. There were many of these famous events taking place all across America, each leading little by little just a few more freedoms such as consolidation of restrooms and water fountains, open lunch counters, and freedom to sit where you please on the buses. Many of the civil rights organizations had come together to now work towards get blacks registered to vote in efforts to being to slowly gain political power so that they can assist in the reformation of laws. They gathers voters assisted them in covering the cost of the poll tax.

Anything they could do in order to find political support. They were met with heavy opposition that included beatings, murders, arson, and completely outrageous literacy tests that would have been trying for even the most highly educated. This resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a gateway to the passage of the Voting Rights Act f 1965. The overall result was utilizing these protests, the little voting rights they were afforded, and right to assembly to bring about their full right to vote, right to equal economic freedoms and socioeconomic opportunities, right to equal education just to name a few.

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement another one for Women’s Suffrage took place. After the American Revolution, from 1790-1807 New Jersey was the only state that allowed women the right to vote provided that they met property requirements of the time, however, in 1807 women were completely banned from voting in the states. The Women’s Suffrage movement. In July of 1948 a convention was held in Seneca Falls Elizabeth Cady Stanton got the attendants to sign a document she primarily authored titled the Declaration of Right and Sentiments.

This kicked off the seventy years struggle women fought to attain the right to vote that they were entitled to. In 1868 the New England Woman Suffrage became the first major political party geared towards women’s suffrage. After the Civil War, 1869 to be exact, a proposed fifteenth amendment that would give black to vote agitated several of the women involved with the suffrage movement, as they could not see how black would be given the right to vote before women. Yet there were several that felt that if they could get the African Americans enfranchised it would eventually lead to the enfranchisement of women.

This cause two separate groups to form, one know as National Woman Suffrage Association and the other the American Woman Suffrage Association (the former NEWSA). The NWSA fought the battle more in federal territory and for the rights of married women to won property. The AWSA took to the state and local governments and supported the fifteenth amendment. For nearly twenty years these groups worked towards the same goal but with acrimonious tendencies towards each other. They soon realized that if they were to unite their efforts they might be more productive, they then formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Little by little campaigning throughout the United States women actively went state to state rallying support. They felt if they could win over the states one at a time they would eventually gain national support and have it amended into the constitution. Slowly throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries began granting women’s suffrage allowing them the ability to run for and become elected into political offices that afforded them the opportunity for future advancements.

Two women also ran for the presidency in order to point out how ridiculous it was that they were able to run for a position that they were not allowed to vote for. In March of 1913 thousands marched through the streets of D. C. By 1919 suffrage bills had been brought to the Congress. The first didn’t pass in the house, but once they did they were shot down in the senate buy just a few votes despite appeals from President Wilson.

With the 1920’s elections approaching and the desire for this bill to be passed before the general election Wilson called a special session for Congress and introduced the amendment where following the House and Senate approval thirty-five of the thirty-six states needed ratified the amendment. Finally on August 18th, 1920 Tennessee just barely ratified the amendment making it the Nineteenth Amendment, and federal law. Women continues the fight for women’s suffrage until in 1972 women were officially as equal as men under the law.

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