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The belief in freedom as the common heritage of all Englishmen was widely shared by eighteenth-century Americans. Resistance to British efforts to raise revenues in America began not as a demand for independence but as a defense, in colonial eyes, of the rights of Englishmen. The of 1765 condemned the principle of taxation without representation by asserting that residents of the colonies were entitled to "all the inherent rights and liberties" of "subjects within the Kingdom of Great Britain." But the Revolution ended up transforming these rights—by definition a parochial set of entitlements that did not apply to other peoples—into a universal concept. The rights of Englishmen became the rights of man. The struggle for independence gave birth to a definition of American nationhood and national mission that persists to this day—an idea closely linked to freedom, for the new nation defined itself as a unique embodiment of liberty in a world overrun with oppression. This sense of American uniqueness—of the United States as an example to the rest of the world of the superiority of free institutions—remains alive and well even today as a central part of our political culture. Over time, it has made the United States an example, inspiring democratic movements in other countries, and has provided justification for American interference in the affairs of other countries in the name of bringing them freedom.

The American Revolution, together with westward expansion and the market revolution, destroyed the hierarchical world inherited from the colonial era. As the expanding commercial society redefined property to include control over one's own labor, and the opening of the West enabled millions of American families to acquire land, old inequalities crumbled and the link between property and voting was severed. Political democracy became essential to American ideas of freedom. This was a remarkable development. "Democracy" in the eighteenth century was a negative idea, a term of abuse. The idea that sovereignty rightly belongs to the mass of ordinary, individual, and equal citizens represented a new departure. With its provisions for lifetime judges, a senate elected by state legislatures, and a cumbersome, indirect method of choosing the president, the national constitution hardly established a functioning democracy. But in the new republic, more and more citizens attended political meetings, became avid readers of newspapers and pamphlets, and insisted on the right of the people to debate public issues and to organize to affect public policy.

By the 1830s, a flourishing democratic system had emerged, based on popular control of local governments and distrustful of the faraway national state. American democracy was boisterous, sometimes violent, and expansive—it largely excluded women, at least from the voting booth, but could incorporate immigrants from abroad and, after the Civil War, former slaves. It engaged the energies of massive numbers of citizens, producing voter turnouts that reached 80 percent in some elections. The right to vote became an essential element of American freedom. Yet, even as the suffrage expanded for white men, it retreated for others. New states did not allow black men to vote. In the older states, some groups lost the right to vote even as others gained it. Women who met the property qualification (mainly widows, since married women's property belonged to their husbands) enjoyed the suffrage in New Jersey beginning in 1776, but it was taken away in 1807. In Pennsylvania, African American men saw themselves stripped of the right to vote when a new state constitution was adopted in 1838, . In New York State, the same constitutional convention of 1821 that eliminated property qualifications for white men imposed so high a qualification for black men that almost all were stripped of the franchise. Overall, for American men, race replaced class as the dividing line between those who could vote and those who could not.

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But democracy has its danger. The greatest of which is that it may be the rule of ignorance. “Nine peoel out of every ten", says Carlyle, “are fools" and citizens who are not sufficiently intelligent or educated are likely to commit errors of judgment in the casting of votes. The best men may this fail to get elected. Elections are usually matters of propaganda. However, the voters in countries like Britain and America have not proved so lacking in judgment as many of the opponents of democracy would have us believe, though it is true that our own country the people, being illiterate, rarely give evidence of sound or independent judgment. Another critic of democracy is that it is wanting in efficiency. For prompt and effective actions, unity of action is essential.

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The next big setback was the Iraq war. When Saddam Hussein’s fabled weapons of mass destruction failed to materialise after the American-led invasion of 2003, Mr Bush switched instead to justifying the war as a fight for freedom and democracy. “The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies’ defeat,” he argued in his second inaugural address. This was more than mere opportunism: Mr Bush sincerely believed that the Middle East would remain a breeding ground for terrorism so long as it was dominated by dictators. But it did the democratic cause great harm. Left-wingers regarded it as proof that democracy was just a figleaf for American imperialism. Foreign-policy realists took Iraq’s growing chaos as proof that American-led promotion of democratisation was a recipe for instability. And disillusioned neoconservatives such as Francis Fukuyama, an American political scientist, saw it as proof that democracy cannot put down roots in stony ground.

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Yet in recent years the very institutions that are meant to provide models for new democracies have come to seem outdated and dysfunctional in established ones. The United States has become a byword for gridlock, so obsessed with partisan point-scoring that it has come to the verge of defaulting on its debts twice in the past two years. Its democracy is also corrupted by gerrymandering, the practice of drawing constituency boundaries to entrench the power of incumbents. This encourages extremism, because politicians have to appeal only to the party faithful, and in effect disenfranchises large numbers of voters. And money talks louder than ever in American politics. Thousands of lobbyists (more than 20 for every member of Congress) add to the length and complexity of legislation, the better to smuggle in special privileges. All this creates the impression that American democracy is for sale and that the rich have more power than the poor, even as lobbyists and donors insist that political expenditure is an exercise in free speech. The result is that America’s image—and by extension that of democracy itself—has taken a terrible battering.

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Democracy in America and Two Essays on America: …

oppression from British rule. It wasn’t until they were being overtaxed by the British that they rose up to fight for independence and freedom. This historic event was known as The American Revolution. The American Revolution gave birth to democracy in America through great historical events, unknown facts, and famous penned agreements. Resistance to the British and their control over the colonies began with a small group of men called The Sons of Liberty. Over time, they grew into a large organization…