The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

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I. Political Ideologies (20 pts.)  Define each of the following five major political ideologies for four points each.

The five major political ideologies are liberal, economic conservative, social conservative, libertarian, and populist. Liberal is a political ideology that is based on equality, individual liberty, democratic governance, economic freedom, and the rule of law. The primary concern of liberalism is to promote and protect equality and the people’s liberties such as freedom of speech, religion, association, and press. Liberal political ideology emphasizes on the role of democratic government: the government should protect citizens from harm and it must be controlled by the rule of the law. 

Economic conservative is a political-economic ideology that centers on the value of strong property rights, significant role of individual actions, free markets, and limited government involvement in economic and business regulation. Economic conservatives do not advocate for equality. They believe that inequalities occur due to differences in the individuals’ efforts and achievements. Economic conservatives also advocate for minimized government spending, low taxes, and reduced government debt. 

Social Conservatism is a political ideology that is based on the preservation of traditional and religious social values and morals. Social conservatives oppose social progressivism and mostly they promote common sense Christian values. For instance, social conservatives tend to oppose gay marriages, abortion, and embryonic stem cell technology. They also hold that the government should play a central role in regulating individuals’ behavior. Social conservatives do not take an active role in regards to fiscal matters and equality.

Libertarian is a political ideology that upholds liberty as its primary principle. As an ideology, it advocates for maximizing individual rights and freedom while minimizing coercion. Libertarians also advocate for a significantly minimized role of the government. Libertarian does not emphasize on equality.

Populist is a thin political ideology or movement that stresses on the power of masses. Populists believe that social and political goals can be easily achieved through active actions of the masses. Generally, populist movement mobiles ‘the people’ against an institution or government that propagates social or political vices such as corruption and injustices. Populists play a key role in promoting individual liberty and equality. They also believe that a government plays a role in promoting or mitigating social and political problems.

II. Constitution and Federalism: What express powers are granted to the Federal Government in the United States Constitution?

The express powers that are granted to the federal government are itemized in Article 1, section 8 of the US constitution. They include the power to tax and spend, borrowing power, the power to regulate commerce, naturalization and bankruptcies, and authority to coin money and regulating currency value. The government also has the power to establish post offices and post road, secure copyrights and patents, declare war, create and constitute courts, outline and punish maritime offenses, raise and support armies and navy, and to make rules in regards to captures on water and land.  Besides, the US constitution gives the federal government the power to establish statutes for the State and by-law of the land and naval forces; the power to call on the militia to enforce the laws, repel invasions, and suppress insurgences. The constitution also gives the federal government the power to govern the District of Colombia as well as the power to establish necessary and proper legislation.

III. Rights and Freedoms: What, in your opinion, is the intent of the Second Amendment? 

Reading this Amendment closely, do you think this represents an unlimited right to possess and bear any form of arms? If not, what kind of limits on the right to keep and bear arms do you think are acceptable? Why do you think it is so difficult to establish limits on the right to keep and bear arms in modern America? 

The intent of the Second Amendment is to preserve the US citizens’ right to bear and keep arms. Additionally, the 2nd Amendment was enacted to inhibit the then-new Federal Government (established in 1789) from withdrawing arms from the state militias. The Second Amendment does not represent unlimited rights to possess and bear arms. The amendment text, a well-regulated militia, clearly shows that there are some restrictions in regards to possessing and bearing arms: for instance, the federal government has the right to deny the rights to keep and bear arms in instances of an unregulated militia.  Besides, as per the text of the Second Amendment, it only guarantees the rights to possess and bear arms to the militias. As such, the right of an individual citizen to keep and bear guns is rather implied than explicit. Nonetheless, militias are formed by individual citizens and by this virtue, they have a right to bear guns. The kind of limits on the right to keep and bear arms that are acceptable include restrictions related to the type of weapon an individual or a militia can possess or use for self-defense as well as the age and the health condition of a person.  It is difficult to establish limits on the freedom to possess and bear arms in modern America because the constitution does not explicitly detail the limits. 

IV. Political Culture: What are the special concerns of older Americans?

How are these reflected in political participation? Why are older voters more influential than their numbers suggest? What other groups in American society exert more political influence than their numbers would suggest? Why is this the case?

The older American have special political concerns. The senior Americans are usually more concerned about the kind of country they will leave for the next generation. Thus, they are concerned with the issue that will promote the country economic growth. Secondly, they have concerns about the cost and access to healthcare. Specifically, they are concerned with the cost of prescription drugs that are used to manage old-age related health complications such as hypertension, renal failure, and cancer. They will thus tend to vote for the government that prioritizes on their concern. These issues compel older American to actively participate in politics. In the United States, the voting turnout among older Americans is notably high. The older voters are more influential than their number suggest because they record a high voter turnout and they are able to influence the voting pattern of the younger generations under their care.

Another group in American society that exert notable political influence than their number would suggest is the African American. Just like the older Americans, the African Americas have special concerns that make them have an overwhelming political participation. For instance, the fight against racial discrimination, self-sufficient economy, and social equality compels make them have an active participation in politics. In 2012, their political influence played a key role in ensuring that retired president Obama won the elections.  

V.  Political Process

The primary role of public opinion polls in American government is to inform public policymaking. The opinion poll is an ideal mechanism from which the government learns about the views of the mass public in regards to a particular issue or policy. The data derived from opinion polls helps and guides the government in the policymaking process. Although opinion polls have significant merits, they also have some problems. For instance, in some cases, they create sentiments rather that measuring opinions. They can also create the illusion of salience and the bandwagon effect. Opinion polls should be explicitly used to make a policy decision. Opinion polls present the views of the general public who will be directly affected by the policy, as such, it is rational for the government to consider their views when instituting policy decisions. Modern American politicians respond quite well to public opinion. In multiple instances, the public opinion polls results have influenced legislators to vote for or against a certain bill.

November 24, 2023

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