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Investigating American Democracy

Readings on Core Questions

Edited by Thomas K. Lindsay and Gary D. Glenn

Publication Date - June 2012

ISBN: 9780195392111

348 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Organized around core questions, this unique anthology draws students into the great sweep of historical debate on the meaning and purpose of American democracy


"The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave."--Thomas Jefferson

From its very beginning, American government has been a continuously evolving and contentious enterprise defined by profound questions like "Who has the right to vote, on what, and why?" "Why does American democracy separate the powers of government?" and "What do our persistent debates over religion, citizenship, and law reveal about the nature of American democracy?"

Addressing these and five other vital questions, Investigating American Democracy: Readings on Core Questions is ideal for a variety of courses in American politics. Each chapter opens with a core question that leads into readings reflecting conflicting views on that question. This "point-counterpoint" approach helps students to critically evaluate and compare the readings and to form their own opinions on each issue.

Ranging from the founding of the country to the present day, the selections include writings and speeches from such illustrious historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Tocqueville, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Addams, and Franklin D. Roosevelt alongside work from more contemporary political leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, John Ashcroft (Bush administration Patriot Act), and Barack Obama. Considerable sections of important Supreme Court opinions are also included. The editors provide "Guiding Questions" for each reading and extensive historical background for each chapter and reading. An Instructor's Manual containing test-bank questions is available to adopters.

Table of Contents

    Chapter One. Why a "Core-Questions" approach to the study of American democracy, and why should such study include the examination of "old books"?, Thomas K. Lindsay
    Chapter Two. Core Question: What is American democracy? Over two centuries of dispute over our national identity
    At the Founding: Was America founded as a "democracy" or a "republic"? The confusion regarding the Founders' intentions
    James Madison, Excerpt from The Federalist, No. 10
    James Madison, The Federalist, No. 39
    What is "Jeffersonian Democracy," and what is its contemporary relevance?
    Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address" (1801)
    The "demographics" of American political equality: Early-American democracy, according to de Tocqueville
    Equality of conditions
    Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, [hereafter, "DA"] (1833, Trans., Henry Reeve), "Author's Introduction"
    Majority rule
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "On Majority Rule"
    The "House Divided"--What the battle over slavery reveals about America's core principles
    Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1784)
    William Lloyd Garrison, "Resolution" (1843)
    Frederick Douglass, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro" (July 5, 1852)
    Alexander Stephens, "Cornerstone Speech" (1861)
    Abraham Lincoln, "Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg" (1863)
    Critiquing the Founders' Vision: The Progressives' Argument that a Genuine Political Democracy Requires "Economic Democracy"
    Theodore Roosevelt, "Two Noteworthy Books on Democracy" (1914)
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Commonwealth Club Campaign Speech" (1932)
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, "The Economic Bill of Rights" (1944)
    Lyndon Johnson, "The Great Society" (1964)
    The Rise of "Civil-Liberties Democracy"
    Are courts, or the people and their representatives, the best guardians of liberty?
    The Opinion of the Court in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)
    What is the proper balance between individual liberty and national security?
    U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, "On the Anti-Terrorism Bill" (2001)
    Attorney General John Ashcroft, "Address Before the Federalist Society" (2003)
    Extending The National Government's Reach to Ensure Protection of Minorities: The Movement Toward "Civil-Rights Democracy"
    Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream" (1963)
    The Opinion of the Court in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
    Chapter Three. Core Question: What political-economic conditions, and character in the people, might best allow American democracy to balance liberty and equality?
    The argument over "small" versus "large" democracy, and why it still matters today
    Democracy can succeed only in a large country
    James Madison, Second Excerpt from Federalist 10
    Democracy can succeed only in a small country
    "Brutus I" (1787)
    "Centinel I" (1787)
    What competing notions of democracy drive our ongoing debate over decentralized, locally oriented government versus centralized federal government?
    Thomas Jefferson, "On Citizenship"
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "On Individualism and Related Subjects"
    Lamar Alexander, "Cut Their Pay and Send Them Home" (1994)
    Does it matter whether America is an "agrarian" or an "industrial" democracy?
    Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1784)
    Alexander Hamilton, "Report on Manufactures" (1791)
    What is the optimal relation between the national and state governments with the view to enhancing both liberty and equality?
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "Advantages of the Federal System in General . . . "
    Ronald Reagan, "State of the Union Address" (1982)
    The Opinion of the Court in Garcia v. San Antonio (1985)
    Might equality both make democratic liberty possible and, then, destroy it?
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "Why Democratic Nations Show a More
    Ardent . . ."
    Chapter Four. Core Question: Who has the right to vote, on what, and why?
    Why do we hold elections?
    James Madison, Federalist 52
    If everyone must have the right to vote in order for America to qualify as a democracy, when did it become a democracy? Voting eligibility under the original Constitution
    U.S. Constitution, Article I, Sections 2-3
    Chancellor Kent, "On Universal Suffrage" (1821)
    Extending the right to vote to women: Does the Declaration of Independence provide a principled basis for the equal rights of women?
    "The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions" (1848)
    Addams's argument for the practical benefits of extending the franchise
    Jane Addams, "Why Women Should Vote" (1910)
    Why did an earlier Supreme Court deny that the 14th Amendment extends the vote to women?
    The Opinion of the Court in Minor v. Happersett (1875)
    19th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1920)
    Competing Visions of Sexual Equality: "Complementarity" versus "sameness"
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "How the American Views the Equality of the Sexes"
    Barbara Jordan, "Change: From What to What?" (1992)
    Extending the right to vote to former slaves and their descendants
    15th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1870)
    President Lyndon Johnson, "Voting Rights Act Speech" (1965)
    Extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds: What was the chief argument employed to justify this extension?
    26th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1971)
    Are any principled limits on the right to vote consistent with American democracy?
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "The People's Choice and the Instincts of American Democracy . . ."
    U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, "The Motor-Voter Bill" (1994)
    Who and what should voters have a right to vote for (directly)?
    James Madison, Federalist 63
    17th Amendment, U.S. Constitution
    Presidential election through the "Electoral College," rather than through "direct popular election"
    United States Constitution: Art II, Sec. 1, Clauses 2-4 (1787), 12th Amendment (1804)
    Chapter Five. Core Question: What is democratic representation meant to accomplish, and what is the role of race?
    Representation in the view of the Founders and de Tocqueville
    Alexander Hamilton "On the Character of the Legislator" (1778)
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, Excerpts on "Parties" and "Governance of the People"
    Recent judicial concerns over representation
    The Opinion of the Court (Chief Justice Warren) in Reynolds v. Sims (1964)
    Dissenting Opinion in Reynolds v. Sims (Justice Harlan)
    The Opinion of the Court in South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966)
    The Opinion of the Court in Miller v. Johnson (1995)
    Should representation take account of individuals or groups, or both?
    Lani Guinier, "Groups, Representation, and Race-Conscious Districting . . . "
    Thurgood Marshall, "Remarks at the Annual Seminar of the San Francisco . . ."
    Robert Goldwin, "Why Blacks, Women, and Jews are Not Mentioned in the
    Recent presidential reflections on race and the Constitution
    Bill Clinton, "Mend It, Don't End It" (1995)
    Barack Obama, "A More Perfect Union" (Speech on Race in America, 2008)
    Chapter Six. Core Question: Why does American democracy separate the powers of government?
    The original Constitution's design for the separation of powers
    James Madison, Federalist 47
    James Madison, Federalist 48
    How does separation of powers aim to secure liberty?
    James Madison, Federalist 51
    Justice Brandeis in Myers v. U.S. (1926)
    How and why does separation of powers aim to make possible an "energetic"president, who is "independent" of the legislature?
    James Madison, Federalist 37
    Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 70
    Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Interview by Arthur Krock" (1937)
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "On Foreign Affairs"
    How and why does separation of powers aim to make possible an independent judiciary?
    Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 78
    Thomas Jefferson, "Against Judicial Review" (1815)
    Should the state courts enjoy the same independence afforded the federal courts?
    Theodore Roosevelt, "The Recall of Judicial Decisions" (1912)
    Chapter Seven. Core Question: What do our persistent debates over religion, citizenship, and law reveal about the nature of American democracy?
    The debate over whether religion is a problem for, or an institution in, American democracy
    How can religion be understood to be a "political institution" in American
    George Washington, "Farewell Address" (1796)
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "On Religion as a Political Institution"
    How can religion be understood to be a political problem for American democracy?
    Thomas Jefferson, "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" (1786)
    Thomas Jefferson, "Letter to Nehemiah Dodge and Others . . ." (1802)
    The Opinion of the Court in Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
    Ronald Reagan, "Remarks at an Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast" (1984)
    Walter Mondale, "Remarks to International Convention of B'nai B'rith" (1984)
    Citizenship: What makes one an American?
    Dispute over the role of race in citizenship
    14th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1868)
    Abraham Lincoln, "Speech in Reply to Douglass
    at Chicago, Illinois" (July 10, 1858)
    Stephen A. Douglas, "From the Fifth Joint Debate [with Lincoln]" (October 7, 1858)
    "Lincoln's Reply to Douglas," October 7, 1858
    The Opinion of the Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
    The status of law under American principles
    Is lawlessness built into the very foundations of American political life?
    The Declaration of Independence
    What is law-abidingness in the American context?
    Abraham Lincoln, "Speech on the Dred Scott Decision" (June 26, 1857)
    Frederick Douglass, "On the Dred Scott Decision" (May 11, 1857)
    Why should we obey the law?
    Alexis de Tocqueville, DA, "Respect for Law in the United States"
    Abraham Lincoln, "The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions" (1838)
    The case
    for civil disobedience
    Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail" (1963)
    Chapter Eight. Postscript: Democracy outside America
    Core Question: To what extent might America's experience with democracy provide guidance to countries struggling to establish it?
    Czech President Vaclav Havel, Address to a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress (1990)
    President George W. Bush, "Speech to the Knesset" (2008)
    President Barack Obama, "Speech in Cairo" (2009)