Political Science: Government II Written Assignment
Part One: Subject Areas Covered
Since the founding of the US, it has relied on the participation of citizens to govern at the national, state, and local levels. Civic engagement is essential in US governance since it ensures that representative democracy continues to flourish and that the US citizens continue to influence the government. The constitution also grants and protects the rights of US citizens as they participate in the countrys governance (Kovera). This is an essential aspect of democracy, and over the years, many people have struggled to ensure that their right to participate is acquired, defended, and protected. Hence, this paper will address the subjects that deal with US governance and civic participation. First, this paper will address one of the branches of the US government, specifically the Congress, by exploring its structure and powers and its role in the countrys governance. This paper will also explore the equal rights amendment under civil rights and federalism, its meaning, and its relation to the constitution. The contemporary problem identified is continuing racial discrimination, followed by a brief description of a possible solution.
Branches of the US Government: The US Congress
Congress is among the three branches of the US government alongside the Executive and the federal judiciary. The structure and powers of Congress, Congressional terms and length, and the requirements for serving and representation in Congress are described under Article I, from section one to section ten, of the constitution. It consists of two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The vice president of the US becomes the president of the senate and only casts a vote when senators are evenly divided. The powers initially granted to Congress include tax, regulating commerce and trade, and maintaining a navy and an army. Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress has had authority that even the national government lacks. Constitutional amendments granted Congress additional powers including, the power to declare war (hence an essential role in national defense), borrow and coin money, grant copyrights, and patents, and establish laws to regulate bankruptcy and naturalization (Krutz & Sylvie, p. 51).
Civil Rights: Equal Rights Amendment
The founding principles of the US are justice, equality, and liberty. However, not every American citizen has always enjoyed equal treatment and opportunities under the law or the liberties extended to other citizens. Over the years, there have been several movements, including womens movements, to gain equal rights for every American citizen irrespective of sex, race, color, and religion. The 19th constitution amendment failed to end discrimination against women in employment, education, and other areas. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) mandated equal rights for every American citizen irrespective of sex. However, several attempts to pass this bill into law failed since its first introduction to the US Congress in 1923 after the constitution granted voting rights to women. The main objections were established on the fear that passing it into law would deny women alimony and custody over their children if they divorced and that they would be subjected to military conscription. Even though its ratification failed, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment was passed as a federal statute (Krutz & Sylvie, p.170-177). This title prohibits any form of discrimination in educational institutions based on sex in healthcare access, dormitory space, and other school activities.
Federalism and the Constitution
Federalism refers to the institutional arrangement in which two relatively autonomous government levels are established, each with the capacity to act directly on behalf of the American people. Each of these government levels has been granted authority to do so by the national constitution. The US constitution has various provisions concerning how the US federalism system functions. Some of these provisions restrict the scope of the state and national power, while others delineate it. The remaining define the relationships between the federal government and states and the relationship between states. These powers are found in Article I Section 8 of the national constitution. These powers are specifically essential in directing the countrys governance because they define the jurisdictional boundaries of the federal government. Congress was granted authority over foreign and national affairs. For instance, it can protect property rights, regulate foreign and interstate commerce, borrow money, tax, and declare war if there is a threat to the American people. Also, the state powers were initially not contained in the constitution, but after ratifying the same, various state powers were included in the constitution. Such powers include conducting elections, public health and safety provision, and constitutional amendments ratification (Krutz & Sylvie, p.71-75).
Contemporary Political Problem
Civil Rights: Racial Injustices Suffered by African Americans in the United States
Despite the various movements to secure equal rights for American citizens regardless of race, African Americans are still struggling with racial discrimination in the US. For starters, many still live in predominantly black communities where housing covenants and laws forced their ancestors. Even blacks in the suburban areas are found in the black suburbs. Many black students still attend predominantly black schools (United States Courts). Today, many of them are trapped in poor neighborhoods due to the legacies of persistent racism and Jim Crow. As a result, these areas are characterized by high rates of violence and crime. To worsen the matter, police also appear to be engaging in racial profiling, singling people of color for greater attention. For instance, many cases have gained mass attention due to racial profiling by police, such as police brutality against people of color and wrongful or unfair sentencing. Such issues have resulted in the deaths of many innocent blacks. Thus, many African American movements have taken to the streets to protest what they believe is racial discrimination because of their color and the failure of politicians to pay more attention to these issues.
The solution to the Identified Problem
Opinion research has proven that American citizens embrace the human rights concept as an essential societal value. Equal opportunities free from racial discrimination based on race are a fundamental human right (Kovera). Evidence shows the ongoing presence of racial discrimination in the US, which warrants the political environment to implement a permanent solution. Hence, there need to be discussions on this sensitive topic both by the American and international societies to generate potential solutions. Ideally, the US government could consider ratifying the constitution to include more ideas to guarantee equal protection rights for every American citizen. In the implementation, it would help to ensure that anyone who acts against the stipulations of the constitution in terms of racial discrimination faces the full wrath of the law irrespective of who the offender is. Most importantly, the government should promote civic education since white dominance over blacks is also an issue of the mind (Mouffe).
Kovera, Margaret Bull. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system: Prevalence, causes, and a search for solutions.Journal of Social Issues75.4 (2019): 1139-1164.
Krutz, Glen S., and Sylvie Waskiewicz.American government. OpenStax College, Rice University, 2016.
Mouffe, Chantal.On the political. Routledge, 2011.
United States Courts, History Brown v. Board of Education Re-enactment, https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/history-brown-v-board-education-re-enactment (accessed on 31st October 2021).
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