10 -- Part 3: THE AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND THE COURTS
Discuss the role of public opinion in a democracy.
There are two visions of citizenship in America: one, the ideal democratic citizen who is knowledgeable, tolerant, engaged in politics, and concerned about the common good, and the other, the apolitical, self-interested actor who does not meet this ideal.
Our behavior often combines aspects of each.
Some people tune out political news but are tolerant of others.
The give and take of democratic politics can be difficult if activist citizens are not tolerant of other's views.
Our founding fathers did not expect us to be democratic citizens.
By the end of this chapter, we will see that our democracy has survived despite our mistakes.
The ideal democratic citizen understands how government works, who the main actors are, and what major principles underlie the operation of the political system.
Public opinion pollsters periodically take readings on what the public knows about politics, and the conclusion is always the same: Americans are not very well informed about their political system.
Less than half of Americans knew that Neil Gorsuch was a justice on the Supreme Court after a scandalous story about McConnell blocking Obama's nominee.
The American public does not approach the high levels of civic engagement recommended by civics texts, despite the fact that only a quarter of Americans say they follow politics.
tolerance is a key democratic value.
In a democracy, with many people jockeying for position and competing visions of the common good, tolerance for ideas different from one's own and respect for the rights of others provide oil to keep the democratic machinery running smoothly.
Politics generally and of democratic politics particularly require tolerance in order to compromise.
The record is not perfect.
America has a history of denying basic civil rights to some groups, but tolerance is on the rise since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
What's at stake.
The anonymity of channels of communication on the Internet allows people to express inappropriate and racist views without fear of repercussions.
The idea of conforming to respectful ways of referring to each other has been condemned as rampant political correctness, and its opposite blossoms on some social networks and even in one-to-one personal and social relationships.
Most Americans support the values of freedom of speech, religion, and political equality.
Subsequent studies, such as those by the First Amendment Center, show the same data.
When citizens are asked to tolerate unpopular groups like the American Nazi Party, the levels of political tolerance plummet.
One study found that only 24 percent of high school graduates earned high scores, compared with 52 percent of college graduates, on a civil liberties scale designed to measure overall support for First Amendment rights.
One of the criticisms of Americans is that we don't participate enough.
For voter turnout in national elections, the United States is almost last among industrialized nations.
Various explanations have been offered for the low U.S. turnout, including the failure of parties to work to mobilize turnout and obstacles to participation such as restrictive registration laws.
The United States has one of the lowest levels of voter turnout in national elections among industrialized nations, although greater levels of participation are seen among those with more education and higher income.
In a nation that claims to be ruled by the people, all American citizens have a stake in making sure that the people are as democratic as they can be.
Although many citizens exhibit some of the characteristics of the ideal democratic citizen, they rarely exhibit all of them because the primary incentive that drives each citizen is concern for his or her own interests.
The model of the theoretical ideal does not fit most citizens.
Those who fit the model can achieve that status through political education, toleration, and political participation.
We have learned that many, but not all, of the characteristics of our ideal democratic citizen.
There are elements of ideal democratic citizenship that are not distributed equally.
The basics of the political culture we learned about in and more complex forces that guide us into adopting the more divisive ideologies we studied in the same chapter bring most of us to consensus.
The survival of democracies and all other political systems depends on each new generation's belief in the legitimacy of the political system and its leaders, and willingness to obey the laws.
The children in China and France support their leaders the same way the children of the United States support theirs.
Sharing an essential narrative about the founding of a country and the values that support it and deserve loyalty is important here.
As we learn patriotism and good citizenship, those values are supportive of the political system.
Family, school, and houses of worship all have an interest in turning out well-behaved children with loyalty to country.
Socialization is similar to mediation in that the information we pick up comes through channels that may be controlled by people or organizations with an interest in having us behave in certain ways.
In the olden days, face to face socializing was the norm, but now possible agents of face to face socializing include the internet and social media.
Our fundamental values may be shaped by people we don't know.
Parents take their children to the parades.
Children begin to develop an emotional response to political celebrations and national symbols once there.
Our political development is influenced by the family.