Read assigned pages in the “Democracy in 21st Century America” (PDF) book and the articles for this unit.  Take notes on all of the assigned readings. Then, in an extended memo format using the format provided below:

  1. Summarize & Explain (in about 400 words+) the highlights (use one paragraph summary of narrative with additional bullet points using whole sentences to illustrate the highlights) of what the major points of knowledge (ideas or concepts or facts) you gained from the book readings for this unit.
  2. Then, summarize & outline (in about 400 words+) the major points (use one paragraph summary of narrative with additional bullet points using whole sentences to illustrate the key thinking skills you seek to highlight) of critical political thinking (ways to think about political questions and how to see & understand social & political phenomenon that affect your life in your world).
  3. Finally, answer three questions – with one paragraph each of about 200 words+ – make a conclusion with commentary explicitly using ideas you take away from reading the articles to suggest how these (with in text citations) and ideas from the book, offer us lessons we should all learn from what you have read and thought about as to how the material in this unit section relates to the following explicit question:

a)  The Constitution: It has been suggested that the US Constitution is remarkable for how long it has been in continuous operation. The document has structured American politics for almost 2 ½ centuries with very few change. Yet, some of the amendments were profoundly significant in altering the distribution of power and guaranteeing rights for all.

  • To what extent do you think this document is still relevant today?
  • If a new Constitution were created today, how might this document differ from our current one?
  • Who would shape its provisions and would it be more or less “socially just” (civil rights & civil liberties) than the version written in 1787?

b) Relative to Federalism:

  • Can you think of one issue that is governed differently from state to state?
  • What level of government (local, state or national) do you think should solve this problem?
  • What are the benefits and consequences of having national versus state laws?
  • Can you think of examples of problems that have occurred due to lack of uniformity in such laws?

c) Civil Rights & Civil Liberties:  The Bill of Rights is where the U.S. Constitution “claims” to be “democratic” in that it protects the democratic values known as civil rights and civil liberties. Civil rights and civil liberties as terms are often used interchangeably. They are both freedoms and/or privileges to which one has a claim; however,

  • What is the difference between the Civil rights and civil liberties?
  • Please explain and give examples of each.

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