American Government 101

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In the movie The American President, Michael Douglas lectures the White House Press Corps and the nation on the attributes and difficulties of our democracy. I think one of his key points is that America is not easy. It requires a lot of effort, talent, understanding, and--above all--attention. We are witnessing a piece of history unfold before our eyes at the moment as the federal government tries to cope with an economic meltdown and understand how the crisis came about. At the same time many voices are calling for investigations into multiple levels of governance in the last few years. Every day a headline screams about some regulatory failure or lack of control. These are indeed scary and angst-ridden days.

The good news is the United States possesses flexible and enduring institutions that have withstood many powerful tests. Within days of the ratification of the Constitution, challenges arose--domestic uprisings, foreign wars, and inept office-holders. After almost seven decades of wrestling with internal differences, the nation suffered the pain of civil war. During the Great Depression we tested the very bounds of our institutions to address economic disaster; in both World Wars we tested trading our civil rights for security--and still our institutions and our rights came through. Indeed they have survived and evolved. My point here is that it is profoundly important that all of us understand and appreciate our institutions of government. Thinkwell offers a wonderful course in American Government as do many publishers. And there are many free resources available online, including Probably most of all, you can read the United States Constitution. If you have not read the Constitution recently you should take a few minutes. It is filled with wonderful things, such as balance of powers, civil and equal rights, and the description of our institutions that have served us for more than two centuries.

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This page contains a single entry by Carl Tyson, CEO published on April 24, 2009 4:39 PM.

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