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Ethical Issues of American Democracy

The Use of American Power

America has been a powerful nation for long, and its power is highly manifested within and outside the nation. The purpose and use of American power has mainly been in defending the nation and its citizens from its enemies. With increased cases of terrorism in the 21st century, the American nation is highly utilizing its powers in combating terrorism attacks and activities within and outside the country. The nation is also exercising its powers in promoting democracy within as well as in the global perspective.

For instance the fund for peace is a mission in America which is helping stimulate debates and dialogue through national conversations on peace and democratic issues in the country. The nation is also extending its powers abroad in instilling and supporting peace as well as helping in restoration of democracy in rogue countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan (Patterson, 2009).

Ethical Issues in the Practices of American Democracy

The American democracy is experiencing metamorphosis, and on the ethical perspective, some issues are emerging. Among these ethical issues is whether the process of promoting democracy is morally acceptable to all the stakeholders involved. In some cases, America is using excessive power in exercising and promoting democracy. A good example is characterized in restoration of democracy in the war torn Iraq where America is being criticized by the international community for the invasion of the country.

The invasion infact was blamed for further detoriation of democracy instead of its promotion. Another ethical issue arising is whether America respects human life in its quest for democracy. A lot of blood is being shed by innocent civilian in the wars and activities to promote democracy, especially outside the nation. Therefore the American democracy is not always democratic, since sometimes it is forced and goes against the wish of the majority (Patterson, 2009).

Major Issues between the Executive and Legislative Branches

The major issues surrounding the executive and legislative branches in the American constitution are division of powers as well as balancing the powers between the two arms of government. The executive which mainly consists of the president and government ministers sometimes has powers to authorize or deny a law passed by the legislature i.e. the parliamentary composition of senators and others. The conflict between the two branches arises in fusion of their powers to act in a certain situation. The legislature may pass various policies and the president (the executive) may be reluctant to sign them into a law. However the two branches are highly depended on each other.

The executive is dependent on the legislative branch in that it draws its members from the parliament, and legalizes laws created by the legislature. The legislature on the other hand depends on the executive, in signing bills passed into laws (McKenna and Feingold, 1989).

The Role of Appearances and Deception in American Politics

All politics tries their best to cover up their bad deeds and deceptions, and this is usually done through making policies which have a good appearance to the general public. The American politics is not immune to these deceptions. For instance, America has deceived the general public in its actual activities in the promotion of democracy and maintaining peace globally. A perfect example is evidenced on the basis on which it took invasion in Iraq, a political deception that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction, a claim which up to now has not been justified. These negatively affects people’s perspective on the politics, hence their mistrust on the political powers exercised by the government (McKenna and Feingold, 1989).

Bureaucracy in American Political Life

Political bureaucracy entails the hierarchical authority in administration and management of political procedures, usually through many offices and characterized by fixed procedures. The political life in America is characterized by oppressive and strict policies which follow rigid and inflexible procedures in executing a political action. This oppressive and rigidity nature of the American political system has much impact on people’s perspective, to the extend of earning the title ‘red tape’.

Ethically, a bureaucrat actions are ethical, since his or her activities conforms to the set rules and procedures of executing an action, however if the procedures are not acceptable to the majority people, a bureaucrat may be unethical in the people’s perception but ethical in his or her activities. Therefore the procedures of action are more important to a bureaucrat than ethics of the action (McKenna and Feingold, 1989).

Limitation of Civil Liberty

During times of wars and conflicts, holding of civilian’s freedom is sometimes justified, even though it might be morally unethical. For instance in cases where insurgent’s cases are high, the people’s liberty may be withheld, as a measure to promote peace. However, in such cases of war, there must be an ethical norm or measure, which should detect for the cases whereby such limitations contravene the rule of law of the land and morality.

The ethical norm should be that majority of the civilians should accept the move. Otherwise it will have broken the law of the land, as well as immoral. Torture is unethical and a violation against human rights, and there are no basis to justify torture in any political practice in the society. However, in cases of terrorism, torture may be justified especially when the intention is to obtain vital information from the terrorists (Patterson, 2009).

The Effect of Racism on American Political Life

Racism has led to the weakening of the social solidarity and racial conflicts among the American people, hence weakening the political structure. The whites think that their political ideas are more superior to those of their fellow Black Country men. Racism conformed the American political life to a political system characterized by racial prejudice, in particular, prejudice against the black people.

However, political scientists in America argue that the practical usage of political policies that are ‘race-sighted’ is greatly reducing the detrimental effects of racial prejudice, even though racism is still evident in the American political arena. In some political parties, race still plays a significant role. In the American political leadership, racism still exists in the election of women officials. Women of color are more considered as compared to those from other racial/ ethnic groups (Sierra, 2004).

Underlying Values that Motivate American Democracy

The America’s advance Act outlines several values motivating American democracy, which include: freedom of thought and expression, justice, values reflecting on the philosophy of protecting human rights, good governance, effective administration as well as governments’ commitment in further expansion and enhancement freedom. The American government is also cultivating a sense of equality in running the affairs of the government, where it is illegalizing discrimination in terms of gender and race in the political affairs.

The debates and arguments in the book ‘Taking Sides’ shines light much on the values of ensuring freedom and protection of human rights. In the arguments, democracy can hardly thrive when people are not given the freedom in their thoughts, thus the democracy of America is mainly embarked on people’s freedom of expression (Patterson, 2009).


McKenna, G. and Feingold, S. (1989) Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Political Issues (16thEd.). New York. McGraw-Hill.

Patterson, T. E. (2009). The American Democracy (9th Ed). New York. McGraw-Hill.

Sierra, C. (2004). Political Science Professors Study on the Role of Gender and Race in Elected Officials with Ford Foundation Grant. Web.


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