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American Political Culture: Core Values

American Political Culture: Core Values

There are three (3) core values of American government that are preserved within the black letter of the United States Constitution. These core values are: liberty, equality and self-government. These values are so precious to the continued existence of our great nation that they pass from generation to generation and encompass all forms of religion, gender,  socio-economic background, nationality and heritage.

Liberty

The word “liberty” is specifically mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is the only one of the basic core values that is mentioned in all three of these founding documents.

Liberty protects the people from unreasonable governmental intrusion. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression as well as freedom to practice religion of choice and unreasonable search and seizure to name a few. Liberty is the fundamental principle that individuals should be free to act as they wish so long as they do not limit or restrict freedoms guarantees to others.

Equality

Although the framers of the Constitution hoped to create a government based upon the tenets of freedom, liberty and equality, maintaining the latter was a controversial issue. The definition of equality was interpreted differently by individuals of diverse backgrounds, economic status and gender. Only white males were truly guaranteed the full faith and credit of the United States Constitution. Until the suffrage movement, only white men were allowed to vote. Minorities, including women, would not participate in the electoral process until after the suffragette movement.

In post-revolutionary America, not all persons were treated equally. Indeed, not all persons who entered the ‘land of the free’  were treated as such. White males brought Africans into the country against their will and indentured them as slaves. African-Americans were bound to the slavery of their white counterparts until 1860.   Before the emancipation of slaves in 1864, slaves were considered property of the individuals who purchased them from the slave trade. Slaves had no rights or claim to freedom unless their owner set them free. Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of American ideals was himself a slave owner on one the largest plantations in the great South and often toyed with the exact definition of equality.

The maintenance of equality continues to be an obstacle for our country and government. It affects all genders, races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. For example, every new generation of immigrant face issues of equality.      

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