~Core Democratic Values~


Core democratic values are the basic beliefs that unite 
all Americans. These values are found in the Declaration 
of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and other 
important documents of our nation.

Fundamental Beliefs / Constitutional Principles / Simplified Terms / Children's Books / Other Resources

~Fundamental Beliefs~
Common GoodDiversity / Equality / Justice / Liberty / Life / Patriotism
Popular Sovereignty / The Pursuit of Happiness / Truth /

Common Good- The public or common good requires that individual citizens have the commitment and motivation--that they accept their obligation--to promote the welfare of the community and to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all.

Diversity- Variety in culture and ethnic background, race, lifestyle, and belief is not only permissible but desirable and beneficial in a pluralist society.

Equality- All people have the right to be treated equal (the same).

Justice- People should be treated fairly in the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society, the correction of wrongs and injuries, and in the gathering of information and making of decisions.

Liberty-The right to liberty is considered an unalterable aspect of the human condition. Central to this idea of liberty is the understanding that the political or personal obligations of parents or ancestors cannot be legitimately forced on people. The right to liberty includes personal freedom: the private realm in which the individual is free to act, to think and to believe, and which the government cannot legitimately invade; political freedom: the right to participate freely in the political process, choose and remove public officials, to be governed under a rule of law; the right to a free flow of information and ideas, open debate and right of assembly; and economic freedom: the right to acquire, use, transfer and dispose of private property without unreasonable governmental interference; the right to seek employment wherever one pleases; to change employment at will; and to engage in any lawful economic activity.

Life-The individual's right to life should be considered inviolable except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances, such as the use of deadly force to protect one's own or others' lives.

Patriotism- Virtuous citizens display a devotion to their country, including devotion to the fundamental values and principles upon which it depends.

Popular Sovereignty-The citizenry is collectively the sovereign of the state and holds ultimate authority over public officials and their policies.

The Pursuit of Happiness- It is the right of citizens in the American constitutional democracy to attempt to attain--to "pursue"--happiness in their own way, so long as they do not infringe upon rights of others.

Truth- Citizens can legitimately demand that truth-telling as refraining from lying and full disclosure by government be the rule, since trust in the veracity of government constitutes an essential element of the bond between governors and governed.

~Constitutional Principles~

Rule of Law-Both government and the governed should be subject to the law.

Separation of Powers- Legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be exercised by different institutions in order to maintain the limitations placed upon them.

Representative Government- The republican form of government established under the Constitution is one in which citizens elect others to represent their interests.

Checks and Balances- The powers given to the different branches of government should be balanced, that is roughly equal, so that no branch can completely dominate the others. Branches of government are also given powers to check the power of other branches.

Individual Rights- Fundamental to American constitutional democracy is the belief that individuals have certain basic rights that are not created by government but which government should protect. These are the right to life, liberty, economic freedom, and the "pursuit of happiness." It is the purpose of government to protect these rights, and it may not place unfair or unreasonable restraints on their exercise. Many of these rights are enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Freedom of Religion- There shall be full freedom of conscience for people of all faiths or none. Religious liberty is considered to be a natural inalienable right that must always be beyond the power of the state to confer or remove. Religious liberty includes the right to freely practice any religion or no religion without governmental coercion or control.

Federalism- Power is shared between two sets of governmental institutions, those of the states and those of the central or federal authorities, as stipulated by the Constitution.

Civilian Control of the Military- Civilian authority should control the military in order to preserve constitutional government.

Information from-Michigan Department of Education
Curriculum Development Unit: Social Studies 612198

 

~Core Democratic Values~
Simplified Definitions

Common Good- Help others at home or at school; picking up trash, helping to set the table, cleaning up the park' helping to take care of a younger brother or sister

Diversity- Work and play with everyone; playing with other kids from different backgrounds

Equality- Give everyone an equal

Justice-Take turns and be fair to others; waiting politely in line to get a drink, waiting your turn to play with a toy

Liberty- Follow your beliefs and let others follow theirs; voting in an election, having a job and getting paid

Life-Rules are written to keep us safe, we need to follow these rules; stopping at stop signs, obeying speed limits

Patriotism-Use the Core Democratic Values at home and at school, Pledge of Allegiance

Popular Sovereignty- Power comes from authority

Rule Of Law- Rules are made for everyone to follow

The Pursuit of Happiness- Have fun, but follow the rules at home and at school; doing something that makes you happy; getting a new pet, eating ice cream

Truth- Tell the truth.

 




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