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Basic Elements of Democracy


Popular sovereignty is a basic idea of democracy. Popular sovereignty means that the people are the ultimate source of the authority of their government.

       · Popular sovereignty means that democratic government is BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE                 PEOPLE—for the benefit of the people, not for the benefit of those who govern in their name.

 ·  Government in a democracy is the SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE; it is not their master. Therefore,      those who govern are PUBLIC SERVANTS—they hold public office only to serve the people,  not      to serve themselves. 

  • The PEOPLE are the HIGHEST POLITICAL AUTHORITY in a democracy. The People are the ultimate rulers.
  • In a democracy, political authority FLOWS FROM THE PEOPLE to the government—NOT FROM GOVERNMENT to the People.

·         Popular sovereignty means that the government can only exercise authority if it has been given permission to do so by the People.  Therefore, popular sovereignty LIMITS THE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT. 

  • In a democracy the People delegate their authority to government ONLY FOR THE PURPOSES set forth in their constitution.
  • The People give to the government ONLY AS MUCH AUTHORITY as is necessary to fulfill the purposes for which government is established.
  • The only legitimate power that government has in a democracy comes from the CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE.
  • It is an ABUSE OF POWER for the government to claim more powers than the People have delegated to it.
  • In a democracy the People OWN THE GOVERNMENT. It is theirs and they have the right to change it by lawful, constitutional methods if it does not perform to their satisfaction.

 What do YOU think? 

  1. Why would someone support the idea of popular sovereignty?
  2. Why would some one oppose the idea of popular sovereignty?
  3. What position would you take?  Why?

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