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Comment Re:Public Forum. Get used to it. (Score 1) 210

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are negative rights in that they prevent the government from doing things: abridging speech, quartering troops, violating due process, etc.

The "inalienable Rights" endowed by God in the Declaration are the closest thing to positive rights we have in this society: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.

Comment Re:Protect people from unwholesome content? (Score 1) 115

yes, fine response, but it'd be nice if you could better define inner freedom. if inner freedom does not depend on circumstance or events, where does it come from? this is most certainly an idealist orientation of which there are many critics. Marx argues that inner self is derived from material reality, so experience should be structured to provide freedom in order to produce free individuals--thus political freedom is paramount to build this social structure. conversely, Hegel would say that inner freedom (your term, won't use Hegel's) validates society by finding reason in its form, and that Marx's sort of authoritative structure is no way to possibly run a free society--but again, only political freedom allows individuals to shape society to fit the concept of inner freedom. both rely on common perception, though, one which the poor beggar and the wealthy tycoon couldn't possibly share, but that inner freedom depends on to conceive and political freedom to form.

Comment Re:In other words (Score 1) 160

while I agree with much of the sentiment, the legitimacy of this republic was intended to be democratic. the idea is correct, though, that the Founders, particularly Madison, felt that the threat of majority faction was greater than any benefit of responsiveness or accountability afforded by a more directly democratic legislature. representatives are, then, supposed to focus the interests of individuals into legislation that works for the public good, but the authority of the government is meant to come from the people (although only a small fraction of them in 1791). further, the concern of the Founders was not to produce well-informed voters but to establish the institutions by which people could express their interests. by "extending the sphere" of participation, Madison thought that the plurality of diverse interests would allow all to be represented. freedom of the press was as much about defending basic liberty as it was about educating the public; the public education system had no place at the Convention or for many years after. the systems which we acknowledge today as crucial to providing for individuals the tools to better exercise their will were mainly the efforts of the Jacksonian Democrats, the Progressives, the Civil Rights and other movements, but not of the Founders. it many ways, then, the means by which we have to influence the government have expanded greatly since ratification (this includes near universal suffrage). the problem of why government seems so unresponsive today is by no means clear. is it that the people elect representatives who deceive them and legislate in their own interest? is it that the people lack the proper political education to elect representative who will legislate for the public good? is the legislature institutionally constrained by their inability to enforce the law? are people simply so detached as to have no interest in governing? is government less responsive even than in the past? you are certainly correct in one regard: we are ultimately responsible for how our republic governs--this is what makes it democratic.

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