I. Should U.S. be considered by other nations as a model to follow in promoting political progress?
Soon after the constitution of the United States was established, one day, an old lady asked Benjamin Franklin, "What did you create for us, doctor? A republic or a monarchy?" "A republic, madam," Franklin answered, “if you can keep it." As can be seen in Franklin's words, he didn't have a significant confidence in the future of the new nation. As a matter of fact, not only Franklin but some of other founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, also held a pessimistic opinion on the brand new constitution and the government that had been building under the instruction of the constitution. Jefferson even once thought that it would be very fortunate if the constitution and the government were able to survive for more than twenty
What is really fortunate is that those wise founding fathers thought wrong. The government they created survived, not for more than twenty years, but for more than two hundred and twenty years. Today, the United States is the oldest republic in the world. In many nations, the constitution under which the republic was built is an obligatory study subject for the college students who are majoring in politics and law.
In Du Contrat Social, (Rousseau, 113) J. J. Rousseau wrote: "What is the end of political association (government)? The preservation and prosperity of its members....what makes the race truly prosperous is not so much peace as liberty." If Rousseau was still alive, he would not deny that the government of the United States has the marks of a good government that he described. The preservation and prosperity of its members are ensured under the U.S government. Liberty, which makes the race more prosperous than peace does, is a principle of the U.S. constitution. During the two hundred years, the citizens of United States have achieved many great accomplishments on guarding this principle. American people have not only succeeded in keeping the republic that the founding fathers created for them, but they have also successfully breathed the democratic spirit into the republic body. In today's world, where the degree of democratization represents the progress in politics, the United States is universally considered as a symbol of democracy. Does it mean that the nations, which have been seeking a gateway toward democracy, should adopt the governmental form of the United States? "That All Forms of Government Do Not Suit All Countries." These words of Rousseau's could be the answer. (Rousseau, 121) People are the variables in society. It is the particular character of a race of people that decides what political system they would accept. The particular character consists of the "parts of everything people think, do, feel and believe; it is a system of ideas, values, beliefs, customs, that is communicated by one generation to the next and that sustains a specific way of both social and political lives." (Wood, 97) Usually, this system is called culture.
To illustrate how culture affects people's political stand, let's first take a look at the communist China's constitution: "All power in the People‘s Republic of China belongs to the people. The National People’s Congress and the local people‘s congresses at various levels are the organs through which the people exercise state power." (Article 2) "The National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at various levels are constituted through democratic elections. They are responsible to the people and subject to their supervision. All administrative, judicial and procurator organs of the state are created by the people's congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised." (article 3) It seems that the constitution is describing a democratic system of government. At some degree, its form is even similar to the early structure of the early U.S. government. However, the constitution was founded on a set of political concepts called "four basic principles." Among these principles, the one of the highest priority is "adhering to China Communist Party’s leadership position." It is an obvious self-contradiction. If it is true that all power in the People‘s Republic of China belongs to the people, then why should the people be asked to adhere to something? Why don't people have the power to decide what to support according to their own rights? Why should a specific individual's or a party's but not the people's leadership position be adhered? Who has the power over people and therefore can give people the order to adhere to the leadership position of the individual or party? The constitution created one people who have all power in their country; but they don't have the power to decide to whom the leadership position is to be given; they have to always adhere to a specific party's leadership position. Isn't it strange? If the truth is that the Communist Party is the one that is always ruling, then how can it be possible that all power in the People‘s Republic of China belongs to the people?
Out of the 130 million Chinese people, at least 120 million are able to realize what a lack of logic the constitution has. (The other 10 millions are still in kids gardens.) Under such a constitution, the Communist Party has ruled China for 56 years. Nevertheless, the majority of Chinese people have not even wanted to try to overrule the Communist's government to obtain democracy. The reason for this is not because Chinese do not care if there is democracy in their homeland. Chinese learnt from the history of their motherland that every regime is established to eventually collapse, even without any struggle to destruct it. A regime is just like a person - after his birth, he is continuously pacing toward death even if without anyone's pushing him toward the direction. This belief is actually rooted in Confucian's theory, which is an important component of Chinese culture. Confucian first expressed this idea in his Lun-Yu: "...it was Yin after Xia; then Zhou replaced Yin...thus, what will happen on Zhou and what will happen in next centuries is completely predictable." (Xia, Yin and Zhou are dynasties of ancient China) The later facts proved Confucian's words. In its over-5000-year history, China experienced 60 regimes. Most of them were founded by separating from and eventually replacing the previous ones, but by overruling the previous ones. The facts also gave Chinese people a strong belief "that is communicated by one generation to the next” – “No need to do anything to eliminate a regime and start a new one. It will happen anyway. What is really needed is just waiting."
As early as in the late 19th century, Sun Wen tried to introduce the American democratic ideas to Chinese people, the "do-nothing-but waiting" nation. He translated some important U.S. political documents, including Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, into Chinese. He successively started 11 revolutions, of which the only goal was to end Qin dynasty and build a government "of the people, for the people and by the people" in China. All the revolutions failed. Although he had been calling for action, but the most of Chinese were never listened to him.
The history proves that the form of government of United States survived and succeeded in the North American continent; and the history also proves that such a governmental form can only survive and succeed in the North American continent. The reason is that only this continent has the ideal soil for the tree of the government to be planted and grown. The soil is the people of United States. The people of different background of culture cannot provide an appropriate soil for the tree. As mentioned above, Sun Wen tried to plant it in China, and he failed. It proves Rousseau's words: “That All Forms of Government Do Not Suit All Countries."
The United States should definitely be universally considered as the nation of the highest degree of democratization; and the United States deserves it. However, as a political system, the United States is not adequate for being a model of the best governmental form to other nations. Because the differentiation in cultures, no one specific governmental form is appropriate for all the nations. On the other hand, the form of U.S government also cannot
be a formula of a democratic government. Although the United States is a democracy, it is not the only democracy. To illustrate, the United Kingdom and Japan are also democratic. However, in each of these two countries, a symbol of monarchy, royal family is still survived. For the people that have been struggling for democratization of their home countries, the United States
should be seen as a lighthouse that illuminates the road toward democracy, but not a blueprint of the only form of a democratic government. The nations that have working on promoting political progress should set their goal to be increasing the degree of the democratization, but not becoming another United States. With this clear objective, the nations will ultimately establish their own styles of democratic governments, which are rooted in their very own cultures.
II. Should U.S. be considered by other nations as a model to follow in promoting social progress?
In the colonial society of 18th century's American continent, a brand new political system was created. During the following two centuries, the political system had reshaped the society as it had worked on its self-improvement. In today's world, the U.S society is the one allows the most diversities. Freedom and high standard of life are the characteristics of this society. At least in these two respects, the United States is efficient in being a model of social progress to most other nations. Like any other society, U.S. society has many problems; and American people have continuously revealed more and more new problems via different media - AIDS, national
security, racial problems, teenage violence, drugs...Those negative messages sent from people to people reflect the positive attitude of American citizens toward social problems. Americans dare reveal and face the social challenges because they have the confidence to overcome those social
problems. By contrast, people in some nations tend to say: "we are fine, we are all right, and we have no problem." For the nations consist of such kind of contentness, they cannot obtain any social process until they adopt American people's attitude to social problems. On the other hand, accepting such an attitude itself will be the biggest social process of the nations.
III. Should U.S. be considered by other nations as a model to follow in promoting moral progress?
As a branch of social issue, morality is subtle. It is getting more and more difficult to distinguish morality and customs nowadays. Sometimes, when people say:” it is immoral" they actually mean that it is against the customs. For example, wearing only swimming suit off the beach was considered as an immoral behavior several decades ago. As more and more young
people did so, it became undoubtedly moral. Today, it is seen as following fashion. Currently, homosexuality is a controversial issue concerning morality in our society. Nevertheless, as the number of homosexual people increases, it is possible that homosexuality will finally become acceptable to social custom and therefore become undoubtedly moral, just as wearing only a swimming suit on street today. Because no universally accepted standard of morality exists, no one nation could be considered as a moral model by others. The United States cannot, neither can any other nation.
To conclude this essay, the thesis of it is summarized in the following text: because of the diversity of cultures, the political system of the United States cannot be a model to other nations. But the United States will continue to be a lighthouse to the nations looking for democracy as it
has always been. On several respects of society, especially the attitude of American people toward social problems, the United States is efficient in being a model to many of other nations. As for morality, no one nation in the world is adequate to be a model of morality to other nations because of the lack of a common standard of morality.
Constitution of People’s Republic of China. Dec 1982. [web page ] Mar 2004; http://english.people.com.cn/constitution/constitution.html [Accessed 25 Feb 2005].
Rousseau,J.J. 1958.Du Contrat Social. (English Version) Ou Principes du droit Politique. Paris, Aubier.
Wood, Julia.T. 2000. Communication in Our Lives. 2nd edition. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
- I would like to say "Thank you" to all of the people who spent their voluable time on providing comments for this paper. Thank you for the helpful comments and instructions you gave to me. You all mentioned the grammar and the structure. I know the structure gave you hard time to find out my thesis. I tried my best to fix the errors I made in grammar, however, I had no time to do much to the structure. I just added a simple question and a simple answer as an introduction above the text of each subject I discussed in the paper. Hopefully it can help you to find out my main idea in the first place. Again, thank you very very much.-
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