The People's Government

The People's Government : An Introduction to Democracy

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The People's Government is premised on the idea that democracy is based on two fundamental rights: freedom and liberty. Liberty is the right to be left alone, while freedom is the right to participate in a political community. How people view democracy depends on which of these two rights they think is more important. Liberal democrats place a higher value on liberty, while free democrats see freedom as the primary right. From this starting point, the author adds five dimensions to define and distinguish democratic societies: rights, participation and representation, inclusion, equality, and power. Liberal democracies emphasize individualism, negative rights, representative government, inclusive citizenship, equal opportunity, and limited government. Free democracies stress community, positive rights, direct participation, exclusive citizenship, equal outcomes, and robust government. The book examines the most important arguments for and against democracy, and explores the life cycle of democracies - how countries democratize, mature, and fail. Finally, the author uses the five dimensions established earlier to evaluate and grade American democracy.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 13 b/w illus.
  • 1139990497
  • 9781139990493

Table of contents

1. Liberty and freedom; 2. Freedom or liberty?; 3. Rights; 4. Participation and representation; 5. Inclusion; 6. Equality; 7. Power; 8. The case against democracy; 9. The case for democracy; 10. Paths of democratization; 11. Building a stable democracy; 12. Three misconceptions about democratization; 13. How democracies die; 14. How democratic is the United States?
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Review quote

'An engaging and provocative analysis of freedom, liberty, rights, and democracy, The People's Government will find a wide audience across a range of disciplines - from history and law to philosophy and political theory.' David M. O'Brien, Leone Reaves and George W. Spicer Professor, University of Virginia 'In The People's Government, Del Dickson advances a new and imaginative way to think about democracy. By explaining and clarifying the differences between freedom and liberty, Dickson teaches us that the type of democracy people prefer depends on the relative emphasis placed on one of these rights. In doing so, The People's Government dissipates some of the conceptual fog surrounding political science's many understandings of democracy, while leaving the reader with a deeper and stronger sense of the real stakes involved in this increasingly popular form of government.' Efren O. Perez, Vanderbilt University 'The People's Government eloquently frames democratic founding and its two most cherished principles: freedom and liberty. Dr Dickson effectively uses political theory, constitutional law, and public policy to stage the discussion. The People's Government is an important text for anyone wanting to study the rise and fall of democratic states.' Barbara Jean Morris, Fort Lewis College 'Freedom, liberty, and democracy are terms that are much bandied about in today's heated political discussions. Professor Dickson's new book will help readers progress from just being opinionated to being informed. The People's Government defines the terms, presents the sides, and allows the reader to examine the arguments in a non-threatening and balanced environment. It is a pleasure to read such a thoughtful, well-written book.' Nancy Cade, Chair of Social Science, University of Pikesville 'A full understanding of what democracy is and how it works begins with this book. Part political theory and part comparative politics, it is both an introduction to political science and a handbook for democratic tinkerers. Del Dickson's The People's Government adds richness to our understanding of democracy in all its iterations - from the halls of the US Capitol to the public square in Appenzell Innerrhoden, Switzerland.' Dennis Plane, Juniata College
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About del Dickson

Del Dickson is a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego. He especially enjoys teaching the courses Introduction to Political Science, Constitutional Law, Judicial Behavior, and Comparative Law. He has earned numerous teaching awards and was recently named one of the best 300 professors in the United States by Princeton Review. He received his BA in Political Science at Humboldt State University, his JD at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his PhD in Political Science at the University of Southern California. He clerked for Chief Justice Robert Gardner of the California Court of Appeal and practised law at Sherman and Howard in Denver, Colorado. His book, The Supreme Court in Conference 1940-1985, earned the Association of American Publishers award as the best book in Government and Political Science in 2001. Other work includes the articles 'State Court Defiance and the Limits of Supreme Court Authority: Williams v. Georgia Revisited' and 'The Selection and Appointment of Magistrates in England and Wales'.
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