chapter
3 Pages

Introduction to Part Two

WithDiana T. Meyers

This part introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters. The part addresses the question whether a commitment to popular sovereignty is compatible with enshrining a set of rights in a constitution that exempts them from the ordinary political process. It argues that a system of representative democracy constrained by a Bill of Rights is best. The history of the pursuit of democratic ideals is a long and venerable one. Ancient Athens practiced democratic government, but during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, rule by hereditary aristocrats eclipsed democracy. An elitist view of democracy regards society as divided between, on the one hand, a small group of concerned and suitably educated citizens who take an active part in public affairs and the electorate as a whole, which tends to be apathetic in regard to public issues and to defer to leadership.