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Explain how a constitutional democracy provides majority rule with equal protection for the rights of individuals, including those in the minority, through limited government and the rule of law
The original cartoon of "The Gerry-Mander."
AP American Government and Politics: Theories of Democratic Government
Redistricting the Nation
offers an overview of how political districts are re-drawn using Census data and how citizens might go about creating their own districts to more fairly represent their interests.
Historically, political leaders have tried to create districts that favor one party or another, a process known as
after Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry.
The district depicted in the cartoon was created by Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists in 1812
to learn more about redistricting and its role in politics by playing the ReDistricing Game from the University of South Carolina
to learn about how politicians have exploited redistricting to influence the outcome of elections (gerrymandering). This process often divides districts along racial and ethnic lines.
to listen to a podcast regarding another instance of racial gerrymandering in Alabama.
A constitutional democracy is predicated on four basic principles.
Majority rule or popular sovereignty. The people either elect officials to create law or the people will vote on laws with the majority ruling.
The constitution is the supreme law of the land. The laws will continually evolve and change, but the laws will always be limited in power and scope by the constitution.
The constitution is designed to leave power within the individual thus limiting the potential power of a tyrannical majority. There is a fear that this majority could infringe on the rights of the individual including those in the minority. Concern for the rights of individuals is evident in the constitutions.
Checks and balances. A branch of the constitutional democracy would need to interpret the laws to determine their constitutionality. The United States is a constitutional democracy, and the Supreme Court is an example of this.
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
to learn about the idea of a tyranny of the majority from influential philosopher
John Stuart Mill
and his essay "On Liberty."
about how the Constitution protects citizens against a "tyranny of the majority" through the checks and balances between the branches of government and the checks and balances within each branch.
Watch this video
to learn about the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic and which definition best suits the United States.
for lesson plans on the question of representation in the US government from EdSitement.
Checks and Balances
To see Checks and Balances, Individual rights, and protecting minority, visit
United States History I.14
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