foundations of american political thought 800 words

For your final paper for this course, we turn back to the foundations of American political thought as embodied by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. As has been noted by numerous American historians and political theorists, natural law/natural rights theory is the basis upon which the Founders declared independence from Britain, and the basis upon which the essential rights of American citizens were determined. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, due process (innocent until proven guilty) and equality under the law, limited representative government, and the freedom to express one’s ideas and opinions without government interference are all rights that we seem to take for granted, but which were quite literally life and death issues for those who fought for these freedoms in 1776.

At a time when politics has become more and more about power and control, rather than freedom and justice, we do well to remind ourselves of the ideals upon which this Republic was founded. Please watch President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech, given in January of 1961:

Kennedy consistently reminds us of the need to preserve essential liberty, this liberty being embodied by the rights guaranteed under the Constitution and natural law. Kennedy also points to the need for hard work, patience, and self-sacrifice if freedom is to endure.

One of the key points that President Kennedy makes is the need for each American to contribute to the success of the nation’s mission to create a better world. In the Twenty-First Century, all-too-frequently we see Americans demanding things from the government or from society; the concept of self-sacrifice is indeed a dying ideal. Your assignment is to take all that you have learned in the course, and devise one concrete action that you, personally, can take to advance the cause of liberty that President Kennedy and the American Founders so clearly believed in. Please DO NOT use voting as your action; voting is supposed to be a responsibility of all citizens. Describe what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and why it will help to advance the ideal of liberty. Whatever action that you choose, be sure to connect it to either the ideals of the Declaration or to one of the Constitutional rights that American citizens enjoy (for example, equality under the law [14th Amendment] or the due process right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty [5th Amendment]). For formatting and other guidance, please re-read the instructions for the first paper.

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