CORE VALUES OF AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY
Core democratic values are the fundamental beliefs and constitutional principles of American society, which unite all Americans. These values are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the United States constitution and other significant documents, speeches, and writing of the nation. Below are definitions of some core democratic values.
Source: CIVITAS: A Framework for Civic Education, a collaborative project of the Center for Civic Education and the Council for the Advancement of Citizenship, National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin No. 86, 1991. You can obtain a copy of “Civitas” by calling 1-800-350-4223
LIFE: The individual’s right to life should be considered inviolable except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances, such as the use of deadly force to protect one’s own or others’ lives.
LIBERTY: The right to liberty is considered an unalterable aspect of the human condition. Central to this idea of liberty is the understanding that the political or personal obligations of parents or ancestors cannot be legitimately forced on people. The right to liberty includes personal freedom: the private realm in which the individual is free to act, to think and to believe, and which the government cannot legitimately invade; political freedom: the right to participate freely in the political process, choose and remove public officials, to be governed under a rule of law; the right to a free flow of information and ideas, open debate and right of assembly; and economic freedom: the right to acquire, use, transfer and dispose of private property without unreasonable governmental interference; the right to seek employment wherever one pleases; to change employment at will; and to engage in any lawful economic activity.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: It is the right of citizens in the American constitutional democracy to attempt to attain – “pursue” – happiness in their own way, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others.
COMMON GOOD: The public or common good requires that individual citizens have the commitment and motivation – that they accept their obligation – to promote the welfare of the community and to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all.
JUSTICE: People should be treated fairly in the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society, the correction of wrongs and injuries, and in the gathering of information and making of decisions.
EQUALITY: All citizens have: political equality and are not denied these rights unless by due process of law; legal equality and should be treated as equals before the law; social equality so as there should be no class...