The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were drafted by people who supported the fight against the oppression of the British Empire. According to Armitage (2007), both these documents were drafted with the main purpose of ensuring that the natural law was the fundamental order of the civil society. Simply stated, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights maintained that people have certain absolute rights that ought to be defended and not violated. In the light of this view, it is apparent that these documents were of equal importance. However, when looking at the effects of each, it is evident that the Declaration of Independence is more important than the Bill of rights. According to Armitage (2007), the present day America owes it all to the Declaration of Independence in the sense that its effects can be felt and seen within the contemporary America. In this regard, the Declaration of Independence paved the way for several freedoms that are enjoyed in the United States and ensuring equality among women and men.
It can be argued that the Declaration of Independence set the precedence for the Bill of Rights in the sense that neither the Bill of Rights nor the Constitution would exist today if the Declaration of Independence had not been drafted. In this regard, there is no doubt that the Declaration of Independence is the base for almost everything in the United States of America. Armitage (2007) points out that the Declaration of Independence is more important since it is a part of what the Bill of Rights advocates for. Whereas the Declaration of Independence resulted in independence from the British Empire and outlined general statements, Armitage (2007) asserts that the Bill of Rights outlines specific and conclusive laws, freedoms and rights such as the freedom of religion, press and speech, freedom to petition, freedom of assembly, prohibiting unreasonable seizures and searches, and prohibiting unusual and cruel forms of punishment among others. Nevertheless, the Declaration of Independence provided precedence for the Bill of Rights, making it more important.
2. What is the difference between a democratic form of government and a socialist form of government?
There is no doubt that democracy and socialism are the oldest form of government. According to Blattberg (2000), democracy refers to a form of government whereby all entitled citizens exercise an equal say with regard to the decisions affecting their lives. Blattberg (2000) maintains that democracy enables all entitled citizens to take part in the government equally either by electing representatives or through direct participation, especially in proposing, developing and enacting laws. On the other hand, socialism is a form of government characterized by the government playing a central role in the distribution and ownership of the means of production. From these definitions, it is apparent that there are fundamental differences between democratic and socialist forms of government. In fact, the two are incompatible. By definition, democracy implies that every citizen has only one vote and advocates for societal equality. In this regard, under a democratic form of government, people elect their representatives/leaders (Blattberg, 2000). On the contrary, a socialist form of government is political philosophy that advocates for a centralized government rather than a distributed government, wherein the government is in control over all economic aspects. Regardless of the fact that democracy emphasizes on political aspects whereas socialism emphasizes on economic aspects, the two systems are incompatible since a socialist form of government plays a central role in determining the people’s rights and politics. For instance, when the state owns all the industries, then it exercises control regarding the wages paid, the time duration for work, and the jobs that people are suited. This kind of control is inexistent in a democratic form of government.
In a democratic government, people usually have a voice in the government and that decisions are often made after the consent of the citizens has been obtained. Essentially, democracy is governing by consent. On the other hand, a socialist form of government is characterized by small group of individuals controlling the government and may restrict the rights of its citizenry in order to profit the state-owned industries. Blattberg (2000) points out that, socialist governments disregard the voice of the citizenry in government decision-making.
Armitage, D. (2007). The Declaration Of Independence: A Global History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Blattberg, C. (2000). From Pluralist to Patriotic Politics: Putting Practice First,. Oxford: Oxford University Press.