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Democracy: Ancient Greece Vs. Present-Day Usa

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Democracy: Ancient Greece vs. Present-day USA

"Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity" (Irving Kristol). Democracy does not promise you equality of the conditions on where and how you live but it gives us each the equal opportunity to do something about the conditions of our lifestyle;Ð' the chance toÐ' better ourselves. Looking back on the past is a great way to find out how the world now works. We can find many thoughts and ideas that we have taken from ancient worlds, for ex. Greece. Let's travel back to ancient Greece to see how our very own government and world came about today!

Women of Greece were not allowed to vote. Only men, 18 years of age and older, were allowed to vote. In the early 1900's, only rich white males were able to vote. Later, the poor and the minorities were given theÐ' right to vote; however, there were many ways to stop them from voting. There was an expensive price to pay to vote; a price which was too high for the poor to afford. Blacks were excluded from voting with the grandfather clause or literacy tests. Women weren't given the right to vote until 1920 with the passing of the 19th Amendment. Finally, although we've come a long way, in today America, everyone is given equal opportunity to vote.

Ð' The citizens of Athens had many different social levels; thus, giving them different roles in the community. Aristocrats were people believed to be superior over most. Slaves were casually cast aside except when needed for battle. In today America, we have three social classes: lower, middle and upper. It is obvious that the upper class is more privileged, but the lower class is not forgotten. There are many programs the government has established to help the lower class get ahead, for example financial aid. Many systems do not even think twice about the elderly or disabled, but with our democracy, programs, such as Medicaid or social security plans, were established to help the retired.

Ð' WhenÐ' punished for crimes, the people of ancient Greece had absolutely no one to represent them. People who were put on trial talked on their own behalf and represented themselves to a large group of jurors; the jury size varied. In today America, we have exactly twelve jurors on our jury. We can represent ourselves, but we also have the option to have an attorney represent us.

Each male of Athens capable to vote must have made time regularly to go down to vote and take place in assemblies. These assemblies were held monthly and no decisions by the government were made without first receiving consent from the Assembly. Meeting on a regular monthly basis was difficult, for it cost the men extra time away from their work and families which they could not afford. In today America, we have a yearly event, Election Day, where good citizens may vote for politicians, such as assemblymen, congressmen, senators, and even presidents. These representatives make decisions, for the people. These decisions include the creation of new laws, finding ways to better our education systems, setting a minimum wage, and the establishment of programs for the children, the working, and the retired. These representatives are elected in hopes to reflect



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