Social Studies Academic Standards Committees

Traditional v. Radical: Two Competing Worldviews

John Fonte described it as follows:
"Beneath the surface of American politics an intense ideological struggle is being waged between two competing worldviews. [The traditional view favors] the transmission of the American regime, [(values) the other camp favors] its transformation." [Policy Review, 12-2000, pp. 15 & 31]

The Declaration of Independance says:
"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind require that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Key Principles in the Declaration
1. National sovereignty
2. Natural Law
3. Self evident truths.
4. Equality before God.
5. God-given (inherent) rights of
6. life
7. liberty
8. property
9. Government's purpose is to protect the God-given rights.
10. Popular sovereignty.

Traditional View:Radical View:

What is the purpose of Government?
Protect the inherent (God-given) rights. Enhance the common good (or a combination of both views).

What is the role of the courts?
Settle disputes based on law, especially the Constitution. Amend the Constitution (informal method) and to interpret (reinterpret) the Constitution so that it is "relevant to the times."

How is federalism defined?
Powers are separated between the federal government and the states. The Constitution delegates (delegated powers) certain powers to the federal government. Those not delegated are reserved (reserved powers) for the states and the people. Ignore the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Who were the Founders of our nation?
The Founders of our nation were those people who actually played a vital role in creating the United States. The Founders of our nation were those people who are/were underrepresented in our history books and who have supposedly been exploited by white males.

How was our nation formed?
Our nation was formed by immigrants, primarily from Europe, who brought their religious and cultural beliefs and traditions with them. Our nation was formed by the interplay of three cultures - European, African and Native American.

How should government be studied?
Civics and government are academic disciplines that should be studied by course work in these disciplines. Civics and government consist of various interdisciplinary themes that should be studied in every other course including mathematics and science.

Should the Culture and Government of the United States be promoted?
Yes. The United States has been a beacon of freedom, opportunity and prosperity for the rest of the world. No. At best, all cultures are equal; at worst, U.S. government and culture has exploited the rest of the world.

What does it mean to study democracy?
It means to study the principles of United States government, although some comparisons may be made to other "democracies." It means to study all the "democracies" of the world and find out what they have in common. These common traits are viewed as being superior to our government.

What is the relationship between rights and government?
Government exists to protect the inherent rights of people. There is a balance between people’s rights to be protected by government and their responsibilities to government.

What is "Republican" form of government?
A republican form of government is representative government as described in our Constitution. A republican form of government believes that the common good takes priority over individual rights.

How about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes human rights inferior to government decisions. For that reason it is unacceptable. The Universal Declaration of Human rights is equal to, or superior to, the U.S. Bill of Rights because it is cosmopolitan and contemporary.

How was our government formed?
The basic principles of our government are laid down in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. There have been some changes, some for the better, some for the worse. The only constant is change. Our government continues to evolve.

American History and Civics Education Act of 2003
"KEY DOCUMENTS - The term 'key documents' means the documents that established or explained the foundational principles of democracy in the United States, including the U.S. Constitution and the amendments to the Constitution (particularly the Bill of Rights), the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and the Emancipation Proclamation." *******

EdWatch is entirely user-supported. The continuation of our research and distribution work is entirely dependent on individual contributors. If you want to assure that our work continues, Link to --

Please e-mail us to subscribe to this EdWatch e-mail service.

(c) EdWatch - All rights reserved.