Liberty and equality are values that individuals hold dear. After adding the value of self-government to liberty and equality, politics are created which introduces competition for power.
In general the values may be the same, but the interpretation of liberty and equality are quite different. Values are formed by many inputs such as education and class as well as culture, family and societal experiences.
Two middle class women may have the same values and meet each other often in groups which work for equality among races or for freeing innocent people being held in jail. Both are middle aged and held jobs before staying home to raise children. If you met them though, you wouldn’t automatically assume they had the same values.
Dolores is an African-American from a big family. Their ancestors who were kidnapped and brought to the United States as slaves were honored. Linda is a German-American. Her ancestors came to the United States freely to homestead and make a good life. Dolores and her husband are in the upper middle class. Linda is a single mother who often must take part time work. Although outwardly the two women appear very different they share similar experiences which shaped their idea of equality and liberty.
They rarely meet Jennifer, who lives only two streets away from the neighborhood of Dolores and often sees Linda at the grocery store working as a checkout clerk. Jennifer’s ancestors claim to have arrived from England to the original colonies. Her family shares the belief that they are American aristocrats. Jennifer is a Constitutional lawyer and her husband is a Republican lobbyist for a famous military contractor.
Only one of the women is in a political position to have her needs for self-government satisfied. Jennifer feels that she is well-represented in a democracy because she is in a class that has power to push or make policy. She celebrates her values of equality and liberty. Dolores and Linda work to create equality, liberty and self-government for themselves and others.
Some think that a citizen’s needs for liberty, equality and self-government are being met; many others form organizations and work voluntarily to make these values a reality for everybody.
Patterson, Thomas E. and Gary Halter. We the People: A Concise Introduction to American Politics 9th Edition, NYC: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.