Rule of Law TheUnited States is a good example of a country that follows the “Rule of Law.” We (mostly) follow laws because it’s the right thing to do and we understand it will make society a better and safer place— not because we’re afraid of being arrested or ticketed. People choose to obey laws. We wait (versus cut) in line. We stop at red lights. We don’t rob people. Society is lawful.
Participation Society has ways to let citizens participate without fear of retribution. We can vote. We can write letters to the editor. We can run for office. The average citizen has ways to have his/her voice heard. Without being able to exercise our constitutional rights, we are more subjects that citizens. Countries with good governance have citizens. Countries with bad governance have subjects.
Transparency Citizensknow what their government is doing. There are no secrets. Meetings are open to the press. The budget is open for review. Sometimes national security actions are classified as secret. This is NOT transparency. However it can be looked at as a positive or a negative: positive because it increases national security, negative because it can lead to corruption.
Responsiveness The government hears the voice of the people. One way we have this in many of the united states is through the process of referendum. If we don’t like a law that is passed, we can sign a petition and put the law up for a vote of the people. President Obama’s website is an example of this. You can post issues, and if enough other people agree, the president will respond.
Consensus Oriented The word “consensus” comes from the Latin word that means “agreement.” In a consensus oriented government, the participants look for what is best for society— not necessarily just what they want. They are willing to compromise (remember “The Great Compromise from U.S. History?) in order to be able to have everyone come to an agreement. Legislators that can’t come to a consensus bring the government to a grinding halt.
Equality and Inclusiveness The least powerful people in our country are involved. Equality that excludes certain groups (African Americans, Native Americans, women) is false equality (as when our U.S. Constitution was first written). Only when ALL citizens are treated equally and fairly do we have equality and inclusiveness in our government.
Effective and Efficient Among core government responsibilities are defending the nation, protecting innocent life, upholding laws and constitutional rights and promoting equal opportunity. If a government is not effective in doing these things, it is not a good government. Efficiency is also important. The government needs to perform these duties in the best possible manner with the least amount of waste (time, effort, money) as possible.
Accountability When you are caught doing something wrong, you’re accountable—no matter who you are. Government officials are as responsible for obeying the law as little peons are. The President of the United States cannot get away with a different code of conduct than an ordinary citizen. This is accountability. (It’s not perfect in our country, but it’s pretty good.)