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Democracy Glossary

The following terms & concepts are often used when discussing issues related to American politics, legal systems and/or our government in general. However, many of the terms have multiple definitions and we simply wanted to clarify the meanings when used in the democratic context. All definitions were accessed from Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary.

Accountability : the quality or state of being accountable especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions

Advice : recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct

Advise : to give (someone) a recommendation about what should be done : to give advice to

Affect : to produce an effect upon: such as
a : to produce a material influence upon or alteration in Paralysis affected his limbs.
b : to act upon (a person, a person's mind or feelings, etc.) so as to effect a response : influence

Aid : to provide with what is useful or necessary in achieving an end aid a cause aid a friend
intransitive verb : to give assistance

Aide: a person who acts as an assistant

Amendment : the process of altering or amending a law or document (such as a constitution) by parliamentary or constitutional procedure

Approval : an act or instance of approving something
on approval : subject to a prospective buyer's acceptance or refusal

Arms: a means (such as a weapon) of offense or defense

Assembly: a company of persons gathered for deliberation and legislation, worship, or entertainment

Assent : to agree to or approve of something (such as an idea or suggestion) especially after thoughtful consideration

Balance: weight or force of one side in excess of another

Bill of Rights: a document containing a formal statement of rights
specifically : a summary of fundamental rights and privileges guaranteed to a people against violation by the state —used especially of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Bipartisan: of, relating to, or involving members of two parties
specifically : marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties

Blunder: a gross error or mistake resulting usually from stupidity, ignorance, or carelessness

Boycott: to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (a person, a store, an organization, etc.) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions

Capital Punishment: the practice of killing people as punishment for serious crimes

Cause: a reason for an action or condition
: a ground of legal action

Charisma: a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (such as a political leader)

Citizenship : the status of being a citizen
on citizen : a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it

Civil: relating to private rights and to remedies sought by action or suit distinct from criminal proceedings

Civil Rights: the nonpolitical rights of a citizen especially : the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress

Clash: to come into conflict

Cohesive : exhibiting or producing cohesion or coherence
On cohesion : the act or state of sticking together tightly especially : unity

Commander in chief: one who holds the supreme command of an armed force

Concept(s): an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

Concession : the act or an instance of conceding (as by granting something as a right, accepting something as true, or acknowledging defeat)

Confirmation: the ratification of an executive act by a legislative body

Conflict: the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction

Congress : the supreme legislative body of a nation and especially of a republic

Congressional: Of or relating to Congress

Consequence : something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions. Result

Constituents : a member of a constituency
on constituency : a body of citizens entitled to elect a representative (as to a legislative or executive position)

Constitution : the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it

Contempt : willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body

Control : to exercise restraining or directing influence over : regulate

Controversial : of, relating to, or arousing controversy
On controversy : a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views : dispute

Deadline : a date or time before which something must be done

Death Penalty : death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes : capital punishment

Debate : a contention by words or arguments
: a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides
law, government : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure

Decisive : having the power or quality of deciding
On deciding : to make a final choice or judgment about

Delivery : the act or manner of delivering something
On deliver : to bring (something, such as votes) to the support of a candidate or cause

Democracy : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

Deter : to turn aside, discourage, or prevent from acting

Difficulty : the quality or state of being hard to do, deal with, or understand : the quality or state of being difficult : controversy, disagreement

Discontent : to make dissatisfied or discontented

Discussion : consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate

Disrespect : low regard or esteem for someone or something : lack of respect

Dissent : a justice's [judge’s] nonconcurrence with a decision of the majority

Distance : to make or maintain a personal or emotional separation from : to place or keep at a distance

District : a territorial division (as for administrative or electoral purposes)

Diversity : the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization

Due Process : a course of formal proceedings (such as legal proceedings) carried out regularly and in accordance with established rules and principles

Effect : to cause to come into being

Equal : regarding or affecting all objects in the same way : impartial

Equality : the quality or state of being equal

Equity: justice according to natural law or right specifically : freedom from bias or favoritism

Evidence : something that furnishes proof : testimony specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

Execution : the process of enforcing a legal judgment (as against a debtor) also : a judicial writ directing such enforcement

Faction : a party or group (as within a government) that is often contentious or self-seeking : clique

Factual: restricted to or based on fact
on fact: : a piece of information presented as having objective reality

Fateful : involving momentous consequences : decisive

Foster: to promote the growth or development of : encourage

Founding Fathers : an originator of an institution or movement : founder
specifically : a member of the American Constitutional Convention of 1787

Franchise : freedom or immunity from some burden or restriction vested in a person or group

Freedom : a political right : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

Gamesmanship : the use of ethically dubious methods to gain an objective [advantage]

Glory : praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent : renown

Govern : to exercise continuous sovereign authority over especially : to control and direct the making and administration of policy in

Government : the act or process of governing specifically : authoritative direction or control

Hearing(s) : opportunity to be heard, to present one's side of a case, or to be generally known or appreciated

Illegal : not according to or authorized by law : unlawful, illicit

Implement : carry out, accomplish especially : to give practical effect to and ensure of actual fulfillment by concrete measures

Independence: the quality or state of being independent
On independent : not requiring or relying on something else : not contingent

Innovate : to make changes : do something in a new way

Insight: the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

Integrity : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility

Interest: right, title, or legal share in something : participation in advantage and responsibility

Intrigue : to arouse the interest, desire, or curiosity of

Investigation : to observe or study by close examination and systematic inquiry

Issue(s) : a vital or unsettled matter

Judicial : of or relating to a judgment, the function of judging, the administration of justice, or the judiciary : belonging to the branch of government that is charged with trying all cases that involve the government and with the administration of justice within its jurisdiction

Justice: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments

Lasting : existing or continuing a long while : enduring

Law : a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority

Leader : a person who has commanding authority or influence

Leadership : the office or position of a leader

Legacy : something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past
Other options:
: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest
: a candidate for membership in an organization (such as a school or fraternal order) who is given special status because of a familial relationship to a member

Legislate : to perform the function of legislation specifically : to make or enact laws

Liberty : the quality or state of being free : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges

Limitation : a certain period limited by statute after which actions, suits, or prosecutions cannot be brought in the courts

Mainstream : a prevailing current or direction of activity or influence

Measure : a step planned or taken as a means to an end specifically : a proposed legislative act

Mediate : to interpose between parties in order to reconcile them : to reconcile differences

Military : of or relating to armed forces especially : of or relating to ground or sometimes ground and air forces as opposed to naval forces

Militia : a body of citizens organized for military service
Other options:
: a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

Monument : a written legal document or record : treatise

Moral: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior: ETHICAL

Morale: the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand

Nation : a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government

National: of or relating to a nation

Newspaper: a paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising

Notorious: generally known and talked of especially: widely and unfavorably known

Novice: beginner

Objective: expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations: without bias
Other option:
: something toward which effort is directed : an aim, goal, or end of action

Obstacle: something that impedes progress or achievement

Opinion: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

Oversight: watchful and responsible care : regulatory supervision

Parties: a group of persons organized for the purpose of directing the policies of a government

Partisan : a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance

Passage: a usually brief portion of a written work or speech that is relevant to a point under discussion or noteworthy for content or style

Patriot: one who loves and supports his or her country

Patriotism: love for or devotion to one's country

Perpetuity: the condition of an estate limited so that it will not take effect or vest within the period fixed by law

Petition: a formal written request made to an official person or organized body (such as a court)

Polarize: to break up into opposing factions or groupings

Power: possession of control, authority, or influence over others

Practice: the form, manner, and order of conducting legal suits and prosecutions
Other option:
: a professional business especially : one constituting an incorporeal property

Presidential: of, relating to, or befitting a president or a president's authority

Press : the gathering and publishing or broadcasting of news : journalism

Principal : most important, consequential, or influential
Other option:
: a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position

Principle(s): a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption

Privacy: freedom from unauthorized intrusion

Protection: the act of protecting : the state of being protected
On protecting : to maintain the status or integrity of especially through financial or legal guarantees

Protest: a complaint, objection, or display of unwillingness usually to an idea or a course of action

Provocative: serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate

Pursuit : the act of pursuing
On pursuing : to find or employ measures to obtain or accomplish

Qualm: a feeling of uneasiness about a point especially of conscience or propriety

Query: to ask questions of especially with a desire for authoritative information

Quick: acting or capable of acting with speed

Quid pro quo: something given or received for something else

Reasoning : the use of reason especially : the drawing of inferences or conclusions through the use of reason

Recovery : the act, process, or an instance of recovering especially : an economic upturn (as after a depression)

Redistricting: to divide anew into districts specifically: to revise the legislative districts of

Regional: of, relating to, characteristic of, or serving a region

Religion: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

Resignation : an act or instance of resigning something : surrender

Responsibility : the quality or state of being responsible: such as moral, legal, or mental accountability

Retaliation: to return like for like especially: to get revenge

Reverence: honor or respect felt or shown especially: profound adoring awed respect

Revolutionary: constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change

Rights: qualities (such as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval

Rules: a prescribed guide for conduct or action

Security: the quality or state of being secure

Social Security: the principle or practice or a program of public provision (as through social insurance or assistance) for the economic security and social welfare of the individual and his or her family: a U.S. government program established in 1935 to include old-age and survivors insurance, contributions to state unemployment insurance, and old-age assistance

Social Service: an activity designed to promote social well-being

Solution: an action or process of solving a problem

Speech: the power of expressing or communicating thoughts by speaking

Spite: petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart

Standoff : tie, deadlock

Support : to promote the interests or cause of
Other options:
: to uphold or defend as valid or right : advocate
: to argue or vote for
: to provide with substantiation : corroborate

Surveillance: close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective)

Symbol: something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance especially : a visible sign of something invisible

Threat: an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage

Timely: coming early or at the right time

Tolerance: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own

Tumult : disorderly agitation or milling about of a crowd usually with uproar and confusion of voices : commotion

Turnout: the number of people who participate in or attend an event

Unanimous: formed with or indicating unanimity : having the agreement and consent of all

Unification : the act, process, or result of unifying : the state of being unified
On unified : brought together as one

Unite: to link by a legal or moral bond

Value : something (such as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable

Vilify : to utter slanderous and abusive statements against : defame

Visionary: having or marked by foresight and imagination

Vital: of the utmost importance

Volunteer : a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service

Vote: to express one's views in response to a poll especially : to exercise a political franchise

War: a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations

Welfare: of, relating to, or concerned with welfare and especially with improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups

Windfall: an unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage

Wisdom: a wise attitude, belief, or course of action

Witness : attestation of a fact or event : testimony

Zeal : eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something : fervor

Zealous: marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal : filled with or characterized by zeal.

[ 2019, from].

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