“Sovereignty” means “the right to rule.” In a different society, people have profoundly disagreed in their understanding of where the right to rule resides. Divergent opinions have been held over time and in different places about the ultimate source of political power. In the United States, all just powers of the government are derived from the consent of those who are governed. This is what we call popular sovereignty. Popular sovereignty is the principle and ideology that states that the government and state authority is created and maintained by its subjects through their elected representatives, who are the source of all political power. In popular sovereignty, people can govern themselves in the region they live.
Popular sovereignty did not originate from America but can rather be traced in European political philosophy way back in the 17th and 18th centuries. All America did was addition and translate these ideas into a formal structure of government. Before this revolution in America, few examples of people that created their government can be cited.
Having understood what Popular Sovereignty is all about, let us consider the pros and cons of popular sovereignty.
Pros of Popular Sovereignty
1. Provides regional stability for the people– Theft and war are often the stories heard when we talk about limited resources in a region. Popular Sovereignty allows the management of resources in each region at individual levels, creating balances and a natural set of checks.
2. It created many economic opportunities – this involves the exchange of resources found in one region with the other creating jobs, livable wages, and better standards of living. It also ensures resources are available in both regions.
3. Growth and thriving of unique cultures– Gives room to those who wish to maintain their cultural heritage without conflict or interference.
4. Easier to handle–Many decisions involve the people and thus issues are handled easily.
5. People have more freedom – people have that free will to choose what they want and even elect their leaders of choice.
6. Separation of Church and State– Popular Sovereignty has given that allowance of the state and the church to act independently. This will prevent the replication of what happened in Europe during the period of the dark ages 538-1798 where lots of Christians lost their lives.
7. One vote per person– Individuals have equal rights in exercising their political powers in voting, one man, and one vote. The constitution gives that protection of political expression, political association, equal voting rights, and the principle that the majority have the say.
8. Safe– Popular sovereignty allows the subject to enjoy the environment they have fabricated for they bring safety, since people will be satisfied.
9. Limited Authority of International and the Law National Independence– America as a nation with its citizens is sovereign and are independent and is not under any obligation to any foreign law or power. The elected representatives of the American people can revoke treaties and other forms of international law.
10. Inalienable Rights-The government must protect certain inherent rights that every sovereign individual in the sense he/she has.
Cons of Popular Sovereignty
1. Runs on the will of the majority– Being that the majority have it implies that there are people who are not satisfied with the decision made.
2. Creates isolation– Popular sovereignty may lead people to form walls of isolation that are detrimental to growth. It will cause limitations of products, services, and educational opportunities.
3. The National Government has power over the States-American People have the power and not the state. The state does not have the power to splinter from the union or to dis annul any federal law. Only those powers not delegated to the federal government or reserved to the people are kept by the states.
4. Creates confusion to visitors – In popular sovereignty, laws can differ from state to state. When a new person moves from one state to the other, he may be a victim of circumstance in that he may violate the law without his consent.
5. People could take advantage of the freedom given to them and make bad choices– Popular Sovereignty places power on the people and works with the majority, this may be ill when the majority is influenced to make the wrong decision and make choices that are not for the good of all.
6. Limited Government-The right to rule is on the people, not the government. By having a Constitution, the people created the government, placed limits upon its power, and divided that power among diverse branches and levels.
7. Civil War– The rush by both pro-and anti-slavery groups to populate Kansas and determine its fate, reflected in violence and deception, was a key result of the application of popular sovereignty. Popular Sovereignty also lead up American civil war affirming the right of the people living in a new territory to decide whether slavery should be permitted by a vote of their territorial legislature As a result, the concept of Popular Sovereignty was used in discussions over the extension of slavery to new areas and governments.
8. Improper Education – the education system in most of the countries with democracy is all centered on giving students the ability to memorize and not allowing them to learn. This is not excellent education, and without proper education, a majority-dominated nation can be dragged downstream if no one grabs the reins and safeguards the country before the worst comes.
9. The law also conditions the powers exercised by the people– through the people may rule, there is a limitation that is placed by the law to govern their exercise in power.
10. Lack of opportunity for people in that region. Popular Sovereignty, as a principle in all of its manifestation, has continued to develop and change, causing profound changes in the constitution’s interpretation. Popular sovereign if well managed to the right extent, i.e. everyone can have a voice and this may bring certain benefits. Positive criticism and ideas from unique minds will also affect the better growth of a nation. The negative components should be examined regularly, but the opportunity to make one’s own decisions is one that most people do not have and should not overlook.