"we have builded up a form of self-government and a social system which is peculiarly our own. It differs essentially from all others in the world. It is the American system. It is just as definite and positive a political and social system as has ever been developed on earth." Herbert Hoover.
Although Hoover is not a particularly popular icon today, his understanding that America has a unique system - based on a foundation of self-government - is undeniably correct. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, America's system rests on the "consent of the governed." This consent is a key component of our First Principle of the Social Compact
This is why we allow protests - even those we despise; why we vote for our political leaders; why we allow initiatives, recalls, and referenda; and why public opinion is so important in public decision making. This is in striking contrast to many regimes on earth, where speech is oppressed; leaders are imposed; laws cannot be challenged; and public opinion is irrelevant.
We have been - and continue to face - a heated public dialogue (perhaps rancor is the better word) about many public issues, but it is the price we pay for our freedom.
For more about the Social Compact, visit America's Survival Guide and Patriot Week