Political systems can be defined as liberal, meaning they prioritize liberty, when political and civil rights are well protected for everyone, equally, by the law and by the citizens themselves. Political rights prioritize your liberty – and everyone else’s liberty – to participate in the political process. Civil rights prioritize your mental and physical liberties – as well as everyone else’s.
The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee these rights, instead it denies the government the power to interfere with them. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as “negative rights.” The Constitution does guarantees a few positive rights. Among these are national defense and the enforcement of contracts. Many state constitutions include additional positive rights.
Excerpted from America: Democracy or Republic?
[i] Diamond (2003), page 29.