American Politics: Test #1 Study Guide
American Politics: Test #1 Study Guide POLS 1110 - 003
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POLS 1110 - 003
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This 4 page Study Guide was uploaded by Makayla Prince on Sunday January 31, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to POLS 1110 - 003 at University of North Carolina - Charlotte taught by Jason Giersch in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 300 views. For similar materials see American Politics in Political Science at University of North Carolina - Charlotte.
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Date Created: 01/31/16
American Politics Test #1 Study Guide Chapter 1 Government Identify the key functions of government and explain why they matter The functions that all governments perform include maintaining a national defense, providing public services, preserving order, socializing the young, and collecting taxes. By performing these functions, governments regularly shape the way in which we live. Politics Define politics in the context of democratic government Politics determines what leaders we select and what policies they pursue. The “who” of politics is the voters, candidates, parties, and groups; the “what”is the benefits and burdens of government; the “how” is the various ways in which people participate in politics. The Policymaking System Assess how citizens can have an impact on public policy and how policies can impact people The policymaking system is in effect a cycle. Citizens’ interests and concerns are transmitted through linkage institutions (parties and elections, interest groups, the media). These concerns shape the government’s policy agenda, from which those in policymaking institutions (congress, the presidency, the courts) choose issues to address. The policies that are made (laws, executive orders, regulations, and court judgements) then influence people’s lives. Democracy in America Identify the key principles of democracy and outline theories regarding how it works in practice and the challenges democracy faces today According to traditional democratic theory, the ideal democracy is characterized by “one person, one vote,” equal opportunities to participate, freedom of speech and the press, citizen control of the policy agenda, and inclusion. Pluralist theory holds that American democracy works well, as competition among many organized groups means that the public interest becomes public policy. This view is disputed by elitist theory, which sees the excessive influence of many competing groups as leading to muddles policy or inaction. Contemporary challenges to American and other democracies include the complexity of issues today, citizens’ limited participation, escalating campaign costs, and the policy gridlock resulting from diverse political interests. Government in America Outline the central arguments of the debate in America over the proper scope of government One of the most important issues facing modern American democracy is the proper scope of government. Politicians constantly debate whether the scope of government responsibilities is too vast, just about right, or not comprehensive enough. This debate concerns whether the goals that are agreed to be important are best achieved through government action or rather through means other than government. Chapter 2 The Origins of the Constitution Describe the ideas behind the American Revolution and their role in shaping the Constitution The American Revolution was built on the foundation of belief in natural rights, consent of the governed, limited government, the responsibility of government to protect private property, and the equality of citizens. The constitution would reflect all of these ideas. The Government that Failed: 17761787 Analyze how the weaknesses of the articles of confederation led to its failure The Articles of Confederation established a government dominated by the states, without a permanent executive or national judiciary. A weak central government could not raise sufficient funds to support a national defense, regulate commerce to encourage trade, protect property rights, or take action without the unanimous consent of the states. Making a Constitution: The Philadelphia Convention Describe the delegates to the Constitutional Convention and the Core ideas they shared The framers of the constitution were more educated, wealthy, and urban than most Americans. They shared some core ideas, including that people were selfinterested, that distribution of wealth was the principal source of political conflict, that the main object of government was protecting private property, and that power should be set against power to balance government. Critical Issues at the Convention Categorize the issues at the Constitutional Convention and outline the resolutions reached on each type of issue Conflicts over equality led to the Connecticut Compromise, the threefifths compromise on slavery, and the decision to leave the issue of voting rights to the states. The greatest inequality of all that of slavery was so contentious an issue that the Framers simply avoided addressing it. The Framers, many of whom belonged to the economic elite, believed that the American economy was in shambles and intended to make the national government an economic stabilizer. They also knew that a strong national government would be better able to ensure the nation’s security. The specificity of the powers assigned to congress left no doubt that congress was to forge national economic policy. Because they believed that the limited government they had constructed would protect freedom, the Framers said little about individual rights in the constitution. They did, however, take a number of specific steps, including substantially limiting the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The Madisonian System Analyze how the components of the Madisonian system addressed the dilemma of reconciling majority rule with the protection of minority interests The founders reconciled majority rule with minority interests by constraining both the majority and the minority. The Madisonian system did this primarily by dispersing power among separate branches of government, each with a somewhat different consistuency, and giving them shared powers so that each branch had a check on the others. Ratifying the Constitution Compare and contrast the federalists and antifederalists in terms of their background and their positions regarding government Ratification of the Constitution was not a foregone conclusion. The federalists, who were largely from the economic elite, supported a strong national government and preferred to insulate public officials from public opinion. Antifederalists, largely from the middle class, supported a weaker national government and direct forms of democracy, and they wanted stronger protection of individual liberties than the original constitution offered. As a result, the federalists promised to propose what became the Bill of Rights. Changing the Constitution Explain how the constitution can be formally amended and how it changes informally Constitutional changeboth formal and informal continues to shape and alter the letter and the spirit of the Madisonian system. The formal amendment process, requiring supermajorities in both houses of congress and among the states, poses difficult hurdles to overcome. However, judicial interpretation, changing political practices, technology, and the increasing demands on policymakers have also changed the constitutional system in fundamental ways, providing a valuable flexibility. Understanding the Constitution Assess whether the constitution establishes a majoritarian democracy and how it limits the scope of government The constitution did not create a majoritarian democracy. Majorities do not always rule in America. Nevertheless, there has been a gradual democratization of the constitution as the right to vote has expanded, direct election of senators had been instituted, electors become agents of political parties, and technology has facilitated direct, twoway communication between office holders and the public By protecting individual rights, and thus limiting the ability of officials to restrict them, the constitution limits the scope of government. By dispersing power among institutions, it increases the access of interests to government but also allows these interests to check each other and produce stalemate Chapter 3 Defining Federalism Define federalism and contrast it with alternative ways of organizing a nation Federalism is a way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same area and people. Federal systems are more decentralized than unitary systems but less so than confederations The Constitutional Basis of Federalism Outline the constitutional basis for the division of power between national and state governments, the establishment of national supremacy, and the states’ obligations to each other. The constitution divides power between the national (federal) government and state governments and makes the national government supreme within its sphere. The national government has implied as well as enumerated powers, as McCulloch v. Maryland made clear. The Civil War also helped establish the preeminence of the national government, and over the years the supreme court has interpreted these powers particularly congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce broadly, as Washington has taken on more responsibilities to deal with matters such as the economy and civil rights. States have obligations to give full faith and credit to the public acts, records, and civil judicial proceedings of other states, return a person charged with a crime in another state to that state, and accord citizens of other states the privileges and immunities enjoyed by their own citizens. Intergovernmental Relations Characterize the shift from dual to cooperative federalism and the role of fiscal federalism in intergovernmental relations today States no longer have exclusive responsibility for government functions within their sphere but instead share these responsibilities with the federal government. Through categorical and block grants, the federal government provides state and local governments with substantial portions of their budgets, and it uses this leverage to influence policy by attaching conditions to receiving the grants. Sometimes Washington mandates state policy without providing the resources to implement the policy. Diversity in Policy Explain the consequences of federalism for diversity in public policies among the states Federalism allows for considerable diversity among the states in their policies. This constitutional arrangement facilitates state innovations in policy, and it allows states to move beyond the limits of national policy. However, federalism also leaves states dependent upon the resources within their borders to finance public services, and it may discourage states from providing some services. Understanding Federalism Assess the impact of federalism on democratic government and the scope of government On the positive side, federalism provides for effective representation of local interests, reduces conflict at the national level, encourages politicians and political parties to peacefully accept losing elections, and increases the opportunities for citizens to participate in government and see their policy preferences reflected in law. On the negative side, federalism increases the opportunities for local interests to thwart national policy, can result in the election of a president not favored by a majority of the public, and complicates efforts to make government responsive. The national government had grown in response to the demands of Americans for public services it can best provide, but it has not in any way supplanted the states
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