American Government Final Study Guide
American Government Final Study Guide POLA-2100-03
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This 20 page Study Guide was uploaded by Sarah Notetaker on Monday May 2, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to POLA-2100-03 at Tulane University taught by Robert Worth in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 433 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at Tulane University.
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Date Created: 05/02/16
American Government Midterm Study Guide Government Basics (1/14/16) Government has: - Legitimacy - Military (to maintain order) - Sovereignty (has the power to do things that no other institution can) Primary tension with idea of government: protecting order at the expense of freedom Thomas Hobbes - State of nature – man is ‘all over the place’ and without a governing body, chaos will ensue - Believed an absolute monarch was needed to control man - Idea of government means exiting the idea of the state of nature • Man gives up freedom to the government John Locke - Gave CONSENT to the government to take away our freedom for the greater good Ideology = system of beliefs in economic, social, political, security issues (beliefs about government and the role it plays) - Spectrum of ideology • Left side – more government involvement • Right side – less government involvement - Spectrum of ideology for social and defense issues • Left side – less government involvement • Right side – more government involvement Note: - Fascism = total and complete government control (extreme left) - Communism = lack of government control, everyone is the same (extreme right) - Totalitarianism = extreme government control of everything Equality - Types: • Gender • Race • Class • Income • Religion - Conservative view of equality – if you work hard in this country, everyone can make it regardless of group membership - Liberal view of equality – promotion of equality of outcomes, everyone should have the rights to the same outcomes - Universal suffrage – voting equality, seen as when the US became a democracy (with equality of participation) - Zero sum game = one entity’s gain is necessarily another entity’s loss Classical Liberalism = minimal regulation of the economy, pluralism in society, civil liberties freedom - When we say democracy, we mean liberal democracy (democracy seen as more than just the right to vote) - New democracies are not classically liberal as they have taken away certain rights but allow people to vote, so they may be less free Majority rule - Tyranny of the majority = expectation that the majority will use their power to take from the elite minority - Majority rule was feared by the Founding Fathers Procedural vs. Substantive Democracy (1/19/16) - Basic assumption of majority rule (fear that minorities will disappear with tyranny of the majority) - Pluralistic notion assumes that we uphold classic values (basic civil liberties and rights protections) no matter how large the majority is Procedural Democracy - Doesn’t care about outcomes, just cares about the process – whatever majority rule decides, that is what society is - In order for this to happen • Have to ensure that every vote has the same weight • Have to ensure that every one gets a vote • Have to expect responsiveness from government (assume that representatives wont do anything they want but will listen to who they are representing) - Idea that if those three assumptions stand true, then the outcome will ‘work itself out’ Substantive Democracy - Guarantee certain outcomes, and design a constitution to make this possible - Due to the fact that the constitution is designed to make certain outcomes possible, it is very difficult to change it even if people wanted to (have to have the amendment proposed by either 2/3 of the congress or a national convention made up of 2/3 of the states, and then ratified by either 3/4 of state legislatures or state conventions in 3/4 of the states) Pluralism - Assumes people naturally form groups - Interest groups channel interests to elected officials - Issue arises when interest groups clash, and the fact that some interest groups are more influential and powerful than others Collective Goods Problem - Issue where there are goods that government provides that are both • Non-excludable • Non-rivalrous - Public goods can be a street light, fresh air, clean water - People can benefit from these goods without putting in the effort - The problem can be solved in smaller groups, as people will feel more responsible and care about the rest of the group The Constitution (1/21/16) - Began with articles of confederation • Each state was sovereign (had their own money, own trade policies) • Created a national army, but nobody paid taxes as there was no central ruling body (also the soldiers weren’t sure who to be loyal to as there was no central authority) - States decided that they needed a national, sovereign government, so they came together to form the constitution - Bill of Rights prevents the tyranny of the majority Republic - System where you elect people to represent you to make decisions • Founders wanted this due to the fact that they believed voters were uneducated, and they didn’t have the time to go and vote all the time - Debate over states getting an equal number of representatives or representatives based on population - The Great Compromise • Created 2 house legislature – Senate will have 2 representatives per state, and House of Representatives will have representatives in proportion to the state population • Senate was seen as a big win for the small states • This compromise violated the idea that everyone should have an equal amount of votes - Electoral college – state elects the president based on popular vote, not the people Madisonian dilemma – to have a government that does anything, we have to give people some amount of power (founders thought we weren’t capable of having power and that people would abuse power) Separation of Powers - Each branch of government has certain powers, and there is a system of checks and balances to make sure that not one branch has too much power - Three branches of government: • Legislative Branch (Congress) – makes laws • Executive Branch (President) – enforces laws • Judicial Branch (Supreme Court) – interprets laws Separation of Constituency - Each congressman represents different people and different issues - Assumption that interests will be diverse enough so that the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court don’t group together to amass more power Federalism - Having national and state governments - National government is sovereign - States can prevent the national government from gaining too much power - The federal government uses money to get the states to do what it wants • In order to raise the drinking age in Louisiana, the government held tax dollars that would go towards roads until the drinking age was raised - Wealthy states get less from the government than poor states, as more of the population of the poor state will need help from the government • States that are conservative end up with more money, because they happen to be poorer, even though they don’t want government money - Conservatives favor strong states rights, liberals want federal government to have more power • Things that liberals prefer (women’s rights, social programs, more healthcare) are better done at the federal level Changing the Constitution - Congress can propose a new amendment with a 2/3 majority or there can be a national convention made up of 2/3 of the states - Once an amendment is proposed, it has to be ratified by either 3/4 of state legislatures or state conventions in 3/4 of the states - Proposing an amendment in a national convention of the states is unrealistic because the states are divided and there is political polarization Federalist 10 (Madison) - AMBITION MUST COUNTER AMBITION - Said democracies are smaller than a republic (republic can be larger because it is easier to get things done when people are represented by others and not themselves) - Madison believed we would have diverse enough interests so there would never be a majority • However, when the President is elected, it means that they had a majority faction supported them Owen Reading - Opinion piece about Islamic democracy - Sees a big issue with Sharia law and democracy clashing - When we think democracy, we think of a liberal, substantive democracy • May be able to think about it in a different way, which would mean that Islam and democracy don’t necessarily clash Why Federalism (1/26/16) - Good thing because the state can focus on their local population and the federal government can focus on the big picture - Bad thing because state law can conflict with federal law • This can lead to inefficiency • Can mean there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ situation if a federal law doesn’t apply to a particular state - Bad thing as it complicates which government body to place blame or give credit to - Allows for experimentation – if a law works in one state, maybe other states will adopt it, and if a law doesn’t work, other states wont adopt it • Brandeis believed that states are the laboratories of democracy - Founders wanted federalism for a distribution of power Federal Power vs. State Power - Federal government has gained more power • Supreme court tends to defer decisions to the federal government - Commerce clause – congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce • Congress can say that anything is commerce and then make laws accordingly Federalism and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) - Goal was to expand access to healthcare, ideally to everyone - Sought to reign in costs of healthcare - In order to do this, they expanded Medicaid (healthcare for low income people) • States said they wouldn’t expand Medicaid, government said they had to, but the Supreme court upheld that the states didn’t have to expand Medicaid • States that have not expanded have very low eligibility, meaning you have to be really poor to get Medicaid • Resulted in very poor people and middle class families getting help, but ‘regular poor’ people not being covered Wilder Effect (2/2/16) When people were asked if race would influence their vote, they said no, but when they voted, race influenced their vote Public Opinion - Assume voters don’t really know anything about politics, so people don’t have ready made opinions - Even though people are uneducated, the system works - 1930’s public opinion polls began with George Gallup - elements of public opinion • direction – has to be a clear majority of what the opinion is • stability – if we change things a lot, people wont know what is going on • intensity – people have to care about whether their choice influences policy or not • informed opinion – people have to know what is going on - voters follow a party, and change their views to fit the party (not switch parties to fit their views) Political Socialization - As children, we learn values of patriotism, that democracy is good - Family has the biggest influence – we pick up the partisanship of our parents Measuring Public Opinion - Use a small sample to be representative of the population - Use a simple random sample (everyone in the population of interest has an equal chance of being selected) - Central limit theorem = as the sample size grows, the results look closer to a normal distribution Public Opinion Polling Today - Telephone polls – less people have landlines, people who do are typically old people • Caller id – when people see they don’t know the number, probably won’t pick up the phone - Online polls – people will only respond if they have a strong opinion, ends up being not random - Question wording, priming (basing how much you like a candidate on the issues of the day) and framing (framing an issue as the fault of the government or of the individual) can influence results Political Participation (2/4/16) - Voting - Signing a petition - Joining a political group/organization - Going to a rally or protest Voting - Voter turn out is less in the US than in other democracies • Elections are less competitive, as there are only 2 main parties • People don’t get time off to vote • People may not feel like their vote counts because of the Electoral College system • Voting isn’t mandatory (in many European countries, it is) - Primary elections – determine candidates for the general election (old style was for the party to pick the candidate) Direct Democracy - Law on the ballot, and people vote whether it should be a law or not (this doesn’t exist on the federal level, but some states have it) - Founding fathers didn’t want it because: • They thought that voters weren’t capable of making decisions • Took too much time Issue of votes counting (calculated by political scientists) V = B – C - V= vote - B= benefit - C= cost - Our vote doesn’t really count, but people still vote V=B – C + D - D= duty - People will vote because they think it is their duty and responsibility - Voting paradox = people vote because they think it is their responsibility even though their vote doesn’t really count Influence on Voters - Socio-economic status has the biggest influence on if people vote - Efficacy • Internal efficacy – idea that I know how the system works, so I can make an informed decision • External efficacy – idea that the government will respond if I vote - More people vote for presidential elections than midterm elections • Republicans have an advantage in the midterm elections (assumes that more wealthy people vote republican, and wealthier people care more) Voting Patterns - Whites – typically conservative - African Americans – democratic - Hispanic/Latino – conservative (due to emphasis on family values) - Protestants – conservative - Catholics – typically liberal - Jews – liberal - South – conservative - North East, West Coast – liberal Media in Politics (2/11/16) - Generally, learn most information about politics through the media - Most issues have to be explained to people and they have to get their information somewhere • Economic issues are the exception – gas prices and how much food there is in stores is easily noticed - In political science, 4% - 6% unemployment is considered a ‘good enough’ standard for full employment • The media presents it in a way that causes a disconnect where people still think that we are in a bad situation • This could be accounted for by the employed including minimum wage jobs, which people think should improve, and not including people who aren’t trying to get a job Privatization of the Media - As profit goes up for media companies, the level of information goes down • Private corporations associated with certain media outlets have their own interests - News channels don’t play news as much as they used to, due to the fact that the public wants entertainment, not depressing news stories • More soft news (celebrity news, scandals) than hard news (facts, conflicts, wars) - In the 1960’s, ABC, CBS and NBC were the only news channels, so they had a monopoly over how the public received their news • People would watch the news because of the limited options • When cable came out, more people decided to watch something other than the news - According to a poll researching how much people know based on the news sources that they rely on, people who watch no news knew more than people who watched fox news, and NPR listeners generally knew the most • Knowledge increases as ideology is closer to the news sources (if you hear something you don’t agree with, its less likely that you’ll remember it than if it was something you agree with) RAS Model (Receive, Accept Sample) - Shows that it is more likely to hear a new message if you are more politically aware - Less likely to accept the new message if you are more politically aware - Optimal conditions (middle political awareness) are hearing a new message and accepting it are mildly politically aware and mildly likely of hearing a new message (highest joint possibility of getting the desired result) Bias in News Media - Fox news – conservative bias, MSNBC – liberal bias - Despite this, there is no evidence of a liberal or conservative systematic bias - The media tends to go where the story is – either give praise or criticize depending on the event - Media tends to have a pervasive negative bias • Scandals don’t hurt politicians as much as they used to, suggesting that negative stories are on all the time so people will likely ignore them - Agenda setting = media coverage sets up how important we think a story is • Audience will think a story is important if it is on the news all the time - Framing = placing the cause of a certain issue on something specific • May attribute problems to the individual or society - Priming = presenting the public with criteria which we judge politicians on • If there is a huge foreign policy issue, like a war, the public will assess politicians based on how they handled the issue, and less on how they handled the economy Elections (2/16/16) Primary Elections - Decides the nominees for both parties that are going to be in the general election (nominee = individual that runs under the party’s label) - US has direct primaries • Open primary – anyone can vote, regardless of if they are a registered member of the party or not • Closed primary – only people who are registered members of a party can vote for that candidate (less representative of the population, as independents can’t vote) • Open primary is open to ‘sabotage’ – if the opposing party has a candidate that isn’t very electable, people can go vote for that person so the other part wins in the general election - Each party has a different system for their primary elections • Republicans – have proportional (number of delegates is proportional to the votes for each candidate), prortional with winner take all trigger (proportional unless a candidate gets a certain amount of votes, then it becomes winner take all and all the delegates go towards that candidate), or winner take all (the winner gets all of the delegates) • Democrats – have proportional primaries. They reserve delegates for particular people (known as super delegates) which leaves the votes in the control of the party and not the people (Clinton has more super delegates than Sanders, so even if he wins a popular vote, its likely that the super delegates will still vote for Clinton) - Sequential primaries – each state has primaries on a different day • Voters stay interested • Highlights the focal issues of each individual state which the candidates can focus on • Want to be able to give the smaller states a chance, even though we know they have less of an influence • States want to be earlier, but the dates are decided. If states say that they will change the date, parties threaten them by saying that if they have the primary at an earlier date, the votes won’t count - Super Tuesday – a bunch of primaries in 1 day • Created by southern states so they could band together and call more attention to their vote as a region Electoral College - Federal system for elections - States have elections, and whatever party wins, that state’s electoral votes go towards that party in the general election • if Democrats win Ohio, the electoral votes will go towards the democratic candidate in the general election • Representatives are in proportion to the population (equal to congressional representatives) - Issue with winner take all – the loser gets nothing, even if the winner only won by a small margin • Possible for a candidate to win the electoral college even if they didn’t win the popular vote - Clear states – some states always go one way, like New York and California being Democratic, and Texas being republican • Debate over whether the vote really counts, because regardless the state will remain democratic/republican - Note: Electoral college benefits democrats, because democratic states have the largest amount of representatives National Convention (2/18/16) - When the parties announce the winner of the primary elections (most of the time this will be obvious to the public, but there are some cases where people don’t know who the clear winner is) - The party and the candidate then announce the platform that they are running on • Talk about specific issues that they are going to focus on and emphasize Money in Politics - Trend has been more money in politics • Parties are spending more • Supreme Court has allowed more money from outside groups - PAC, SuperPAC = Political Action Committee (the super refers to the size) • Give money to political campaigns to support specific candidates • There is no limit to how much a PAC can donate, but there is a limit on how much private donors can contribute à easier to give the money to the PAC and have them donate it (PACs don’t have to say where they get the money from/who they are representing) • Essentially PACs can do what they want as long as they do not align with a specific campaign - Citizens United case – Supreme Court allowed for PACs to give as much money as they want to a campaign, as long as they don’t say “vote for” or “vote against” • Resulted in a shift with who is donating money to campaigns • Means that poor candidates can get pushed out of the race if they don’t have the means to compete with advertisements from a SuperPAC Voters - Biggest influence on if people will vote is partisanship (party affiliation) • Many people know the party they are voting for before they know the nominee - Michigan Model – Funnel of Causality = shows what influences peoples votes • Begins with social structure, economic structure, historical patterns (early life experiences) à as we get closer to voting, there are more specific influences - Closeted partisanship = when someone hasn’t declared their partisanship, so they consider themselves an independent - Next biggest influence on if people vote is the state of the economy Partisanship - We inherit our partisanship from our parents • Happens because we end up in a similar socio-economic situation, and we are taught certain values that one party will emphasize more than the other - Idea of responsible party government = the 2 parties outline what they are going to do in the campaign and if elected, so people will vote accordingly • In the next election, think about how a party dealt with certain issues during that term (if its good, vote for that party again, if its bad, vote for the other party) • Way to hold government accountable - Parties have to have clear differences in the campaign (otherwise it just becomes a toss up between the parties and the specific candidates) - Issue with voting retrospectively • Can give credit/blame to congress and not the President, in order to explain cognitive dissonance Parties (2/23/16) - Main goal is to try and rally support for their policies and candidates and WIN ELECTIONS - Difference between parties and interest groups is that parties have candidates run for national office under the label of that particular party - There are really only 2 parties (see this as a good thing because it simplifies things for voters, assuming that they are generally busy and uneducated and don’t have already made opinions) - Parties deal with collective action issues - Using parties for their benefit: • Electoral college • Candidates (people more likely to win if they are under a label than if they are running as an independent) à parties exist to serve candidates - Founders on parties: • Thought they would divide the party (with current polarization, this seems to be the case) • Thought that everyone should get something and there shouldn’t be a winner take all situation (fear of tyranny of the majority) - The parties are more ideologically separate than they have ever been (it appears that republicans have become more conservative, and democrats have become slightly more liberal, but extreme polarization is more due to shift right by the republicans) • Reasons for this dramatic shift by republicans could be the increase of immigrants (white Americans notice the poorer people, think that they are better off even though they may be the same, so become more conservative about the redistribution of their money) - Southern realignment = when southern democrats became republicans - Defining feature of parties currently = extreme, unprecedented ideological polarization (began in the mid 70’s) - Republicans seem to be facing a ‘demographic time bomb’ • With current trends of immigration, whites will become a plurality and not a clear majority • Republicans wont be able to win elections if they don’t appeal to minorities Party ID (2/25/16) - Independents don’t really exist – they consistently vote with either party, just don’t want to declare their partisanship - Generations: • Millennials lean democratic • Silent generation more republican (Older people may say that they are democratic but consistently vote republican) - Education level: • College graduates may vote more republican (more likely to earn more money, so be more conscious of wealth distribution) - Gender: • Women tend to vote more democratic (due to the fact that democrats support equal pay for men and women, support women’s reproductive rights, more responsive to women’s rights in general) • Also due to the fact that single mothers need to “safety net” that democrats support (being supported by the government) - Religion: • White evangelical protestants vote republican • Mainline protestants vote republican but with more people who vote democratic • Black non-Hispanic protestants lean democratic (African Americans across the board are the most stable partisan group) • Catholics lean democratic • Jews lean democratic - Geography: • Country is republican, but still works out because urban areas are overwhelmingly democratic • Black Belt in the south – area where large amounts of African Americans live and vote democratic, dates back to a forced migration to fertile soil from times of slavery - Race/Ethnicity • Hispanics typically vote democratic (hard to say what they usually do as a group because they have only recently become an important electoral group) à partisanship may be less stable than other groups because they lack inherited partisanship currently Need for a Third Party - In a Gallup poll, a majority of people said they would favor the addition of a third party - Main reason we don’t have a third party: • Single member district plurality system (winner take all system) – if a candidate can’t get over 50 percent of the votes, then nobody will win - The current system doesn’t really allow for a third party (doesn’t allow them to speak at debates or give them attention, so they don’t get votes) - Supreme Court is in favor of 2 party system (makes it easier) Interest Groups - Why do people join? • Want to do the right thing • Enjoy being with like-minded people • May be a material benefit – sticker, discounts for insurance, t-shirt - Business is most represented by interest groups – pursue things for the private sector Congress (3/8/16) - Defining feature of contemporary Congress is polarization • Parties are now further apart than they were during the civil war - The public dislikes Congress as a whole, even though the people who make up Congress have the support of the people in their specific district • Congressional approval is usually in the teens • Even though congressional approval is low, we think that it is not ‘our’ elected official, but another district’s elected official - The incumbent usually wings Congressional elections (they win over and over) 1. Have experience 2. Name recognition 3. Districts may not be competitive (either always democratic or always republican) - Primary goal of a congressman is to WIN RE-ELECTION à practice being re-elected everyday, trying to do their best job so that they DO get re-elected - New candidates know that the incumbent will win, so they don’t run, so the incumbent wins every time (becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy cycle) • Deter challengers with the incumbency advantage - Who do we elect to Congress? What types of people? • White, wealthy men • Congress doesn’t resemble the population - 100 representatives in the Senate, 435 in House • Hispanics aren’t represented in Congress as they should be (could be because 1/3 of the population isn’t eligible to vote) • 18% of Congress is women, so they are severely underrepresented (African Americans are better represented in Congress than women) • Many congressional representatives are businessmen and lawyers - Descriptive representation – someone from your group representing you (based on group characteristics) • Shared experience – understand how people live, what they go through • Voters are more engaged with this type of representation • Helps to legitimize groups in the political process Congressional Representation - How do we try to create districts with different minorities? Gerrymandering – draw a district to include certain populations (to create majority/minority districts) • Cant district only on the basis of race, but this ends up happening during this process • With winner take all, it is hard for minorities to still be represented • Adds to diversity in the House of Representatives - Partisan gerrymandering – cracking and packing • Cracking – cracking up a constituency so they can’t win anything, even though they should have won that area • Packing – pack it in to one group instead of giving them 2 votes, just allow them to win 1 vote - Possible to get descriptive representation without having substantive representation – may be worse than regular districts, because democrats could be better represented without partisan gerrymandering - How to get rid of partisan gerrymandering – could be drawn by an outside group, not the parties - Media says gerrymandering leads to increased polarization • Parties win certain districts every time, so they can be as extreme as they want and the district will still vote for that party • Gerrymandering isn’t the main reason of increased polarization • Things do get done in the senate, so it can’t be correct that gerrymandering leads to all the polarization - Congress is less productive under extreme polarization, because it takes a long time to make decisions • Has been a decline in the amount of laws passed with increased polarization - Polarization is much more problematic in our democracy compared to other democracies à because of veto points, a single member of Congress can stop Congress, same with a filibuster (minority party prevents majority from passing a bill by talking until everyone has to go home) The Presidency (2/15/16) - President’s primary motivation: craft a lasting legacy - President is far less powerful than the public thinks • But the institution has been expanding since Nixon • Matches up with the expansion of federal government over state governments - Unilateral action = going around regular means to get things done, side stepping Congress, without the cooperation of other branches • Obama has done this often, but it is not unique to him à shows the general increase in the power of the Presidency • Polarization may create a vacuum where unilateral action is the only way to get things done - President’s powers: 1. Veto bills (uses the veto sparingly) – notion that only “weak” Presidents use the veto power • If you have to veto, it means that Congress is ignoring you • President’s power is persuasive (should be if he is a “good” president) 2. Implement and enforce laws • Regardless of how Congress wanted the law to look, the President can interpret the law however he/she wants (Congress can’t spell out every detail of the law, so the President can’t interpret what the details should be) - Executive orders = president making a legal declaration that this is how the law will be enforced (to eliminate “wiggle room” with a law, Congress can pass a new law clarifying the specifics of a law) - The President has a lot of power and has been gaining more power à this is weird because the founders thought that nobody would be able to gain too much power (Madison – ambition must counter ambition) - President is more effective at moving military troops than Congress (can’t wait for Congress to decide and debate) • Only Congress can declare war, House controls the money, so they can cut off money for funding (see War Powers resolution) • This means that the President can get us into a situation and most wars haven’t been ‘declared’ by Congress - Restrictions on what the president can legally do with the military • War powers resolution – 48 hours that the President is allowed to do whatever they want, like bomb a country, but after that time Congress has to be informed of his/her actions • After 60 days, the President needs Congressional approval to continue the action • Congress has the power to cut off funding and not approve, but the President can ignore this (most presidents violate the war powers resolution, like in Libya when Obama said it was not a war so that he wouldn’t have to get Congressional approval) - Over time, Presidential approval declines • During a war, the “rallying around the flag” effect happens, as people want to get behind the president to survive • Presidential approval is based on partisanship The Courts (3/29/16) - Courts are seeing as a policy making body (who gets what, when and how) • Judicial review – making policy by looking at the constitution - Criminal vs civil law • Criminal law – government take someone to court on society’s behalf • Civil law – between 2 individuals (not the government) - Federal and state courts • Criminal cases take place in state courts • Federal courts mainly try civil cases - Courts are hierarchical – can appeal to a higher court, until the Supreme court makes a ruling • Cant go back and forth between state and federal court – if you still don’t like the outcome from state supreme court, you can cross over to the federal supreme court in 1 particular circumstance à Constitutional issue (can say constitutional rights have been violated) - Federal judiciary is more representative demographically than Congress • 42% female • 12% Hispanic • 19% African American • The way that the judges are appointed is an easy way to battle race (easier than having to run and be elected) • Politics matter in the court, but less than a senator à what matters in court is merits, school, experience etc - President appoints judges, Senate advises and consents on appointments - Federal courts are political, it matters who gets appointed à as we get more polarized, it is more difficult to get judges appointed (because they have to be approved by Congress) - Judges are held accountable by • President and Senate controlling who is on the court • Congress can change the Constitution to make something constitutional/not constitutional - The court cares about public opinion – chief motivation of the court is to maintain legitimacy - Less corruption than other branches of government because justices do not respond directly to the public à allows them to focus on their job • There are institutional incentives to not get too controversial with opposing political opinion - Judicial activism vs judicial restraint – doing politically charged things in a short amount of time (controversial rulings) vs being very strict to the constitution and not doing politically charged things - Whatever the court says is constitutional is then held as constitutional (note that even if something seems to be clearly expressed doesn’t mean it is constitutional) - Reason for explaining decisions in specific details • Prevent Congress from passing a law to go around the decision (less room for interpretation) • Don’t need to keep hearing cases about the same thing • Set precedents for lower courts as to what is specifically constitutional/not constitutional - Majority opinion, dissenting opinion, concurring opinion • Majority opinion – 5 justices is a majority • Dissenting opinion – opinion from the judges who disagree (provide these details also because it adds to the legal body of knowledge) • Concurring opinion – agreeing with the decision but not the reasoning of that decision - Judges are political people with policy motivations • Hard to predict how someone will rule until they are on the court • Look at ideology of judge-appointed clerks to try and see how they will vote Separation of Powers (4/5/16) - People are rational – by realizing our preferences, we maximize our utility at the lowest cost (utility is whatever we say it is) - We assume our preferences are ordered and stable, and you have an ideal preference with a window where you would still get something that you want - Need 2/3 of Congress to overturn a presidential veto - Filibuster = minority party prevents majority from passing a bill by talking until everyone has to go home - Presidents rarely use vetoes • It is a waste of time and resources to put through a bill that they know the president would veto • Keystone – the president said he would veto, but Congress still but the bill through and the president vetoed à rational choice – costs a lot of resources but worth it to get back enough utility by telling their constituents that they tried putting the bill through (looks better than doing nothing, even if they knew the president would veto) - Gridlock = a situation when there is difficulty passing laws that satisfy the needs of the people • Status quo is the best they are going to get - Whip = person in legislature who sees what their party representatives are going to vote for - Unsure what the court may veto, but assume that they have an ideological preference but all they can do is react Rights and Liberties (4/14/16) - Civil liberties = things institutions outside of government cannot infringe on • Ex. Sword vs shield – civil rights vs civil liberties • Only the government can legally violate civil liberties • Constitution and Bill of Rights protect these rights • More liberty à more disorder • Harm has to be eminent to restrict civil rights/liberties • Idea that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater - Freedom of speech – maximizes freedom, but can become problematic - Freedom of religion • Free exercise clause = right to freely practice religion • Establish clause = government cannot establish a national religion (this gets complicated with prayer in public schools, commandments in the courthouse, private religious schools) • Lemon test = in courts, it is used to determine violations of establishment clause 1. Government action violates clause unless it has a significant secular purpose 2. Doesn’t have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion 3. Excessive entanglement - Civil rights = government constitutional protections to protect specific groups • De jure and de facto discrimination, lingering effects of slavery/segregation • Affirmative action – give minorities opportunities that they might not have had otherwise (people who are against this believe it is fighting racism with racism, reverse discrimination, given at someone else’s expense) Economic Policy (4/19/16) - Redistributive policy considerations – redistributing wealth - Redistributive economic policy • Taking from some groups and giving it to other groups • ex. Higher taxes on the wealthy in order to help the poor • ex. Property tax for public schools, even if those family’s children are not going to that school - Federal reserve – controls value of currency (national bank) • Why – gold standard was unreliable • How – adjust interest rates • Can print money, not bound by staying in business like commercial banks are - Idea of capital as borrowed money • Look at interest rates • Jack up interest rates when they want people to borrow and invest less - Inflation = too much money for too few goods • Breeds uncertainty à makes it difficult to invest • Makes money worth less - Unemployment – federal reserve deliberately raises the unemployment rate • There is a relationship between inflation and unemployment • If there is full-employment, labor will be in charge and wages will increase without the amount of goods being produced increasing (naturally labor has an advantage and the federal reserve levels the playing field) - Reagan recession • 14% inflation and stagflation wasn’t working • Reagan came in and lowered inflation to 4% by increasing unemployment (so people would be willing to work for less money) • NOTE: As unemployment increases, inflation decreases - Gold standard – paper money is worth what we all agree it is worth • Means there is no flexibility • Suggestions of using oil as a standard because it can actually be used as opposed to gold which cannot • With the gold standard, there is no way to just print money and allow spending to increase - Government flexibility – when the economy is bad, the government will lower taxes and increase spending, when the economy is good, they will increase taxes and decrease spending • Keynesian economics – spend money on the economy to allow it to grow Economic Policy (4/21/16) - Prisoners dilemma • Best decision depends on what the other person decides • Incentive is to confess and rat each other out, but if both people do that they they both get more time in jail - Game theory • Expects people to cheat • Tragedy of the commons – nobody gets anything if everyone uses as much of the resource as is in their best personal interest - Government controls the economy through fiscal and monetary policy • Fiscal policy – government expenditures and taxes • Monetary policy – controlling the flow of money in circulation through inflation and unemployment à Federal reserve tries to maintain inflation at 2% and unemployment at 5% - Debt vs deficit • Deficit – government taking in less taxes (how much more you spent than what you got back) – for the current year • Debt – everything you owe in total à important to look at the size of the economy to judge how much debt there really is - US economy and debt • US almost always spends more money than they take in • In 2008, government expenditures increased (fiscal policy) in order to get the country out of the recession à in theory, we could end up with more money (requires only borrowing a small amount of money) • In order to get rid of debt, either a. Cut programs b. Raise taxes à Nobody is willing to do either of these things (democrats don’t want to cut programs; republicans don’t want to raise taxes) - Spending – what the government spends money on • Federal departments • Social security, Medicare, Medicaid – $1.5 trillion • Military programs - $895 billion • Foreign aid – less than 1% (people think it is much more than it actually is) Class Review (4/26/16) - Primary motivation of each branch of government and the implication that we draw from that assumption • Congresspersons – want to be re-elected, because without that you can’t take action on any issues • President – leave a legacy • Supreme Court – want to maintain institutional legitimacy, because they aren’t elected by the public, so they have to make sure that the work they are doing is seen as okay by the public - Power of each branch • Executive – interprets and carries out laws (veto congressional legislation) • Congress – makes laws (reviews Supreme Court appointments) • Supreme court – votes on the constitutionality of the laws (interpret congressional laws and executive action) • The executive branch has gained significantly more power - Polarization – the ideological distance between the parties • Contemporary polarization in Congress 1. Republicans have shifted very far to the right (80% republicans, 20% democrats) 2. Asymmetric 3. Began in the 70’s 4. Largest gap between the parties that there has ever been • Results of polarization 1. Nothing republicans and democrats can agree on when it comes to controversial issues - Partisan polarization – parties are different • Not as many independents as polls would suggest à people vote just like partisans, even though they say that they are not part of a party - Partisanship • Single most important determinant of party ID is parents • Inheriting partisanship is okay because we tend to be like our parents - Voting Republican • Protestant white males • Males • South - Voting Democratic • African Americans • Females • North East and West Coast - The Great Compromise – had to give the small states a chance • House of representatives – representatives are based on population • Senate – each state gets 2 representatives - Dividing up states by population – every 10 years the districts are redrawn due to the census • Polarization and partisanship à state legislature draws the boundaries of each district, and because there is one party in control, they can draw boundaries (cracking and packing) in order to only make one district the opposing party - Factors that effect the likelihood of people voting • Socioeconomic status (income, education, job class) • Vote often • Don’t get a day off to vote - Sequential primary system • Good – gives people a chance to gain momentum over time, politicians can focus on specific issues • Bad – pay more attention to some states (Iowa) than others, and states tend to be different than the countries as a whole - Electoral College – people feel like their votes don’t count because there are states that are always going to vote one way, so it doesn’t matter if someone will vote for an opposing party • Winner take all system • Voice of the people sometimes doesn’t matter à person can win the popular vote and lose the presidential election • States elect the president - RAS (Receive Accept Sample) model – joint probability • Someone who isn’t politically aware, they aren’t likely to hear new information • If you hear information, and you have a strong opinion, you will ignore the information • People who are moderately aware are most likely to hear the new information and accept it à highest joint probability of updating beliefs as information comes to them - Legislative process in congress – slow because there are multiple levels and veto points • Founders wanted it this way • President can do whatever he wants for 60 days and after that Congress has to give congressional approval
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