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Final Exam: American Government: Study Guide

by: Olivia Notetaker

Final Exam: American Government: Study Guide POL 151-22

Marketplace > La Salle University > History > POL 151-22 > Final Exam American Government Study Guide
Olivia Notetaker
La Salle
GPA 3.5

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This is a final exam study guide for Principles of American Government. It starts with a review of the first semester and then into second semester since the exam is cumulative.
Principles of American Government
John Boland
Study Guide
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This 14 page Study Guide was uploaded by Olivia Notetaker on Thursday December 10, 2015. The Study Guide belongs to POL 151-22 at La Salle University taught by John Boland in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 17 views. For similar materials see Principles of American Government in History at La Salle University.


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Date Created: 12/10/15
1. Origins of American Constitution a. Definitions i. Power: the ability to get people to do things they do not really want to do 1. Government coercion a. taxation b. laws c. death penalty ii. authority: the legal right to use power, often bounded by context, structure, or environment 1. can have power but not authority iii. legitimacy: popular acceptance of an authority, moral right to use power 1. police office 2. can have power/authority but not legitimacy b. Nature of Political Authority c. Locke’s Treatise i. Accept power but power is limited ii. Any executive body that ceases to function to benefit the people = tyranny iii. People have a right to reform the legislative, appoint a new gov iv. Invert how society is 1. Go from subject up to the government instead of a King down to the subject a. Have a legislature between society and King v. 6 reasons to overthrow government 1. influence for Jefferson 2. referred back to these in D of I d. Types of Democracy i. Direct 1. Every person directly has a say in the government a. Produce inconsistent decisions, only good for simple problems, fair ii. Indirect 1. Delegate someone to make a decision for them 2. Colonial Mind: don’t want a strong national government, split power in the states a. Role of Revolution i. To break away from the overpowering Great Britain ii. Wanted freedom and own rights iii. Wanted a government that had power in the states not a strong national gov because of Britain b. Weak Democracy and the Problem of Tyranny i. Government suppose to 1. Provide order, provide just society, protect commons ii. Some states made their own state Constitutions to protect themselves from tyranny c. Washington’s farewell i. Discussed how he believed his service was no longer necessary and that he was never even qualified to be president ii. Offered advice as to what he thought were the greatest threats to destruction of the nation 1. Factions 3. What does government do? a. Collective Action i. action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective ii. in a democracy large groups who agree will do this and create majority 1. majority will tyrannize and exploit the minority iii. large groups are less able to act in their common interest than small ones iv. Schools 1. Property taxes a. People pay their taxes that then goes towards schools when they don’t have children b. Paying for something they don’t use (minority) 2. Tolls a. Only people that use them pay b. Solution b. Order vs. Justice i. Government suppose to provide order but comes with cost ii. Gov suppose to provide just society c. Tragedy of the Commons i. Act for self-interest instead of interest of a group as a whole ii. Someone abusing a resource because they don’t think anyone will notice or be affected by it iii. When everyone has this same thought and abuses the resource the resource will then become non-existent iv. Resolved with laws and fines to stop and warn people about abusing a resource v. Example: fish in a pond, suppose to throw fish back if under certain size, one may think no one will notice one fish, this cycle continues until no fish left, fines posted around lake d. De Tocqueville’s Tyrannical Majorities i. Main premise of democracy is the absolute sovereignty of the majority 1. This has great danger ii. Legislature Is the institution most easily swayed by the majority 1. Creates instability iii. No human gov should have absolute power iv. Majority rule through public opinion 1. Creates tyranny 2. Oppression of the minority by the majority v. Could lead to new revolutions vi. Fair votes don’t always have fair outcome 1. Constitutions to protect minorities a. Judicial branch 4. Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists a. Federalist 10 and 51 i. By James Madison ii. Faction: a number of citizens, whether majority or minority, who were united and activated by some common impulse of passion, averse to the rights of other citizens (political parties) b. Key arguments of each i. Size of country 1. Self-government flourishes in a large country containing many different groups 2. Some countries are too large 3. The propped plan modifies the federal principle enough to make self-gov both possible and practical in the US ii. Role of faction 1. Conflicts of interests in groups are inherent in human nature a. As a consequence, people will fall into various groups 2. Just avoid where one group in particular would control the decisions of society iii. Remedies for faction/checks and balances 1. Removing factions a. Destroy the liberty essential to their existence b. Give everyone the same opinions, passions, and interests i. Property-jealous and greedy 2. Checks ad Balances a. The structure of the gov must furnish the proper checks and balances between the different departments c. Anti-federalist key arguments i. Against the constitution ii. Letters of Brutus (Robert Yates under the pseudonym Brutus written to people of NY) iii. Proposed whether Constitution would lead to security or destruction of the rights Americans enjoyed under their state constitutions iv. Questioned whether a widely dispersed and diverse people could be united under one gov without sacrificing blessings of liberty and self gov 5. Critiques a. Beard’s economic interpretation i. Argues structure of constitution was motivated primarily by the personal financial interests of the founding fathers ii. Economic problem in US: 1. Couldn’t tax/coin money so money was borrowed from rich who were also those who wrote the constitution so they wanted a strong national gov so that they would be paid back what they lent the gov b. Susan B. Anthony-role of women i. Constitution never mentions women only says persons 1. “persons”-allows space for the future ii. Susan B. Anthony was arrested for casting a vote in presidential election iii. Believed husbands vote counted for the women 1. Only white property holding men could vote a. Believed men needed to be educated and have $ (leisure) to be involved in politics c. Constitution and slavery i. Constitution discusses ideals of freedom and equality yet there were slaves ii. Considers slaves property iii. South relied on slavery and weren’t giving up on it iv. Slavery mentioned 3 times in constitution 1. 3/5 compromise a. in House of Representatives slaves would be counted for as 3/5 of a person i. increased South’s political power 2. Fugitive Slave Clause a. Must return any runaway slave that is found to the state they escaped from 3. Ban on slave trade by 1808 d. Should slavery have been dealt with i. If slavery was dealt with in the Constitution, then it would have never passed by all Southern states ii. Not dealing with it lead to Civil War and racism in the country 6. Federalism a. Federal vs. Confederal vs. Unitary i. Federal 1. National gov and states give power to each other 2. Independent existence- neither can abolish each other ii. Confederal 1. Articles of Confederation 2. States give the power to the national gov iii. Unitary 1. National gov gives power to the states 2. Gives it and can take it back b. Two essential characteristics of federalism c. Dual federalism vs. marble cake federalism i. Dual 1. Federal and states ran side by side 2. Functionally independent in their own sphere 3. If thates failed federal gov did not back them up until 20 century a. Federal starting funding schools with grants and aid ii. Marble 1. Blended funding stream like a marble cake 2. Money from states and federal all mixed together and intertwined its impossible to tell where it came from d. How the gov affects states e. Alien and sedition act i. Gave government right to expel aliens from the United States that commit treason against the government f. Nullification and state’s rights i. Jefferson says that states can nullify the federal government ii. In reality government is the supreme law of the land and cannot be nullified iii. Nullification given by Jefferson produces Civil War and war shows states cannot nullify federal law g. Necessary and proper clause i. Gives congress leeway, if they feel something is necessary and proper for general welfare of people then may pass law ii. Elastic clause iii. Creates extreme controversy for constitution h. Supremacy clause i. Says Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land and all laws and treaty they decide are permeant ii. Rules for all states so it diminishes all states laws i. McCulloch vs. Maryland i. Congress establishes a bank in Philadelphia using necessary and proper clause and then opens a branch in Baltimore ii. State of Maryland wants to tax the bank which would be taxing the federal gov iii. McCulloch-bank teller who refuses tax iv. Supreme court sides with McCulloch 1. Establishes that states cannot tax the federal gov 7. Political Culture: patterned and sustained way of thinking about political life a. Civic Associations (de Tocqueville) i. Are interested in government but only on a local level ii. See federal gov as enemy b. Role of religion c. Equality and social class i. Equality of result-what we are satisfied with as a result ii. Wealth inequality 1. United States –CEO makes 300 times more than the janitor iii. Admire the wealthy and blame the poor d. Culture wars i. Frame rights based on claims as moral issues 1. Abortion, gay marriage 8. Public Opinion: views prevalent among the general public a. Measuring public opinion i. Measured through polls 1. Only fair if it is not by choice it must be a general sample a. The level of accuracy is often called the margin of error and indicates how much answers will bounce around the truth from poll to poll. 2. Problems: sampling errors and bias a. By type of questions asked and way polls are conducted i. Questions must be neutral to avoid this ii. Interviews must not inject their own views into questions 3. measuring public opinion indicates that public opinion is useful in understanding the positions of the American people and what policies they support b. Mass vs. elite pubic opinion i. Elite: people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth and political power ii. Huge gap between American people, the mass, and opinion leaders on issues c. Role of public opinion in democracy i. Extremely important ii. Democracy is powered by the people, ultimate source of power iii. Any governmental official has to take public opinion into account when deciding how to act 1. If don’t respond to needs of the public wont be voted back into office iv. Need to be with majority v. In government systems if officials can’t be voted out wont try to satisfy public as much d. Paranoid style i. Tool in which conspiracy theories are formed e. Pseudo-environment i. The aspect of individual lives based on experiences of others as portrayed by the media or by individuals themselves through stories and pictures 9. Campaigns: work in an organized and active way toward a particular political goal (winning a certain seat) a. Congressional vs. Presidential Elections i. Congressional 1. Works to elect the party their representing into office 2. Every 2 years all members of house are up and 1/3 of the senate is up 3. Gerrymandering: districts are drawn so that certain areas will favor a specific party a. Make sure inside of district their will be neighborhoods and majority of people that will favor one party 4. Marginal seat: seat in Congress that have a chance of being replaced during elections, cant take risks, must always prepare for next congressional election 5. Safe seat: safe from being replaced during election, can take risks ii. Presidential 1. Need to first get mentioned and raise money a. Write a book, get friends to leak out that you’re running for president, start raising money (1 billion dollars) 2. Run organization/staff a. Set up field staff in every state b. Form strategy (campaign message) 3. Branding a. Logos, slogans, images 4. Pace out money a. Timing, primary schedule iii. Role of Money 1. Commercials 2. Need lots of money to run a campaign iv. Role of Media 1. Sound bites: 7 second statement to portray candidate, gets laughs 2. Pseudo event: something to catch medias attention a. Speeches 3. Gate keeping function: process where info is filtered for what is important to get out to the public 4. Score keeping function: when a media decides which candidate they think is winning, or won debate a. Portrays their opinion as fact 5. Watch dog function: keeps politicians in check, how the media checks the government 6. Echo chamber effect: what news source you watch projects their views and they become your views a. Bias source (Fox News=conservative) 7. Media reinforces our polarization 1. Political Parties a. Why are parties less powerful today? b. Institutional sources of a two party system: winner take all i. Always have had and always will have a two party system as long as we have our voting system ii. First-past-the-post electoral system: candidate with the most votes overall wins regardless of majority 1. This calls for a two party system c. Ideological coalitions within parties: i. Imbed themselves within existing parties and changes it ii. Tea party within republican party d. Campaign Finance 2. Participation: participation measures democracy a. Types of participation i. Voting participation ii. Not just voting but canvasing, handing out flyers, campaigning iii. Internet created broader way of participation b. History of participation i. Began with not being able to vote unless you owned property (white men) so that you wouldn’t vote twice ii. Voter eligibility increased when it changed to any white male could vote iii. 15 amendment granted African American males right to vote 1. South created laws to stop them from voting which lasted until voting rights act iv. Women gain right to vote v. During Vietnam war provision that if 18 or older right to vote c. Decline of participation: i. Problems of people thinking their vote doesn’t matter ii. Low education with politics 1. Poor less lucky to vote iii. People cannot get off work iv. Hard to register 1. In other countries automatically register everyone 3. Interest Groups a. Definition i. An organization of people sharing a common interest or group that seeks to influence public policy 1. Lobbies for change but does not field a candidate a. Supply $ for campaign ii. 2 types: institutional and membership 1. institutional: a collection of related businesses/organizations, join together to affect policy 2. membership: private individuals b. Why Join? i. Solidarity: benefit around people close to views ii. Material: most common, money/things 1. NRA: gun coupons, AARP: prescription drug discounts iii. Purposeful: benefit of joining because you care a lot 1. Don’t need any other incentives c. Functions: i. Provide money ii. Information 1. Political cues a. Politicians can’t be briefed on every issue b. Give info of short cuts for politicians from groups iii. Provide ratings iv. Spin members/staff of Washington d. Revolving Door i. Movement of personnel between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation 4. Media a. Old vs. New Media i. Distinction between TV, radio, and newspapers ii. Internet and social media 1. Get shorter bits of info 2. Anyone can say anything on twitter b. Functions of Media c. Equal time rule and bias i. If a public network is interviewing one candidate must interview their opposing candidate and give them same amount of time 5. Congress i. Means coming together ii. Most despised but most powerful iii. Presidents biggest problem iv. Bicameral system: 1. 2 separate houses 2. divided in majority and minority parties 3. speaker of house leader of majority party b. Powers of Congress i. Borrow money, declare war, raise army, tax, power that executive branch doesn’t have, protected by necessary and proper clause c. Sources of Congressional behavior d. Role of campaign finance e. How bill becomes a law 6. Presidency a. Presidents vs. Prime ministers i. Prime minister always has the majority backing them so doesn’t have to worry about votes, can put legislature in cabinet, apart of political system before becoming PM ii. President is not able to command party in Congress, cannot appoint legislature into cabinet without them dropping their seat, usually are governor before becoming Pres. b. Powers of President i. Commander in chief, commission officers in armed forces, grant reprieves/pardons, receive ambassadors, sign bills, head of executive branch ii. Power to veto a piece of legislation iii. Shares power c. Informal Powers i. Prestige of the office 1. Gives power to persuade ii. Bully Pulpit: speech making done by the president that puts pressure on Congress d. Primary vs. General Elections/Electoral College i. Primary: a preliminary election to appoint candidates from a political party for a general election, narrows the field of candidates 1. Only successful candidates move on to general election 2. Democrats run against democrats, republicans run against republicans ii. General: each parties’ candidates that were selected from primaries will now run against each other, determines which candidate will occupy the office that is up for election iii. Electoral College: 1. A compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote by citizens 2. Need 270 to become president e. Vice Presidents and Impeachment i. Vice President 1. Not much power 2. Act as presiding officer of the Senate 3. Ceremonial assistant to Pres. a. If president dies becomes president ii. Impeachment 1. Removal of the president from office if he is caught in a crime 7. Civil Liberties: basic freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution in the bill of rights a. Freedom of Speech i. Protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution ii. Right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation/censorship b. Prior Restraint and Libel i. Prior Restraint: censorship imposed by the government on expression that they don’t want to get out to the public 1. Not allowed to stop anyone from expressing anything to the public but gov still tries to ii. Libel: knowingly wrote something false about someone 1. Doesn’t include public figures a. Celebrities, politicians iii. Clear and Present Danger Test: doctrine adapted by Supreme Court to determine under what circumstances limits can be placed on the 1 amendment freedoms 1. If something said creates a clear and present danger so is not free speech a. Example: saying fire on a plane iv. Symbolic Speech: expressing speech not verbally but through a symbol, burn the flag v. Establishment clause and separation of church and state 1. Congress cannot establish an official religion 2. No religious test for someone to gain office 3. Can fund a catholic hospital but it cannot be discriminatory 4. Separation of church and state doesn’t appear in Constitution appears in letter from Jefferson a. A wall between church and state 8. Judiciary: a. Principle of Judicial Review i. Decide if law is Constitutional after it is passed (only signed laws) b. Marbury vs. Madison i. Defines judicial review ii. Controversy over appointment letters not being sent out by Madison, so Marbury does not receive his letter and sues Madison iii. Marshal, judge, rights ruling that if Madison was wrong for not giving out letters and court told him to give them out he must do so 1. Expands power of the court 2. Both sides think they won c. Dred Scott i. Slave goes to North, free state ii. Case upholds that slaves are property so must be returned to owner if in free state iii. Sets the stage for the civil war d. FDR and packing the court i. New Deal-wanted to create social programs and jobs, needed federal money to do so ii. Keeps proposing deal to the court, continues to gets shut down, so attempts to pack the court with new judges that would side with him e. Litmus Test: questions asked to potential candidates for high office, and the answer determines whether nominating them will proceed f. Judicial activism vs. judicial restraint i. Activism: rule exactly how it says in the text of the Constitution ii. Restraint: applies Constitution to current day and prescribes solution 9. Civil Rights: the rights of people to be treated with out unreasonable/unconstitutional differences a. Civil liberties vs. civil rights i. Rights are claims about equality while liberties are claims about freedom ii. Sometimes have a relationship b. Separate but equal/Plessy vs. Fergusson i. Landmark case ii. Requires racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of separate but equal iii. Schools can be segregated if they are equal 1. Never actually were equal in facilities, teachers, funds iv. Civil Rights Movement History v. Women’s suffrage history 10. Bureaucracy: a. large, complex organization composed of appointed officials, who people deal with in gov on a day to day basis (DMV, federal loans, IRS), officials are appointed by people who we voted for b. Function of Bureaucracy-government by proxy i. Governed but not by people we vote for 1. Member of Congress isn’t an expert but can higher an expert ii. Attempting to get as close to the people as possible c. Organizational Culture: i. How an organization responds to things, shared values that have a strong influence on the people in the organization ii. Really affects outcomes d. Red Tape and other problems of bureaucracy i. Red tape: excessive regulation that is considered bureaucratic and hinders action/decision-making 11. Policy Process a. Old vs. New System Differences i. Old system: the government fought over federalism ii. New: fighting over how they should do things 1. Defending and expanding 2. New system is breaking down a. Polarization b. Things aren’t getting passed i. System freezing c. Government seems incapable i. Gun control ii. Illegal immigration b. Policy entrepreneurs: one way of reaching political change i. Business entrepreneurs: someone that will lead/ be the face of a policy 1. MLK c. Garbage can model i. A piece of legislature being continuously rejected and overturned until eventually it passed d. Term limits i. One way to solve problems in government ii. President has term limit but members of Congress don’t 1. Need one for Congress members


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