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POLI 2051, Ch. 1 Notes

by: Elizabeth

POLI 2051, Ch. 1 Notes 2051


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Democracy and American Politics
American Government
C. Kenny
Class Notes
Poli, democracy, Politics
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth on Thursday April 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 2051 at Louisiana State University taught by C. Kenny in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see American Government in Political Science at Louisiana State University.


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Date Created: 04/14/16
2051 American Government Chapter 1 – Democracy and American Politics I.    What is Government and why do we have it? Government ­ a formally established way of making and  carrying out political decisions.  A means of controlling people through force within a  territory  Politics ­ the competition to shape government's impact on  society's problems and goals.  Who gets what, when, and how   The House of Representatives is the only thing the people vote for directly  II.   Why consent to be governed?  Why do we allow ourselves into this arrangement?  Government can do things for us   Without government we would exist in what some have  called “the state of nature”  What would life be like without government? Social contract theory can guide us here to some extent.  It's a  normative rather than empirical theory.    Solitary, nasty, brutish, and short  Normative ­ the way things ought to be Empirical ­ the way things actually are It is not a written contract, but rather, a general agreement between the people and their government.   Each accepts certain obligations  The people agree to give up some of their liberties, and in  exchange, the government guarantees to protect what are called  “natural rights” (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness)  If the government is not protecting these rights they have a right to be overthrown     The contract derives from the assumption that government is  based on the consent of the governed  What purposes has government traditionally served?  What does  government do? a. Protecting life – physically protecting people, providing  national defense, maintaining law and order b. Protecting rights and liberties – protecting people’s rights  and civil liberties  c. Providing public goods – roads, schools, garbage pick up,  things that would be difficult to provide for ourselves  d. Promoting equality – tax codes, affirmative action  III. But these things may at times conflict.  Citizens disagree about which functions are most important and which functions should  be most vigorously enforced. Disagreements usually arise from differences in individual priorities,  and the way these priorities are organized is called a political  ideology  Political ideology ­ a coherent set of beliefs about how policies affect  society and which policies are desirable.  In the US, we mainly think  of two: liberals and conservatives  Liberals Conservatives Populists Libertarians How do we tell them apart? Social Issues Control Conservative  Populist Freedom Libertarian Liberal Freedom Control Economic Issues  Not all issues work   These are tendencies, not rules  Not everybody cares about every issue  Requirements for Democracy I. Three factors listed in your text: Popular Sovereignty – people are the ultimate source of all  public authority. Political Equality –each person carries the same weight in  voting and other political decision making. Political Liberty – freedoms of speech, press, religion,  assembly, etc. are essential for democracy to work. Focus on Popular Sovereignty – what seven conditions are  important? ***in the textbook  1. Government policies reflect the wishes of the people.  Do the people know best? Should elected  representatives act as delegates or trustees?  Delegates: do what the people want (democratic  ideal)  Trustees: do what they think is best  (republicanism)  2. Government leaders are elected.  3. Elections are free and fair.  Everyone can vote  Everyone can run for office   Votes are accurately counted  4. People participate in the Political Process.  Should everyone participate? How many? Is  widespread participation necessary? Should we  have requirements for voting?   5. High­Quality Information is available.   Do citizens need to be well informed to  participate? Are they?  6. The majority rules  7. Government Policies are Effective  The Policy Process:  An overview of the course People:  Problems  Issues  Concerns  Linkage Processes:  Elections   Polls  Lobbying Linkage Institutions:  Political parties  Media  Government:  Congress  President   Courts Policies:  Taxes 


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