POLI 1090, Week One & Two Notes
POLI 1090, Week One & Two Notes POLI 1090
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Liv Taylor on Friday August 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 1090 at Auburn University taught by Dr. Soren Jordan in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 147 views. For similar materials see American Government in Multicultural World in Social Science at Auburn University.
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Date Created: 08/26/16
August 16-26, 2016 (Week 1 & 2) Dr. Soren Jordan POLI 1090-004 ** Remember to also read the book and look over class PowerPoints! ** Introduction to Political Science What is politics? - A common definition is, “politics is who gets what, when and how,” but politics is also the means of how people try to manage conflict and the process through which people reach an agreement or find a solution. - Political science is literally the scientific study of politics, (theory testing, hypothesis, data, etc.) - Political science is not a history course on the facts of American government – it is systematically understanding it. It also answers a lot of questions that concern our every day lives. - How personality traits affect political participation. - What makes a winning political campaign? - Surveys are a good way to gather data, but there needs to be more because people lie on surveys all the time. For example, on surveys, 92% of people say they vote, when in actuality, only 60% of the eligible population does. - Political science is different than “hard” sciences because the basis of political science is people, and people are extremely unpredictable (unlike trees or cells). - Political science starts by creating theories (a statement of general beliefs that implies testable predictions). And they don’t always have to be complicated, for example, “economic voting” is the theory that people will vote for whoever makes it easier on their pockets. Rationality: - Rationality is when individuals act in their own self-interest and preferences and it underpins most political behavior. Politicians are very strategic and very seldom make irrational decisions. - Rationality is a utility maximizer. (Remember: Home Depot, Lowes scenario). - This idea applies to politicians trying to get votes: in order to capture the most voters, they will eventually converge to the median voter 1 (right?). But politicians don’t do this because a lot more factors than just location play a part. - To think about rationality, ask yourself: - Who will benefit from the outcomes? - And what can they do to achieve those outcomes? Irrationality, coordination & cooperation: - It is difficult for individuals and groups to cooperate and coordinate because of two primary reasons: 1.) Coordination issues - This means that people all want the same thing but it won’t be reached unless they organize themselves and get to work. 2.) Collective action problems - This means that there is a mutually beneficial outcome for all parties involved, but it won’t be reached because everyone has conflicting preferences. (Remember: Prisoner’s Dilemma) - The outcome of the Prisoner’s Dilemma could be avoided if interactions are repeated and if compliance is monitored over time. But both of these involve trust. - Collective action problems often occur with public goods (non- excludable and non-rivalrous, ex: national defense, clean roads, etc.) - Public goods are often hurt by the free-rider problem, which is the fact that people want to get something without anything for it in return. Also known as “tragedy of the commons” or even simpler, people taking advantage. - But there are solutions to free-rider problems: - Selective incentives: things that make people think that they are benefitting from it if they do a certain action. - Coercion: force - Participatory benefits: provide personal satisfaction for participation - Because politicians are predictably rational, you can’t trust your politician to do the right thing without the idea of institutions (rules of the game, constraints on politicians). The Founding of America - The most important institution: the Constitution. - We need to know the “frame of mind” of our Founders because it’s just as important as knowing about the institutions themselves. 2 - People are not reliable, especially when they’re rational. - What happens when people try to make decisions? Majority cycling. - Majority cycling is visualized as circles or indifference curves, if the option is inside your curve, you’ll vote “yes” and you’ll vote “no” if it is outside of it. - You’ll vote on what’s closest to your ideal point. - Majority rule: final decision goes with the majority. - Status quo: what’s already set in place. - Ideal point: exactly what you want. - Majority cycling consists of infinite times of trying to replace the status quo so long as people remain rational. It has no equilibrium. - This is a problem because we want stability in politics. - Agenda setting: if you give someone the power not to change preferences, but the power to change the order in which things are considered, you can still get what you want. More on institutions: - Institutions are stable political offices or structures that help structure individual action. They also set the rules for political interaction and they must be external, independent and durable. Authority must be assigned to the institution, not to a specific person, even though strategic politicians create them. - Some institutions are designed to favor specific groups, interests and values over others. - They are not inherently fair, but rather reflect the preferences of the decision maker. Example: the rules of Congress are not fair between majority and minority parties. - Institutions are more than just the branches of government. Some history - During the colonial period, different colonies attracted different kinds of people. - This idea of the freedom to chose where you belong lead to a great deal of self-government. So, colonies became very accustomed to freedom. - But then wars happened. So the British won the French and Indian War, but at a huge price. - Because of the national debt, the British pressed taxes and tariffs extremely hard on the colonies (the Great Squeeze) and they also took more of a direct control of the colonies’ government. 3 - Salutary neglect (laissez-faire) ends and laws are strictly enforced. So the colonies, used to relative freedom, hate this. They also have no direct means to change it because of the whole “no taxation without representation” thing. - Oppressive English control accelerates the spread of two trends: - Development of national identity - Debate over nature of government and representation - The colonies were unified by a common enemy and begin asking themselves what a government should actually look like, because they were tired of being oppressed but they also knew that life in a state of nature (anarchy) is “nasty, brutish and short,” according to Hobbes. - Then some colonists start thinking about John Locke’s Social Contract Theory between the people and their government. - It states that the people have to give away some of their freedoms and liberties in order to be protected by the government. But that there are natural rights that can never be taken away: life, liberty and property. - And governments that violate these natural rights lose their legitimacy. - The founders agreed on two big ideals of government - Elected and representative (not by divine right) - Limited - Limited government: has a specific purpose (security), small and has specified restrictions on what it can and cannot do, cannot infringe on the people’s natural rights, is accountable to the people and can be dissolved (revolutions). - The definition above is exactly what the Articles of Confederation was (written by the First Continental Congress and ratified in 1781). - A loose federation of states where the states held way more power than the country. - Features: - Decentralized system - National government with limited powers - Authority granted by states, not by individual citizens (states elect national officers and states can also override national decisions). - Therefore the states got to choose if they wanted to give money to the national government. And after 5 years, they only received 20% of the money they needed for 1 year. - It gave too much weight depending on people doing the right thing. 4 - Each state had 1 congressional vote regardless of population. - A “supermajority” or 2/3 vote was required to pass anything (so nothing was passed). - No federal court system. - Executive was a congressional administrator elected by Congress and had no real power. - Unanimous consent to tax citizens or change Articles. - Because states didn’t give money, there was a huge free-rider problem with national defense. - Difficulty of appointing effective administrative agencies and really just had difficulty in passing anything. - No national government supremacy - Congress couldn’t draft troops; rather, they relied on the states. - Example of a problem: in 1781, Rhode Island (2% of the population) vetoed a bill that all other states supported to give Congress the power to tax imports. - The main two issues? - The economy - Foreign relations - A depression occurred in the mid-1780s because of the large national debt due to war and inflation. Food prices fall, which causes huge issues for farmers (majority of population). States begin to discriminate against each other, but Congress as no authority to regulate trade between states. - States could make their own treaties and the national government didn’t have the resources to even if they were allowed to (example: Ohio River Valley Issue). - Change was pushed because of the terrible economy and the affect of Shays’ Rebellion (had to be put down with private money because the national government couldn’t even control the smallest of rebellions). - So they called the Constitutional Convention again in 1787 with 55 delegates mostly consisting of white, male landowners, the business and political elite and politically experienced and well educated. - They feared both anarchy and tyranny, wanted to improve national delivery of public goods, but also protect local interests. They tried to balance influences. - The Founders had a continental ideology, meaning they shared the same concerns. - Recognized that there was an issue with the Articles, but were trying to decide if there needed to be a big change, or just a revision of the status quo. 5 - There were 2 main factions at the Continental Congress: big states and small states. A new government: - James Madison was a strategic politician who utilized his abilities in agenda setting. - He formulates the Virginia Plan (in favor of big states) and gets George Washington on his side and also gets his friend to introduce it: - 3 branches - Bicameral legislature (lower chamber chosen by people, upper chamber chosen by lower chamber). - Based on state population - National legislature can make any law and veto any state legislature - Executive serves for one term (also voted in by N.L.) - Judges appointed for life by the N.L. - “Council of Revision” can veto legislation but N.L. can override veto with a majority vote. - The plan counteracting James Madison for the small states was called the New Jersey Plan - 3 branches - Unicameral legislature with one vote for each state - Group executive with no veto power (chosen by legislature) - Supreme judiciary with very limited power - Legislative has limited sphere of powers very similar to the Articles of Confederation, but does have the power to tax and regulate commerce, has supremacy over state legislature and legislation only requires a majority vote (instead of supermajority). - There were three main issues at the Convention: representation, executive and slavery - For representation, the Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise) was created because it balances both plans. - Bicameral legislature (House by population and Senate by a set number (2) for every state). th - Senators were not directly elected until 1913 by the 17 amendment. - For executive, they wanted a strong and independent executive who could act quickly where Congress could not. But they were also worried about oppression by a tyrant (King of England type deal). - Legislatures are a collective action problem! - They intended the president to have very limited power, especially in legislature. - But that’s not what the president looks like now because of Executive Orders (i.e. police actions, closing Guantanamo Bay, etc.) - Also known as de facto legislature 6 - In the Constitution, the emphasis isn’t equal, the first and of most importance is Congress, and then executive, and then last is judiciary. 7
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