Government 103, Week 1 Notes
Government 103, Week 1 Notes 103
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This 15 page Class Notes was uploaded by jeremiahmgarland98 Notetaker on Friday September 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 103 at Towson University taught by John McTauge in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Towson University.
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Date Created: 09/09/16
I. Power & Citizenship in American Politics A. What Is Politics? a. A peaceful means for determining who gets power and influence in society. b. Laswell defined politics as “who gets what, when, and how.” (pg. 4) ● Politics a process of determining how power and resources are distributed in a society without recourse to violence; a process or an activity through which power and resources are gained and lost. c. Power is the ability to get other people to do what you want them to do. The resources in question here might be government jobs, tax revenues, laws that help you get your way, or public policies that work to your advantage. (pg. 4) d. Politics is the process through which we try to arrange our collective lives in some kind of social order so that we can live without crashing into each other at every turn, provide ourselves with goods and services we could not obtain alone, and maximize the values and behaviors we think are important. (pg. 4) ● Social order the way we organize and live our collective lives e. Because politics is about power and resources, there will always be winners and losers. If we could always get our way, politics would disappear. It is because we cannot always get what we want that politics exists. f. Because there are many potential theories about how to manage power who should have it, how it should be used, how it should be transferred agreement on which principles are legitimate, or accepted as “right,” can break down. (pg. 4) B. Politics and Government a. Although the words politics and government are sometimes used interchangeably, they really refer to different things. b. Government, on the other hand, is a system or organization for exercising authority over a body of people. (pg. 5) c. American politics is what happens in the halls of Congress, on the campaign trail, at Washington cocktail parties, and in neighborhood association meetings. It is the making of promises, deals, and laws. (pg. 5) d. American government is the Constitution and the institutions set up by the Constitution for the exercise of authority by the American people, over the American people. e. Authority is power the citizens view as legitimate or “right”power to which we have implicitly consented. (pg. 5) C. Rules and Institutions a. Government is shaped by the process of politics, but it in turn provides the rules and institutions that shape the way politics continues to operate. The rules and institutions of government have a profound effect on how power is distributed and who wins and loses in the political arena. b. Rules can be thought of as the how, in the definition “who gets what, and how.” (pg. 6) ● Rules derivatives that specify how resources will be distributed or what procedures govern collective activity c. The point of rules is to provide us with a framework for solvingwithout violencethe problems generated by our collective lives. d. We can think of institutions as the where of the political struggle, though Lasswell didn’t include a “where” component in his definition. (pg. 6) ● Institutions organizations in which governmental power is exercised. e. These complicated systems of rules and institutions do not appear out of thin air. They are carefully designed by the founders of different systems to create the kinds of society to be winners. D. Politics and Economics a. Whereas politics is concerned with the distribution of power and resources in society, economics is concerned specifically with the production and distribution of society’s wealthmaterial goods like bread, toothpaste, and housingand services like care, education, and entertainment. (pg. 6) E. Capitalism a. The economic system most familiar to Americans is capitalism. In a pure capitalistic economy, all the means that are used to produce material resources (industry, business, and land, for instance) are privately owned, and decisions about production and distribution are left to individuals operating through the freemarket process. (pg. 7) ● Capitalistic economy an economic system in which the market determines production, distribution, and price decisions, and property is privately owned. b. Like most other countries today, the United States has a system of regulated capitalism. It maintains a capitalist economy and individual freedom from government interference remains the norm, but it allows the government to step in and regulate the economy to guarantee individual rights and to provide procedural guarantees that the rules will work smoothly and fairly. (pg. 8) ● Regulated capitalism a market system in which the government intervenes to protect rights and make procedural guarantees ● Procedural guarantees government assurance that the rules will work smoothly and treat everyone fairly, with no promise of particular outcomes. c. Markets have cycles: periods of growth are often followed by periods of slowdowns or recession. Individuals and businesses look to government for protection from these cyclical effects. d. Government may also act act to ensure the safety of the consumer public and of working people, or to encourage fair business practices (like prevention of monopolies), or to provide goods and services that people have no incentive to produce themselves. D. Socialism a. In a socialistic economy like that of the former Soviet Union (based loosely on the ideas of German economist Karl Marx), economic decisions are made not what society needs. Instead of allowing the market to determine the proper distribution of material resources, politicians decide what the distribution ought to be and then create economic policy to bring about that outcome. (pg. 8) ● Socialistic economy an economic system in which the state determines production, distribution, and price decisions and property is government owned. b. In other words, they emphasize not procedural guarantees of fair rules and process, but rather substantive guarantees of what they believe to be fair outcomes (p.8) ● Substantive guarantees government assurance of particular outcomes or results c. According to the basic values of socialist or communist system, (although some theoretical differences exist between the two, they are similar for our purposes here), it is unjust for some people to own more property than others and to have power over them because of it. Consequently, the theory goes, the state or societynot corporations or individualsshould own the property (like land, factories, and corporations). d. Many theories hold that socialism is possible only after a revolution that thoroughly overthrows the old system to make way for new values and institutions. E. Social Democracy a. Some countries in Western Europe, especially the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, have developed hybrid economic systems. b. Primarily capitalist, in that they believe most property can be privately held, proponents of social democracy nonetheless argue that the values of equality promoted by socialism are attractive and can be brought about by democratic reform rather than revolution. (pg. 9) ● Social democracy a hybrid system combining a capitalist economy and a government that supports equality. F. Political Systems and the Concept of Citizenship a. Just as there are different kinds of economic systems, there are different sorts of political systems, based on different ideas about who should have power and what the social order should bethat is, how much public regulation there should be over individual behavior. b. The first type of system, called authoritarian government, potentially has total power over its subjects; the second type, nonauthoritarian government, permits citizens to limit the state’s power by claiming rights that the government must protect. G. Authoritarian Systems a. Authoritarian governments give ultimate power to the state rather than to the people to decide how they ought to live their lives. By authoritarian government, we usually mean those in which the people cannot effectively claim rights against the state; where the state chooses to exercise its power, the people have no choice but to submit to its will. (pg. 11) ● Authoritarian government(s) system(s) in which the state holds all power over the social order b. Authoritarian governments can take various forms: sovereignty can be vested in an individual (dictatorship or monarchy), in God (theocracy), in the state itself (fascism), or in a ruling class (oligarchy). c. When a system combines an authoritarian government with a socialist economy, we say that the system is totalitarian. (pg. 11) ● Totalitarian a system in which absolute power is exercised over every aspect of life. d. An authoritarian state may also limit its own power. In such cases, it may deny individuals rights in those spheres where it chooses to act, but it may leave large areas of society, such as a capitalist economy, free from governmental interference. ● Authoritarian capitalism a system in which the state allows people economic freedom, but maintains stringent social regulations to limit noneconomic behavior. (pg. 11) H. Democracy and Nonauthoritarian Systems a. In nonauthoritarian systems, ultimate power rests with the individuals to make decisions concerning their lives. The most extreme form of nonauthoritarianism is called anarchy. (pg. 11) ● Anarchy the absence of government and laws b. People advocate anarchy because they value the freedom to do whatever they want more than they value the order and security that governments provide by forbidding or regulating certain kinds of behavior. c. A less extreme form of nonauthoritarian government, and one much more familiar to us, is democracy. (pg. 13) ● Democracy government that vests power in the people d. In democracies, government is not external to the people, as it is an authoritarian systems; in a fundamental sense, government is the people. e. Although they generally make decisions through some sort of majority rule, democracies still provide procedural guarantees to preserve individual rightsusually protections of due process and minority rights. f. Democracies are based on the principle of popular sovereignty; that is, there is no power higher than the people and, in the United States, the document establishing their authorities, the Constitution. (pg. 14) ● Popular sovereignty the concept that the citizens are the ultimate source of power g. Theorists of elite democracy propose that the democracy is merely a system of choosing among competing leaders; for the average citizen input ends after the leader is chosen. (pg. 14) ● Elite democracy a theory of democracy that limits the citizens’ role to choosing among competing leaders. h. Advocates of pluralist democracy argue that what is important is not so much individual participation but membership in groups that participate in government decision making on their members’ behalf, such as labor unions, professional associations, and environmental or business groups. (pg. 14) ● Pluralist democracy a theory of democracy that hold that citizen membership in groups is the key to political power. i. Supporter of participatory democracy claim that more than consent or majority rule in making governmental decisions is needed. Individuals have the right to control all the circumstances of their lives, and direct democratic participation should take place not only in government but in industry, education, and community affairs as well. (pg. 14) ● Participatory democracy a theory of democracy that holds that citizens should actively and directly control all aspects of their lives. j. Most democratic forms of government, because of their commitment to procedural values, practice a capitalist form of economics. Fledgling democracies may rely on a high degree of government economic regulation, but advanced industrial democracies combine a considerable amount of personal freedom with a freemarket (though still usually regulated) economy. (pg. 14) ● Advanced industrial democracies a system in which a democratic government allows citizens a considerable amount of personal freedom and maintains a free market (though still usually regulated economy). k. The economist Karl Marx believed that radical democracy would coexist with communally owned property, in a form of communist democracy, but such a system has never existed, and most realworld systems fall somewhere along the horizontal continuum. (pg. 15) ● Communist democracy a utopian system in which property is communally owned and all decisions are made democratically. I. The Role of the People a. In authoritarian systems, the people are subjects of their government. They possess no rights that protect them from that government; they must do whatever the government says or face its consequences, without any other recourse. (pg. 15) ● subjects individuals who are obligated to submit to a government authority against which they have no rights. b. Everyday people in democratic systems have a potentially powerful role to play. They are more than mere subjects; they are citizens, or members of a political community with rights as well as obligations. (pg. 15) ● Citizens members of a political community having both rights and responsibilities c. In democratic systems, the rules of government can provide for all sorts of different roles for citizens. At a minimum, citizens can usually vote in periodic and free elections. d. Theoretically, democracies are ruled by “the people,” but different democracies have at time been very selective about whom they count as citizens. e. Citizens in democratic systems are said to possess certain rights, or areas where government cannot infringe on their freedom. Just what these rights are varies in different democracies, but they usually include freedom of speech and the press, the right to assemble, and certain legal protections guaranteeing fair treatment in the criminal justice system. f. Citizens of democracies also possess obligations or responsibilities to the public realm. They have the obligation to obey the law, for instance, once they have consented to the government (even if that consent amounts only to not leaving). g. When people decided they are better off with government than without it, they enter into social contract, giving up some of those rights in exchange for the protection of the rest of their rights by a government established by the majority. (pg. 16) ● Social contract the notion that society is based on an agreement between government and the governed in which people agree to give up some rights in exchange for the protection of others. J. The Dangers of Democracy a. Enthusiastic popular participation under the government established by the Articles of Confederationthe document that ties the colonies together before the Constitution was draftedalmost ended the new government before it began. b. A republic differs from a democracy mainly in that it employs representation and can work in a large state. Most theorists agree that democracy is impossible in practice if there are a lot of citizens and all have to be heard from. (pg. 17) ● Republic a government in which decisions are made through representatives of the people K. Competing Views of Society a. The notion of citizenship that emerges from Madison’s writings is not a very flattering one for the Average American, and it is important to note that it is not the only ideal of citizenship in the American political tradition. b. When democratic rules that relied on the virtue, or public interestedness, of the American citizen were put into effort, however, especially in the days immediately after independence, these expectations seemed to be just as self interested as the British had been. L. Who is a Citizen and Who is Not? a. Citizenship is not just a normative conceptthat is, a prescription for how governments ought to treat residents and how these residents ought to act. It is also very precise legal status. b. If you are born in any of the fifty states, in the District of Columbia , or in most of the American’s overseas territories, such as Puerto Rico or Guam, you are an American citizen, whether your parents are Americans or not. c. The United States, since before its birth has to be attractive to immigrants, people who are citizens or subjects of another country who come here to live and work. (pg. 19) d. If immigrants come here legally on permanent resident visasthat is, if they follow the rules and regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)they may be eligible to apply for citizenship through a process called naturalization. (pg. 19) ● Naturalization the legal process of acquiring citizenship for someone who has not acquired it by birth e. Not everyone who feels threatened is given legal refugee status, however; the USCIS requires that the fear of persecution be “well founded,” and it is itself the final judge of a wellfounded fear. (pg. 20) ● Refugee individuals who flee an area or country because of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, group membership, or political opinion. M. American Political Culture: Ideas that Unite Us a. Political culture refers to the general political orientation or disposition of a nationthe shared values and beliefs about the nature of the political world that give us a common language in which to discuss and debate political ideas (pg. 21) ● Political culture the broad pattern of ideas, beliefs, and values about citizens and government held by a population b. Values are ideals or principles that most people agree are important, even though they may disagree on exactly how the valuesuch as “equality” or “freedom”ought to be defined. (pg. 21) ● Values central ideas, principles, or standards that most people agree are important c. Normative statements aren’t true or false but depend on their worth on the arguments that are made to back them up. (pg. 21) ● normative describes beliefs or values about how things should be or what people ought to do rather than what actually is. d. In American political culture, our expectations of government focus on rules and processes rather than on results. e. Our insistence on fair rules is the same emphasis on the procedural guarantee we saw in our earlier discussion of capitalism, whereas the belief in the primacy of the individual citizen is called individualism. (pg. 22) ● Individualism belief that what is good for society is based on what is good for individuals f. The individualistic nature of American political culture means that individuals, not government or society, are seen as responsible for their own well being. This notion contrasts with a collectivist social democratic point of view, which holds that what is good for society may not be the same as what is in the interest of individuals. g. We can see our American procedural and individualistic perspective when we examine the different meanings of three core American values: democracy, freedom, and equality. h. Democracy in America, as we have seen, means representative democracy, based on consent and majority rule. Basically, American democracy is a procedure for making political decisions, for choosing political leaders, and for selecting policies for a nation. (pg. 22) i. Americans also put a very high premium on the value of freedom, defined as freedom for the individual from restraint of the state. This view of freedom is procedural in the sense that it holds that no unfair restrictions should be put in the way of your pursuit of what you want, but it does not guarantee you any help in achieving those things. (pg. 23) j. A third central value in American political culture is equality. For Americans, equality is valued not because we want individuals to be the same but because we want them to be treated the same. (pg. 23) N. American Ideologies: Ideas That Divide Us a. Most Americans are united in their commitment to proceduralism and individualism at some level, and to the key values of democracy, freedom, and equality, but a lot of room remains for disagreement on other ideas and issues. b. The sets of beliefs and opinions about politics, the economy, and society that help people make sense of their world, and that can divide them into opposing camps are called ideologies. (pg. 24) ● Ideologies sets of beliefs about politics and society that help people make sense of their world c. In general terms, conservatives tend to be in favor of traditional social values, distrust government action except in matters of national security, are slow to advocate change, and place a priority on the maintenance of social order. (pg. 24) ● Conservatives an ideology generally favoring limited government and cautious about change. d. Liberals, in contrast, value the possibilities of progress and change, trust government, look for innovations as answers to social problems, and focus on the expansion of individual rights and expression. (pg. 25) ● Liberals an ideology generally favoring government action and viewing change as progress. e. While few people in the United States want to go so far as to allow government to make all moral and political decisions for its subjects, there are some who hold that it is the government’s job to create and protect a preferred social order, although visions of what the preferred order should be may differ. f. For instance, economic liberals, who are willing to allow government to make substantive decisions about the economy, tend to embrace the top procedural individualistic position on the social order dimension, and so they fall into the upperleft quadrant of the figure. (pg. 25) ● Economic liberals those who favor an expanded government role in the economy but a limited role in the social order. g. Economic conservatives share their counterparts reluctance to allow government interference in people’s private lines, but they combine this with a conviction that government should limit involvement in the economy as well. (pg. 26) h. The most extreme holders of economic conservative views are called libertarians, people who believe that only minimal government action in any sphere is acceptable. (pg. 26) i. While they continue to want the freedom to make individual moral choices that economic liberals want, social liberals are happy to see some government action to realize a substantive vision of what society should look like. (pg. 26) j. The most extreme adherents of social liberalism are sometimes called communitarians for their strong commitment to a community based on radical equality of all people. (pg. 26) ● Communitarians those who favor a strong substantive government role in the economy and the social order to realize their vision of a community of equals k. To the right of them , and below economic conservatives on the figure, are social conservatives. These people share economic conservatives’ views on limited government involvement in the economy but with less force and perhaps for different reasons. (pg. 2628)
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