Pol 1101: Government in America CH 6 Notes
Pol 1101: Government in America CH 6 Notes POL 1101 - GP
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Yesenia Rodriguez on Tuesday September 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POL 1101 - GP at Georgia Institute of Technology taught by Georgia A Persons (P) in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views.
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Date Created: 09/20/16
Ch 6 Public Opinion and Political Action Politics in Action: The Limits of Public Understanding of Health Care Reform The Affordable Care Act stands out as President Obama’s major legislative achievement. The Affordable Care Act provided for 3 things that were based on fact: (1) providing financial help for Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs to help them purchase coverage; (2) prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history; and (3) giving states the option of expanding their Medicaid program to cover more people with low incomes. America was founded on the principle of tolerating diversity and individualism, and it remains one of the most diverse countries in the world. The study of American public opinion aims to understand the distribution of the population’s beliefs about politics and policy issues. 6.1 The American People One way at looking at the American public is through demography – science of human populations. The most valuable tool for understanding demographic changes in America is the census. The information the census collects helps determine how more than $400 billion of federal funding each year is spent Communities that are usually undercounted in the census – primarily those with high concentrations of minorities, people with low incomes, and children – end up getting less from the government than they should. The Immigrant Society The United States has always been a nation of immigrants. Nation of nations There have been 3 great waves of immigration to the US: o Early and mid-19 century – immigrants were mainly northwestern Europeans (English, Irish, Germans, and Scandinavians) th th o Late 19 and early 20 centuries, southern and eastern Europeans (Italians, Jews, Poles, Russians) came through Ellis Island in New York o Since the 1960s, Hispanics (Cuba, Central America, and Mexico) and Asians (Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines) For the first century of U.S. history, America had an open door policy for anyone who wanted to come and fill up its vast unexplored territory. The first geographically based restrictions were imposed in 1882 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. The Johnson-Reid Immigration Act was passed in 1924, establishing official quotas for immigrants based on national origin. The Hart-Celler Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that these quotas were abolished. The American Melting Pot With its long history of immigration, the United States has often been called a melting pot, in which cultures, ideas, and peoples blend into one. As the 3 wave of immigration continues, policymakers have begun to speak of a new minority majority, meaning that America will eventually cease to have a non-Hispanic white majority. In recent years, minority populations have been growing at a much faster rate than the white non-Hispanic population. The projected increase are based on two trends that are likely to continue for decades to come. First immigration into the united states has been and will probably continue to be concentrated among Hispanics and Asian Americans. Second, birth rates have been consistently higher among minorities. The biggest African American political breakthrough of all occurred when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. An issue of particular relevance to the Hispanic community is that of illegal immigration. Whereas many Hispanics have come to America to escape poverty, the recent influx of Asians has involved substantial number of professional workers looking for a greater opportunity. Yet, regardless of ethnic background, Americans have a common political culture – an overall set of values widely shared within the society. The emergence of the minority majority is just one of several major demographic changes that are altering the face of American politics. In addition, the population has been moving and aging. The Regional Shift Demographic changes are associated with political changes. States gain or lose congressional representation as their populations changes, and thus power shifts as well. This reapportionment process occurs once a decade The Graying of America Nationwide, citizens over 65 are the fastest-growing age group in America. Social Security is structured as a pay-as-you-go system, which means that today’s workers’ pay the benefits for today’s retirees. The ratio will put tremendous pressure on the Social Security system People who have been promised benefits naturally expect to collect them, especially benefits for which they have made monthly contributions. 6.2 How Americans Learn about Politics: Political Socialization Political socialization – the process through which an individual acquires his or her particular political orientations- his or her knowledge, feelings, and evaluations regarding his or her political world. The Process of Political Socialization Americans do most of their political learning without teachers or classes. Instead the informal socialization process might be best described by words like pick up and absorb. The Family o the family’s role in socialization is central because of its monopoly on 2 crucial resources in the early years: time and emotional commitment. o Children often pick up their political leanings from the attitudes of their parents. o Research has demonstrated that one of the reasons for the long lasting impact of parental influence on political attitudes is simply genetics. The Mass Media o The mass media are the “new parent” according to many observers o TV displaces parents as the chief source of info as children age o Attribute the lack of political knowledge is the lack of media consumption School o Governments, often use schools to promote national loyalty and support for their basic values. o Helps ensure that youth would grow up to be supportive citizens o Most obvious intrusion of the government into Americans’ socialization o Better-educated citizens are more likely to vote in elections, they exhibit more knowledge about politics and public policy, and they are more tolerant of opposing opinions. Political Learning over a lifetime Political learning doesn’t end when one turns 18 or graduates from college. It is a lifelong activity Aging increases political participation as well as strength of party attachment. Political participation rises steadily with age until the infirmities of old age make it harder to participate. Politics, like most other things, is thus a learned behavior. Americans learn to vote, to pick a political party, to evaluate political events in the world around them. One of the products of all this learning is what is known as public opinion. 6.3 Measuring Public Opinion and Political Information Before examining the role that public opinion plays in American politics, it is essential to learn about the science of public opinion measurement. Polls provide these answers, but there is much skepticism about polls How Polls Are Conducted Polls rely on a sample of the population – a relatively small proportion of people who are chosen to represent the whole. The key to the accuracy of opinion polls is the technique of random sampling, which operates on the principle that everyone should have an equal probability of being selected as part of the sample. Remember that the science of polling involves estimation; a sample can represent the population with only a certain degree of confidence. The level of confidence is known as the sampling error, which depends on the size of the sample. In order to obtain results that will usually be within sampling error, researchers must follow proper sampling techniques. Accurate representation, not the number of responses, is the most important feature of a public opinion survey. Now most polling is done on the telephone with samples selected through random-digit dialing. It is easier to hang up than to slam a door in someone’s face. As with many other aspects of commerce in America, the future of polling may lie with the internet. The Role of Polls in American Democracy Polls help political candidates detect public preferences. Political leaders “track public opinion not to make policy but rather to determine how to craft their public presentations and win public support for the policies they and their supporters favor. Polls may weaken democracy – distort the election process by creating a bandwagon effect Voters support a candidate because others are doing so. Most criticized poll is the Election Day exit poll. The most pervasive criticism of polling is that by altering the wording of a question, pollsters can manipulate the results. What Polls Reveal About Americans’ Political Information No amount of Jeffersonian faith in the wisdom of the common people can erase the act that Americans are not well informed about politics. Although people may not know the ins and outs of most policy questions, some base their political behavior on knowledge of just one issue that they really care about. Others will rely on information regarding which groups are for and against a proposal, siding with groups they trust the most. The Decline of Trust in Government In the late 1960s, researchers started to see a drop in public trust in government. First Vietnam and then Watergate shook people’s confidence in the federal government. Came back a little after the events of September 11. 6.4 What Americans Value: Political Ideologies A coherent set of values and beliefs about public policy is a political ideology. Who Are the Liberals and Conservatives? More Americans choose the ideological label if conservative over liberal. The younger the individual the less likely it is to be a conservative The fact that younger people are also less likely to vote means that conservatives are overrepresented at the polls. Women are less conservative than men Gender gap, a regular pattern in which women are more likely to support Democratic candidates. Religion influences political ideology greatly Those who don’t have an religious affiliation are more liberal than conservative. Do People Think in Ideological Terms? Public is divide into 4 groups, according to ideological sophistication. In the news one hears that Americans are divided on fundamental political issues (the liberal blue state vs. the conservative red states) 6.5 How Americans Participate in Politics Political participation – the activities in which citizens engage to influence the selection of political leaders or policies. US values political participation Conventional Participation Conventional participation – widely accepted modes of influencing government – voting, trying to persuade others, ringing doorbells for a petition, running for office Unconventional participation includes activities that are often dramatic, such as protesting, civil disobedience, and even violence. Voting only activity that majority of population engaging in, also on decline in participation. Protest as Participation Protest is a form of political participation designed to achieve policy change through dramatic and unconventional tactics. Individuals and groups have sometimes used civil disobedience as a form of protest; that is, they have consciously broken a law they thought was unjust. Sometimes political participation can be violent. Americans are more likely to employ conventional political participation – contacting politicians and/or governmental officials – than they are to engage in protests. Class, Inequality, and Participation Rates of political participation are unequal among Americans. People with higher incomes and levels of education are not only more likely to donate money to campaigns but also participate in other ways that do not require financial resources, such as contacting government officials and signing petitions. Who gets what in politics therefore depends in part on who participates. 6.6 Understanding Public Opinion and Political Action The average person is not very well informed about the political issues, including the crucial issue of the scope of government Public Attitudes Toward the Scope of Government Central to the ideology of the Republican Party is the belief that the scope of government has become too wide. Democracy, Public Opinion, and Political Action American democracy is representative rather than direct.
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