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Date Created: 04/04/16
Carly Eck PLS 102 Exam 1 Essay Questions (1) Fiorina and Abramowitz have very opposing views on whether or not American politics are polarized. Their opinions on polarization can easily be described using “top down” or “bottom up” terminology. Abramowitz’s beliefs reflect a “bottom up” formation. He argues that the general voting public is polarized in its beliefs; so much that there are states that can be considered ‘blue’ and/or ‘red’ based on the majority beliefs/voting history. He believes that polarization among the elites is directly influenced by the public—the people who voted them into office. A division in popular opinion on the bottom (public) leads to a larger divide on the top (elites). Abramowitz finds evidence to defend his claims in statistics surrounding key policy questions. He says that when you look the parties’ answers to questions on abortion, gay rights, etc. there is a great divide. The two parties’ responses to these policy issues tend to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum and, in turn, this acts as proof of major polarization. Another point he makes is that polarization is a benefit because it gets more of the general population interested, engaged, and involved in politics. Fiorina, on the other hand, believes that the general voting public is essentially moderate. His views can be described as “top down”. He states that because the political elites are so polarized in their beliefs, they leave voters with little to no moderate options to choose form. This forces voters to side with the party that they consider the lesser of two evils. He considers the public’s views closely but not deeply divided. He also thinks that there is little difference in ‘red’ and ‘blue’ state’s citizens’ policy views. Ultimately, he believes that because the elites (top) are polarized in their opinions, they force voters (bottom) to pick a side, but the general consensus on key policy issues is moderate. One thing that both Abramowitz and Fiorina agree on is that the polarization between parties is problematic in that it makes checks and balances difficult. There are many consequences that crop up when you have a group of powerful elites that are divided. (2) I think it is easiest to make sense of John Locke’s beliefs if you start with explaining the “state of nature”. The “state of nature” can be described as the natural instincts of people and Locke takes that idea and applies it to political power. One of the main points he makes is that the “state of nature” is centered on equality; no person has naturallyexisting power over others. He also believes that, put simply, every human has the ability to do whatever they want. In an ideal world, the “state of nature” would mean common welfare among everyone. Because things like “abuse” are not included in the idea of humans being able to do whatever they want, Locke then introduces the idea of “law of nature”. These are laws that serve to protect the right and punish the wrong to keep the “state of nature” in harmony. Locke says a few things about property in his Second Treatise. He says that land/nature leaves the realm of public property once a man labors to obtain this land. If a man stumbles upon pumpkins in a field, they become his property as soon as he picks them. His labor legitimates the pumpkins as his own individual property. He also believes that men can own/take as much property as they want, but are to only take as much property as they have use for/need. This is where the “law of nature” comes in to play. If a man has a family of five and he picks ten pumpkins, then he is in violation of the “law of nature”. Those extra five pumpkins will go uncarved/unused and ultimately go to waste. The “law of nature” virtually says that the man will only take five pumpkins for his family of five and leave the rest for whoever needs them. Reason is the “law of nature”.
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