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American Political Culture Why are Americans different from other countries and each other? This presentation is the property of Dr. Kevin Parsneau for.

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Presentation on theme: "American Political Culture Why are Americans different from other countries and each other? This presentation is the property of Dr. Kevin Parsneau for."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Political Culture Why are Americans different from other countries and each other? This presentation is the property of Dr. Kevin Parsneau for use by him and his current students. No other person may use or reprint without his permission.

2 What is American political culture?

3 Important Questions about American Political Culture. What do we mean by political culture? What is American political culture and where did it come from? Is there an anti-democratic part of American democracy?

4 Political Culture Definition: Widely shared set of norms, beliefs and values concerning the relationship of citizens to their government. (McClosky and Zaller 1984)

5 Some Aspects of American Political Culture These aren’t as clear as they might seem and not everyone would make the same list. Liberty Individualism Distrust of Government Equality Popular Sovereignty Majority Rule with Minority Rights Positive Role for Government

6 Liberty We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Liberty as fewer limitations? laissez faire capitalism Taxation

7 American Culture, Taxes and Equality of Opportunity The Whiskey Rebellion (1791) in western Pennsylvania against a tax on whiskey to pay for debt.

8 Individualism

9 Equality Equality of outcomes vs. equality of opportunity What is the government’s role in guaranteeing equality?

10 Equality Equality of Outcome Principle: A society’s commitment to equality is best measured by whether its citizens generally achieve equal levels of income. Equality of Opportunity Principle: A society’s commitment to equality is best measured by whether its citizens generally have the same opportunities to achieve income.

11 Popular Sovereignty “We the People of the United States…” Popular sovereignty is the theory that government’s legitimacy and right to rule is based upon the consent of the governed, and government should serve the people.

12 Majority Rule w/ Minority Rights Elections where the majority selects the representatives who have legal authority With limitations upon their authority The majority is frequently unhappy with the limits?

13 Majority Rule w/ Minority Rights “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

14 Positive Role for Government? We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

15 Sources of American Political Culture 1. England: “Glorious Revolution" (1689) 2. Classical Liberal Philosophers 3. Iroquois Confederacy 4. History on the continent

16 Glorious Revolution In the Glorious Revolution in England, parliament and its supporters overthrew King James II and ended absolute monarchy by imposing a Bill of Rights and limiting the power of the new monarchy (William and Mary).

17 Some Thoughts Our culture includes support for some positive ideals. Liberty, individualism, equality, popular sovereignty, majority rule with minority rights Sources Philosophers History and contact with Indigenous cultures Is there an anti-democratic part of American democracy? Distrust of democracy Slavery


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