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Unit I: Constitutional Underpinnings of U.S. Government

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1 Unit I: Constitutional Underpinnings of U.S. Government
Chapters 1-3

2 Chapter 1: The Study of American Government
“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”  - James Madison

3 Key Questions Who governs?
~How is political power actually distributed in America? To what ends? ~What values matter most in American democracy? ~Are trade-offs among political values inevitable?

4 Politics and Government
Politics: the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government “Who gets what when and how.” Laswell Government: institution in which decisions are made that resolve conflicts or allocate benefits and privileges

5 Why is government necessary?
To Maintain Order: Maintaining peace and security by protecting members of society from violence and criminal activity is the oldest purpose of government. To Preserve Liberty: The greatest freedom of individuals that is consistent with the freedom of other individuals in the society; can be promoted by government.

6 What is political power?
Definition- the ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person’s intentions. (Ex.) Increasing extension of power into everyday “private” issues (Ex.) ~FDA ~New Deal ~Patriot Act

7 Authority and Legitimacy
Authority is the right to use power ~Formal authority refers to the notion that the right to exercise power is vested in government office. Legitimacy is political authority conferred by law or state/national constitution. ~In the United States political authority is perceived as legitimate if it conferred by the Constitution. ~Our history has been molded by a struggle over what constitutes legitimate authority.

8 Forms of Government Forms of Government Totalitarian Regime
Government controls all aspects of the political and social life of a nation. Authoritarian A type of regime in which only the government itself is fully controlled by the ruler. Social and economic institutions exist that are not under the government’s control. Aristocracy Rule by the “best”; in reality, rule by an upper class. Democracy A system of government in which political authority is vested in the people. Derived from the Greek words demos (“the people”) and kratos (“authority”).

9 Types of Democracy Direct or Participatory Democracy (Aristotelian “rule of the many”) A government in which all or most citizens participate directly. Fourth century B.C. Greek city-state (polis), most notably the Athenian Assembly, practiced direct democracy. Characterized by political equality, citizen participation, the rule of law, and free and open debate. Limitations were scale and exclusivity (free adult male property owners) New England town meeting most closely approximates the Aristotelian ideal Most have abandoned the town meeting style of government because of size and complexity. They have replaced it with representative government. Examples of direct democracy in America today: Initiative, Referendum, Recall

10 Types of Democracy (continued)
Representative Democracy or Elitist Democracy A government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote (economist Joseph Schumpter) Justified for two reasons: impractical for people to decide public policy and dangerous to allow people to make decisions on critical issues. The framers use the phrase “republican form of government” to mean representative democracy. For this system of government to work there must be competition for leadership. ~Individuals and parties can run for office ~Communication is free ~Voters perceive that there is a meaningful choice

11 Is Representative Democracy Best?
The Framers of the Constitution favored representative democracy because: The will of the people was not synonymous with the “common interest” or “public good”. The masses lacked knowledge and were susceptible to manipulation. It minimized the abuse of power by a popular majority or officeholders. Were the framers right?

12 How is political power distributed?
Majoritarian Politics Elected officials are the delegates of the majority of the people and act in accordance to their will. Applies when issues are simple and clear Elitism Rule by identifiable group of persons who possess a disproportionate share of political power. Occurs when circumstances do not permit majoritarian decision making.

13 Theories of Political Decision Making
Marxism Founded by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto(1848) Government is controlled by the dominant social class Power Elite Founded by C. Wright Wills in The Power Elite (1956) Power elite (corporate, military, political leaders…others?) control and are served by the government Bureaucratic Founded by Max Weber in Economy and Society(1922) Power is in the hands of appointed officials who are able to exercise power when deciding how public laws are turned into action Pluralist Bernard Berelson, Paul Lazarsfeld and William McPhee in Voting (1954) Competition among all affected interests shapes public policy. System is to complex to be controlled by one group within or outside of government.

14 Is democracy driven by self-interest ? Individual vs. Common Good
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes (Social Contract Theory) Humans are reasonable creatures who can use reason t to improve their own social existence Humans are self-interested Political society exists to allow for prosperity Alexis de Toqueville Americans often act spontaneously and on behalf of the disinterested. Honor principle Locke’s Key Principles “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ~ Alexis de Toqueville

15 “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which treats everyone equally…Being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, or possessions.” -John Locke

16  “The old traditions are apt to lead men into mistakes, as this idea of fatherly power’s probably has done, which seems so eager to place the power of parents over their children wholly in the father, as if the mother has no share in it. Whereas if we consult reason or the Bible, we shall find she has an equal title.” -John Locke

17 “Whensoever the government shall put into the hands of any other an absolute power over the lives, liberty, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust they forfeit the power of the people…who have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of the new government provide for their own safety and security.” -John Locke

18 Chapter 2 The Constitution

19 Key Questions Who governs? ~What is the difference between a democracy and a republic? ~What branch of government has the greatest power? To what ends? ~Does the Constitution tell us what goals the government should serve? ~Whose freedom does the Constitution protect?

20 The Problems of Liberty
Colonists were focused on individual liberty The right to bring legal cases before independent judges The right to not have troops in their homes The right to trade without restrictions The right to pay no tax that was levied without direct representation The colonial mind Believed men sought power because they are ambitious, greedy and easily corrupted Believed in a higher law that embodied natural rights (life, liberty and property) Declaration of Independence was designed to inform George III of ways that their unalienable rights were being violated. The list of 27 grievances was aimed at protecting the colonists rights as British citizens.

21 Problems (continued) The “Real” Revolution The real revolution was the “radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people” (John Adams) as it relates to legitimate authority and liberty. Government exists by the consent of the governed, not by the will of a king Political power can only be granted by a written constitution Human liberty exists prior to government and government must respect liberty Legislative branch would be superior to the executive branch because it directly represents the people.

22 Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation
Problems(continued) Weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation Could not levy taxes or regulate commerce Sovereignty retained by the states One vote in Congress for each state 9/13 states required for any measure in Congress Army was small and dependent on state militias Territorial disputes between states led to hostility No national judicial system All 13 states needed for any amendments Problems (continued)

23 -- Thomas Jefferson in response to the rebellion
Shay's Rebellion "What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is the natural manure.“ -- Thomas Jefferson in response to the rebellion

24 The Constitutional Convention May 25 – September 17, 1787 Philadelphia, PA
Delegates- 74 appointed, 55 attended Purpose- Revise the Articles of Confederation Absent-Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Patrick Henry Convention president- George Washington Critical question- How could the government be strong enough to preserve order but not threaten liberty?

25 Key Challenges Plan Key Points
The Virginia Plan James Madison Strong national government organized into three branches Bicameral legislature (one by the people, one by the other house) Executive (1 term) and judiciary (life) chosen by the legislature National legislature had supreme power The New Jersey Plan William Paterson Created for fear that legislative representation would be based on population , allowing more populated states more power Amend, not replace the Articles of Confederation Proposed one vote per state, so that Congress would be responsible to states. Congress could raise revenue and regulate commerce; acts of the Congress would be binding to the states Protected small states’ interests while expanding the role of the national government The Great Compromise or the Connecticut Compromise Oliver Ellsworth House of Representatives based on population and elected directly by the people (65 members) Senate composed of two members from each state and elected by state legislatures Legislation had to be approved by both chambers, so it reconciled interests of large and small states

26 A New Constitution is Approved September 17, 1787
Ben Franklin’s Speech Ratification Process Delaware- December 7, 1787 Pennsylvania - December 12, 1787 New Jersey - December 18, 1787 Georgia - January 2, 1788 Connecticut - January 9, 1788 Massachusetts - February 6, 1788 Maryland - April 28, 1788 South Carolina - May 23, 1788 New Hampshire - June 21, 1788 Virginia - June 25, 1788 New York - July 26, 1788 North Carolina - November 21, 1789 Rhode Island - May 29, 1790 Debating Ratification: Federalists v. Antifederalists

27 Why were the Bill of Rights not included in the Constitution?
The Constitution included liberties before the addition of the Bill of Rights Writ of habeas corpus may not be suspended No bill of attainder or ex post facto law may be passed by Congress or states Right of trial by jury guaranteed No religious test for federal office No law impairing contractual obligations Most states already had their own bill of rights Framers believed that they were creating a government with limited powers

28 A Need for a Bill of Rights
Framers soon realized that the Constitution would not be ratified by large states without a promise that a Bill of Rights would soon be added. After the ratification of all 13 states, Madison introduced a set of proposals for the Bill of Rights to Congress. Twelve were approved by the Congress and ten were ratified by the states. Regulation on the number of representatives No law varying the compensation of Senators and Representatives during a term The Bill of Rights went into effect in 1791. Originally these amendments did not limit state power over citizens, only federal power.

29 Constitution Overview
Article I- Legislative Branch Article II- Executive Branch Article III- Judicial Branch Article IV- Full faith and credit, new states Article V- Amendment process Article VI-Supremacy clause, oath of office, no religious test Article VII- Ratification process

30 The Constitution and Democracy
Framers had no intent of creating a pure or direct democracy. Lack of minority rights, popular passions, time and distance Created a representative democracy House elected directly by the people Senate elected by state legislatures (17th amendment) President elected by the electoral college Amendment process difficult


32 Informal Methods of Constitutional Change
Congressional Legislation Presidential Actions Custom and Usage Judicial Review Marbury v. Madison (1803)

33 Constitutional Reform: Modern Views Is the federal government too weak or too strong?
Reducing the separation of powers Making the system less democratic Reduce the power of the court

34 Key Principles Enumerated powers Reserved powers Concurrent powers
Separation of Powers- political power is divided by three separate branches of government Checks and Balances- political power in the branches of government is restrained by other branches Federalism- government authority is divided between the federal and state governments Under these principles, government powers are divided into three broad categories: Enumerated powers Reserved powers Concurrent powers “The different governments will control each other, at the same time each will be controlled by itself.” James Madison

35 Separation of Powers The Founders extended the limits on the power of the government by further dividing its powers. Government Power Judicial Legislative Executive

36 Checks and Balances The system of check and balances extends the restrictions established by the separation of powers. Each branch of government has the built-in authority and responsibility to restrain the power of the other two branches. This system makes government less efficient, but also prevents tyranny by one branch. (p.29)

37 Basic Principles

38 The Constitution and Slavery
Black slaves made up 1/3 of the population in 5 of the Southern states. Framers could not have ended slavery and ratified the Constitution. The “Greatest Compromise” Representatives determined by 3/5 of slave population No law to prohibit/limit slave trade until 1808 Return of fugitive slaves to owners

39 Chapter 3: Federalism State Balance of Power Federal

40 Theories of Federalism
Dual Federalism Cooperative Federalism Main Elements Necessary and proper clause should be narrowly defined…enumerated powers only National government powers are purposefully limited by the Constitution Nation and states are sovereign in their spheres National and state agencies work together State and nation routinely share power Power in not concentrated in any government level or agency Critical Difference Narrow interpretation of elastic clause and states’ rights Broad interpretation of necessary and proper clause and the 10th amendment Ideological alignment Conservative Liberal

41 The Dynamics of Federalism: Legal Sanctions and Financial Incentives
The balance of power between the nation and the states has always been political. Over time the power has shifted from the states to the national government for two key reasons: Historical circumstances (i.e. Civil War, New Deal, Desegregation , War on Poverty) Constitutional Amendments (Fourteenth and Sixteenth) Other considerations: 1. Federal Mandates 2. Grants-in-Aid (Categorical and Block Grants) 3. Judicial Interpretation

42 Developing the concept of Federalism
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) New Deal Desegregation War on Poverty Nixon’s New Federalism Reagan and Bush

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