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The Study of American Government Chapter 1 AP United States Government and Politics.

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1 The Study of American Government Chapter 1 AP United States Government and Politics

2 What is Government? What does the word government mean? Why is a government essential? What services should it provide? What services does it provide?

3 Division: A Source of “Politics” Why does politics exist? What two questions define it?

4 Who Governs? Who governs? What is done to us and for us may depend on who governs. Identifying who governs can be difficult. Competing views cannot all be correct.

5 To What Ends? Government affects our lives in many ways. This can be seen in larger, long perspectives.  1935 (Income Tax)  1960 (race)

6 Who governs does not necessarily determine to what ends.... You cannot always predict what goals government will establish knowing only who governs If we thought that how can you explain : Why the rich are taxed more heavily than the poor Why the War on Poverty was declared Why constitutional amendments giving rights to African Americans & women passed by large majorities Why other religions have been appointed to many governmental posts

7 Why Government Matters Based on a survey from historians and professors, the government’s top 10 post-1950 achievements: 1. Rebuilt Europe after WWII 2. Expanded the right to vote 3. Promoted equal access to public accommodations 4. Reduced disease 5. Reduced workplace discrimination 6. Ensured safe food & drinking water 7. Strengthened the nation’s highway system 8. Increased access to health care for older Americans 9. Reduced the federal budget deficit 10. Promoted financial security in retirement

8 What is Political Power? Power Authority Legitimacy

9 What is Political Power? Power definition Can be exercised in an obvious or subtle manner Examples Can be found in all human relationships Examples Recognition that, increasingly, matter once considered “private” are considered “public” Examples Then & Now

10 What is Political Power? Authority definition Normally easier to exercise power with a claim of right “Formal authority” when vested in a government office

11 What is Political Power? Legitimacy definition Historical struggles over what constitutes legitimate authority 2004 election & gay marriage Our sense of legitimacy is tied to the desire for democratic government 1787 Constitution Today

12 What is Democracy? Describe the meaning. What is the cartoonist’s message? Agree or disagree with the message? What does cartoon say about democracy?

13 American Democracy: Basic Ideals & Principles Popular Consent or Popular Sovereignty Respect for the Individual Equality of Opportunity Personal Liberty Rule of Law

14 What is Democracy? 1 st Definition Aristotelian “rule of the many” (direct or participatory democracy) 4 th century B.C. Greek city-state or polis New England town meeting Abandoned as size of towns increased and issues became more complex

15 What is Democracy? 2 nd Definition Acquisition of power by leaders via competitive elections (representative democracy) Joseph Schumpeter Sometimes disapprovingly referred to as elitist theory Justifications of representative democracy Direct democracy can be impractical The people are affected by passions and demagogues Demagogues- A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace Concern about direct democracy today

16 Is Representative Democracy Best? The Constitution does not contain the word democracy but the phrase “republican form of government” Representative democracy requires genuine competition for leadership Individuals & parties must be able to run for office Communication must be free Voters must perceive meaningful choices And other important questions - with multiple answers - remain regarding the number of offices, how many officials (elected & appointed), the financing campaigns, etc.

17 Is Representative Democracy Best? Virtues of direct democracy can be reclaimed through Community control Citizen participation

18 Is Representative Democracy Best? Framers did not think the “will of people” was synonymous with the “common interest” or the “public good”. They strongly favored representative over direct democracy Government should mediate, not mirror, popular views Assumed citizens would have limited time, information, & interest Feared demagogues could easily manipulate fears & prejudices of the masses Preferred a slow moving government Framers’ Goal: representative democracy minimized chance that power would be abused by a popular majority or self-serving officeholders

19 Is Representative Democracy Best? But were the Framers right? Are their assumptions about direct democracy applicable today? Has representative democracy really protected minority rights and prevented politicians from using public offices for private gain? “So.... How Democratic Are We?”

20 How is Political Power Distributed? Scholars differ in their interpretations of history Focus on actual distribution of power within American representative democracy

21 How is Political Power Distributed? Variation in representative democracy Majoritarian politics Leaders constrained to follow wishes of the people very closely Applies when issues are simple, clear, & feasible Non-majoritarian (or Elite) politics Sometimes the opinion of the people is not known, or even consulted The shaping of policy detail probably reflects opinions of those who are more informed & motivated to participate The number of those who are informed & motivated is probably small They are probably not representative of the population as a whole Elites definition

22 Four Theories of Elite Influence Marxism: Government merely a reflection of underlying economic forces Marxists hold that in modern societies: Two economic classes contend for power – Capitalists (business owners or the “bourgeoise”) Workers (laborers or the “proletariat”). Which ever class dominates the economy also controls the government, which is, nothing more than a piece of machinery designed to express & give legal effect to underlying class interest. In the U.S. Marxist state capitalists (especially big business & multinational corporations in U.S.) have generally dominated the economy & government.

23 Four Theories of Elite Influence C. Wright Mills: Mid-20 th century American sociologist Power elite composed of corporate leaders, generals, & politicians Closely related to Marxism Coalition of 3 groups dominate politics & government Corporate leaders Top military officers Handful of elected officials Today, some add major communications media chiefs, top labor union officials, heads to special interest groups to his list

24 Four Theories of Elite Influence Max Weber: Founder of Sociology All institutions, governmental and nongovernmental, have fallen under the control of large bureaucracies bureaucracies based on expertise, specialized competence Capitalists or workers may come to power or coalitions of elites, but government they create and laws they enact will be dominated by bureaucrats who staff & operate the government on a daily basis Bureaucratic view definition Power not in hands of elected representatives, but in appointed officials or career government workers, who are invisible to the average citizen, who can exercise vast power by deciding how to translate public laws into administrative actions Government bureaucrats do not implement public policies, but effectively “make” policies that best suit their own ideas and interests

25 Four Theories of Elite Influence Pluralists: Power is widely dispersed & no single elite has monopoly on it Policies are the outline of bargaining, compromise and shifting alliances Suggests that big business, elites, bureaucrats may dominate but political resources (money, prestige, expertise, organizational position, access to mass media) are so widely scattered in American society that no single elite has monopoly on them Point out that in American governmental institutions in which power may be exercised (city, state, & federal), which includes mayors, managers, legislators, governors, presidents, judges, no single group could dominate the political process. All elites must bargain & compromise while being responsive to followers

26 Is Democracy Driven by Self Interest? Elite Theories & Cynicism All four theories suggest politics is a self-seeking enterprise Some important qualifications Policies may not be wholly self serving Alexis de Tocqueville ”Americans…are fond of explaining almost all the actions of their lives by the principle of self-interest rightly understood…In this respect I think they frequently fail to do themselves justice; for in the United States as well as elsewhere people are sometimes seen to give way to those disinterested and spontaneous impulses that are natural to man; but the Americans seldom admit that they yield to emotions of this kind; they are more anxious to do honor to their philosophy than to themselves.”

27 Is Democracy Driven by Self Interest? Democracy may be driven by other motives & desires September 11 & self-interest AFL-CIO & civil rights Some act against long odds & without the certainty of benefit

28 What Explains Political Change? Great shifts in character of government reflect change in elite or mass beliefs about what government is supposed to do Growth in federal power & subsequent attempts to cut back Variations in levels of interest in international affairs Politics about views of the public interest, not just who gets what If you were alive in 1861…

29 Nature of Politics The answer to “Who Governs?” is often partial, contingent, or controversial Preferences vary, and so does politics Politics cannot be equated with laws on the books Sweeping claims are to be avoided Judgments about institutions & interests should be tempered by how they behave on different issues The policy process can be an excellent barometer of change in who governs

30 “Democracy” in Quotes Free Response Question Read, interpret, and give your opinion of the ten “Democracy” in Quotes Choose one for which you have strong feelings and write a free response: A. Identify and explain your interpretation of the quote. B. Provide three examples of how American society portrays or disproves this ideal today.


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