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American Political Culture A Replacement Discussion for James Q. Wilson’s Chapter 4 – yes I’m justifying a power point!

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Presentation on theme: "American Political Culture A Replacement Discussion for James Q. Wilson’s Chapter 4 – yes I’m justifying a power point!"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Political Culture A Replacement Discussion for James Q. Wilson’s Chapter 4 – yes I’m justifying a power point!

2 Political Culture Definition: a distinct and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out Definition: a distinct and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out Great – what does that mean? Great – what does that mean?

3 Culture v. Ideology Culture Culture The fundamental assumptions that Americans tend to show agreement with The fundamental assumptions that Americans tend to show agreement with Helps to make our system distinct from other systems Helps to make our system distinct from other systems Impossible to replicate Impossible to replicate Ideology Ideology A coherent (??) set of values and beliefs about public policy Core political and economic values that separate us within a system Can unite across national boundaries

4 Culture vs. Ideology Culture Culture WE believe in the concepts of… WE believe in the concepts of… Liberty Liberty Equality Equality Democracy Democracy Civic Duty Civic Duty Individual Responsibility Individual Responsibility Rule by Law Rule by Law Ideology Ideology We disagree on the degree of… Liberty Equality Democracy Civic Duty Individual Responsibility Rule by Law

5 Liberty Americans are preoccupied with their rights. (C) Americans are preoccupied with their rights. (C) They believe they should be free to do pretty much as they please, with some exceptions, so long as they don’t hurt anybody. (C) They believe they should be free to do pretty much as they please, with some exceptions, so long as they don’t hurt anybody. (C) But how much liberty are we comfortable with? And how much will we demand? (I) But how much liberty are we comfortable with? And how much will we demand? (I)

6 Equality Americans believe “everybody” should have an equal vote and an equal chance to participate and succeed. (C) Americans believe “everybody” should have an equal vote and an equal chance to participate and succeed. (C) Or at least we claim to! (C or I?) Or at least we claim to! (C or I?) But how much equality will we demand? (I) But how much equality will we demand? (I)

7 Democracy Americans believe that government officials should be accountable to the people. (C) Americans believe that government officials should be accountable to the people. (C) Unless the politicians are listening to the other side?! (I) Unless the politicians are listening to the other side?! (I)

8 Civic Duty Americans generally feel people ought to take community affairs seriously and help out when they can (C) Americans generally feel people ought to take community affairs seriously and help out when they can (C) We believe in voting, serving (military or community), paying taxes, jury duty, and charity (C) We believe in voting, serving (military or community), paying taxes, jury duty, and charity (C) BUT complain about it all! (except for charity - usually) BUT complain about it all! (except for charity - usually)

9 Individual Responsibility For the most part, Americans believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions and well-being. (C) For the most part, Americans believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions and well-being. (C) And each has a “safety net” concept they seem to adopt. (C) And each has a “safety net” concept they seem to adopt. (C) But some nets are large, others small, some have small holes, others want huge holes. (I) But some nets are large, others small, some have small holes, others want huge holes. (I)

10 Rule by Law Americans accept that our political system creates a system of laws that will be enforced by police and reinforced by courts and prisons. (C) Americans accept that our political system creates a system of laws that will be enforced by police and reinforced by courts and prisons. (C) Yet not all accept the system as just, fair, or even honest (I) Yet not all accept the system as just, fair, or even honest (I)

11 Cultural Conflicts Are there conflicts inherent in our culture? Are there conflicts inherent in our culture? Between the cultural values? Between the cultural values? Within the cultural values? Within the cultural values? Theory v. Reality Theory v. Reality Creed v. Behavior Creed v. Behavior Political v. Economic Political v. Economic Most argue that we simple have ideological differences within a unifying political culture – we agree to disagree in a system we accept. Most argue that we simple have ideological differences within a unifying political culture – we agree to disagree in a system we accept.

12 Ideology vs Party Ideology Ideology Terms: Moderate, Conservative, Liberal Terms: Moderate, Conservative, Liberal A set of philosophical beliefs that people adhere to as they examine political realities, issues, and goals A set of philosophical beliefs that people adhere to as they examine political realities, issues, and goals Party Party Terms: Democrat, Republican, Independent A team of people that you join who have similar ideologies in order to help you accomplish goals in the political arena

13 So let’s talk… I define myself as… I define myself as… Choose from the following: Choose from the following: Moderate Moderate Conservative Conservative Liberal Liberal Democrat Democrat Republican Republican Independent Independent Other Other Don’t Know Don’t Know What do these mean? What do these mean? Moderate Conservative Liberal Democrat Republican Independent Other

14 A Great Resource Play with the following chart: Play with the following chart: tml tml tml tml Does it help you understand? Does it help you understand? What do you not understand? What do you not understand? What do you disagree with? What do you disagree with? How could we improve it? How could we improve it?

15 Do we have an emerging CULTURE WAR? Some argue that 2 distinct political cultures are developing – not just two ideological groups (red v blue). Some argue that 2 distinct political cultures are developing – not just two ideological groups (red v blue). Support their argument Support their argument Let’s take a look… Let’s take a look… ped/articles/2005/08/10/red_vs_blue_not_true/ ped/articles/2005/08/10/red_vs_blue_not_true/ ped/articles/2005/08/10/red_vs_blue_not_true/ ped/articles/2005/08/10/red_vs_blue_not_true/ What will Tuesday show us??????? What will Tuesday show us???????

16 Mistrust of Government Has mistrust of government become another cultural value? Has mistrust of government become another cultural value? Since the mid-1950’s, the % of Americans claiming they trust government to do the right thing has steadily declined. Since the mid-1950’s, the % of Americans claiming they trust government to do the right thing has steadily declined. WHY? WHY? Is it the system or the individuals in the system that they don’t trust? Is it the system or the individuals in the system that they don’t trust?

17 Civic Competence Defined as “a belief that one can affect government policies.” Defined as “a belief that one can affect government policies.” As compared to most European nations – while we lag behind most in voter participation (yet have far more elections to vote in), we are more active with As compared to most European nations – while we lag behind most in voter participation (yet have far more elections to vote in), we are more active with Campaigning and contributing $ Campaigning and contributing $ Attending political meetings Attending political meetings Being active in community affairs Being active in community affairs Contacting government Contacting government

18 Political Efficacy Defined as “a citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political events” Defined as “a citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political events” Internal efficacy – the ability to understand and take part in political affairs Internal efficacy – the ability to understand and take part in political affairs External efficacy – the ability to make the system respond to me External efficacy – the ability to make the system respond to me Where are Americans? Where are Americans? Internal is high and constant Internal is high and constant External is high, yet declining some External is high, yet declining some Some say we are becoming more ALIENATED – we do like sending messages to incumbent parties. Some say we are becoming more ALIENATED – we do like sending messages to incumbent parties.

19 The Civic Role of Religion Since our founding, there has been a greater civic role for religion than found in Europe. Since our founding, there has been a greater civic role for religion than found in Europe. Over last 20 years, more Americans claim a religious focus in their lives. Over last 20 years, more Americans claim a religious focus in their lives. Religion attracts many “as much for its civic as for its spiritual importance” – Wilson p. 82 Religion attracts many “as much for its civic as for its spiritual importance” – Wilson p. 82

20 Religion and Politics Today? What is the appropriate role for religion in our political system? What is the appropriate role for religion in our political system? BE CIVIL BE CIVIL

21 Political Tolerance Democracy relies on “reasonable tolerance.” Democracy relies on “reasonable tolerance.” We accept that We accept that The unpopular can be heard The unpopular can be heard The media won’t be censored (at least not obviously) The media won’t be censored (at least not obviously) Demonstrations (at least the peaceful ones) are not to be broken up by hostile mobs Demonstrations (at least the peaceful ones) are not to be broken up by hostile mobs Losers in elections accept the position of the victor Losers in elections accept the position of the victor So where do we struggle? So where do we struggle?

22 Which group should be allowed to… Use the AHS facilities? Use the AHS facilities? Protestants holding a revival meeting Protestants holding a revival meeting Right-to-life groups opposing abortion Right-to-life groups opposing abortion People organizing for the disabled rights People organizing for the disabled rights People organizing for homosexual rights People organizing for homosexual rights Atheists preaching against God Atheists preaching against God Communists discussing equality Communists discussing equality Ku Klux Klan discussing laundry Ku Klux Klan discussing laundry Students organizing a sit-in to shut down… Students organizing a sit-in to shut down…

23 Which person should be allowed to… Speak at AHS in a classroom? Speak at AHS in a classroom? An admitted communist? An admitted communist? Someone who opposes churches and religion? Someone who opposes churches and religion? Someone who favors government ownership of transportation industries? Someone who favors government ownership of transportation industries? Someone who believes that African- Americans are genetically inferior? Someone who believes that African- Americans are genetically inferior?

24 How did our culture develop? Adversarial nature of our founding and its need for unity Adversarial nature of our founding and its need for unity Our religious, regional, economic, political, cultural, intellectual, racial, and social diversity Our religious, regional, economic, political, cultural, intellectual, racial, and social diversity Our economic, political, and social history Our economic, political, and social history

25 Alexis de Tocqueville says… There is “no other country, proportionately to population, where there are so few ignorant and so few learned.” There is “no other country, proportionately to population, where there are so few ignorant and so few learned.” “In America most rich men began by being poor” “In America most rich men began by being poor” “Men there are nearer equality in wealth and mental endowments, or, in other words, more nearly equally powerful, than in any other country of the world or in any other age of recorded history.” “Men there are nearer equality in wealth and mental endowments, or, in other words, more nearly equally powerful, than in any other country of the world or in any other age of recorded history.”

26 And he says… “The inhabitant of the US learns from birth that he must rely on himself to combat the ills and trials of life; he is restless and defiant in his outlook toward the authority of society and appeals to its power only when he cannot do without.” “The inhabitant of the US learns from birth that he must rely on himself to combat the ills and trials of life; he is restless and defiant in his outlook toward the authority of society and appeals to its power only when he cannot do without.” “The more I observe the main effects of a free press, the more convinced am I that, in the modern world, freedom of the press is the principal and … constitutive element of freedom.” “The more I observe the main effects of a free press, the more convinced am I that, in the modern world, freedom of the press is the principal and … constitutive element of freedom.”

27 And… “In the US it is not only mores that are controlled by religion, but its sway extends even over reason.” “In the US it is not only mores that are controlled by religion, but its sway extends even over reason.” “It has been said…that our contemporaries love equality much more ardently and tenaciously than liberty.” “It has been said…that our contemporaries love equality much more ardently and tenaciously than liberty.” “Not only does democracy make men forget their ancestors, but also clouds their view of descendants and isolates them from their contemporaries.” “Not only does democracy make men forget their ancestors, but also clouds their view of descendants and isolates them from their contemporaries.”

28 So you say… What did he mean when he was writing in the 1830’s? What did he mean when he was writing in the 1830’s? Do his observations hold today? Do his observations hold today?

29 So our next topic… What divides us most… race or class? What divides us most… race or class?

30 The End Thanks for your generous applause. Thanks for your generous applause. Gifts can be donated at the front of the room. Gifts can be donated at the front of the room.


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