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TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY American Culture Unit Eleven UNIT 11 The American Political System.

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Presentation on theme: "TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY American Culture Unit Eleven UNIT 11 The American Political System."— Presentation transcript:

1 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY American Culture Unit Eleven UNIT 11 The American Political System

2 Page  2 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 The American Political System  A wise and frugal government shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement. -- Thomas Jefferson

3 Page  3 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 The American Political System  Americans are a nation born of an idea; not the place, but the idea created the United States Government. --Theodore H. White

4 Page  4 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. The American Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the oldest written constitution in the world today. One of the reasons for its longevity is that the framers used broad enough language to allow room for interpretation. The US Supreme Court has become the ultimate decision maker when it comes to deciding what the seven thousand words in the Constitution mean and how they should be applied. But the views of the justices of the Supreme Court have changed over time as society has changed. Because the principles of the Constitution are broadly expressed, the Supreme Court has been able to apply those principles to meet the needs of new generations. Because of its flexibility and adaptability, the Constitution is often referred to as a “living constitution”.

5 Page  5 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. The American Constitution The historical and political context in which this country’s government machinery was formed is essential to understanding American government and politics today. It is not the result of completely creative thinking. Many of its provisions were grounded in contemporary political philosophy. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 brought with them two important sets of influences: their political culture and their political experience. In the years between the first settlements in the New World and the writing of the Constitution, Americans had developed a political philosophy about how people should be governed and had tried out numerous forms of government. These experiences gave the founders the tools with which they constructed the Constitution.

6 Page  6 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. The American Constitution A. The Articles of Confederation A. The Articles of Confederation Confederation means a voluntary association of independent states, in which the member states agree to only limited restraints on their freedom of action. The most fundamental weakness concerned probably the lack of power to collect tax from the states. Confederation means a voluntary association of independent states, in which the member states agree to only limited restraints on their freedom of action. The most fundamental weakness concerned probably the lack of power to collect tax from the states. The American Constitution B. The Constitutional Convention B. The Constitutional Convention May to September 12, 1787, 55 men present May to September 12, 1787, 55 men present Among the important problems to be solved were the relationship between the states and the central government, the powers of the national legislature, the need for executive leadership, and the establishment of policies for economic stability. Among the important problems to be solved were the relationship between the states and the central government, the powers of the national legislature, the need for executive leadership, and the establishment of policies for economic stability.

7 Page  7 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. Philosophy of American Education C. The Constitution C. The Constitution C. The Constitution C. The Constitution The American Constitution D. The Bill of Rights—to protect individual liberties against incursions by the national government D. The Bill of Rights—to protect individual liberties against incursions by the national government The Bill of Rights lay out the basic rights that all citizens shall enjoy. An important right was the right to free speech. The Bill of Rights lay out the basic rights that all citizens shall enjoy. An important right was the right to free speech.

8 Page  8 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 II. The Three Branches of the US Government A. The legislative branch 1. Bicameral: House of Representatives—lawmakers serving two-year terms Senate—lawmakers serving six- year terms Senate—lawmakers serving six- year terms 2. The main duty—to make laws, including those which levy taxes that pay for the work of the federal government

9 Page  9 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 II. The Three Branches of the US Government B. The executive branch 1. The president and vice president 2. Powers of the president— formidable but not without limitations Power of the vice president— presiding officer of the Senate, who may vote in the Senate only in the event of a tie Power of the vice president— presiding officer of the Senate, who may vote in the Senate only in the event of a tie

10 Page  10 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 II. The Three Branches of the US Government C. The judicial branch 1. The Supreme Court—the only court specially created by the Constitution. Federal judges are appointed for life, and can only be removed from office through the process of impeachment and trial in Congress 2. The Supreme Court consists of Chief Justice and Associate Justices. With minor exceptions, all cases reach the Court on appeal from lower federal or state courts. Most of these cases involve disputes over the interpretation of laws and legislation. The Court’s most important function consists of determining whether congressional legislation or executive action violates the Constitution. 3. Marbury v. Madison case of 1803

11 Page  11 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 III. Political Parties The general orientation of the political party is that of striving for power. The United States has two major political parties, which have a long tradition dating back to 1790s. The function and character of these political parties, as well as the emergence of the two-party system itself, have much to do with the unique historical forces operating from this country’s beginning as an independent nation. A. The two-party system

12 Page  12 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 1 The election system It elects only one individual at a time—a representative, senator, or president More coalitions, fewer parties The effect of the presidency To elect a president candidate requires a vast coalition of interests throughout the country. A president elected with coalition support is somewhat responsive to the demands of each interest within the coalition. III. Political Parties A. The two-party system

13 Page  13 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 3 The division of interests There tends to be a polarization of interests on any problem in the United States. III. Political Parties A. The two-party system

14 Page  14 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 1. The creation of parties ( ) (1) No such a thing as a neutral political figure (2) Federalist and Antifederalist 5. The Progressive period ( ) (1) Republican dominance (2) Schism in the Republican Party— formation of the Progressive Party (3) Collapse of the Progressive Party in The Post-Civil War period ( ) (1) Disruption of the two-party system (2) Hatred-charged schism—conflicts between the Republicans and the Democrats 2. The era of one- party rule, or personal politics ( ) From , a majority of US voters regularly elected Democratic Republicans to the presidency and to Congress. development 3. From Andrew Jackson to just prior to the Civil War ( ) (1) Intraparty rivalry (2) Jackson’s supporters and the Clay-Adams bloc—the Democratic Party and the Whig Party The Whig Party was unable to maintain a common ideological base and divided over the issue of slavery in late 1840s. It fell apart in 1850s. 6. The modern period (from 1932) (1) Successive Democratic administration (2) True era of divided government from G. Bush (3) Continuing division of political and economic interests III. Political Parties B. The historical development of American political parties

15 Page  15 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 IV. Campaigns and Elections Political campaigns are at the heart of a democratic political system. When voters go to the polls and choose between candidates who have presented their views on leadership and policy, the citizens are exercising the fundamental right to choose the leadership of the nation and, thus, to direct national policy.

16 Page  16 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 IV. Campaigns and Elections The framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid the selection of president and vice president by the excitable masses. Rather they wished the choice to be made by a few supposedly dispassionate, reasonable men. The Electoral College was devised as a compromise between having presidents elected by Congress or by popular votes. It is a body that elects the president and vice-president. Each state is represented by the same number of members as in its congressional delegation. The voters vote for electors who will cast their ballots in the Electoral College. The total number of electors is 538, allotted to each state corresponding to the number of Representatives and Senators that each state sends to Congress. A. The Electoral College

17 Page  17 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 IV. Campaigns and Elections 1. The candidates receiving 51% of the electoral vote (270 of 538) wins the Presidency. 2. The principle of “winner takes all”—it is possible that the candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide could lose the electoral vote and thus the presidency. 3. If no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes, the decision goes to the House. B. Voting

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19 Page  19 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. Philosophy of American Education C. The Constitution C. The Constitution 1. New form of government and plan for the government 1. New form of government and plan for the government (1) A federal system with a strong central government (1) A federal system with a strong central government (2) The election of a national leader, or a president (2) The election of a national leader, or a president (3) A Congress made up of representatives (3) A Congress made up of representatives (4) A national court system headed by the Supreme Court (4) A national court system headed by the Supreme Court 2. Tow main fears and ways out 2. Tow main fears and ways out (1) Creation of tyranny and formation of a three- branch government: checks and balances (1) Creation of tyranny and formation of a three- branch government: checks and balances The major checks and balances among the three branches are: The major checks and balances among the three branches are:

20 Page  20 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. Philosophy of American Education The president proposes laws and can veto congressional legislations: the president makes treaties, executive agreements, and executive orders; the president can refuse congressional legislation; the president can call special sessions of Congress. The president proposes laws and can veto congressional legislations: the president makes treaties, executive agreements, and executive orders; the president can refuse congressional legislation; the president can call special sessions of Congress. The Congress makes legislation and can override a presidential veto of its legislation; the Congress can impeach and remove a president; the Senate must confirm presidential appointments and consent to the president’s treaties based on a two- third’s concurrence; the Congress has the power of the purse and provides funds for the president’s programs. The Congress makes legislation and can override a presidential veto of its legislation; the Congress can impeach and remove a president; the Senate must confirm presidential appointments and consent to the president’s treaties based on a two- third’s concurrence; the Congress has the power of the purse and provides funds for the president’s programs. The president nominates federal judges; the president can refuse to enforce the Court’s decision; the president grants pardons. The president nominates federal judges; the president can refuse to enforce the Court’s decision; the president grants pardons.

21 Page  21 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. Philosophy of American Education The Supreme Court can declare presidential actions unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can declare presidential actions unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can declare congressional laws unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can declare congressional laws unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can declare federal or state acts unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can declare federal or state acts unconstitutional. Congress can rewrite legislation to circumvent the Court’s decisions; the Senate confirms federal judges; Congress determines the number of judges. Congress can rewrite legislation to circumvent the Court’s decisions; the Senate confirms federal judges; Congress determines the number of judges. (2) Weakening of state governments and establishment of fundamental principles (2) Weakening of state governments and establishment of fundamental principles Popular sovereignty, or control by the people. Popular sovereignty, or control by the people. A republican government in which the people choose representatives to make decision for them. A republican government in which the people choose representatives to make decision for them.

22 Page  22 TIANJIN FOREIGN STUDIES UNIVERSITY 2015/5/3 I. Philosophy of American Education Limited government with written laws, in contrast to the powerful monarchical English government against which the colonists had rebelled. Limited government with written laws, in contrast to the powerful monarchical English government against which the colonists had rebelled. Separation of powers, with checks and balances among branches to prevent any one branch from gaining too much power. Separation of powers, with checks and balances among branches to prevent any one branch from gaining too much power. A federal system that allowed for states’ rights, because the states feared too much centralized control. A federal system that allowed for states’ rights, because the states feared too much centralized control. Back


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