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Origins of American Government

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1 Origins of American Government

2 What are we studying exactly?
American Government versus Political Science Wilson and DiIulio take a a political science approach What difference does this make? Crash course in modern political theory

3 Why Do We Have Government? How did it develop?
Because “men aren’t angels”—Madison A Historical answer and a theoretical answer

4 How Have Governments Evolved Over the Centuries?
A. First Civilizations Neolithic Revolution Stable food supply led to population growth and to the development of civilizations 1.advanced cities 2. Specialized workers 3. Complex institutions (religion and government) 4. Record keeping Advanced technology (wheel, plow, sail, bronze weapons) The City-State Developed as a basic unit of gov’t based Had social classes nobility priests middle class/merchants Farmers Peasants Slaves Early example: Egypt

5 Early Empires Greek and Roman Contributions: Government Art Science
Some city-states were stronger than others. 1700 B.C. King Hammurabi’s Code establishes “an eye for an eye” In the Middle East: Babylonians Assyrians Persians Shang & Zhou in China Greek and Roman Contributions: Government Art Science Philosophy

6 Greece’s Contributions
4th & 5th Century B.C. Golden Age of Greece under Pericles The Greek Empire was huge City-states such as Athens and Sparta Athenian democracy included the Assembly which passed laws and held public debates. Council of 500 (tried Socrates) Key ideas include direct democracy (demos kratos) meaning “power from the people” Who counted as a citizen in ancient Athens? 25% of population was a citizen. Women and slaves were not citizens, only males born to Greek mothers who met property qualifications

7 Key Roman Contributions
Codified Laws Poor people demanded a written law Laws of the 12 Tables Legal test was “what a person of common sense and good faith would know to be right” Citizenship Highly valued in the ancient world Non-Romans willingly gave up freedom to gain the benefits of Roman citizenship because it gave them the same rights/privileges as those who lived in Rome

8 Growth of Feudalism Dark Ages
Decline of civilization after the collapse of the Roman Empire in Europe. Catholic Church filled the power void Feudalism slowly began to develop Was both an economic and political system Based on land (fiefs) given in exchange for loyalty to a lord 1200s-1300s A.D. feudalism was gradually replaced by the

9 Rise of the Nation-State
Monarchy was still the form of political power. Rise of the middle class led to the collapse of feudalism. Why? They wanted their rights recognized and protected (more about this to come) Nation and State are sometimes used interchangeably. State versus state key difference is sovereignty (more about this to come)

10 Now for the Theoretical Answers. . .
Do you remember what the question was? Where did Government come from? So far we’ve looked for our answer in history (government approach) Now for the political science approach beginning with ancient political theory

11 Social Contract Theory
Developed in the context of the English Civil War Three key figures: Sir Robert Filmer ( ) & Thomas Hobbes ( ) John Locke ( )

12 Sir Robert Filmer Most famous work is Patriarcha or The Nature of Kings Written in defense of the English monarchy. Since the king can be traced back to the line of David, he has divine authority to rule.

13 Thomas Hobbes Disagreed with Filmer and began looking for a new explanation for where government came from. Looked into the mythical “time before government” which he called the state of nature. This state assumes scarcity of resources and takes a negative view of human nature

14 Hobbes’ State of Nature
Wrote about how he thought government came about in his work Leviathan. “war of all against all” because we are all perfectly free Life in the state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, hence we need government Govt’s main responsibility is to protect our right to life.

15 Hobbes’ Leviathan Hobbes concludes that we voluntarily give up our perfect freedom in the state of nature to gain the protection of government. So the sovereign rules because his/her power comes from the people. The people and the sovereign have formed a social contract.

16 John Locke His most famous work of political philosophy is The Second Treatise of Government Agrees with Hobbes that government is based on the social contract Disagrees that this means that monarchy is the best form of government. Develops the idea of natural rights: life, liberty and property

17 Locke’s political philosophy
Also returns to the “state of nature” Focuses on conflict over limited resources as source of strife We need government to resolve disputes by being a known judge Develops the “labor theory of value” The state acts as “night watchman” We give up our absolute freedom in exchange for protection of our rights, so we enter into the social contract with government.

18 BUT. . . Since the government is created by the people, they also have the right to dissolve it. If government is NOT protecting the people’s rights, the people have the right to break the contract and form a new one. This is what the Declaration of Independence is all about.

19 I. What is Political Power?
Two great questions about politics 1. Who governs: the people who govern affect us To which ends: in which ways government affects our lives And then how the government makes decisions on a variety of issues

20 Power “the ability of one person to cause another person to act in accordance with the first person’s intentions” As it relates to political power: who will have political power? how will government behave?

21 How much power should a sovereign have?
Magna Carta (1215) first attempt to limit the power of the king The Petition of Right (1628) The English Bill of Rights (1689) As revolutionary as the Founding Fathers were, many of their ideas were not new.

22 Two Kinds of Political Power
Authority: the right to use power Legitimacy: where does the right to have power come from? How do we determine authority and legitimacy in America?

23 II. What is Democracy? Greek roots; Aristotle’s “demos kratos”
Example of ancient Athens New England tradition “town hall meetings” Is America really a democracy? Why or why not?

24 America is a Republic “res publica”
direct democracy versus representative democracy Ancient Rome as an example Roman citizens had rights protected by the government How many times is the word democracy in the Constitution?

25 Representative Democracy
Is competitive Who should be able to represent the people? What does it mean that representative democracy requires competition if the system is to work? Are elected officials today really accountable to the people whose interests they are supposed to represent? How can you tell?

26 What Did the Framers Mean?
Do we think of our elected officials today in the same way the Framers (Founding Fathers/authors of Constitution) would have? Consider The Federalist’s warning against factions. Now consider that the main source of campaign funds is special interest groups.

27 Were the Framers Elitist?
What is “elitism?” Is it necessarily a bad thing? There are pros and cons Can every issue be settled via majoritarian decision-making? What about the fear of the “tyranny of the majority”? Is the “will of the people” the same thing as “the common interest” or the “public good”?

28 Theories of Elite Influence
1. Those with economic power have the political power (Marxism) 2. the “power elite” is made up of business leaders, military leaders and politicians (Mills) 3. The elite are the bureaucrats who have specialized skills and knowledge (Weber) 4. no one group has ultimate control, so there must be bargaining and compromise (pluralism)

29 What about self-interest?
Who do politicians really represent? Is it a bad thing if they’re self-interested? We’ll revisit this question when we look at the models of congressional representation (trustee vs. delegate)

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