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Introducing Government in America

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Scot Green

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Introducing Government in America

Chapter 1
Introducing Government in America

Introducing Government in America
Government and Politics Matter.
How has government and politics effected your life?
Public schools - Title IX, Brown vs. Board of Education, government loans for college students, GI Bill, school holidays
What is the Importance of Political Knowledge?
There are roughly around 500,000 elected officials in the United States. (National, State and City governments) US Population 313.9 Million
Harold D. Laswell - Politics is "Who get What, When and How?
Age Validation
Driver's License, Drinking Age, Voting
The Workplace
Social Security and Minimum wage
Federal policy provides a gas tax that believe it or not is relatively low compared to other industrialized countries
Real Estate and Leasing policy
Federal law prohibits discrimination when leasing property because of race , religion and ..... what others can you think of?
Thomas Jefferson said, " there never has been, nor ever will be, a people who are politically ignorant and free."

What does that mean to you?
1. It foster Civic Virtues - which means political tolerance
2. Citizens become informed on policies that benefit them and use the information to help make their decisions in the voting process.
3. It promotes active participation in politics
But are young people as active as they were 40 years ago?
Two fundamental questions of Government
1. How Should we govern? (Philosophers) US - Democratic
2. What should government do?
National Governments throughout the world perform the 5 following functions:
1. Maintain a National Defense
2. Provide Public Services - Public goods: shared by everybody and cannot be denied to anyone. Public Parks and highways.
3. Preserve order - National guard ( protect against enemies foreign and domestic)
4. Socialize the Young - government pays for education and use it a s a means to instill national values. Ex. Pledge of Allegiance
5. Collect Taxes - $1 out of every $3 every American made was spent on taxes (National, State
or City)
Who's the Who?
This includes voters, candidates, groups and parties
What is the"what"?
Refers to the substance of Politics and Government. What is given by this process as a benefit. Ex. Medicaid, Social Security
What is the How?
The "how" is how people participate in politics to get what they want. Ex. Voting, supporting, compromising, lobbying.
Political Participation - how people get involved in politics.
1. voting - US one of the lowest voting turnouts in the world
2. vocation - some people make it their job.
3. Single issue groups - so concerned about one issue that they cast their votes based on that one thing. (ex. abortion)
Individual citizens and organized groups get involved in politics because they understand that public policy laws created by government can affect them significantly
The Policymaking System
1. Where does the policymaking system begin with? The people
2. So how do people express their opinions in a democracy? voting, civil disobedience, petitition, assembly
3. What is a Policy Agenda? these are the issues the attract the serious attention of our public officials at any given time
4. What created political issues? a disagreement between people about a problem and how to fix it
5. Who are the policy makers? anyone who creates laws in which people are mandated to follow
6. What is Public Policy? Choice governments makes in a response to a political issues
organizing government by selecting policymakers so that policy reflects citizens preferences. Bottom line: The Majority rules!!!
What are the criteria for the ideal Traditional Democratic Theory?
1. Equality in Voting ( How's that had an affect in US?)
2. Effective Participation. (Do we have it?)
3. Enlightened understanding of Government.
(marketplace of ideas: speech and press)
4. Citizen control of the policy agenda.
5.Inclusion of all citizens under the law
*Two most important principles of the democratic theory are the Majority rule and Minority rights
3 Contemporary Theories of American Democracy
1. Pluralist Theory -
theory that says groups with shared interest form to influence public policy by pressing the concerns in an organized efforts. (ex. NRA, NOW, UAW) question: Do these groups have the power? Meaning are they running the government?
2.Elite and Class Theory -
This theory contends that power is based on social class and that the upper class elite pulls the strings of government. ( 1/3 of the US Wealth is in the hands of the upper 1% of the population)
3. Hyperpluralism

Is the belief that the elite and interest groups are too strong in all levels of government in the National, state and local governments that government bogs down and is unable to act.

Groups have become sovereign and governments are merely a servant to
their needs.

Are any of three correct or do
we have an ideal democracy?
What are the Challenges of a democracy?
Increased Technical Expertise
Limited Participation in Government
Escalating Campaign Costs
-The rising cost of campaigns has caused many political candidates to become dependent on
PAC's, Political Action Committees,
for $$ for their campaign. What questions do you think this brings to the table?
Diverse Political Interest

Policy Gridlock- occurs when no coalition (parties, policymakers) is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy but so during the compromise session they each use their influence to stop those points in the policy that they oppose. This results in nothing getting done
Limited Government participation challenges the foundation of Government.
(Jefferson speech), Theories of American Democracy.
The belief is that those with the knowledge, technical experts (policymakers) overshadows the knowledge of the general population or your average citizen.

Question - Do we need be an expert to know what is going on in government?
Full transcript