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Ch 1 - AP Gov - Mr. Katz

Introduction to Government and Politics

Justin Katz

on 24 September 2016

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Transcript of Ch 1 - AP Gov - Mr. Katz

Chapter 1

Introduction to Government and Politics

What is government?
Institutions and processes through which public policies are made for a society.
Congress (legislative branch)
Presidency (executive branch)
Courts (judicial branch)
Federal Agencies (bureaucracies)
All create "public policies"
What are "public policies"?
Response by the government to a political issue
Can take many forms...
Two Fundamental Questions About Governing
1) How should we govern?
Can you participate in government?
Yes :)
No :(
How is power geographically distributed?
Is there a relationship between the legislative and executive branches when electing the leader of the government?
2) What should government do?
Big Gov't vs. Small Gov't

Individual Responsibility vs. Social Justice (Equity)

Liberal vs. Conservative Ideology

Tradition/Custom vs. Progressivism
Personal beliefs aside, all governments should do the following 5 things...
Maintain National Defense
Protect citizens from foreign attack
Typically via military (army, navy, air force, etc)
Intelligence agencies as well
Provide Public Services/Goods
Public Parks
Street Lights / Signs
- Some cannot be denied to anyone

- Others require a criteria to access
Preserve Order
Domestic Defense
Socialize The Young
Public education to instill loyalty and respect
their society, people, and institutions

- Pledge of Allegiance
- U.S History
- U.S Government
Collect Taxes
Gov't does things...
Things cost money...
Gov't must tax! (Fact)

How much? (Opinion)
What is politics?
Process by which we select our governments leaders and what policies they pursue.

"Who gets what and how?"

The "who" includes...
Elected Officials
Interest Groups
Political Parties
The "what" that they get includes...
Loss of Rights/Freedoms
"How" do people get things from government?
Through "political participation"...
Voting, Lobbying, Running in Elections...Compromising!
The combination of people, political participation, and their results produce a "policy making system".
Process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time.

The people, what actions they take, the institutions of gov't, and how they address issues and societal problems.
This course will focus on democracy since it is the foundation of U.S government.
How would you define "democracy"?
System of selecting policy makers, organizing government, and creating policy that represents and responds to the people.
Traditional Democratic Theory
Utopian theory (doesn't exist in reality) (USA as close as any country)
States principles of how a democratic gov't should make it decisions
5 Principles
of the
Traditional Democratic Theory
1) Equality in Voting
1 person = 1 vote
2) Effective Participation
Adequate and equal opportunity for all to express preferences to gov't
3) Enlightened Understanding
Free Press
Free Speech
Unbiased, fact based information
Knowledge fuels democracy
4) Citizen Control of Policy Agenda
No one group should have total control
1 Race
1 Sex
1 Religion
1 Economic group (rich or poor)
Majority Rule / Minority Rights
5) Inclusion
If gov't rules the people...
People must have rights and be able to participate in gov't processes
Majorities get to make decisions
Minorities can not be crushed/denied rights
3 Modern Theories of American Democracy
The Pluralist Theory
Opportunity exists for all groups to influence policymaking.

If everyone competes then compromises will occur.
Thus allowing a level of satisfaction for all groups.

All the input = a good thing

Sounds a little to perfect
The Elite/Class Theory
Appearance of equal influence
Reality...elite (rich/powerful) groups always get better deal
Inequality of groups

- Social Welfare vs. Corporate Welfare
The Hyperpluralism Theory
Pluralism gone bad!

Groups are so strong that gov't is weakened.

Too many groups at odds with each other.

Not a lot of compromise.

Gov't incapable of making policy.

Doesn't sound so perfect.

Can you think of any challenges that make democracy difficult to properly maintain?
Increased Technical Expertise
People do not possess knowledge to solve issues today like they may have in the past.

Today we increasingly turn to a small number of experts to tell us how to fix problems in society.

Necessary but dangerous to democracy
Limited Participation in Gov't
Low participation levels descrese responsibility and responsiveness of gov't to the people.

U.S voter turnout decreased dramatically from the 1900-2000
2004-present...has seen a notable recovery in voter turnout.
18-24 age bracket has lowest voter turnout in U.S elections (old people = highest turnout)

Political knowledge is also much lower than 50 years ago.
Voter Turnout Rates 1824-2008
Escalating Campaign Costs
Candidates need vast sums of money to be competitive.

Who do elected officials truly represent if they owe their success to organizations/corporations/unions who donated millions of $$$ to them?
Total Contributions to Congressional Candidates (1988-2008)
Diverse Political Interests
Dems vs. Republicans
Liberals vs. Conservatives
Obstacles aside...fortunately for the USA we have a strong "political culture".
An overall set of values widely shared within a society.

American Political Culture...
- Liberty (freedoms)
- Egalitarianism (equality)
- Individualism (live with minimal gov't intrusion)
- Laissez Faire (free market economy)
- Populism (majority rule/minority rights)
Full transcript