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Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
Shea chapter 1
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Shea chapter 1


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  • Can average citizens play a meaningful role in American politics? A more relevant question for college students is, can young people make a difference? Voters under 25 turned out in higher numbers than ever for the 2008 presidential election, but their participation has dwindled since.
    It’s easy to be turned off by the conflict, ego, and gridlock that often characterize American politics. But it is a mistake for an entire generation, who must live under the policies set by government, to leave the heavy lifting to others. Politics isn’t always easy or fun, but it is important, and the rewards of getting involved in shaping the policies that affect you, your family, and friends can exceed the frustrations.
  • People make democracy work! Learn how you can influence politics. Author Daniel M. Shea argues that politics is not just for those who wear suits, and he provides examples of ordinary citizens who stood up for a political cause and made a difference in their community.
    TO THE INSTRUCTOR: To access the videos in this chapter, please enter your Pearson or MyPoliSciLab username and password after clicking on the link on the slide.
  • Before we begin, let’s watch this video to learn what function government serves. In this video, you will analyze this question and explore the core values that shape our political system and how the growing diversity of our population is changing – and reaffirming -- the definition of what it means to be American.
  • Many Americans, especially the young, believe that government and politics are some distant entity that they must obey. In reality, government is all around us and shapes our lives in important ways every hour of every day. This is why it is particularly important for citizens in a democracy to become involved. Government matters, and you can make a difference.
    Activity: Ask students to find a political cartoon relating to a recent event or issue. Daryl Cagle’s website ( may provide a useful starting point. Then ask students to bring their cartoon to class and discuss how the cartoon illustrates a central theme in American politics.
  • Government affects almost every aspect of our lives. Many of these effects are beneficial, such as providing public education and safety, and establishing public utilities. We pay taxes to support these services, and we’re required to obey the laws that government enacts whether we agree with them or not.
  • This timeline shows the many ways that government affects you from the moment you wake up in the morning until you close your eyes again at night. Can you think of other ways that governmental controls affect you?
  • If you aren’t happy about a law, is there anything you can do about it? Yes; in a democracy, you can vote and campaign for candidates who share your policy views. You can even run for public office yourself.
    Another option is to lobby elected officials to change the law. You might be able to challenge the law in court. You can write articles, blog, collect signatures on a petition, and organize nonviolent actions to protest the law.
  • Are young people indifferent and lazy? Not at all. Many are active volunteers in their communities and are energetically engaged in causes that motivate them. Do you see politics as a viable avenue for change?
  • Among democracies, the United States is unique. After colonists fought a war for independence from Great Britain, they designed a new and different governing system. That system survived a civil war early in its history.
    Our criminal justice system is predicated on the doctrine that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, meaning that the prosecution must prove guilt. It is not the responsibility of the defendant to prove he is innocent, as it is in some other countries.
    Our federal government provides life tenure for judges, which insulates them from politics. We give them the power to invalidate laws that they find to be unconstitutional. This provides the opportunity for ordinary citizens to challenge the legality of laws in court.
  • How does our government compare with others? Let’s look at this chart. This chart ranks countries according to the degree of political rights enjoyed by their citizens. Democracies are at the top and totalitarian regimes are at the bottom. Political rights are determined by a number of factors, such as the right to vote and freedom of speech.
  • The Framers of the Constitution built into it checks and balances among the separate branches, and designed a bicameral legislature, which means the legislature is divided into a House of Representatives and a Senate.
    We also have a federal, as opposed to a unitary, system of government, which we will learn more about in Chapter 3.
  • Now that we’ve discussed how citizens can participate in a democracy, can you answer this question?
  • Refusing to pay taxes may be considered taking a stand against government, but it’s not a way to influence policymakers to change policies.
  • Let’s try this brief exercise and see if we can quantify this core American value.
  • There are numerous ways to investigate and explore our political system. This course will focus on three essential themes.
    First, in a democracy, it is essential that citizens become participants rather than merely spectators of the political process.
    Second, while many in the U.S. believe their options for effective involvement are limited, there are numerous pathways for change. Indeed, throughout American history, different political actors have used different pathways to achieve their goals.
    Finally, issues of diversity have and will continue to shape the process and outcomes of our political system. America’s diversity creates controversies and adds complexities to the mix of actors seeking to affect change.
  • People make democracy work. How? Citizens in a democracy have a right to shape the policies that affect them, using nonviolent methods.
    However, citizens in a democracy must educate themselves about public policy and take action to institute change; otherwise, decisions are left up to the few who do participate. In most federal elections in the United States, only half of eligible voters participated.
    The Framers were worried about sudden changes in public policy. They made the process of change inherently slow and difficult. The pace of change can be frustrating, but it ensures that all sides can be heard.
  • Rallies, protests, and demonstrations are effective nonviolent means of political participation. This right does not exist in totalitarian regimes, where nonviolent protests can trigger a violent response from the government.
  • Citizens in other democracies vote at higher rates than Americans. Note that in some countries voting is compulsory. Would fines or other penalties for not voting be a good idea in the U.S.?
    As of 2012, 23 countries had compulsory voting, though only 10 enforced the requirement. These ten are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Luxembourg, Nauru, Peru, Singapore, and Uruguay.
    Activity: Voter turnout in the United States has long been critiqued as abysmal. Divide the class into two groups (or multiple groups if a large class). Have the two groups debate the following proposition: The United States should pass a constitutional amendment requiring all eligible citizens to vote.
    Be sure the discussion considers both the advantages and disadvantages of such a proposal. It may also be useful for student to prepare for the discussion by examining other states in which compulsory voting is in place.
  • Voting is not the only mode of political participation. This table shows that over a third of Americans regularly discuss politics and over a quarter volunteer. In what ways to you volunteer? Why?
  • The 2008 election was unique in inspiring more political activity from younger citizens and minorities. Citizens who had been dissatisfied with the Bush administration were energized and hopeful that an opportunity had come for real political change. Yet this chart shows that this was a brief deviation from the more usual apathy that stymies political participation.
    Activity: Split the class into two sections. Assign one group the task of defending the importance of high citizen participation. The other section will have the task of defending the argument that only politically knowledgeable citizens should participate in politics. Give each section time to discuss its position, then have them select one or two students to present their arguments to the class. Afterwards, ask the class to vote on which proposition they individually feel is better.
  • Pathways to action are the means through which citizens can participate in creating policy.
    Elections are how our political leaders are held accountable for the public policy actions that they take. Because they want to win reelection for themselves and their political party, elected officials are often responsive to public opinion. Activities in this pathway include:
    • voter registration drives,
    • political campaigning,
    • fundraising,
    • and casting your ballot.
    In the lobbying pathway, individuals and groups use information and persuasion to influence the decisions of the executive and legislative branches of government. Lobbyists also seek to influence the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy formulates the rules and regulations that implement laws. Lobbyists can use rewards such as trips or campaign contributions to persuade officials to enact their policy preferences.
    The legal pathway to change, the Courts, can order that laws not be enforced because they violate the rights of citizens or overstep the government’s authority. Citizens can also petition the courts to get government to enforce laws that are not being prioritized. Due to its expense, it is difficult, but not impossible, for ordinary individuals to use this pathway.
  • Grassroots mobilization can be an effective means of change because it attracts a lot of media attention. Boycotts and sit-ins are tools available to those who otherwise feel disenfranchised. This pathway has been used successfully by civil rights advocates.
    Cultural change is a long-term strategy that involves educating the public until the values of society change. Female and LGBT citizens have used this pathway to gradually change discriminatory laws.
  • Which pathway of action was chosen by MADD? Did they achieve their policy goals? More than one pathway can be used to accomplish change. The choice depends upon resources and the success of each option. If one is not effective, try another.
  • The “Occupy” movement has sought to draw attention to economic inequalities by lengthy protests in front of such bastions of wealth as New York City’s financial district. Has the “Occupy” movement been effective? Were their policy goals clear? Are there other pathways of action that might be a better strategy for success? How would they define success?
  • American history is characterized by the struggle for civil rights of various groups within society. These groups have used every one of the pathways of which we have spoken. But the cultural change pathway has been particularly important. Evolution in societal values have been necessary to build support for civil rights legislation.
  • The percentage of the U.S. population that is white is expected to decline to half by 2050. Hispanic residents are expected to reach a quarter of the population. Other minorities are also expected to increase as a percentage of the population. What do you think of these demographic changes? What is causing them? What will they mean for public policy?
  • Can you answer this brief question about lobbying?
  • Lobbyists represent groups that are affected by policies. They provide information to legislators about proposed legislation and explain how it will affect the group they represent.
  • There is more to American political culture than electoral numbers. Find out how and why research on American politics has shifted. Boston University political scientist Neta C. Crawford discusses how scholars who once focused on voters and institutions are now looking at deliberation as the primary indicator of the health of a democratic system.
  • The abortion issue demonstrates how a level of citizen participation and the use of various pathways can bring about meaningful change.
    Proponents of legal abortion first used lobbying to achieve success in some states. This limited action led to the use of the court pathway to bring the case of Roe v. Wade to the Supreme Court in 1973. When the Court decided that a constitutional right to privacy covered medical procedures such as abortion, states were forbidden to keep it entirely illegal.
    Abortion opponents used the election pathway to elect officials who promised to change the law. They also lobbied officials to pass laws restricting access to abortion that would not run afoul of the courts. They used the grassroots mobilization pathway to stage anti-abortion protests. Some opponents of abortion rejected the democratic process and used violence to kill doctors who performed abortions.
    Citizens on both sides of the debate have tried to use the cultural change pathway. However, each side has adherents with strong views and it remains an issue perennially on the agenda at all levels of government, 40 years after Roe v. Wade.
  • A protester holds a sign in favor of Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment in November of 2011. The ballot initiative, which was ultimately defeated by voters, would have established “personhood” at the moment of conception. Can you imagine abortion continuing to be a controversial issue for years to come?
  • See if you can answer this question about what we’ve just discussed.
  • Both sides use the pathway of cultural change, and try to shape public opinion.
  • Let’s hear what people have to say about government’s role in American society. What is the government’s function in everyday life? Real people share their opinions on how involved the federal government should be in education by evaluating the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind Act, which encourages standardized testing.
  • Many governments around the world are unstable. The government of the United States faced, and survived, the biggest challenge to its stability in the Civil War. Several factors contribute to its stability today.
    Most Americans regard the Constitution with reverence and consider it inviolable. Likewise, Americans are devoted to an economic system of free enterprise, capitalism. There is little public support for socialism, a system where the government owns the means of production and the accumulation of individual wealth.
  • Our reverence for the Constitution is illustrated in our currency. We pay tribute to George Washington on one side. We put the Great Seal of the United States on the other side. Have you ever stopped to think about what the pyramid on the dollar bill symbolizes? It connotes strength, and the 13 steps represent the 13 original colonies. The unfinished summit implies a work in progress. Can you see any other symbolism here?
  • Political culture refers to the fundamental values and dominant beliefs that shape political behavior and policies. The U.S. has a strong political culture as an outgrowth of our history, the types of immigrants who settled here, and its natural resources.
    Popular acceptance of a country’s governing and economic systems, and a defined political culture are necessary conditions for political stability. However, the key to stability is a belief among citizens that they can influence the government and instigate policy change.
  • How do we define our American creed? In this video, University of Oklahoma political scientist Allyson Shortle examines the core values that make up American political culture. She also discusses how these values gave rise to the American Dream.
  • America has always been a patriotic country, especially when it comes to honoring and respecting our armed forces. But there has not been broad public consensus on the legitimacy of recent wars. Is it possible to be patriotic and opposed to American involvement in a war?
  • Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul greets government students in Franklin, Massachusetts. Many Americans assume that all young activists are liberal, but this is certainly not the case. Why do you suppose so many young voters were attracted to Paul’s message of shrinking the size of government?
  • In keeping with our discussion on American values, can you answer this question?
  • Fairness is a goal but is not part of the value system.
  • This exercise will enhance our understanding of the nature of American politics. What fundamental values and beliefs shape our political processes? In this simulation, you will learn about shared expectations as you play the role of a candidate running for Congress. You’ll discover that American political values are grounded in the principles of the framers, and live on through our political processes.
  • Why should you care about politics? Author Daniel M. Shea shares his reasons why it is important to study American government and gives an overview of how it affects your everyday life and what you can do to change it.
  • Transcript

    1. 1 American Government: Democracy in Action
    2. Video:The Big Picture IA_1/polisci/presidency/Shea_Ch01_American_Democracy _Seg1_v2.html 1
    3. Video:The Basics IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg2_IntroAmrGov_v2.html 1
    4. It’sYour Government  How Government Affects Our Lives  Our Unique Political System 1.1
    5. How Government Affects Our Lives  Politics: The process by which the actions of government are determined  Public policy: What government decides to do or not do 1.1
    6. TABLE 1.1: Government is all around us 1.1
    7. How Government Affects Our Lives  What role can you play in politics to shape public policy?  Vote, campaign, run for office  Lobby  Litigation  Grassroots activities 1.1
    8. 1.1 Youth and political causes
    9. Our Unique Political System  Unique history  Rights of the accused  Life tenure for judges  Power to invalidate laws  Litigation 1.1
    10. FIGURE 1.1: Global rating on political rights 1.1
    11. Our Unique Political System  Fragmented governmental system  Checks and balances  Bicameral legislature  Federalism 1.1
    12. 1.1 Which of the following would not be considered a way to influence policymakers in a democracy? a. Protesting or picketing b. Voting c. Refusing to pay taxes d. Writing a letter to your college newspaper 1.1
    13. 1.1 1.1 Which of the following would not be considered a way to influence policymakers in a democracy? a. Protesting or picketing b. Voting c. Refusing to pay taxes d. Writing a letter to your college newspaper
    14. Explore the Constitution: How DoYou Measure Freedom? ex/pex8.html 1.1
    15. Themes of This Book  Citizen Participation in Democratic Government  Pathways of Action  Diversity in American Society 1.2
    16. Citizen Participation in Democratic Government  Nonviolent ways to shape policy  Responsiveness depends on knowledge and action  Change is purposely slow 1.2
    17. 1.2Nonviolent political participation
    18. FIGURE 1.2: A comparative look at voting rates since 1992 1.2
    19. TABLE 1.2: Levels of political engagement 1.2
    20. FIGURE 1.3: Political engagement before and after the 2008 election 1.2
    21. Pathways of Action 1.2
    22. Pathways of Action  Elections  Lobbying  Court  Grassroots mobilization  Cultural change 1.2
    23. FIGURE 1.4: The ten steps in choosing a pathway of action an illustration: Toughening drunk driving regulations 1.2
    24. 1.2
    25. Diversity in American Society  Civil rights for:  African-Americans  Women  Immigrants  Disabled  Homosexuals 1.2
    26. Table 1.3: The face of a changing nation 1.2
    27. a. Contacting policymakers and pressuring them to support or oppose policies under consideration b. Bribing elected officials c. Filing a lawsuit against the government d. Campaigning for your favored candidates 1.2 What is one example of lobbying? 1.2
    28. a. Contacting policymakers and pressuring them to support or oppose policies under consideration b. Bribing elected officials c. Filing a lawsuit against the government d. Campaigning for your favored candidates 1.2 1.2 What is one example of lobbying?
    29. Video:Thinking Like a Political Scientist IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg4_Intro_v2.html 1.1
    30.  Divisive issue  All major political institutions involved  Provides example of using pathways of action 1.3 Citizen Participation and Pathways: Example of Abortion
    31. 1.3 Abortion and personhood
    32. 1.3 1.3 What is the indirect pathway employed by both supporters and opponents of abortion called? a. Lobbying b. Cultural change c. Elections d. Boycotts
    33. 1.3 What is the indirect pathway employed by both supporters and opponents of abortion called? a. Lobbying b. Cultural change c. Elections d. Boycotts 1.3
    34. Video: In the RealWorld IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg5_IntroAmrGov_v2.html 1.3
    35. Change and Stability in American Government  Sources of stability  Broadly accepted framework: Reverence for the Constitution and capitalism  Political culture: “American creed”  Numerous avenues of change 1.4
    36. Dollar bill 1.4
    37. Change and Stability in American Government  Sources of stability  Political culture: “American creed”  Numerous avenues of change 1.4
    38. Video: In Context IA_1/polisci/presidency/Seg3_PoliticalCulture_v2.html 1.4
    39. 1.4
    40. 1.4 Ron Paul
    41. 1.4 America’s overarching values include all of the following except: a. Fairness b. Democracy c. Capitalism d. Freedom 1.4
    42. 1.4 1.4 America’s overarching values include all of the following except: a. Fairness b. Democracy c. Capitalism d. Freedom
    43. Explore the Simulation:You Are a Candidate for Congress _1/2013_mpsl_sim/simulation.html?simulaURL=1 1.4
    44. What are the pathways to participation in our democracy? How effective are they at bringing about changes in public policy? Use concrete examples from the text. Discussion Question 1
    45. Video: SoWhat? _1/polisci/presidency/Shea_Ch01_American_Democracy_Seg 6_v2.html 1