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  • 1. ASHFORD POL 201 All Discussion Questions PLEASE DOWNLOAD HERESeparation of Powers/Checks and Balances. For much of 2011 and 2012, public dissatisfactionwith Congress rose to all time highs, with 70-80% expressing disapproval with how Congress doesits job. Many commentators note that Americans are fed up with Washington "grid-lock" that makesgovernment apparently unable to address important problems. Other observers believe that thenational government is acting according to its design, based on separation of powers and checks andbalances.In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, analyze how the U.S. Constitution implementsseparation of powers and checks and balances. Briefly explain why the constitutional framers basedthe new government on these ideas. Evaluate how separation of powers and checks and balances areworking out in practice, today, justifying your assessment with persuasive reasoning and examples.Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).Amending the U.S. Constitution. The formal process of amending the Constitution is cumbersomeand slow. While this fact explains why relatively few amendments have been adopted, it does notdiscourage advocates of constitutional change from proposing them. Four amendment proposals thathave gained considerable attention are the Balanced Budget Amendment, the Birthright CitizenshipAmendment, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Overturn Citizens United Amendment.Select one of these proposals as the topic of your initial post and use the assigned resources to informyourself about its purpose and the arguments of its supporters and critics.In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize what the proposed amendmentwould do and the problem its proponents say it will solve. Explain the main pros and cons in thedebate about the amendment. Evaluate the proposed amendment from two perspectives:a. Your own political philosophy, values or ideology. (Justify your assessment by clearly explainingyour political values and why they lead you to support or oppose the amendment.)b. The likelihood that the proposed amendment will eventually be ratified to become part of theConstitution. (Justify your assessment by explaining how the proposal will or will not, in yourjudgment, survive the ratification process.)Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your
  • 2. peers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).Policy-making in the Federal System. The U.S. governments expansive role in public policy iscaught in a swirl of conflicting cross-currents. On the one hand, popular expectations aboutgovernmentsresponsibility to solve problems often exceed the capacity of state and local authorities to respondeffectively. On the other hand, policies developed at the national level may not sufficiently reflect thegreat diversity of interests across the U.S. to be effective at the local level. Moreover, the search foreffective policy is further complicated by theoretical debates about the constitutional framework offederalism, e.g., what limits on national power can be derived from the Tenth Amendment?A policy area in the middle of these cross-currents is elementary and secondary education – a subjecttraditionally under local control, with some oversight by the states. However, during the last fourdecades – especially since 2001 – the national governments role in education has grown significantlyas a result of initiatives by Republican and Democratic administrations. Use the assigned resources toinform yourself about this role and the arguments of its supporters and critics.In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize the national governments educationpolicies. Explain the main pros and cons in the debate about these policies. Evaluate them from twoperspectives:a. The policies’ effectiveness in improving the quality of U.S. elementary and secondary education.(Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your definition of "effectiveness" and how it should bemeasured or determined.)b. Their consistency with the constitutional framework of federalism. (Justify your assessment byclearly explaining your interpretation of American federalisms constitutional framework and whyfederal education policies are or are not consistent with it.)Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).Meet Your Rep. The Constitution states, "The House of Representatives shall be composed ofMembers chosen every second Year by the People of the several States..." (Art. I, Sec. 2). Contrastthis with the original constitutional language for the other house of Congress, "The Senate of theUnited States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereoffor six Years..." (Art. I, Sec. 3).The phrase "chosen by the Legislature" was changed to "elected by the people" by the 17thAmendment, but not until 1912. In other words, from the beginning the House of Representativeswas intended to be exactly what its name suggests –representative of the people. (Note that in 2010the Tea Party, and some Republican politicians, called for repeal of the 17th Amendment, eliminatingthe popular vote for Senators. While most Republican politicians have backed away from that view,many Tea Party chapters continue to demand its repeal.)
  • 3. Textbook models suggest how members of the House of Representatives may fulfill theirconstitutional duty to "represent" – the delegate model, the trustee model, the oversight model, andthe service model. A weakness of these models is that they ignore the pervasive influence of interestgroups, partisanship, and political money (campaign contributions) on the behavior of congressionalreps. To what extent do these factors interfere with effective representation? First, get to know yourrep in the U.S. House of Representatives, using the websites listed in the required resources for thisdiscussion.Then, in your initial post of at least 200-250 words, identify an important issue related to yourrepresentatives committee or subcommittee work in Congress. Summarize your representativesposition on that issue as described on his or her website or illustrated by legislation sponsored byyour representative. Be concrete and specific, avoiding vague generalities like "my representative isfor jobs" or "my representative is for national security." With respect to this issue, evaluate yourrepresentatives performance as a representative of the people in your legislative district. Justify yourassessment from two perspectives:a. How well does your representatives position reflect your districts likely preferences or broadinterests on the issue? Support your inferences about the district with facts – not just your opinionabout the district as shaped by your own political opinions and ideology.b. Is there any evidence that may raise questions about whether interest groups, political partyloyalty, or campaign money may influence your representative in ways that weaken his or hereffectiveness as a true "representative" of the district? (Put on your critical thinking cap to respond tothis aspect of the question.)Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).Presidential Leadership and the Electoral College. Americans expect their presidents to get thingsdone, to solve problems, to govern effectively, and to be strong leaders. The framers of theConstitution did not envision such presidential leadership. A scholar of the presidency points out thatArticle II of the Constitution gives the president scant formal power to influence congressionalpolicy-making (Simon, n.d.). He also notes that the framers intentionally designed a process forselecting presidents that would minimize their political power – the Electoral College. They hopedthis institution would insulate the chief executive from the public because they feared the power ofpresidents who might be elected by the people. Therefore, the Constitution provides that "Each Stateshall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal tothe whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in theCongress..." Having state legislatures "appoint" the Electors who select the chief executive wouldminimize the presidents capacity to lead on the basis of his popular support. In a very real sense, thepresident would not be accountable to the people but rather to the state legislatures who appointElectors. This procedure was also seen as a way to encourage the selection of statesmen with"characters preeminent for ability and virtue” rather than mere politicians with “talents for lowintrigue, and the little arts of popularity” (Hamilton, 1788).The practice of state legislatures appointing Electors continued for many years. Most Americanhistory texts do not report national presidential vote totals before 1824 because 25% of the states
  • 4. were still not holding presidential elections by that year. Even as late as 1876 the state of Coloradoslegislature appointed Electors. As states moved away from legislative appointment to the currentsystem of allowing a states Electors to be chosen by a winner-take-all popular vote, the primaryrationale for the Electoral College was forgotten in history. At the same time, public expectations ofstrong presidential leadership were rising.This creates a problem well illustrated by the disputed election of 2000. George W. Bush was electedpresident with 271 electoral votes to Al Gores 266 electoral votes. However, Gore amassed 543,895popular votes more than Bush. Also, because some disputed votes in Florida made unclear whichcandidate should receive the states electoral votes, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a full recountof the Florida vote. But the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and stopped the recount, thereby in effectawarding Floridas electoral votes to Bush. While arguments continue to this day about the legitimacyof the U.S. Supreme Courts intervention, the 2000 election illustrates a glaring weakness of theElectoral College system – selecting a president whose authority may be diminished by the dubiouscircumstances of his or her election. The election of 2000 also has fueled a long ongoing debateabout whether the Electoral College should be abandoned in favor of method which insures that thecandidate elected has the most popular votes. Would this outcome be more consistent withcontemporary public expectations about the presidents role as a national leader who can get thingsdone?In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize how the Electoral College works.Explain some of the main pros and cons in the debate about whether to keep or abolish the currentElectoral College process. Also explain one proposal to change how the system works withoutformally abolishing it. Evaluate the various arguments and the proposal. Include at least twoperspectives in your assessment:a. Your judgment about the relevance of the Electoral Colleges underlying rationale to contemporaryAmerica.b. Your judgment about its impact on presidential leadership capacity.Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7 respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).References:Hamilton, A. (1788). The Federalist Papers, Number 68.Simon, D. (n.d.). Public expectations of the president. Retrieved fromfaculty.smu.edu/dsimon/AMPres07Up/SimonExpectations.docThe Supreme Court and Judicial Review. In a recent lecture at Yale University, Supreme CourtJustice Stephen Breyer cautioned that while most citizens assume that judicial review is an enduringpart of American government, judges should not take it for granted. He advises that if judges wish topreserve this undemocratic power they should follow a judicial philosophy that will "buildconfidence in the courts" (Breyer, 2011). Justice Breyer goes on to describe the kind of judicial
  • 5. philosophy he has in mind. However, some of his colleagues on the Supreme Court would reject hisideas about what philosophy should guide judges.The role of judicial philosophy (or ideology) in Supreme Court decision-making, especially in itsexercise of judicial review to invalidate laws enacted by a democratically elected Congress or statelegislature, has become a highly contentious issue both within the Courts deliberations and in thelarger political environment. As the nation becomes more divided over programs and policies thatinevitably seem to come before the Supreme Court, politicians and ordinary citizens are caught up inrhetoric about judicial activism or judicial restraint, often with little understanding of what theseterms really mean.Moreover, as public perceptions of the Supreme Court become more politicized, the legitimacy of itspower becomes clouded. If the Court is perceived as just another political institution making politicaldecisions, but a completely undemocratic institution because its judges are appointed and serve forlife, questions arise about whether the Courts power of judicial review should be strictly limited oreliminated altogether. Justice Breyers warning comes to mind as the percent of Americans approvingof how the Supreme Court does its job slid from 61% in 2009 to 46% in 2011 (Gallup, 2012).In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, respond to one of these questions:a. What judicial philosophy should guide the Supreme Courts exercise of judicial review?b. Should the Supreme Courts power of judicial review be strictly limited by a constitutionalamendment?In answering either question, clearly state your position (thesis) at the beginning of your post. Defineimportant terms and explain your position fully. Consider pro and con arguments on both sides ofyour position and respond to the con arguments. Justify your position with facts and persuasivereasoning. Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your positionwith APA citations to two or more differentresources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).References:Breyer, S. (2011). No small wonder. Wilson Quarterly, 35(3), 60-61.Gallup Inc. (2012). Supreme Court. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/4732/Supreme-Court.aspxHabeas Corpus and the War on Terror. Soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, theBush administration developed a plan for holding and interrogating prisoners captured during theconflict. They were sent to a prison inside a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on land leased fromthe government of Cuba. Since 2002, over 700 men have been detained at "GITMO." Most have beenreleased without charges or turned over to other governments. In 2011, Congress specificallyprohibited the expenditure of funds to transfer GITMO prisoners to detention facilities in thecontinental United States, making it virtually impossible to try them in civilian courts. As of April2012, 169 remained in detention at GITMO (Sutton, 2012).
  • 6. An assumption made by the Bush administration in selecting this location was that it was beyond thejurisdiction of U.S. courts. The administration wanted to avoid any judicial oversight of how ithandled detainees, characterized as "enemy combatants." A possible legal challenge to indefinitedetention with no formal charges or judicial proceedings might arise from the habeas corpusprovision of the Constitution.Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall notbe suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Underthis provision, persons detained by the government are entitled to a judicial hearing to determine ifthere is any legal basis for their detention. Some legal commentators refer to the right of habeascorpus as the "great writ of liberty" because it is a prisoners ultimate recourse to an impartial judgeto review the possibility that he is being held illegally by the executive (e.g., the police or themilitary). In nations that do not honor habeas corpus, people simply disappear into prisons withoutever having their day in court. Several controversial Supreme Court cases have come out of GITMO.One fundamental question that has been debated, but not clearly resolved, is to what extent the waron terror justifies the Presidents indefinite detention of "enemy combatants" without the possibilityof the minimal judicial review protected by habeas corpus? Another issue in the debate is to whatextent Congress must clearly authorize the President to conduct extra-judicial detentions in order forthem to be legal? In 2008, the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush offered someanswers to these questions. However, the deeply divided 5-4 Court and the likelihood of theprotracted nature of the war on terror suggest that debate around these important questions willcontinue.The purpose of this forum is for you to share and discuss with classmates your understanding of someof the academic literature about this subject in order to help you write the Final Paper in the course.Your initial post will have two parts.a. In 150-200 words, summarize, in your own words, one of the academic articles required for thisdiscussion (from item 8 in the Required Resources). Select an article from the list that you think maybe a source for your final essay. Read it carefully and try to understand the authors main points thatmay be relevant to your final essay. First, give the full APA citation for the article. Then, summarizethe relevant main points and explain the authors reasoning as you understand it. At the end of yoursummary, ask one question about a specific point in the article that you do not understand and wouldlike some help with (refer to a page number).b. In 50-75 words, state what you believe the thesis of your Final Paper will be. State the thesis asclearly and fully as you can. Draw upon what you have learned from all the required resources youreviewed for this discussion. While you can change your mind about your thesis when you actuallywrite the Final Paper, use this discussion forum as a serious opportunity to try out a thesis and receivefeedback from your peers.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking. Offer ideas about the question your peerasks in his or her initial post. Give your peers feedback about their proposed thesis.Reference:Sutton, J. (2012, April 19). Two Guantanamo Uighur prisoners head to El Salvador. Chicago TribuneNews. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-guantanamo-salvadorbre83i1ha-20120419,0,1170410.story
  • 7. Party Platforms and Winning Elections. Political parties mobilize voters to win elections andimplement policy goals. Parties use their stated policy goals (i.e., their platforms) as a way tomobilize voter support. Generally, in order to be successful in a two-party system, parties must havepolicy goals across a broad range of issue areas to appeal to a broad range of voters.For this discussion, you will identify one issue area that you want investigate. Use the resourcesrequired for this discussion to gather information about the goals and proposals, in that issue area, ofthree political parties – the Democratic and Republican parties and a third party.In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, summarize each of the three parties’ policy goals inyour issue area. Compare and contrast the parties goals in that area. Evaluate each partys goals fromtwo perspectives:a. Your own political philosophy, values or ideology.b. How effective each partys goals are likely to be in mobilizing voters to support the partyscandidates on the national level. In making your assessment from this perspective, consider whatinfluence the factors which underlie the two-party system have on each partys ability to use its policyproposals to generate voter support.Justify your conclusions with facts and persuasive reasoning.Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion.By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must beat least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about yourpeers post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts withyour peers while explaining or justifying your position).Voting and Turnout. The U.S. has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among modern democraticpolitical systems. One study ranks the U.S. 120th on a list of 169 nations compared on voter turnout(Pintor, Gratschew, & Sullivan, 2002). While during the last decade many initiatives have beenundertaken to increase voter participation, concerns about the possibility of election fraud have alsoincreased. Additionally, some political interests feel threatened by the increase in turnout amongsome traditionally low-turnout ethnic minorities.Several states have recently passed legislation imposing new registration and identificationrequirements. This has sparked debate about whether these are tactics intended to suppress turnout orto prevent fraud.In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, summarize recent developments in several statesenacting voter ID laws. Explain the pros and cons on both sides of the debate about these laws. Shareyour own experience with the relative difficulty or ease of voting in your locale. Draw your ownconclusion about the debate over voter ID laws. Finally, share your perspective about whether votingin the U.S. should be made easier or harder. Justify your conclusions with facts and persuasivereasoning.Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APAcitations totwo or more different resources required for this discussion. By Day 7, respond to at leasttwo of your classmates initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They mustdemonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peers post while explaining
  • 8. why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peers whileexplaining or justifying your position).Reference:Pintor, R., Gratschew, M., & Sullivan, K. (2002). Voter turnout rates from a comparative perspective.In R. Pintor& M. Gratschew (Eds.), Voter turnout since 1945: A global report. Stockholm, Sweden:The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Retrieved fromhttp://www.idea.int/publications/vt/upload/Voter%20turnout.pdf