What Americans Think AboutGovernmentDo you trust government to do the right thing?
What Americans Think AboutGovernment• Americans expect a lot fromtheir government.– Keep us safe and yet protectindividual liberty and privacy.– Support the weakest and yetkeep taxes low.– Sustain a healthy environmentand still promote businessgrowth.– Keep government small, yet
What Americans Think AboutGovernment• Does it matter if Americans trust theirgovernment?– Yes• American government is predicated on acitizenry that:– is informed and active,– keeps leaders aware of their preferences, and– holds elected officials accountable at elections.• Trust is a prerequisite to engaged democracy.
What Americans Think AboutGovernment• Efficacy: perception that one has theability to influence government and politics– 1960: 25 percent of those polled said electedofficials didn’t care what citizens likethemselves thought– 2009: 59 percent thought the same
Citizenship: Knowledge andParticipation• Political Knowledge– People will not believe they can affectgovernment if they don’t know much about it.• Americans are not very knowledgeableabout their government.– Just 48 percent know that only U.S. citizenscan vote in a national election.
Citizenship: Knowledge andParticipation• Citizenship: in theory, refers to“enlightened political engagement”– Citizens must be aware of the facts and whatcan be done about a situation.– Citizens must be willing to take action to solvecommunity problems.– Not to be confused with formal definitions(native born, naturalized)
Citizenship: Knowledge andParticipation• Necessity of Political Knowledge– Citizens must understand how politics works ifthey are to shape outcomes.– Knowledge of process required extends farbeyond names and dates• Citizens need political knowledge tounderstand what they can expect of theirgovernment.
Government• Government: institutions and proceduresthrough which a territory and its peopleare ruled• Two defining features of government:1. Who governs?2. How much power is granted to thegovernment?
Government Types• Autocracy: government by a single,nonelected leader.• Oligarchy: government by a small groupthat is not accountable to the citizens.• Democracy: a system that allows thecitizens to select their leaders.
Government Types• Totalitarian governments recognize nolimits on their authority.• Authoritarian governments recognize nolimits on their authority, but they areconstrained by other institutions, such asbusiness or a church.• Constitutional governments are limitedboth in what they can do (substantivelimits) and the methods they can employ
Politics• Politics: conflict over the leadership,structure, and policies of governments.– Representative democracy (republic)• Governments are run by elected officials whorepresent the interests of their constituents.– Direct democracy• Citizens themselves vote on all legislation.– town meetings, referenda
Politics• Pluralism– Although we vote and engage in many otheractivities as individuals, much of Americanpolitics involves groups.– Groups help disparate individuals linktogether and pool resources to expresscommon interests.– Many of the ways Americans connect to theirgovernment is through groups.• Political parties, professional associations, etc.
Who Are Americans?• America is an immigrant nation, whichmeans that the government sets policy todetermine whom it allows in and who iseligible for citizenship.• This decision is highly political.• Has changed many times over the courseof American history
WHO ARE AMERICANS?An Increasingly Diverse NationCHAPTER 1
WHO ARE AMERICANS?White88%Black 12%Other 0.5%White81%Black 19%Native AmericanOther2 or more races1%1%2%WhiteBlackHispanicAsian64%13%16%5%SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov (accessed 8/16/12).Race= 1 million peopleTOTALPOPULATION =1900*75,994,5751790*3,929,214* The 1790 census does not accurately reflect the population because it onlycounted blacks and whites. It did not include Native American or othergroups. The 1900 census did not count Hispanic Americans.2010308,745,538
WHO ARE AMERICANS?Geography1790* 1900* 2010SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov (accessed 8/16/12).NortheastSouthMidwestWest28%33%35%6%28%6% 36%33%NortheastSouth50%50%50%50%NortheastSouthMidwestWest18%37%22%23%18%23% 22%27%
WHO ARE AMERICANS?AgeSOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov (accessed 8/16/12).1900* 20100 – 1920 – 4445 – 6465 +27%34%26%13%0 – 1920 – 4445 – 6465 +44%38%14%4%
Who Are Americans?• The first census did not count NativeAmericans.• Until World War II, Americans sawbiological distinctions between people ofdifferent ethnicities.• Immigration policy was shaped to admit“desirable” races.– Until 1870, nonwhites could not naturalize.– Chinese Exclusion Act 1882–1943
Who Are Americans?• Twenty-First Century Americans– 1965, Congress lifted limitations onimmigration set in place in the 1920s– Resulted in new waves of immigration fromAsia and Latin America• 2010 Population (U.S. Census)– White: 64%– Asian: 5%– Black: 13%– Latino: 16%
Who Are Americans?• Age distribution of the population can havea profound impact on politics.– Different age groups have very differentneeds for public services.– Different age groups vote differently.
American Political Culture• If Americans do not share a commonblood line, or religious or ethnic heritage,what unites the nation?– Liberty– Equality– Democracy
American Political Culture• Liberty: freedom fromgovernmental control– Personal freedom– Economic freedom
American Political Culture• Equality– Equality of outcome– Equality of opportunity– Political equality
American Political Culture• Democracy– People choose their rulers and have somesay over what those rulers do.– When ultimate power rests with the citizenry,this is called “popular sovereignty.”– In America, the people are sovereign, andmajority rules, but the individual rights of theminority are still protected.
Liberty, Equality, andDemocracy in Practice• Liberty– People are typically not free to harm others.– Should they be free to harm themselves?– What about protecting minors?– Or protecting natural resources for futuregenerations?– What values need to be protected, even at theexpense of freedom of speech or religion?
Liberty, Equality, andDemocracy in Practice• Equality– Equality of access to public institutions– Equality of opportunity in private life• How do we rectify past official discrimination?– Equality of outcomes
Liberty, Equality, andDemocracy in Practice• Democracy– America’s history has been one of increasingsuffrage for more and more groups.– This has meant large swaths of the polity didnot have the right to participate for most of thenation’s history.– Even today, participation in Americandemocratic institutions is low.