Unit one slides

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Unit one slides

  1. 1. Copyright © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Longman
  2. 2. Introduction Voting Getting a job; minimum wage The Drinking Age6/29/2012 American National Politics 2
  3. 3. Government• Definition: Government is the institutions and processes through which public policies are made for society• This definition leads to two basic questions: – How should we govern? – What should government do?• Typical functions: Maintain a national defense, provide public services, socialize the young, collect taxes, and preserve order6/29/2012 American National Politics 3
  4. 4. Government• US: Congress, president, courts, federal administrative agencies (“the bureaucracy”) along with thousands of state and local governments – 500,000 elected officials6/29/2012 American National Politics 4
  5. 5. People shape policy• Definition: Linkage institutions are the political channels through which people’s concerns become political issues on the policy agenda – Political Parties – Elections policy agenda – the – News & Entertainment Media issues that attract the serious attention of – Interest Groups public officials and other• Institutions help shape the agenda people actually involved• Policy agenda responds more to in politics at any given societal failures than successes: point in time “How can we as a people do better?”6/29/2012 American National Politics 5
  6. 6. Traditional Democratic Theory• Democracy is a system where policy represents and responds to the public’s preferences• Components of Traditional Democratic Theory: – Effective participation (adequate and equal opportunity to express preferences) – Equality in voting (one person, one vote) – Enlightened understanding (marketplace of ideas – free press/speech) – Citizen control of the agenda (majority concerns vs special interests) – Inclusion (government must include/extend rights to all subject to its laws, i.e. citizenship)6/29/2012 American National Politics 6
  7. 7. Theories of U.S. Democracy• Pluralism – A theory of government and policies emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies  NRA, UAW, NOW, etc; organized groups compete with one another for control over policy, and yet no one group or set of groups dominates – Groups use all branches of government to meet needs – Public interest prevails through bargaining and compromise – Rather than “majority rule” we should speak of groups of minorities working together “Who really governs our nation?”6/29/2012 American National Politics 7
  8. 8. Theories of U.S. Democracy• Elitism – Societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization  Wealth – holding assets such as property, stocks, and bonds is the basis of power  Over 1/3 of the nation’s wealth is currently held by 1% of the population – this class controls most policy because they can afford to finance election campaigns and control key institutions such as large corporations “Robber Barons”6/29/2012 American National Politics 8
  9. 9. Theories of U.S. Democracy• Hyperpluralism – Groups are so strong that government is weakened – an extreme, exaggerated, or perverted form of pluralism – Many groups are so strong, the government is unable to act because of division – Difficulty in coordinating policy implementation – Confusing and contradictory policies result from politicians trying to placate every group – The public interest is rarely translated into public policy6/29/2012 American National Politics 9
  10. 10. How Active is American Government?• National, State and local government spend about 29 percent of our Gross Domestic Product• The National government… The total value …spends about $3.8 trillion annually of all goods and …employs over 2.8 million people services produced …owns one-third of the land annually by the …occupies 2.6 billion square feet of office space United States …owns and operates 400,000 nonmilitary vehicles6/29/2012 American National Politics 10
  11. 11. Show me the money! 2010 U.S. Budget http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/budget-2010/6/29/2012 American National Politics 11
  12. 12. Summary http://www.foundshit.com/tag/people/ Young people are apathetic about government and politics, even though they affect everyone Democratic government, which is how the United States is governed, consists of those institutions that make policy for the benefit of the people What government should do to benefit the people is a topic central to questions of American government How Should We Govern? What Should Government Do? 6/29/2012 American National Politics 12

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