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Civics201

This document provides an overview of government in the United States from the federal level down to local levels. It outlines the branches and responsibilities of the federal government as established in the Constitution. It also summarizes the Bill of Rights and process for amending the Constitution. Additionally, it discusses state and local governments and how citizens can get involved in the political process through activities like voting, learning about elected officials, and civic participation.

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OUR GOVERNMENT
And what you can do about it
•Outline of Government – Federal, State, Local
•Overview of Constitution and Bill of Rights
•Political Parties
•Running for Office
•How to find out about your elected officials
•What money does in political campaigns
•What your elected officials know about you
•Where you can get involved
What this will cover
From the least important to the most important
(theoretically)
Government High Level Overview
Federal Government
This is where your
members of Congress and
US Senate ‘work’
President - Every 4 years
Congress – Every 2 years
(People’s House)
Senate - Every 6 years
(after 17 amendment)
Responsibilities specified in
US Constitution
Federal Government
 From the US Constitution
 Legislative - Makes the law (Article I)
 Executive - Executes the law (Article II)
 Judicial - Interprets the law (Article III)
 NO branch is supposed to take on the role of the
other!
Overview of Constitution
 Article:
1. Establishes and defines the powers of Congress.
2. Establishes the presidency.
3. Establishes the court system.
4. Says that each state must give "full faith and
credit" to the laws of other states.
5. Explains how to amend the Constitution.
6. Establishes the Constitution as the "supreme
law of the land.“
7. Says that if nine of the 13 states ratifies the
Constitution, it will take effect.

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Civics201

  • 1. OUR GOVERNMENT And what you can do about it
  • 2. •Outline of Government – Federal, State, Local •Overview of Constitution and Bill of Rights •Political Parties •Running for Office •How to find out about your elected officials •What money does in political campaigns •What your elected officials know about you •Where you can get involved What this will cover
  • 3. From the least important to the most important (theoretically) Government High Level Overview
  • 4. Federal Government This is where your members of Congress and US Senate ‘work’ President - Every 4 years Congress – Every 2 years (People’s House) Senate - Every 6 years (after 17 amendment) Responsibilities specified in US Constitution
  • 5. Federal Government  From the US Constitution  Legislative - Makes the law (Article I)  Executive - Executes the law (Article II)  Judicial - Interprets the law (Article III)  NO branch is supposed to take on the role of the other!
  • 6. Overview of Constitution  Article: 1. Establishes and defines the powers of Congress. 2. Establishes the presidency. 3. Establishes the court system. 4. Says that each state must give "full faith and credit" to the laws of other states. 5. Explains how to amend the Constitution. 6. Establishes the Constitution as the "supreme law of the land.“ 7. Says that if nine of the 13 states ratifies the Constitution, it will take effect.
  • 7. Most good quotes are from the Declaration  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  “When in theCourse of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature'sGod entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”  "...with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  "But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
  • 8. Congress follows the Constitution (pause for laughter)  Constitution can’t be changed, but it can be Amended (ArticleV)  Representative James Madison introduced 20 Amendments in first Congress to further define power split between govt. and people  Congress consolidated it to 12  States ratified 10 (numbers 3 – 12) as Bill of Rights  Ratified number 2 in 1992 as the 27th Amendment
  • 9. Among Madison’s Proposals...  Article the First – Apportionment (still pending) After the first enumeration required by the first article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons Is now about one Representative for every 700,000
  • 10. Didn’t make the cut, unfortunately Madison wanted to go back and ‘tweak’ the Constitution, but Congress was worried about the impression. He wanted a Pre-Preamble: “First.That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. That Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety. That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”
  • 11. How to remember the Bill of Rights 1 - Freedom of religion, speech, and the press. 2 - Keep and bear arms. 3 - Forced quartering of troops. 4 - Unreasonable searches and seizures. 5 -Trial by jury, due process, double jeopardy self-incrimination. 6 - Rights of the accused, speedy public trial, have an attorney. 7 -Trial by Jury 8 - Cruel and unusual punishments, Excessive bail. 9 - Rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution are retained by the people (Constitution doesn’t list all rights). 10 - Reserves for the states (or people) all powers that are not explicitly granted to the federal government
  • 12. Notes on Bill of Rights  Citizen cannot violate another citizen’s rights  Jason Carter – Government “doles out” our rights?  Power comes from the people and is only on loan to the government  Consequently government cannot do anything you can’t do yourself
  • 14. Amending the Constitution  Two ways amendments are proposed:  Congress proposes  States propose (Convention of States or ArticleV Convention)  Proposed amendments sent to states,Three Fourths (38) must ratify
  • 15. State Government Georgia General Assembly (House and Senate) All members elected every 2 years Governor – Every 4 years Responsibilities specified in Georgia State Constitution Has its own police force
  • 16. County Government Run by County Commissioners Chairman + 1 Commissioner for each of 4 districts Primarily Land Use Decisions (zonings, roads, parks, etc.) Elected every 4 years Has its own police force
  • 17. Local Government (sometimes) Run by City Council Mayor plus Councilmen Primarily Land Use Decisions (zonings, roads, parks, etc.) within City boundaries Frequently has its own police force NOTE – At every level, only elected officials can make law, raise taxes, condemn property
  • 18. Planning and Zoning County and City Planning and Zoning Commissioners (appointed) Can not approve or deny – make recommendations to elected officials Combined with City Council or County Commission have great control over what you can do with your ‘private’ property
  • 19. Planning and Zoning  You purchased a home in an area with certain characteristics  Because you live there, you are vitally interested in your quality of life and development effect on your property value  While any development near you may affect either of these, a change in zoning can have a major (negative) impact! (NIMBY)  Double Edged Sword  Rights of the neighborhood override rights of the individual property owner  Individual property owner value protected through stability of values  Only acts on changes in zoning  Every applicant says property not best use
  • 20. Property also controlled through permitting  City/County can rarely force new zoning laws on you  New regulations are enforced through permitting process and things like C/O  Conditions also imposed on new construction (sidewalks)  Eminent Domain:  Takings for public good  Kelo v. City of New London – 2005
  • 21. Political Parties  Not related to government at all – more like a club  Make their own rules (subject to laws)  Have ballot access (no petitions necessary)  Run their own elections or nominations  Present a single candidate for the ‘official’ election in the Fall
  • 22. Republican Party (GOP) in GA  National Party  State Party  Congressional District Party  County Party  Each party is independent, has its own officers, runs its own elections  How you join, what could be done...
  • 23. What is the Tea Party?  Not an official Political Party  Not organized nationally  EachTea Party makes its own rules  Truly ground up  Anyone can start aTea Party  Most are tax exempt for donations
  • 24. Running for Office  3 main ways to get on the ballot (Ballot Access)  Through a Party (and therefore a primary election or nomination)  Run as an independent  Run as a write-in (similar to independent but can qualify later)  Independent or write-in needs a petition with 5% of registered voters in your district. *  Cost (all candidates must pay)  US House/Senate - $5,220  State House/Senate - $400 (other offices are in between) * 2014 GA SOS recommended changes, including making that 5% of likely voters, but General Assembly rejected that idea.
  • 25. Who can carry a gun – and where  Georgia does not require any license to buy or own a firearm.  No permit required to carry a long gun openly  No permit required to carry a handgun in your car, home or personal business  Permit required for open carry  Even with permit, can't carry:  at a state mental institution  in a courthouse, jail or prison  in a secure government building  at a nuclear power plant  at a park operated by US corps of engineers  within 150 ft of polling place  in a public school (?)  It is not illegal to carry in business that doesn't allow weapons.
  • 26. Why can’t churches preach politics?  Johnson Amendment (1954)  Tax code change: Organizations recognized under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code are subject to limits or absolute prohibitions on engaging in political activities and risk loss of status as tax exempt status if violated.  If you take money from someone, you owe them  Pulpit Freedom Initiative
  • 27. What can you find out about them? •Voting history and record •Ratings by well known groups •Who they get money from •Who they give money to •Their contact information (address, phone, email) Elected Officials
  • 33. Ratings (heritageactionscorecard.com) Notice the fairly typical ratings drop over time: 2011 – 87% 2012 – 85% 2013 – 68% 2014 – 69%
  • 35. Who they get money from Each candidate is required to fill out Campaign Disclosure Reports. Here is one forWoodall for 7/1/14 through 9/30/14 (3 months) (fec.gov) State Candidates file with Georgia SOS
  • 36. Who they get money from
  • 37. Who they get money from (fec.gov)
  • 38. Who they get money from (fec.gov)
  • 39. Who they give money to (fec.gov) Heritage Ratings: Buerkle – 63% Canseco – 68% Gibson – 27% Gosar – 90% Landry – 74% Long – 65% Lungren – 25% Others he gave to: Webster – 35% Runyan – 32% Ribble – 65% Benishek – 55%
  • 40. What can they find out about you? •Your voting history and record •Who you give money to •Your interests •Your contact information (address, phone, email) Voters
  • 41. Unusual because everyone is a registered voter 1 – Mark Hard and Soft Republicans √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ √ 2 – Mark Hard and Soft Democrats X X X X X X X 3 – Identify Unknown ?
  • 42. Decide how to proceed based on additional info: SHERIDAN & SHERRYL BAILEY W-White / Caucasian Over 70 B-Day - 10/1/1942, 9/25/1947 English/Welsh decent Not Likely to have a child Income - $75000-99999 Bach Degree Likely Professional/Technical Upper Management/Executive Family Magazine DIY Magazine Health/Fitness Magazine Donate to Charity Don’t give to politicians Bought home 2008 for $276k Vote in Primaries and Runoff SCBAILEY@COMCAST.NET 770-614-1535 34.079993, -83.945846
  • 44. Now you know. What will you do?  Vote (but research first!)  Learn the names of all your representatives and get to know them  Think of issues you care about, ask your reps  Stay involved:  Join local GOP and attend monthly breakfast  Continue to attendTea Party meetings  Attend government meetings  Write letters to the editor, post on websites  It is not hard – it just takes time. But there are not many things that are more important!

Editor's Notes

  1. Obviously I could spend the full hour talking about just this...
  2. Great place to start. Has links to a number of other sites
  3. Notice lifetime score, rating is dropping.
  4. Notice PAC funding and Self Funding
  5. Notice NRC contribution