Poli330 Chap7


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Political Science 330
United States

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Poli330 Chap7

  1. 1. Chapter 7 The United States
  2. 2. U.S. Basic Facts <ul><li>Population: over 300 million </li></ul><ul><li>Total area: 3.79 million sq miles </li></ul><ul><li>Political system: Presidential, representative democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative structure: Federalism – powers shared between national government and 50 state governments; separation of powers: legislative, judicial, executive </li></ul>
  3. 3. Branches of Government <ul><li>Executive: President – “directly” elected (Electoral College officially elects president and vice president) for four-year term; cabinet selected by president </li></ul><ul><li>Legislative: Bicameral. Lower house (House of Representatives) 435 members, two-year terms. Upper house (Senate) 100 members, six-year terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Judicial: Supreme Court – nine justices nominated by President, confirmed by Senate – life tenure – can declare acts of legislature & executive unconstitutional. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Party System <ul><li>Two-party system: Republicans and Democrats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties relatively weak, fractionalized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal following of candidates important </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contrasts with parliamentary systems (Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple political parties. One party elected, and then a prime minister is chosen within the party. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties can be voted out of office if unpopular </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Four critical junctures in U.S. history <ul><li>American Revolution through ratification of U.S. Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>Civil War and Reconstruction </li></ul><ul><li>The New Deal </li></ul><ul><li>Since 1968, national elections – period of divided national government </li></ul>
  6. 6. Revolutionary Era (1773-1789) <ul><li>Declaration of Independence 7/4/1776 </li></ul><ul><li>Articles of Confederation (1777-1788) governed nation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weaknesses: inability to implement foreign/domestic policy, tax, regulate trade – also states had to ratify most key decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constitution replaced Articles of Confederation 1788 </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Constitution maintained most power with States – limited but specific powers to national (federal) government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal government had authority over commerce & military policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post offices, roads, coining money, establishing rule of naturalization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sought to limit citizenry’s voice in government </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Created executive (presidency) – powers independent of legislature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>President elected indirectly through Electoral College </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Senate originally elected through state legislatures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Only House of Representatives elected by people </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments) – prohibitions on national government necessary to ensure ratification of Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>Became guarantees against excesses of state & national government </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation of meaning of rights periodically reviewed in federal courts </li></ul>
  9. 9. Civil War and Reconstruction 1861-1876 <ul><li>What caused Civil War? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Morality of slavery overt reason </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Really fought over states’ rights – many states still believed they could reject federal laws </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Results of Civil War – (North won) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Indivisibility of the Union </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Established an enforceable national citizenship (Fourteenth Amendment 1868) – extended citizenship to all persons born in the U.S. (freed slaves) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Fifteenth amendment (1870) – granted vote to African Americans – but rights not uniformly enforced until… </li></ul><ul><li>Voting Rights Act of 1965 – finally African Americans could routinely vote (especially in the South) </li></ul>
  11. 11. The New Deal era 1933-1940 <ul><li>New Deal – Roosevelt’s administration response to Great Depression </li></ul><ul><li>Presidency dominated Congress in policymaking </li></ul><ul><li>Start of interventionist approach (vs. isolationist) </li></ul><ul><li>Federal government established </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Security </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jobs programs – building roads/dams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Housing and food programs for poor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subsidized farmers </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Era of divided government 1968-present <ul><li>Since 1968, increasing divisions </li></ul><ul><li>Two dimensions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Division between two political parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increases inefficiency of government – cannot respond to national needs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Increases popular distrust of government </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rejection of expansion of federal government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>California proposition 13 (1978) limited government’s ability to increase property taxes </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. U.S. Constitution <ul><li>U.S. Constitution created system of federalism and separation of powers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federalism – division of governing responsibilities between national and state governments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Separation of powers – between three branches of government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>**reality is that individual citizens have little ability to influence national government </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Constitution amended 27 times since 1787 </li></ul><ul><li>First ten amendments Bill of Rights (1791)– set of protections of individual rights – required compromise </li></ul><ul><li>Remaining 17 amendments extended democratic election practices and changed procedural deficiencies (president & vice-president on a single ticket, term limits) </li></ul><ul><li>Amendments initiated by Congress, require three-quarters of states to agree </li></ul>
  15. 15. U.S. Legislature <ul><li>Bicameral system – two houses </li></ul><ul><li>House of Representatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allocated by population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>435 members (fixed #since 1910) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More responsive to popular will </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elections every two years </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Senate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Equal representation for each state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does not take into account growing gap in population between large & small states </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>100 members (two for each state) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Six-year staggered terms (only one-third can be unseated in an election) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two central powers of Congress are legislation and oversight </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Electoral College <ul><li>Citizens don’t directly elect president or vice president </li></ul><ul><li>Voted into law in 1845 </li></ul><ul><li>Electoral College placed community leaders between voters and selection of leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Number of electors equal to number of a State’s representatives plus its two senators </li></ul><ul><li>To win – earn half number plus one – 270 of Electoral College votes </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Electoral College system can make a winner out of the person who places second in the popular vote (Gore v. Bush in 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>All but two states award electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis (Maine & Nebraska use tiered system) </li></ul><ul><li>Most states require that an elector vote for a candidate to whom s/he is pledged (elector from D.C. in 2000 did not vote for Gore although pledged to by popular vote) </li></ul>