The institutions and processes through which policies are made for a society.
The process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue Also: The process by which we elect leaders to represent us in the "how"
All the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue: examples include voting, protest and civil disobedience.
Groups that have a narrow interest tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics. Link to: cohesiveness, free-rider problem.
The process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time. People's interest concerns and concerns create political issues for government policymakers. These issues shape policy, which in turn impacts people, generating more interests, problems and concerns.
The political channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda; examples include elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.
The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actual involved in politics at any given time. Link to: gatekeeper role of media; electronic throne.
The branches of government charged with taking action on political issues; examples include Congress, the Presidency, the Courts, and the Bureaucracy.
A system of selection policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the publics preferences Link to: republic; oligarchy.
A fundamental principal of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy, choosing among alternatives require that the majority's desire be respected Link to: minority rights.
A principal of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to majorities but allows for their participation. Link to: minority rights.
A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies
Elite and class theory
A theory f government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that the upper-class elite will rule; or perhaps should rule Link to: oligarchy.
A cynical theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened; pluralism gone bad Link to: policy gridlock.
A condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy. The result is that nothing may get done. Link to : hyperpluralism.
The belief that individuals should be left on their own by the government; a prominent belief in American political thought. Link to: conservative.
Declaration of Independence
The document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence. Link to: Locke's natural rights.
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of the U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on government, which include Life, Liberty, and Property. The concept was central to John Locke's theories about government, and was widely accepted among America's Founding Fathers. Link to Dec. of Independence.
Consent of the governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people (Locke)
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect natural rights of citizens. Link to: conservatism.
Articles of Confederation
The first constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. The articles established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislature.
A series of attacks on courthouse by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary Ware Captain DanielShays to block foreclosure proceedings.
Interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth that James Madison attacked in Federalist Paper #10. Today's parties or interest groups are what Madison had in mind when he warned of the instability in government caused by factions. Link to: political parties, interest groups.
The compromise reached at the Constitution Convention that established two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, in which representatives is based on a state's share of the U.S. population, and the Senate, in which each state has two representatives (bicameral legislature).
Writ of Habeas corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody. Link to: executive orders, "Imperial Presidency."
Separation of powers
A feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government executive, legislative, and judicial to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others (Montesquieu).
Checks and balances
Features of theConstitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institution. These institutions continually check one another's activities. Link to: Madison's Federalist No.51.
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption.
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption.
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S.Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights.
Equal Right Amendment
A constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-fourths of the state legislatures. Link to: checks and balances.
Marbury v. Madison, 1803
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in the case the Judiciary Act of 1789.
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, are constitutional Link to: Marbury v. Madison.