Government in America Chapters 1-3+Democracy Handout

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A lot of the important words from the chapters and handout.

3/5 Compromise

The decision at the Constitutional convention to count slaves as 3/5 of a person for the purpose of deciding the population and determining how many seats each state would have in Congress (specifically the House of Representatives)

Capitalism

An economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, esp. as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.

Conservative

An ideology that is disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

Democracy

A political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them

Elite Theory

A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.

Free Market

An economic system in which prices and wages are determined by unrestricted competition between businesses, without government regulation or fear of monopolies.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

(Abbreviation) The total market value of all final goods and services produced annually in an economy.

Government

The institution through which the state maintains social order, provides public services, and enforces binding decisions on citizens

Hyperpluralism

A theory of government characterized by the belief that with many interest groups vying for control, governments end up in gridlock.

Infrastructure

The basic systems and structures that a country or organization needs in order to work properly, for example roads, railways, and banks

Ideology

The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture

Interest Groups

Organizations of people who share political, social or other goals and agree to try to influence public policy to achieve those goals.

Liberal

A person whose political bent seeks to break away from traditional beliefs and values.

Libertarian

Someone who favors a free market economy and no governmental interference in personal liberties

Linkage Institution

Channels through which people's concerns become political agenda, examples: elections, political parties, interest groups, media

Majority Rule

The doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized group can make decisions binding on the whole group.

Minority Rights

A principle of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to majorities and allows that they might join majorities through persuasion and reasoned argument.

Pluralism

A theory of government that holds that open, multiple, and competing groups can check the asserted power by any one group.

Policy Agenda

The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people involved in politics at any given point in time.

Policy Gridlock

A condition that occurs when no coalition or party is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy.

Popular Sovereignty

The concept that political power rests with the people who can create, alter, and abolish government. People express themselves through voting and free participation in government.

Social Contract

The idea that society is based on an agreement between government and the governed in which people agree to give up some rights in exchange for the protection of others.

Auxiliary Precautions

Structure in the government to make it more difficult for power to become concentrated in any one group's hands, seen by the Founders as a backup system to virtue.

Bill of Attainder

A legislative act finding a person guilty of treason or felony without a trial.

Connecticut Compromise

Compromise agreement by states at the Constitutional Convention for a bicameral legislature with a lower house in which representation would be based on population and an upper house in which each state would have two senators

Consent of the Governed

A derivative of the doctrine of natural rights; a philosophy, later adopted by Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence, that puts the authority of the government in the people's hands.

Ex post facto laws

A law which punishes people for a crime that was not a crime when it was committed. Congress cannot pass these laws.

Faction

A number of people in an organization working for a common cause against the main body. A good current example is the Tea Party.

Informal Amendment

A change in the meaning, but not the wording, of the Constitution, e.g., through a court decisions such as Brown v. Board.

Judicial Review

The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional. Established in Marbury v. Madison by John Marshall.

Line Item Veto

The Presidential power to strike, or remove, specific items from a spending bill without vetoing the entire package; declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Pocket Veto

The President's power to kill a bill, if Congress is not in session, by not signing it for 10 days.

Shay's Rebellion

This conflict in Massachusetts caused many to criticize the Articles of Confederation and admit the weak central government was not working. It was an effort to prevent courts from foreclosing on the farms of those who could not pay taxes.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody

Civil Society

A complex network of voluntary associations, economic groups, religious organizations, and many other kinds of groups that exist independent of government.

Rule of Law

Concept that holds that government and its officers are always subject to the law.

Vote of No Confidence

In parliamentary systems, parliament voting to remove a government (the prime minister and cabinet) from power.

10th (Amendment)

This Amendment states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Block Grant

One type of federal grants-in-aid for some particular but broadly defined area of public policy

Categorical Grant

A payment that the federal government distributes to a state or local government to fund specific activities.

Commerce Clause

The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

Concurrent Powers

Powers that the Constitution gives to both the national and state governments, such as the power to levy taxes.

Cooperative Federalism

A system of government in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government. They may also share costs, administration, and even blame for programs that work poorly.

Devolution

The effort to transfer responsibility for many public programs and services from the federal government to the states.

Dual Federalism

Doctrine holding that the national government is supreme in its sphere, the states are supreme in theirs, and the two spheres should be kept separate.

Elastic Clause

The Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that gives Congress the right to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers expressed in the other clauses of Article I.

Enumerated Powers

The powers explicitly given to Congress in the Constitution.

Exclusive Powers

Those powers that can be exercised by the National Government alone.

Extradition

The legal process by which a fugitive from justice in one state is returned to that state.

Fiscal Federalism

The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government's relations with state and local governments.

Formula Grants

Categorical grants distributed according to a particular set of rules, called a formula, that specify who is eligible for the grants and how much each eligible applicant will receive.

Full faith and credit

A clause in Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgments rendered by the courts of other states.

Implied Powers

Those delegated powers of the National Government that are suggested by the expressed powers set out in the Constitution; those "necessary and proper" to carry out the expressed powers.

Privileges and Immunities

A clause in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privleges of citizens of other states.

Reserved Powers

Those powers that the constitution does not grant to the National Government and does not deny to the states.

Sovereign Immunity

The rule that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government's consent.

Supremacy Clause

The constitutional provision that makes the Constitution and federal laws superior to all conflicting state and local laws.

Unfunded Mandates

Programs that the federal government requires states to implement without federal funding.

Unitary government

A centralized government in which all government powers belong to a single central agency

US v. Lopez

In this Supreme Court case, the Court held that Congress had exceeded its commerce clause power by prohibiting guns in a school zone.

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