355 terms

AP Gov vocab Chapters 1,2,3,6-20

Health Maintenance Organization
Organizations that provide health care for yearly fees. These plans limit the choice of doctors and treatments. 50% of Americans are enrolled in programs like this.
Program added to Social security in 1965 that allows older Americans to purchase inexpensive coverage.
Program designed to provide health care for poor Americans. Funded by both state and national government.
national health insurance
Program that would have the government pay for all citizens' medical care.
Environmental Protection Agency
The largest Independent Regulatory Agency. Created in 1970 to administer environmental protection policy.
National Environmental Policy Act
Passed in 1969, this requires agencies to file environmental impact statements.
environmental impact statements
A statement of the possible environmental effects a policy may have that must be sent to the EPA before instituting the policy.
Clean Air Act of 1970
Law aimed at combating air pollution.
Water Pollution Control Act of 1972
law intended to clean up the nation's rivers and lakes.
Endangered Species Act of 1973
Law requiring the government to protect species listed as endangered.
Created in 1980 to clean up hazardous waste sites. The money is generated through taxing chemical products.
global warming
The increase in the earth's temperature that many scientist believe is occurring because of greenhouse gases collecting in the atmosphere.
foreign policy
Policy that involves relations with the rest of the world. The president is the chief initiator of this.
United Nations
Created in 1945, this includes 192 member nations with a mission to maintain peace in the world.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Created in 1949, this links the US, Canada, and most Western European nations through mutual defense.
European Union
An economic union between many European nations that coordinates trade, labor policies, and monetary policy. This makes these countries one economic unit.
secretary of state
The key adviser to the president on foreign policy.
secretary of defense
The key adviser to the president on military policy and somewhat on foreign policy as well.
Joint chiefs of staff
A groups consisting of the commanding officers of the branches of the armed forces that advises the president on military policy.
central intelligence agency
Created after WWII, this agency coordinates secret American activities to gain intelligence abroad.
The policy in war to stay out of conflict with other countries. The US practiced this throughout most of its history.
containment doctrine
A foreign policy maneuver that calls to isolate/contain a certain country to preserve peace. The US acted this way towards the Soviet Union after WWII.
Cold War
Hostilities between the two superpowers after WWII, the US and the Soviet Union. This lasted until the collapse of the former in 1989.
arms race
A competition between the US and the Soviet Union to see who could generate the most expansive weapons arsenal.
A relaxing of tensions between the US and the Soviet Union in the 1970's.
A state wherein a countries actions affect the economic well-being of citizens in another country.
A tax on imported goods
balance of trade
Ration of a country's imports to its exports
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
Organization of Middle East countries to control the amount of oil each exports which ultimately determines the price of oil in other countries.
social welfare policies
Policies that provide benefits to individuals, either through entitlements or means testing
entitlement programs
Government benefits that certain qualified individuals are entitled to by law, regardless of need
Means-tested programs
Government programs available only to individuals who qualify for them based on specific needs
income distribution
The "shares" of the national income earned by various groups
The amount of funds collected between any two points in time
The value of assets owned
poverty line
A method used to count the number of poor people, it considers what a family must spend for an "austere" standard of living
feminization of poverty
The increasing concentration of poverty among women, especially unmarried women and their children
progressive tax
A tax by which the government takes a greater share of the income of the rich than of the poor-for example, when a rich family pays 50% of its income in taxes and a poor family pays 5%
proportional tax
A tax by which the government takes the same share of income from everyone, rich and poor alike-for example, when both a rich family and a poor family pay 20%
regressive tax
A tax in which the burden falls relatively more heavily on low-income groups than on wealthy taxpayers. The opposite of a progressive tax, in which tax rates increase as income increases
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
A "negative income tax" that provides income to very poor individuals in lieu of charging them federal income tax
transfer payments
Benefits given by the government directly to individuals. Transfer payments may be either cash transfers, such as Social Security payments and retirement payments to former government employees, or in-kind transfers, such as food stamps and low-interest loans for college eduction
Social Security Act of 1935
Created both the Social Security Program and a national assistance program for poor children, usually called AFDC
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)
The official name of the welfare reform law of 1996, said each state would receive a fixed amount of money to run its own welfare program, people on welfare find work within 2 years or they loose all their benefits, lifetime max of 5 years for welfare
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Once called "Aid to Families with Dependent Children", the new name for public assistance to needy families
An economic system in which individuals and corporations, not the government, own the principal means of production and seek profits
mixed economy
An economic system in which the government is deeply involved in economic decisions through its role as regulatory, consumer, subsidizer, taxer, employer, and borrower
multinational corporations
Businesses with vast holdings in many countries, some of which have annual budgets exceeding that of many foreign governments
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
The federal agency created during the New Deal that regulates the stock market, it regulates stock trade
minimum wage
The legal minimum hourly wage for large employers
labor union
An organization of workers intended to engage in collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Negotiations between representatives of labor unions and management to determine pay and acceptable working conditions
unemployment rate
As measured by the BUreau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of the labor force actively seeking work but unable to find jobs
The rise in prices for consumer goods
consumer price index (CPI)
The key measure of inflation that relates the rise in prices over time
The principle that government should not meddle in the economy
monetary policy
Based on monetarism, monetary policy is the manipulation of the supply of money in private hands by which the government can control the economy, consists of buying and selling bonds and setting interest rates->Fed
An economic theory holding that the supply of money is the key to a nation's economic health. Monetarists believe that too much cash and credit in circulation produces inflation.
Federal Reserve System
The main instrument for making monetary policy in the United States. It was created by Congress in 1913 to regulate the lending practices of banks and thus the money supply
fiscal policy
The policy that describes the impact of the federal budget-taxes, spending, and borrowing-on the economy. Fiscal policy is almost entirely determined by Congress and the president, who are the budget makers
Keynesian economic theory
The theory emphasizing that government spending and deficits can help the economy weather its normal ups and downs. Proponents of this theory advocate using the power of government to stimulate the economy when it is lagging.
supply-side economics
An economic theory advocated by President Reagan holding that too much income goes to taxes so that too little money is available for purchasing and that the solution is to cut taxes and return purchasing power to consumers
Economic policy of shielding an economy from imports
World Trade Organization (WTO)
International organization that regulates international trade
antitrust policy
A policy designed to ensure competition and prevent monopoly, which is the control of a market by one company
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The federal agency formed in 1913 and assigned the task of approving all food products and drugs sold in the United States. All drugs, with the exception of tobacco, must have FDA authorization
National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act)
A 1935 law, also known as the Wagner Act, that guarantees workers the right of collective bargaining, sets down rules to protect unions and organizers, and created the National Labor Relations Board to regulate labor-management relations
Relative Deprivation
When people relate their current economic standing to that of another group
Social Security Trust Fund
the account into which social security employee and employer contributions are deposited and used to pay out eligible recipients
Underemployment rate
Includes all those who are unmployed. Both those actively searching for work and discouraged workers
the institutions and processes through which public policies are made for a society
public goods
goods such as clean air and clean water, that everyone must share
the process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue. Politics produces authoritative decisions about public issues
political participation
all the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. The most common, but not the only, means of political participation in a democracy is voting. Other means include protest and civil disobedience.
single-issue groups
groups that have a narrow interest, then do dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics
policymaking system
the process by which political problems are communicated by the voters and acted upon by government policymakers. The policymaking system begins with people's needs and expectations for governmental action, When people confront government officials with problems that they want solved, they are trying to influence the government's policy agenda
linkage institutions
the channels or access points through which issues and people's policy preferences get on the government's policy agenda. In the US, elections, political parties, interest groups, and the mass media are the three main linkage institutions
policy agenda
the issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actually involve in politic at any given point
political issue
an issue that arises when people disagree about a problem and a public policy choice
policymaking institutions
the branches of government charged with taking action on political issues. The US Constitution established three policymaking institutions—the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. Today, the power of the bureaucracy is so great that most political scientists consider it a fourth policymaking institution
public policy
a choice that government makes in response to a political issue. A policy is a course of action taken with regard to some problem
a system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the public's preferences
majority rule
A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy, choosing among alternatives requires that the majority's desire be respected
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.
a basic principle of traditional democratic theory that describes the relationship between the few leaders and the many followers
pluralist theory
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 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
a theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened
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.
gross domestic product
the sum total of the value of all the goods and services produced in a nation
the belief that individuals should be left on their own by the government, One of the primary reasons for the comparatively small scope of American government is the prominence of this belief in American political thought and practice.
criminal law
Group of laws that defines and sets punishments for offenses against society
civil law
The branch of law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.
The process of resolving a dispute through the court system. Most typically a lawsuit.
standing to sue
The requirement that plaintiffs have a serious interest in a case, which depends on whether they have sustained or are likely to sustain a direct and substantial injury from a party or an action of government
class action suits
Lawsuits permitting a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similarly situated.
justiciable disputes
A requirement that to be heard a case mush be capable of being settled as a matter to law rather than on other grounds as is commonly the case in legislative bodies.
amicus curiae briefs
Legal briefs submitted by a "friend of the court" for the purpose of raising additional points of view and presenting information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties. These briefs attempt to influence a court's decision.
original jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts that hear a case first, usually in a trial. These are the courts that determine the facts about a case.
appellate jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts that hear cases brought to them on appeal from lower courts. These courts do not review the factual record, only the legal issues involved.
district courts
The 91 federal courts of original jurisdiction. They are the only federal courts in which trials are held and in which juries may be impaneled.
courts of appeal
Appellate courts empowered to review all final decisions of district courts, except in rare cases. In addition, they also hear appeals to orders of many federal regulatory agencies.
Supreme Court
The pinnacle of the American judicial system. The Court ensures uniformity in interpreting national laws, resolves conflicts among states, and maintains national supremacy in law. It has both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction, but unlike other federal courts, it controls its own agenda.
senatorial courtesy
An unwritten tradition whereby nominations for state-level federal judicial posts are not confirmed if they are opposed by a senator of the president's party from the state in which the nominee will serve. The tradition also applies to courts of appeal when there is opposition from the nominee's state senator.
solicitor general
A presidential appointee and the third-ranking office in the Department of Justice. The solicitor general is in charge of the appellate court litigation of the federal government.
A statement of legal reasoning behind a judicial decision. The content of an opinion may be as important as the decision itself.
stare decisis
A Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand." Most cases reaching appellate courts are settled on this principle.
How similar cases have been decided in the past.
judicial implementation
How and whether court decisions are translated into actual policy, thereby affecting the behavior of others. The courts rely on other units of government to enforce their decisions.
original intent
A view that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the original intent of the Framers. Many conservatives support this view.
Marbury v. Madison
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 this case the Judiciary Act of 1789.
judicial review
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress and, by implication, the executive are in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by John Marshall and his associates in Marburg v. Madison.
United States v. Nixon
The 1914 case in which the Supreme Court unanimously held that the doctrine of executive privilege was implicit in the Constitution but could not be extended to protect documents relevant to criminal prosecutions.
judicial restraint
A judicial philosophy in which judges play minimal policymaking roles, leaving that duty strictly to the legislatures.
judicial activism
A judicial philosophy in which judges make bold policy decisions, even charting new constitutional ground. Advocates of this approach emphasize that the courts can correct pressing needs, especially those unmet by the majoritarian political process.
political questions
A doctrine developed by the federal courts and used as a means to avoid deciding some cases, principally those involving conflicts between the president and Congress.
statutory construction
The judicial interpretation of an act of Congress. In some cases where statutory construction is an issue, Congress passes new legislation to clarify existing laws.
A way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people. It is a system of shared power between units of government.
Unitary Governements
A way of organizing a nation so that all power resides in the central government. Most national governments today are unitary governments.
Intergovernmental Relations
The workings of the federal system- the entire set of interactions among national, state, and local governments.
Supremacy Clause
Article VI of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits.
Tenth Amendment
The constitutional amendment stating, "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."
Enumerated Powers
Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution; for Congress, these powers are listed in Article I, Section 8, and include the power to coin money, regulate its value, and impose taxes.
Implied Powers
Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution stated that Congress has the power to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers enumerated in Article I.
Elastic Clause
The final paragraph of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers.
Gibbons v. Ogden
A landmark case decided in 1824 in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, encompassing virtually every form of commercial activity.
Full Faith and Credit
A clause in Artivle IV, Section 1, of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgments rendered by the courts of other states.
A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.
Privelages and Immunities
A clause in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privelages of citizens of other states.
Dual Federalism
A system of government in which both the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies.
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.
Transferring responsibility for policies from the federal government to state and local governments.
Fiscal Federalism
The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing frants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government's relations with state and local governments.
Categorical Grants
Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes, or "categories," of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions.
Project Grants
Federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications.
Formula Grants
Federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations.
Block Grants
Federal grants given more or less automatically to states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development and social services.
A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Can be either written or unwritten.
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.
natural rights
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government and was widely accepted among America's Founders.
consent of the governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.
limited government
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens.
articles of Confederation
The first constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. Most authority rested with the state legislatures.
Shay's Rebellion
A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
U.S. Constitution
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
Interest groups arising form the unequal distribution of property or wealth. James Madison expressed concern over these in Federalist Paper No. 10 when he warned of the instability in government caused by these.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
Virginia Plan
The proposal tat the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.
Connecticut Compromise
The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, in which representation is based on a state's share of the U.S. population, and the Senate, in which each state has two representatives.
writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
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. Power is shared among these three institutions.
check and balances
Features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These instructions continually constrain one another's activities.
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 state were contemplating its adoption.
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption.
Federalist Papers
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 Rights 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.
Marbury v. Madison
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of judicial review for the Supreme Court. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case, the Judiciary Act of 1789.
judicial review
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress and, by implication, the executive are in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by John Marshall and his associates in Marbury v. Madison.
According to Max Weber, a hierarchical authority structure that uses task specialization, operates on the merit principle, and behaves with impersonality. It governs modern states.
One of the key inducements used by political machines. A patronage job, promotion, or contract is one that is given for political reasons rather than for merit or competence alone.
Pendleton Civil Service Act
Passed in 1883, an Act that created a federal civil service so that hiring and promotion would be based on merit rather than patronage.
civil service
A system of hiring and promotion based on the merit principle and the desire to create a nonpartisan government service.
merit principle
The idea that hiring should be based on entrance exams and promotion ratings to produce administration by people with talent and skill.
Hatch Act
A federal law prohibiting government employees from active participation in partisan politics.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
The office in charge of hiring for most agencies of the federal government, using elaborate rules in the process.
GS (General Schedule) rating
A schedule for federal employees, ranging from 1 to 18, by which salaries can be keyed to rating and experience.
Senior Executive Service (SES)
An elite cadre of about 9,000 federal government managers, established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, who are mostly career officials but include some political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation.
independent regulatory agency
A government agency responsible for some sector of the economy, making and enforcing rules to protect the public interest. It also judges disputes over these rules.
government corporations
A government organization that, like business corporations, provides a service that could be provided by the private sector and typically charges for its services. The U.S. Postal Service is an example.
independent executive agency
The government not accounted for by cabinet departments, independent regulatory agencies, and government corporations. Its administrators are typically appointed by the president and serve at the president's pleasure. NASA is an example.
The stage of policymaking between the establishment of a policy and the consequences of the policy for the people whom it affects. It involves translating the goals and objectives of a policy into an operating, ongoing program.
standard operating procedures
These are used by bureaucrats to bring uniformity to complex organizations. Uniformity improves fairness and makes personnel interchangeable.
administrative discretion
The authority of administrative actors to select among various responses to a given problem. It is greatest when routines, or standard operating procedures, do not fit a case.
street-level bureaucrats
A phrase coined by Michael Lipsky, referring to those bureaucrats who are in constant contact with the public and have considerable administrative discretion.
The use of governmental authority to control or change some practice in the private sector. They pervade the daily lives of people and institutions.
command-and-control policy
According to Charles Schultze, the existing system of regulation whereby government tells business how to reach certain goals, checks that these commands are followed, and punishes offenders.
incentive system
According to Charles Schultze, a more effective and efficient policy than command-and-control; in the incentive system, market-like strategies are used to manage public policy.
The lifting of restrictions on business, industry, and professional activities for which government rules had been established and that bureaucracies had been created to administer.
executive orders
Regulations originating from the executive branch. They are one method presidents can use to control the bureaucracy.
iron triangles
A mutually dependent relationship between bureaucratic agencies, interest groups, and congressional committees or subcommittees. They dominate some areas of domestic policymaking.
A policy document allocating burdens (taxes) and benefits (expenditures).
An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues.
Federal spending of revenues. Major areas such as spending are social services and the military.
The financial resources of the federal government. The individual income tax and Social Security tax are two major sources of these.
income tax
Shares of individual wages and corporate revenues collected by the government. The Sixteenth Amendment explicitly authorized Congress to levy this.
Sixteenth Amendment
The constitutional amendment adopted in 1913 that explicitly permitted Congress to levy an income tax.
federal debt
All the money borrowed by the federal government over the years and still outstanding. Today it is more than $8 trillion.
tax expenditures
Revenue losses that result from special exemptions, exclusions, or deductions on the federal tax law.
Social Security Act
A 1935 law passed during the Great Depression that was intended to provide a minimal level of sustenance to older Americans and thus save them from poverty.
A program added to the Social Security system in 1965 that provides hospitalization insurance for the elderly and permits older Americans to purchase inexpensive coverage for doctor fees and other health expenses.
The belief that the best predictor of this year's budget is the last year's budget, plus a little bit more.
uncontrollable expenditures
Expenditures that are determined not by a fixed amount of money appropriated by Congress but by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for a program or by previous obligations of the government.
Policies for which Congress has obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients that must be eligible for the benefits.
House Ways and Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
An act designed to reform the congressional budgetary process. Its supporters hoped that it would also make Congress less dependent on the president's budget and better able to set and meet its own budgetary goals.
Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Advises Congress on the probable consequences of its decisions, forecasts revenues, and is a counterweight to the president's OMB.
budget resolution
A resolution binding Congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs.
A congressional process though which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings. It also usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments.
authorization bill
An act of Congress that establishes, continues, or changes a discretionary government program or an entitlement. It specifies program goals and maximum expenditures for discretionary programs.
appropriations bill
An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorization bills. It usually covers one year.
continuing resolutions
When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills. allow to spend at the level of previous years
gramm rudmann hollings
Balanced budget and emergency deficient act. mandating maximum allowable deficit
internal revenue service
the office established to collect federal income taxes, investigate violations of the tax laws, and prosecute tax criminals
Twenty-second Amendment
Passed in 1951, this limits presidents to two terms of office.
The political equivalent of an indictment in criminal law, prescribed by the Constitution. The House of Representatives can pass charges with a simple majority vote.
The events and scandal surrounding a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 and the subsequent cover-up of White House involvement, leading to the eventual resignation of President Nixon under the threat of impeachment.
Twenty-fifth Amendment
Passed in 1967, this permits the vice president to become acting president of both the vice president and the presidents cabinet determine that the president is disabled. This also outlines how a recuperated president can reclaim the job.
A group of presidential advisers not mentioned in the Constitution, although every president has had one. Today it is composed of 14 secretaries, the attorney general, and others designated by the president.
National Security Council
This was created in 1947 to coordinate the president's foreign and military policy advisers. Its formal members are the president, vice president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense, and it is managed by the president's national security assistant.
Council of Economic Advisers
A three-member body appointed by the president to advise the president on economic policy.
Office of Management and Budget
Consisting of a handful of political appointees and hundreds of skilled professionals. It performs both managerial and budgetary functions.
The constitutional power of the president to send a bill back to Congress with reasons for rejecting it. A two-thirds vote in each house can override a this.
pocket veto
When Congress adjourns within 10 days of submitting a bill, the president can simply let it die by neither signing nor vetoing it.
presidential coattails
these occur when voters cast their ballots for congressional candidates of the president's party because they support the president, recent studies show that few races are won this way.
electoral mandates
the perception that the voters strongly support the president's character and/or policies.
Commander in Chief
Because the Constitution's framers wanted civilian control of the military, they gave the president this title and responsibility.
War Powers Resolution
A law passed in 1973 in reaction to American fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia that requires presidents to consult with Congress whenever possible prior to using military force and to withdraw forces after 60 days unless Congress declares war or grants an extension. Presidents view the resolution as unconstitutional.
legislative veto
The ability of Congress to override a presidential decision. Although the War Powers Resolution asserts this authority, there is reason to believe that, if challenged, the Supreme Court would find this to be in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.
A sudden, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous event requiring the president to play the role of manager.
press secretary
This position serves as the primary channel through which the White House communicates with the media.
franking privileges
The free use of the mail system to communicate with constituents and machines that duplicate a member's signature in real ink.
descriptive representation
Representing constituents by mirroring their personal, politically relevant characteristics.
substantive representation
Representing the interests of groups.
Those already holding office. In congressional elections, these people usually win.
Activities of members of Congress that help constituents as individuals; cutting through bureaucratic red tape to get people what they think they have a right to get.
pork barrel (aka: earmarks)
The mighty list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to cities, businesses, colleges, and institutions in a congressional district.
bicameral legislature
A legislature divided into two houses. The U.S. Congress and every American state legislature except Nebraska's are this format.
House Rules Committee
An institution unique to the House of Representatives that reviews all bills (except revenue, budget, and appropriations bills) coming from a House committee before they go to the full House.
A strategy unique to the Senate whereby opponents of a piece of legislation try to talk it to death, based in the tradition of unlimited debate. Today, 60 members present and voting can halt a filibuster.
a procedure for ending a debate and taking a vote.
Speaker of the House
An office mandated by the Constitution, chosen in practice by the majority party, has both formal and informal powers, and is second in line to succeed to the presidency should that office become vacant.
majority leader
The principal partisan ally of the Speaker of the House or the party's manager in the Senate. The majority leader is responsible for scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up votes in behalf of the party's legislative positions.
Party leaders who work with the majority leader or minority leader to count votes beforehand and lean on waverers whose votes are crucial to a bill favored by the party.
minority leader
The principal leader of the minority party in the House of Representatives or in the Senate.
standing committees
Separate subject-matter committees in each house of Congress that handle bills in different policy areas.
joint committees
Congressional committees on a few subject-matter areas with membership drawn from both houses.
conference committees
Congressional committees formed when the Senate and the House pass a particular bill in different forms. Party leadership appoints members from each house to iron out the differences and bring back a single bill.
select committees
Congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as the Watergate investigation.
legislative oversight
Congress's monitoring of the bureaucracy and its administration of policy, performed mainly through hearings.
committee chairs
The most important influencers of the congressional agenda, They play dominant roles in scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing subcommittees, and managing committee bills when they are brought before the full house.
seniority system
A simple rule for picking committee chairs, in effect until the 1970s. The member who had served on the committee the longest and whose party controlled the chamber became chair, regardless of party loyalty, mental state, or competence.
caucus (Congressional)
A group of members of Congress sharing some interest or characteristics. Most are composed of members from both parties and from both houses. There are about 300 of these.
A proposed law, drafted in legal language. Anyone can draft one, but only a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate can formally submit one for consideration.
Interest Group
An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals. They pursue their goals in many arenas.
Pluralist Theory
A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies.
Elite Theory
A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.
Hyperpluralist Theory
A theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened. It is an extreme, exaggerated, or perverted form of pluralism.
A network of groups within the American political system that exercise a great deal of control over specific policy areas. Also known as iron triangles, these are composed of interest group leaders interested in a particular policy, the government agency on charge of administering that policy, and the members of congressional committees and subcommittees handling that policy.
Potential Group
All the people who might be interest group members because they share some common interest - Almost always larger than an actual group.
Actual Group
That part of the potential group consisting of members who actually join.
Collective Good
Something of value (money, a tax write-off, prestige, clean air, and so on, that cannot be withheld from a group member.
Free-Rider Problem
The problem faced by unions and other groups when people do not join because they can benefit from the groups activities without officially joining. The bigger the group, the more serious the problem.
Olson's Law of Large Groups
A principle stating that "the larger the group, the further it will fall short of providing and optimal amount of a collective good."
Single-Issue Groups
Groups that have a narrow interest, tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics. These features distinguish them from traditional interest groups.
According to Lester Milbrath, a "communication, by someone other than a citizen acing on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decision maker with the hope of influencing his decision."
Direct group involvement in the electoral process. Groups can help fund campaigns, provide testimony, and get members to work for candidates, and some form political action committees.
Political Action Committees (PACs)
Political funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create one and register it with the Federal Election Commission, which will meticulously monitor its expenditures.
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Legal briefs submitted by a "friend of the court" for the purpose of raising additional points of view and presenting information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties. These briefs attempt to influence a court's decision.
Class Action Suits
Lawsuits permitting a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similarly situated.
Union Shop
A provision found in some collective bargaining agreements requiring all employees of a business to join the union within a short period, usually 30 days, and to remain members as a condition of employment.
Right-To-Work Laws
A state law forbidding requirements that workers must join a union to hold their jobs. Such laws were specifically permitted by the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.
Pubic Interest Lobbies
According to Jeffrey Berry, organizations that seek "a collective good, the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership or activities of the organization."
The official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party. Generally, this requires momentum, money, and media attention.
Campaign Strategy
The master game plan candidates lay out to guide their electoral campaign.
National Party Convention
The supreme power within each of the parties. The party meets every four years to nominate its presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to write the party's platform.
A meeting of all state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national party convention. These are usually organized as a pyramid.
Presidential Primaries
Elections in which voters in a state vote for a candidate (or delegates pledged to him or her). Most delegates to the national party conventions are chosen this way.
McGovern-Fraser Commission
Formed at the 1968 Democratic convention in response to demands for reform by minority groups and others who sought better representation.
National party leaders who automatically get a delegate slot at the Democratic national party convention.
The recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalized on media attention.
National Primary
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries, which would replace these electoral methods with a nationwide primary held early in the election year.
Regional Primaries
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries to replace these electoral methods with a series of primaries held in each geographic region.
Party Platform
A political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years. This is drafted prior to the party convention by a committee whose members are chosen in rough proportion to each candidate's strength. It is the best formal statement of a party's beliefs.
Direct Mail
A high-tech method of raising money for a political cause or candidate. It involves sending information and requests for money to people whose names appear on lists of those who have supported similar views or candidates in the past.
Federal Election Campaign Act
A law passed in 1974 for reforming campaign finances. The act created the Federal Election Commission, provided public financing for presidential primaries and general elections, limited presidential campaign spending, required disclosure, and attempted to limit contributions.
Federal Election Commission
A six-member bipartisan agency created by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974. It administers and enforces campaign finance laws.
Presidential Election Campaign Fund
Money from the $3 federal income tax check-off goes into this fund, which is then distributed to qualified candidates to subsidize their presidential campaigns.
Matching Funds
Contributions of up to $250 are matched from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to candidates for the presidential nomination who qualify and agree to meet various conditions, such as limiting their overall spending.
Soft Money
Political contributions earmarked for party-building expenses at the grass-roots level or for generic party advertising. Unlike money that goes to the campaign of a particular candidate, such party donations are not subject to contribution limits. For a time, such contributions were unlimited, until they were banned by the McCain-Feingold Act.
527 Groups
Independent groups that seek to influence the political process but are not subject to contribution restrictions because they do not directly seek the election of particular candidates. Their name comes from a section of the federal tax code, under which they are governed.
Political Action Committees
Funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create one and register it with the Federal Election Commission, which will meticulously monitor its expenditures.
Selective perception
The phenomenon that people often pay the most attention to things they already agree with and interpret them according to their own predispositions.
Party Competition
The battle of the parties for control of public offices. Ups and downs of the two major parties are one of the most important elements in American politics.
Political Party
According to Anthony Downs, a "team of men [and women] seeking to control the governing apparatus by gaining office in a duly constituted election."
Linkage Institutions
The channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the government's policy agenda. In the United States, they include elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.
Rational-Choice Theory
A way to explain the actions of voters as well as politicians. It assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of possible alternatives.
Party Image
The voter's perception of what the Republicans or Democrats stand for, such as conservatism of liberalism
Party Identification
A citizen's self-proclaimed preference for one party or the other.
Ticket Splitting
Voting with one party for one office and with another party for other offices. It has become the norm in American voting behavior.
Party Machines
A type of political party organization that relies heavily on material inducements, such as patronage, to win votes and to govern.
One of the key inducements used by party machines. A job, promotion, or contract is one that is given for political reasons rather than for merit or competence alone.
Closed Primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which only people who have registered in advance with the party can vote for that party's candidates, thus encouraging greater party loyalty.
Open Primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on Election Day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests.
Blanket Primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which voters are presented with a list of candidates from all the parties, Voters can then select some Democrats and some Republicans if they like.
National Convention
The meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform.
National Committee
One of the institutions that keeps the party operating between conventions. This is composed of representatives from the states and territories.
National Chairperson
Responsible for the day-to-day activities of the party and is usually handpicked by the presidential nominee.
A group of individuals with a common interest on which every political party depends.
Party Eras
Historical periods in which a majority of voters cling to the party in power, which tends to win a majority of the elections.
Critical Election
An electoral "earthquake" where new issues emerge, new coalitions replace old ones, and the majority party is often displaced by the minority party. These periods are sometimes marked by a national crisis and may require more than one election to bring about a new party era.
Party Realignment
The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election period.
New Deal Coalition
Forged by the Democrats, who dominated American politics from the 1930s to the 1960s. Its basic elements were the urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners, African Americans, and the intellectuals.
Party Dealignment
The gradual disengagement of people and politicians from the parties, as seen in part by shrinking party identification.
Third Party
Electoral contenders other than the two major parties. They are not unusual, but they rarely win elections.
Winner-Take-All System
An electoral system in which legislative seats or delegates are awarded only to the candidates who come in first in their constituencies. In American presidential elections, the system in which the winner of the popular vote in a state receives all the electoral votes of that state.
Proportional Representation
An electoral system used throughout most of Europe that awards legislative seats to political parties in proportion to the number of votes won in an election.
Coalition Government
When two or more parties join together to from a majority in a national legislature. This form of government is quite common in the multiparty systems of Europe.
Responsible Party Model
A view favored by some political scientists about how parties should work. According to the model, parties should offer clear choices to the voters, who can then use those choices as cues to the own preferences of candidates. Once in office, parties would carry out their campaign promises.
Specific locations from which news frequently emanates, such as Congress or the White House. Most top reporters work a particular location, thereby becoming specialists in what goes on there.
broadcast media
Television, radio, and the Internet.
Newspapers published by massive media conglomerates that account for over four-fifths of the nation's daily newspaper circulation. Often these control broadcast media as well.
high-tech politics
A politics in which the behavior of citizens and policymakers and the political agenda itself are increasingly shaped by technology.
investigative journalism
The use of in-depth reporting to unearth scandals, scams, and schemes, at times putting reporters in adversarial relationships with political leaders.
mass media
Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and other means of popular communication.
media event
Events purposely staged for the media that nonetheless look spontaneous. In keeping with politics as theater, media events can be staged by individuals, groups, and government officials, especially presidents.
Media programming on cable TV or the Internet that is focused on one topic and aimed at a particular audience. Examples include MTV, ESPN, and C-SPAN.
policy agenda
The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actively involved in politics at the time.
policy entrepreneurs
People who invest their political "capital" in an issue. According to John Kindon, these people "could be in or out of government, in elected or appointed positions, in interest groups or research organizations."
press conferences
Meetings of public officials with reporters.
print media
Newspapers and magazines.
sound bites
Short video clips of approximately 10 seconds. Typically, they are all that is shown from a politician's speech on the nightly television news.
talking head
A shot of a person's face talking directly to the camera. Because this is visually unappealing, the major commercial networks rarely show a politician talking one-on-one for very long.
trial balloons
An intentional news leak for the purpose of assessing the political reaction.
public opinion
The distribution of the population's beliefs about politics and policy issues.
statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it.
A valuable tool for understanding demographic changes. The U.S. Constitution requires that the government conduct an "actual enumeration" of the population every 10 years.
melting pot
The mixing of cultures, ideas, and peoples that has changed the American nation. The United States, with its history of immigration, has often been called a melting pot.
minority majority
The emergence of a non-Caucasian majority, as compared with a White, generally Anglo-Saxon majority. It is predicted that by about 2045, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans together will outnumber White Americans.
political culture
An overall set of values widely shared within a society.
The process of reallocating seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years on the basis of the results of the census.
political socialization
The process through which a young person acquires political orientations as they grow up, based on inputs from parents, teachers, the media, and friends.
A relatively small proportion of people who are chosen in a survey so as to be representative of the whole.
random sampling
The key technique employed by sophisticated survey researchers, which operates on the principle that everyone should have an equal probability of being selected for the sample.
sampling error
The level of confidence in the findings of a public opinion poll. The more people interviewed, the more confident one can be of the results.
random digit dialing
A technique used by pollsters to place telephone calls randomly to both listed and unlisted numbers when conducting a survey.
exit poll
Public opinion surveys used by major media pollsters to predict electoral winners with speed and precision.
political ideology
A coherent set of beliefs about politics, public policy, and public purpose. It helps give meaning to political events, personalities, and policies.
gender gap
A term that refers to the regular pattern by which women are more likely to support Democratic candidates.
political participation
All the various activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue.
A form of political participation designed to achieve policy change through dramatic and unconventional tactics.
civil disobedience
A form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
A characterization of elections by political scientists meaning that they are almost universally accepted as a fair and free method of selecting political leaders. When this is high, even the losers accept the results peacefully.
A state-level method of direct legislation that gives voters a chance to approve or disapprove proposed legislation or a proposed constitutional amendment.
initiative petition
A process permitted in some states whereby voters may put proposed changes to laws to a vote if a sufficient number of legitimate signatures are obtained.
political efficacy
The belief that one's political participation really matters-that one's vote can actually make a difference.
civic duty
The belief that in order to support democratic government, a citizen should always vote.
voter registration
A system adopted by the states that requires voters to register well in advance of Election Day. A few states permit Election Day registration.
Motor Voter Act
Passed in 1993, this act went into effect for the 1996 election. It requires states to permit people to register to vote at the same time they apply for their driver's license.
mandate theory of elections
The idea that the winning candidate has a mandate from the people to carry out his or her platforms and politics. Politicans like the theory better than political scientists do.
policy voting
Electoral choices that are made on the basis of the voters' policy preferences and on the basis of where the candidates stand on policy issues.
electoral college
A unique American institution, created by the Constitution, providing for the selection of the president by electors chosen by the state parties. Does not always reflect the national popular vote and gives an advantage to small states.
retrospective voting
A theory of voting in which voters essentially ask this simple question: "What have you done for me lately?".