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Government: Chapter 1

Introducing Government in America
What are 6 areas in which government and politics impact a young person's life?
1. public school 2. age limits 3. employment 4. college 5. gas 6. apartment rental
What effects does government and politics have on public school?
the state certifies and pays teachers
school boards regulate education
What effects does government and politics have on age limitations?
the state or federal governments set the ages for 1. driver's license, 2. drinking alcohol, 3. voting
What effects does government and politics have on employment?
when employed, you must pay Social Security taxes
the state and federal government set minimum wage laws
What effects does government and politics have on college?
government-financed loans
What effects does government and politics have on gas?
the government sets low taxes on fuel
What effects does government and politics have on renting apartments?
landlord cannot discriminate based on race or religion
What is the trend of political participation among age groups over time?
America's youth have become less involved and less interested in politics, while the elderly have stayed as knowledgeable over time, and have voted more and become more interested over time.
Compare interest in politics between the youth and the elderly in the 1960s.
There was not a generation gap. 69% of the youth considered politics important, nearly the same as 65% of the elderly.
Compare interest in politics between the youth and the elderly in 2004.
Fewer young people are interested and more old people are interested than before. 52% of the youth consider politics important compared to 86% of the elderly.
What is the effect of decreased interest in politics?
Less knowledge about politics
Compare political knowledge between the youth and the elderly over time.
In the 1960s, young people answered 2/3 of questions about politics correctly and dropped to 1/3 of questions recently. On the other hand, the elderly have consistently answered over half the questions correctly over time.
What is the effect of less political knowledge?
Lack of civic virtues, voting without understanding policies, lack of participation
Compare voter turnout between the youth and the elderly over time.
In the early 1970s, more people 65+ voted than people 25-. Over time, elderly turnout rates have increased while those for the youth have generally decreased.
What is a factor that led to higher turnout rates for the elderly over time?
Medicare results in more able-bodied people over 65.
What is the effect of low youth turnout rates and high elderly turnout rates?
Policies regarding the concerns of the elderly are adopted while the concerns of the youth are ignored.
What political issues do the elderly care about?
Spending now
What political issues do young people care about?
Future plans for a healthy economy
What are some causes of the youth's apathy toward politics?
Belief that they can't make a difference
Belief that politicians are corrupt
Changes in the media
delayed responsibility
How have changes in the media caused the decline of youth participation in politics over time?
News has become less readily visible. In the 1960s, public affairs dominated the only 3 TV channels. Now, there are hundreds of channels and even more websites for the youth to occupy their time with. As a result, they avoid politics easily.
institutions and processes that create public policy
Who makes up the US government?
group of officials that puts laws and functions into effect
What are the 5 universal functions of national governments?
1. Maintain a national defense
2. Provide public services
3. Preserve order
4. Socialize the young
5. Collect taxes
5 Universal Functions of Government: 1. Maintain a national defense
protect national independence
5 Universal Functions of Government: 2. Provide public services
some services are shared by everyone, some are restricted to a criteria
public goods
goods that everyone shares
5 Universal Functions of Government: 3. Preserve order
example: National Guard constrained the Rodney King riots
5 Universal Functions of Government: 4. Socialize the young
government instills the youth with national values
5 Universal Functions of Government: 5. Collect taxes
how the government finances its operations
how we select our leaders and the policies they pursue
political participation
activities used by the citizens to influence who is elected and which policies are pursued
means of political participation
civil disobedience
single-issues groups
groups that have a narrow interest
vote based on one issue
draw membership from people new to politics
policymaking system
process of the creation and evolution of policy
What are the steps of the policymaking system?
1. People have concerns
2. Concerns are channeled through linkage institutions
3. Through linkage institutions, issues form the policy agenda
4. Policymaking institutions create policies based on the policy agenda
5. Policies impact the people
linkage institutions
organizations by which people's concerns are linked to the policy agenda
examples of linkage institutions
interest groups
political parties
policy agenda
issues that public officials give serious attention
Why does the policy agenda change often?
the policy agenda is based on the state of the country
political issue
and issue that people disagree about
policymaking institutions
the branches of government that take action on political issues
the 4 policymaking institutions
1. Congress
2. presidency
3. courts
4. bureaucracy
Describe how each policymaking institution might be involved in creating a policy
1. the president influences Congress about an issue
2. Congress creates the policy
3. bureaucracy implements the policy
4. the policy can be challenged in court, where the Supreme Court determines whether the policy is constitutional
public policy
course of action the government takes regarding an issue
types of public policies
congressional statute
presidential action
court decision
budgetary choices
congressional statute
law passed by congress
system of government in which policy reflects the citizens' preferences
Fundamental principle of democracy
majority rule
majority rule
the will of the majority of the populace is followed
What are the restrictions on majority rule?
minority rights
minority rights
inviolable rights
allow that minorities might join majorities through reasoned argument
few rulers acting on behalf of the ruled in a democracy
Ideally, what should be the relationship between the leaders and followers in a democracy?
the closer the correspondence, the more ideal the democracy
What are Dahl's 5 criteria for an ideal democracy?
1. Effective Participation
2. Enlightened Understanding
3. Equality in Voting
4. Complete Control of the Agenda
5. Inclusion
effective participation
every citizen has an equal opportunity to voice his opinion
enlightened understanding
each citizen has an equal opportunity to be educated about politics
equality in voting
every citizen can vote, and votes are weighted equally
complete control of the agenda
all citizens equally control the policy agenda, and citizens can change the agenda at any time
each citizen has equal opportunity in politics
this means all citizens are equally qualified to vote and run for office
How is effective participation hindered in the US?
the wealthy can afford to advertise their views while the middle class and the poor cannot
How is enlightened understanding hindered in the US?
the wealthy have greater access to a good education
How is equality in voting hindered in the US?
the poor have less flexible jobs that may preventing them from voting
How is complete control of the agenda hindered in the US?
the wealthy can use money to influence politicians to create a policy agenda that favors rich people
How is inclusion hindered in the US?
not every citizen has the knowledge to make well-informed political decisions, due to various factors, like wealth
What are the characteristics of Traditional Democratic Theory?
Dahl's 5 criteria
majority rule
minority rights
What are the 3 contemporary theories of American democracy?
1. pluralism
2. elite and class theory
3. hyperpluralism
pluralist theory
politics is a competition among groups that press for their own preferred policies
Who governs the country according to pluralist theory?
the public
According to pluralist theory, why would public preferences prevail?
bargaining and compromising among groups will lead to a policy that is representative of the majority
How does the variety of government contribute to pluralism?
If an group is unsuccessful in one arena, it can takes its case to another
How does Dahl explain pluralism?
all groups can make themselves heard at some point in the decision-making process
According to pluralist theory, why have there been positive developments in democracy recently?
abundant activity of interest groups
Who represent interest groups in Washington DC?
How do groups sell their goals?
mass mailing lists
media advertising
hard-sell techniques
According to pluralist theory, what is the cause of problems in American democracy today?
individualized political participation has grown, with a decrease in institution-based participation
How is the AARP an example of a decline in pluralism?
The AARP (American Association for Retired Persons) asks members to send checks from home
examples of interest groups
NRA, NOW, UAW (United Auto Workers), AARP
elite and class theory
societies are divided into classes
the upper-class elite rules
How does elite and class theory criticize pluralist theory?
although the government responds to many different groups, groups are represented to different degrees
For example, the poor may receive food stamps, but the rich get massive tax deductions, which are worth far more
What is the basis of the power of the upper-class elite?
holding assets such as property and stocks
According to elite theory, why are the wealthy able to control policy?
the wealthy are able to finance campaigns and control key institutions (eg. large corporations)
a theory that states groups are so strong that government is weakened
According to the theory of hyperpluralism, who truly governs America?
not the public
How do the overlapping jurisdictions of government contribute to hyperpluralism?
it is difficult for each government to agree on a policy
According to hyperpluralism, what is the relationship between groups and government?
Groups are sovereign and the government is their servant
Why do the multiple arenas of government contribute to hyperpluralism?
If a group is unsuccessful in Congress, it can take its case to the courts. Additionally, whatever a group may accomplish in one arena, another group can undo in a different arena.
How do politicians tend to respond to the many single-issues and interest groups?
They attempt to assuage them all
How is policy affected when the government tries to appease every group?
policy is confusing, contradictory, and muddled
or otherwise not created at all
What are four challenges to democracy?
1. more expertise
2. decline in participation
3. increasing cost of campaigns
4. diverse interests
Who is becoming the elite today?
Experts are replaced the wealthy as the few with power
Why has it become increasingly difficult for citizens to make well informed decisions?
Because knowledge is expanding, ordinary citizens don't understand complex issues
What trends show that participation in politics is declining?
less knowledge about politicians and policy
low youth voter turnout rates
political action committees
What is the function of PACs?
funding campaigns
Why are escalating campaign costs a challenge to democracy?
Politicians must pay attention to the concerns of PACs in order to fund expensive reelection campaigns. As a result, policy is geared toward wealthy PACs.
policy gridlock
rival interest groups prevent a majority from forming and therefore prevent policymaking
How are diverse political interests a challenge to democracy?
policy gridlock prevents the government from responding to the public's needs
What are the five elements of the "American Creed"?
political culture
set of values shared by a nation
What element of American political culture is reflected by the phrase "Better Dead Than Red"?
Americans are not willing to live under oppressive communist governments
people deserve equal rights and opportunities
How does equality in voting reflect egalitarianism?
through voting, people can shape policy that provides equal opportunities for themselves
everybody has the equal opportunity to vote
people should be independent and self-reliant
How is individualism reflected on America's views on government?
Americans believe in limited government
How did settlers shape modern individualism?
settlers were often people fleeing from oppressive feudal or clerical governments
in America, they wanted to government to leave them alone
How did America's geography shape individualism?
the vast frontier allowed people to be far from government
policies in which government does not interfere in the free market
How did individualism shape America's view of the economy?
since Americans believe in limited government, they believe that the government should not infringe upon trade
How does laissez-faire separate America from other western nations?
government in other democratic, western nations tends to be more predominant
governments of other nations provide healthcare, more housing, etc
political philosophy that supports the rights of average citizens in their struggle against privileged elites
How do both liberals and conservatives use the value of populism to promote their goals?
liberals claim that they protect ordinary people from big multinational corporations
conservatives claim that they protect ordinary people from big government
How do citizens become polarized?
intense commitment to culture, ideology, or a candidate results in rival groups
gross domestic product
the value of goods and services produced by a nation in one year
How much of the GDP does the government spend?
less than a third
In what jobs are most government workers employed?
state and local level government jobs
eg. teachers, police
Where does the national government spend most money?
Social Security
national defense
funding of state and local functions (eg infrastructure)
budget deficit
spending is greater than taxes collected
How many Americans work for the government?
18 million
How much of the federal budget is spent on Social Security?
1/5 of the budget
How much of the federal budget is spent on national defense?
How much of the budget is spent on medicare?
Why do we not have a direct democracy?
The authors of the Constitution did not trust the public to make informed decisions.