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Right to use power

Bureaucratic View

View that government is dominated by appointed officials


Rule by many

Direct (participatory) democracy

Government in which all or most citizens participate directly


Person who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resource


Political authority conferred by law or by a state/national constitution

Class view

View that government is dominated by capitalists

Pluralist view

Competition among all affected interests shapes public policy


Ability of a person to get another to act in accordance with the first person's intentions

Power Elite View

Government is dominated by few top leaders, most are outside government

Representative Democracy

Government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for popular vote


New provision in the Constitution that has been ratified by the states


Those who favored a weaker national government

Articles of Confederation

Weak constitution that governed American during and after the Revolutionary War

Bill of attainder

Law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime

Bill of Rights

First 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution

Checks and Balances

Power of the legislative, executive, and judicial branch of government to block some acts by the other two branches


Alliance of factions

Concurrent powers

Powers shared by the national and state governments

Constitutional Convention

Meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 that produces a new constitution

Enumerated Powers

Powers given to national government alone

Ex post facto law

Law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed


Group with distinct political interest


Government authority shared by national and state governments


Those who favored a stronger national government

Great (Connecticut) Compromise

Plan to have popularly elected House based on state population and a state-selected Senate with 2 members for each state

Habeas Corpus

Order to produce an arrested person before a judge

Judicial review

Power of courts to declare laws unconstitutional


Human right derived from nature/God

Line-item veto

Executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by legislature

New Jersey Plan

Proposal to create a weak national government


Government in which elected representatives make the decisions

Reserved Powers

Powers given to the state governments alone

Separation of powers

Sharing of constitutional authority among the 3 branches of government

Shay's Rebellion

A 1787 rebellion in which ex-Revolutionary War soldiers attempted to prevent foreclosures of farms as a result of high interest rates and taxes

Virgina Plan

Proposal to create a strong national government

Block Grants

Money from national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by Washington

Categorical Grants

Federal grant for a specific purpose

Conditions of aid

Terms set by national government that states must meet if they are to receive certain federal funds

Dual federalism

Doctrine holding that the national government and state government are supreme in their individual spheres and that these spheres should be kept separate

Express preemption

Federal law or regulation contained language explicitly displacing/superseding any contrary state/local law


Money given by national government to the states


Process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on ballot


Terms set by national government that states must meet whether or not they're receiving federal grants

"Necessary and proper" clause

Section of the Constitution allowing Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to its duties and that has permitted Congress to exercise powers not specifically given to it


Doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in state's opinion, violates Constitution

Police Power

State power to enact laws promoting health, safety, morals


Procedure where voters can remove an elected official from office


Procedure where voters can reject a measure passed by the legislature


Decision by administrative agency granting some other part permission to violate a law that would otherwise apply to it

Civil Competence

Belief that one can affect government policies

Civic Duty

Belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs

Civil Society

Voluntary action that makes cooperation easier

Class Consciousness

Belief that one is a member of an economic group whose interests are opposed to those of people in other such groups


Political terms: someone who believes that morality & religion ought to be of decisive importance

Political culture

Patterned and sustained way of thinking about how politics & government should be carried out


Belief that personal freedom & solving social problems are more important than religion

Exit Poll

Poll based on interviews conducted on Election Day with randomly selected voters

Gender gap

Difference in political views between men and women


Standard of right or proper conduct

Political ideology

More or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government ought to pursue

Political socialization

Process by which background taints influence one's political views


Survey of public opinion

Public opinion

How people think or feel about particular things

Random sample

Method of selecting from a population in which each person has an equal chance of being selected

Sampling error

Difference between the results of random samples taken at the same time


Person who tends to participate in all forms of politics

Australian ballot

Government-printed ballot of uniform dimensions to be cast in secret that many states adopted around 1890 to reduce voting fraud associated with party-printed ballots cast in public

Grandfather clause

Clause in registration laws allowing a person who doesn't meet registration requirements to voter if he or his ancestor voted before 1867

Literacy test

Requirement that citizens prove they can read before registering to vote

Poll tax

Requirement that citizens pay a tax in order to register to vote

Registered voters

People who are registered to vote

Voting-age population

Citizens who are eligible to vote after reaching the minimum age requirement

White primary

Practice of keeping blacks from voting in southern states' primaries through arbitrary use of registration requirements and intimidation

Adversarial Press

Tendency of national media to be suspicious of officials & eager to reveal unflattering stories about them


Public official's statement to a reporter that's given on condition that the official not be named


Series, or log, of discussion items on a page of the World Wide Web

Equal Time rule

FCC rule that, if a broadcaster sells time to 1 candidate, it must sell equal time to another

Feature Story

Media story about event that, though public, aren't regularly covered by reporters

Horse Race Journalism

News coverage that emphasizes who's ahead vs. the issues

Insider Story

Media story about events not usually made p public

Loaded language

Words that imply a value judgment; used to persuade a view without making a serious argument

Routine story

Media story about events that are regularly covered by reporters

Selective attention

Paying attention only to those news stories with which one already agrees

Sound bite

Radio or video clip, usually brief, of someone speaking

Trial balloon

Information leaked to the media to test public reaction to a possible policy


Meeting of party members to select delegates backing 1 or another primary candidate

Congressional campaign committee

Party committee in Congress that provides funds to members & would-be members

Critical / Realignment Period

Period when a major, lasting shift occurs in popular coalitions supporting 1 or both parties

Ideological party

Party that values principled stands on issues above all else


Republican party faction of 1890s to 1910s, composed of reformers who opposed patronage;
Also known as Progressives

National Chairman

Day-to-Day party manager; elected by national committee

National Committee

Delegates who run party affairs between national conventions

National Convention

Meeting of party delegates held every four years

Office-Bloc Ballot

Ballot listing all candidates of given office under the name of that office
Also called "Massachusetts" ballot

Party-Column Ballot

Ballot listing all candidates of a given party together under the name of that party;
Also called "Indiana" ballot

Personal Following

Political support provided to candidate on basis of personal popularity and networks

Plurality System

Electoral system in which the winner is a person who gets the most votes, even if he doesn't receive a majority
Used in almost all US elections

Political Machines

Party Organization that recruits members by dispensing patronage

Political Party

Group that seeks to elect candidates to public office

Solidary Incentive

Social rewards (sense of pleasure, status, companionship) that lead people to join political organizations

Split Ticket

Voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election

Sponsored Party

Local/state political party that's largely supported by another organization in the community

Straight Ticket

Voting for candidates who are all of the same party


Party leader/elected official who becomes a delegate to the national convention without having to run in primaries or causes

Two-party System

Electoral system with two dominant parties that compete in national elections

527 Organization

Organization under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that raises and spends money to advance political causes

Blanket Primary

Primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties

Closed Primary

Primary election in which voting is limited to registered party members


Tendency of candidates to win more votes in an election because of the presence at the top of the ticket of a better-known candidate, such as the president

General Election

Election held to choose candidates to hold office


Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre/unusual shapes to favor 1 party


Person currently holding an elective office

Independent Expenditure

Spending by PACs, corporations, or labor unions that is done to help a party/candidate but is done independently of them


Drawing boundaries of legislative districts so that they are unequal in population

Open Primary

Primary election in which voters may choose for which party to vote as they enter the polling place

Political Action Committee

Committee set up by a corporation, labor union, interest group that raises and spends campaign money from voluntary donations

Position Issue

Issue in which public is divided and on which rival candidates/political parties adopt different policy positions

Primary Election

Election held to choose candidates for oddice

Prospective voting

Voting for candidate because the voter favors his ideas for handling issues

Retrospective voting

Voting for candidate because the voter favors his past actions in office

Runoff Primary

2nd primary election held when no candidate win a majority of votes in the first primary

Soft Money

Funds obtained by political parties that are spent on party activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives, but not on behalf of specific candidates

Sophomore Surge

Increase in the votes congressional candidates usually enjoy when they 1st run for reelection

Valence issue

Issue about which the public is united and on which rival candidates/parties adopt a similar position in hope that each will be thought to best represent those widely shared beliefs

501(c)(3) Organization

Nonprofit group that may legally address political matters but can't lobby/campaign;
Donations to it are tax-deductible

501(c)(4) Organization

Nonprofit group that is permitted to lobby and campaign;
Donations to it are not tax deductible

Ideological Interest Group

Political organization that attracts members by appealing to their political convictions/principles


Some of value one cannot get without joining an organization

Interest Group

Organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy

Material Incentive

Money or a thing valued in monetary terms

Political cue

Signal telling legislator what values are at stake in a vote, and how that issues fits with his political views/party agenda

Public-Interest Lobby

Interest group whose efforts significantly benefit nonmembers

Purposive Incentive

Benefit that comes from serving a cause/principle


Assessment of a representative's voting records on issues important to an interest group

Social Movement

Widely shared demand for change in some aspect of the social/political order

Bicameral Legislature

Lawmaking body made up of 2 chambers or parts


Association of Congress members created to advance a political ideology or regional, ethnic, economic interest

Closed rule

Order from the House Rules Committee that sets a time limit on debate; forbids amending bill on floor

Cloture rule

Rule used by Senate to end or limit debate

Concurrent Resolution

Expression of opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of both the House and the Senate, but not the president

Conference Committee

Join committee appointed to resolve differences in the Senate and House version of the same bill

Conservative Coalition

Alliance between Republicans and Conservative Democrats

Discharge Petition

Device by which any member of the House, after a committee has had the bill for 30 days, may petition to have it brought to the floor

Division Vote

Congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted

Divided Government

Government in which 1 party controls the White House and another controls 1 or both houses of Congress

Double Tracking

Procedure to keep Senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get on with other business


"Hidden" congressional provision that directs federal government to fund a specific project or that exempts specific persons/groups from paying specific federal taxes/fees


Attempt to defeat a bill in Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from talking action on the bill

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