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198 terms

american government

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STUDY
PLAY
power
the ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person's intentions
authority
the right to use power
legitimacy
political authority conferred by law or by a state or national constitution
democracy
the rule of many
direct or participatory democracy
a government in which all or most citizens participate directly
representative democracy
a government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote
elite
persons who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resource, like money or power
marxist view
view that the government is dominated by a few top leaders, most of whom are outside of government
bureaucratic view
view that the government is dominated by appointed officials
pluralist view
the belief that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy
unalienable
a human right based on nature or god
articles of confederation
a weak constitution that governed america during the revolutionary war
constitutional convention
meeting in philadelphia in 1787 that produced a new constitution
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
virginia plan
proposal to create a strong national government
new jersey plan
proposal to create a weak national government
great compromise
plan to have a popularly elected house based on state population and a state-selected senate, with two members for each state
republic
a government in which elected representatives make the decision
judicial review
the power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional
federalism
government authority shared by national and state governments
checks and balances
authority shared by three branches of government
enumerated powers
powers given to the national government alone
reserved powers
powers given to the state government alone
concurrent powers
powers shared by the national and state government
separation of powers
constitutional authority is shared by three different branches of government
faction
a group with a distinct political interest
federalists
those who favor a stronger national government
antifederalists
those who favor a weaker national government
coalition
an alliance of factions
habeas corpus
an order to produce an arrested person before a judge
bill of attainder
a law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime
ex post facto law
a law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed
bill of rights
first ten amendments to the constitution
amendment
a new provision in the constitution that has been ratified by the states
line-item veto
an executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature
devolution
the effort to transfer responsibility for many public programs and services from the federal government to the states
block grants
money from the national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by washington
necessary and proper clause
section of the constitution allowing congress to pass all laws necessary and proper to its duties, and which has permitted congress to exercise powers not specifically given to it by the constitution
nullification
the doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in the state's opinion, violated the constitution
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
police power
state power to enact laws promoting health, safety, and morals
initiative
process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on the ballot
referendum
procedure enabling voters to reject a measure passed by the legislature
recall
procedure whereby voters can remove an elected official from office
grants-in-aid
money given by the national government to the states
categorical grants
federal grants for specific purposes, such as building an airport
revenue sharing
federal sharing of a fixed percentage of its revenue with the states
conditions of aid
terms set by the national government that states must meet if they are to receive certain federal funds
mandates
terms set by the national government that states must meet whether or not they accept federal grants
political culture
a coherent way of thinking about how politics and government ought to be carried out
civic duty
a belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs
civic competence
a belief that one can affect government policies
class consciousness
a belief that you are a member of an economic group whose interests are opposed to people in other such groups
orthodox
a belief that morality and religion ought to be of decisive importance
progressive
a belief that personal freedom and solving social problems are more important than religion
political efficacy
a belief that you can take part in politics or that the government will respond to the citizenry
internal efficacy
the ability to understand and take part in politics
external efficacy
the willingness of the state to respond to the citizenry
public opinion
how people think or feel about particular things
poll
a survey of public opinion
random sample
method of selecting from a population in which each person has an equal probability of being selected
sampling error
the difference between the results of random samples taken at the same time
exit polls
polls based on interviews conducted on election day with randomly selected voters
political socialization
process by which background traits influence one's political views
gender gap
difference in political views between men and women
political ideology
a more or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government ought to pursue
political elites
persons with a disproportionate share of political power
voting-age population
citizens who are eligible to vote after reaching the minimum age requirement
registered voters
people who are registered to vote
literacy test
a requirement that citizens pass a literacy test in order to register to vote
poll tax
a requirement that citizens pay a tax in order to register to vote
grandfather clause
a clause in registration laws allowing people who do not meet registration requirements to vote if they or their ancestors had voted before 1867
white primary
the practice of keeping blacks from voting in the souther states' primaries through arbitrary use of registration requirements and intimidation
australian ballot
a 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
activists
people who tend to participate in all forms of politics
political party
a group that seeks to elect candidates to public office
mugwumps or progressives
republican party faction of the 1890 to the 1910s, composed of reformers who opposed patronage
critical or realignment period
periods when a major, lasting shift occurs in the popular coalition supporting one or both parties
split ticket
voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election
straight ticket
voting for candidates who are all of the same party
office-bloc ballot
a ballot listing all candidates of a given office under the name of that office; also called a massachusetts ballot
party-column ballot
a ballot listing all candidates of a given party together under the name of that part; also called an indiana ballot
national convention
a meeting of party delegates held every four years
national committee
delegates who run party affairs between national conventions
congressional campaign committee
a party committee in congress that provides funds to members and would-be members
national chairman
day-to-day party manager elected by the national committee
superdelegates
party leaders and elected officials who become delegates to the national convention without having to run in primaries or caucuses
political machine
a party organization that recruits members by dispensing patronage
ideological party
a party that value principled stands on issues above all else
solidary incentives
the social rewards that lead people to join political organizations
sponsored party
a local or state political party that is largely supported by another organization in the community
personal following
the political support provided to a candidate on the basis of personal popularity and networks
two-party system
an electoral system with two dominant parties that compete in national elections
plurality system
an electoral system in which the winner is the person who gets the most votes, even if he or she does not receive a majority
caucus
a meeting of party members to select delegates backing one or another primary candidate
incumbent
the person already holding an elective office
coattails
the alleged tendency of candidates to win more votes in an election because of the presence at the top of the ticket of a better-known candidates, such as the president
political action committee
a committee set up by a corporation, labor union, or interest group that raises and spends campaign money from voluntary donations
malapportionment
drawing the boundaries of legislative districts so that they are unequal in population
gerrymandering
drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre or unusual shapes to favor one party
sophomore surge
an increase in the votes congressional candidates usually get when they first run for reelection
position issues
an issue about which the public is divided and rival candidates or political parties adopt different policy positions
valence issue
an issue about which the public is united and rival candidates or political parties adopt similar positions in hopes that each will be thought to best represent those widely shared beliefs
general election
an election held to choose which candidate will hold office
primary election
an election held to choose candidates for office
closed primary
a primary election in which voting is limited to already registered party members
open primary
a primary election in which voters may choose in which party to vote as they enter the polling place
blanket primary
a primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties
runoff primary
a second primary election held when no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the first primary
independent expenditures
spending by political action committees, corporations, or labor unions that is done to help a party or candidate but is done independently of them
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 a specific candidate
527 organizations
organizations that, under section 527 of the internal revenue code, raise and spend money to advance political causes
prospective voting
voting for a candidate because you favor his or her ideas for handling issues
retrospective voting
voting for a candidate because you like his or her past actions in office
bicameral legislature
a lawmaking body made up of two chambers of parts
filibuster
an attempt to defeat a bill in the senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the senate from taking action to the bill
marginal districts
political districts in which candidates elected to the house of representatives win in close elections, typically by less than 55 percent
safe districts
districts in which incumbents win by margins of 55 percent or more
conservative coalition
an alliance between republican and conservative democrats
majority leader
the legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the house or the senate
minority leader
the legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the house or the senate
whip
a senator or representative who helps the party leader stay informed about what party members are thinking
party polarization
a vote in which a majority of democratic legislators oppose a majority of republican legislators
caucus
an association of congress members created to advancer a political ideology or a regional, ethnic, or economic interest
standing committees
permanently established legislative committees that consider and are responsible for legislation within a certain subject ares
select committees
congressional committees appointed for a limited time and purpose
joint committees
committees on which both senators and representatives serve
conference committees
a joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the senate and house versions of the same bill
public bill
a legislative bill that deals with matters of general concern
private bill
a legislative bill that deals only with specific, private, personal, or local matters
simple resolution
an expression of opinion either in the house or senate to settle procedural matters in either body
concurrent resolution
an expression of opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of both the house and the senate, but not the president
joint resolution
a formal expression of congressional opinion that must be approved by both houses of congress and by the president; constitutional amendments need not be signed by the president
multiple referral
a congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several committees
sequential referral
a congressional process by which a speaker may send a bill to a second committee after the first is finished acting
discharge petition
a device by which any member of the house, after a committee has had the bill for thirty days, may petition to have it brought to the floor
closed rule
an order form the house rules committee that sets a time limit on debate; forbids a bill from being amened on the floor
open rule
an order from the house rules committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor
restrictive rule
an order from the house rules committee that permits certain kinds of amendments but not others to be made into a bill on the floor
quorum
the minimum number of members who must be present for business to be conducted in congress
quorum call
a roll call in either house of congress to see whether the minimum number of representatives required to conduct business is present
cloture rule
a rule used by the senate to end or limit debate
christmas tree bill
a bill that has lots of riders
rider
a provision added to a piece of legislation that is not germane to the bill's purpose
double-tracking
a procedure to keep the senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the senate can get on with other business
voice vote
a congressional voting procedure in which members shout "yea" in approval or "nay" in disapproval, permitting members to vote quickly or anonymously on bills
division vote
a congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted
teller vote
a congressional voting procedure in which members pass between two tellers, the yeas first and the nays second
roll-call vote
a congressional voting procedure that consists of members answering year or nay to their names
pork-barrel legislation
legislation that gives tangible benefits to constituents in several districts or states in the hopes of winning their votes in return
franking privilege
the ability of members to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature for postage
divided government
one party controls the white house and another party controls one or both houses of congress
unified government
the same party controls the white house and both houses of congress
gridlock
the inability of the government to act because rival parties control different parts of the government
electoral college
the people chosen to cast each state's votes in a presidential election
pyramid structure
a president's subordinates report to him through a clear chain of command headed by a chief of staff
circular structure
several of the president's assistants report directly to him
ad hoc structure
several subordinates, cabinet officers, and committees report directly to the president on different matters
cabinet
the heads of the 15 executive branch departments of the federal government
bully pulpit
the president's use of his prestige and visibility to guide or enthuse the american public
veto message
a message from the president to congress stating that he will not sign a ill it has passed. must be produced within ten days of the bill's passage
pocket veto
a bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before congress adjourns
legislative veto
the authority of congress to block a presidential action after it has taken place
impeachment
charges against a president approved by a majority of the house of representatives
lame duck
a person still in office after he or she has lost a bid for reelection
bureaucracy
a large, complex organization composed of appointed officials
laissez-faire
an economic theory that government should not regulate or interfere with commerce
discretionary authority
the extent to which appointed bureaucrats an choose courses of action and make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws
competitive service
the government offices to which people are appointed on the basis of merit, as ascertained by a written exam or by applying certain selection criteria
name-request job
a job that is filled by a person whom an agency has already identified
iron triangle
a close relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group
issue network
a network of people in washington, d.c.-based interest groups, on congressional staffs, in universities and think tanks, and in the mass media, who regularly discuss and advocate public policies
red tape
complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done
strict-constructionist approach
the view that judges should decide cases strictly on the basis of the language of the laws and the constitution
activist approach
the view that judges should discern the general principles underlying laws or the constitution and apply them to modern circumstances
constitutional court
a federal court authorized by article 3 of the constitution that keeps judges in office during good behavior and prevents their salaries from being reduced
district courts
the lowest federal courts; federal trials can be held only here
courts of appeals
federal courts that hear appeals from district courts; no trials
legislative courts
courts created by congress for specialized purposes whose judges do not enjoy the protections of article 3 of the constitution
litmus test
an examination of the political ideology of a nominated judge
federal-question cases
cases concerning the constitution, federal laws, or treaties
diversity cases
cases involving citizens of different states who can bring suit in federal courts
writ of certiorari
an order by a higher court directing a lower court to send up a case for review
in forma pauperis
a method whereby a poor person can have his or her case heard in federal court without charge
fee shifting
a rule that allows a plaintiff to recover costs from the defendant if the plaintiff wins
plaintiff
the party that initiates a lawsuit
standing
a legal rule stating who is authorized to start a lawsuit
sovereign immunity
the rule that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government's consent
class-action suit
a case brought by someone to help him or her and all others who are similarly situated
brief
a written statement by an attorney that summarizes a case and thee laws and rulings that support it
amicus curiae
a brief submitted by a friend of the court
per curiam opinion
a brief, unsigned court opinion
opinion of the court
a signed opinion of a majority of the supreme court
concurring opinion
a signed opinion in which one or more members agree with the majority view but for different reasons
dissenting opinion
a signed opinion in which one or more justices disagree with the majority view
stare decisis
let the decision stand or allowing prior rulings to control the current case
political question
an issue the supreme court will allow the executive and legislative branches decide
remedy
a judicial order enforcing a right or redressing a wrong