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government by the people


(Indirect Democracy); Elect people to represent you, elected officials


Where power rests with one body and is not devolved to separate individual government institutions


Wealthy and nobles, elders select group to rule that has always ruled


government based on religion




Iran, Saudi Arabia

Authority and Legitimacy

Political power is based on what 2 principles?


accepted expert


support of the people; consent of the governed-voting

Divine Right Theory

Medieval notions of kingship; certain kings ruled because they were chosen by God to do so and that these kings were accountable to no person except God

Force Theory

The state or nation is created by conquest and force; states grow out of a forceful imposition of the strong over the weak; the weak should be ruled by the strong; might makes right

Social Contract Theory

Political structures and the legitimacy of the state derive from an explicit or implicit agreement by individual human beings to surrender some or all of their private rights in order to secure the protection and stability of an effective social organization or government

Policy Agenda

consists of issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actually involved in politics at any given point in time; some considered, others not; voters are looking at whether a candidate shares their agenda; policy agenda changes quickly, bad news more likely to draw sufficient media attention to put a subject on it

Public policy

choice that government makes in response to a policial issue, course of action taken with regard to some problem

Types of public policy: Congressional statute

passed by Congress; S.S. Act

Types of Public Policy: Presidential Action

Decision by President; U.S. Troops invade Iraq

Types of Public Policy:Court decision

Opinion by Supreme Court or other court; ruling that school segregation is unconstitutional

Types of Public Policy: Budgetary Choices

legislative enactment of taxes and expenditures--the federal budget

Types of Public Policy: Regulation

Agency adoption of; Food and Drug Administration's approval of a new drug

Social Contract Theory

First was the Magna Carta

Linkage institutions, Policy agenda, Policymaking institutions, Policy, People

People, ....

Linkage Institutions

political channels trhough which people's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda, give people the opportunity to be elected for office

Linkage Institutions

In U.S., include elections, political parties, interest groups and media

Pluralism/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. Groups with shared interests influence public policy by pressing their concerns through organized efforts. Generally optimistic that the public interest will eventually prevail in the making of public policy through a complex process of bargaining and compromise. They emphasize groups of minorities working together over a majority rule.

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. Wealth is the basis of power. A few powerful Americans (the top 1% who hold 1/3 of the nation's wealth) do not merely influence policymakers-they are the policymakers. This theory centers on the dominance of big businesses. This theory also states that who holds office in Washington DC is of marginal consequence; the corporate giants always have the power.


A theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened. This is an exaggerated or perverted form of pluralism. Groups have so much influence that they cripple the government's ability to make policy. There are too many ways for the groups to control policy. Groups have become sovereign and the government is merely a servant. These powerful groups divide the government and its authority.

Radical, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Libertarian, Reactionary

The Political Spectrum


Desires immediate, drastic, progressive (new) change (violent if necessary); Desires ultimate sense of equality (everyone is the same); Government can be the instrument that ensures that equality among all


Ex. Socialism

Optimistic about human nature and its potential

Liberal: Human Nature

promote civil rights and liberties over order in society; affirmative action

Liberal: Law and Order

internationalists, working to aid human suffering globally; pro-UN

Liberal: World View

support government intervention in economic affairs to ensure equality, pro-laborer; taxation used to support programs and redistribute wealth

Liberal: Economics

Support environmental programs; separation of church/state; supports government intervention

Liberal: General Viewpoints


Takes no definitive position on any issue; Pick and choose their viewpoints; Tend to favor status quo and desire no change; Tend to be independent in their political perspectives

pessimistic about human nature

Conservative: Human Nature

stress law and order over personal civil rights and liberties; believe morality needs to be regulated to ensure safety

Conservative: Law and Order

isolationists; worry about home front before anyone else; anti-UN

Conservative: World View

If you are a threat, take preemptive action against you


supply economic freedoms, laissez-faire policies, pro-business, and supply side economics (trickle-down economics); against taxes

Conservative: Economics

stress family values, support private schools, strong military and defense

Conservative: General Viewpoints


Ultimate individualism; Minimal government intervention; Minimal taxes; Minimal government regulation; Government control of the economy should be minimal; As long as actions do not harm others, they should be legal; freedom and rights cannot be compromised; Only government involvement in police and protecting the people


Immediate, drastic, retrogressive change (violent if necessary); Extremely racist, xenophobic, and isolationist


Ex. KKK, Nazis

Older people vote more than younger people. Younger people are less likely to be registered for voting.

Factors of Voting: Age

Higher incomes tend to be more conservative.

Factors of Voting: Income

Government workers

Factors of Voting: Government employment

African Americans and Hispanics tend to vote less, probably because of a generally lower education level. However, African Americans and Hispanics vote more than Whites with the same amount of education.

Factors of Voting: Race

Women vote slightly more than men.

Factors of Voting: Gender

More educated people tend to vote more than less educated people because the higher education makes them more capable of discerning the major differences between candidates.

Factors of Voting: Education

Jews and Catholics are generally more liberal than Protestants.

Factors of Voting: Religion


liked monarchy but did not believe in divine right


Believed royal power came from the people, but placed few limits on the monarch


State of nature - people could act freely; State of nature is chaotic, irresponsible, and devoid of freedom

Hobbes Social Contract

People are prisoners of their own evil, but they are rational; People surrender all their natural rights to a monarch; Give monarch complete obedience in exchange for order (sole function of the monarch); People could revolt if the monarch failed to keep peace


Freedom, though limited, is possible only if people surrender their liberty to a monarch


Human reason is powerful enough to devise a solution, but not strong enough to allow people to become part of the solution


Separation of church and state


Natural law: People are rational beings; Natural law guarantees each individual certain rights that cannot be legally taken away without due process of law; Life, liberty and estate


Governmental restraints on people are largely unnecessary; People are most free when left free from government; Freedom in absence of restraint


Individual equality in natural rights; Private property essential to peoples' well-being; Root of capitalism and socialism;

Lock Social Contract

People are naturally good; Government is an agent of society; Sometimes government action is necessary to protect the rights of the people; People should keep most of their freedoms; Only right government controls is how many liberties; Only usable time for this control is when rights come into dispute; Government should never be more powerful than the people it serves; Will of the majority in determining the correct policy; People should rule themselves directly (Parliament made up of property owners); Separation of executive and legislative powers: Executive - carries out policies; Legislative - creates policies; People have the right to rebel against an unjust government


Social contract:Life was peaceful in state of nature, but not fulfilled; People in the state of nature are more animal than human; People should form a new society to which they would surrender themselves completely to create a new entity (the "public person"); General will - doing what is best for all; Even in supporting the minority, a person must follow the majority rule; Community has the right to force people to be free; The general will cannot be wrong; Established a base for radical (pure) democracy

All people are created equal; Consent of the governed; Unalienable rights; Government protects rights; Right to revolt

Five Principles of Declaration of Independence

Unicameral legislature; No executive or judicial branch; Decentralized power

Articles of Confederation: Setup

States were sovereign; No independent executive; No federal courts; Federal laws enforced by the states; No power to collect taxes; No power over interstate and foreign commerce; Only able to be amended by consent of all the states

Articles of Confederation: Weaknesses

Shay's Rebellion

A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block the foreclosure of farms. The disarray of the militia in handling this proved the weakness of the Articles.

Constitutional Convention

Convention held by the Founders to create the US Constitution. Full-scale meeting of the states in Philadelphia after the Small (5-state) Annapolis, Maryland meeting to suggest reform for Articles

Small farmers, shopkeepers, laborers

Anti-Federalist Background

Large landowners, wealthy merchants, professionals

Federalist Background

Strong state government; Weak national government; Direct election of officials; Shorter terms; Rule by the common man; Strengthened protections for individual liberties

Government Preferred by Anti-Federalists

Weaker state governments; Strong National government; Indirect election of officials; Longer terms; Government of the elite; Expected few violations of individual liberties

Government Preferred by Federalists

Connecticut (Great) Compromise

Issue: Congressional representation; Factions: New Jersey - equal representation in Congress regardless of population--and Virginia - representation based on state population; Outcome: Two houses:Congress - each state has two representatives; House of Reps - representation based on the population of the state

Three-Fifths Compromise

Issue: Taxation and government representation; Factions: North - did not have very many slaves; South - had a lot of slaves which could be counted towards governmental representation and taxes; Outcome: Representation and taxation were to be based on the number of free persons plus 3/5 of the number of slaves

Political Equality Compromise

Issue: Voting abilities; Factions: Let everyone vote or let only white property owners vote; Outcome: Voting abilities determined on a state-by-state basis

Bill of Rights Compromise

Issue: Necessity of Bill of Rights; Factions: Federalists - Not needed; Anti-Federalists - Needed; Federalists--Not Needed; Outcome: Federalists ratified the Constitution, and Anti-Federalists got the BOR

Presidential Term Compromise

Issue: Length of presidential term; Factions: Federalists - infrequent elections; Anti-Federalists - frequent elections; term lengths of 4,7,11, or life term; Outcome: Federalists have unlimited terms, Anti-Federalists get 4 year terms

Federalist 10

Madison's article attacking factions (interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth). It suggests a large republic to combat factions.

Federalist 51

Madison's article emphasizing the necessity of separation of power.

The Preamble

"Establish justice";

l.egislative Branch

Article 1

Executive Branch

Article 2

Judicial Branch

Article 3

Full Faith and Credit

Article 4

Amendment Process

Article 5

Supremacy Clause:

Article 6

Ratification (9/13 colonies must ratify the Constitution to enact it)

Article 7

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.

Checks and Balances

Features of the Constitution that limit governmental power by requiring that power to be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These institutions continually constrain one another's activities.


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 system - single powerful monarch

Pound Cake Theory

Confederation - Articles of Confederation: independent, separate parts

Twinkie theory

Federalist system - combination of national and state government

Split layer (dual federalism)/Marble cake (cooperative federalism) theory

Dual federalism

Rigid wall separates state government powers from national government powers; The relationship between nation and states is characterized by tension rather than cooperation

Cooperative federalism (FDR)

Lines of power are blurred; Power is not concentrated in any government level or any agency; many centers of influence

Enumerated Powers (Federal Government)

Coining money; Regulating commerce; Declaring war; Establishing Post Offices

Reserved Powers (state government)

Conducting elections; Running school systems; Regulating state commerce; Ratify amendments

Concurrent powers (federal and state governments)

Levy taxes; Borrow money; Charter banks; Build roads

Categorical grants

funds given by Congress to states and localities, earmarked by law for specific categories such as education or crime prevention; power is in the hands of the federal government; very specific and restrictive

Block Grants

federal funds given to state governments to pay for goods, services, or programs with relatively few restrictions on how the funds may be spent; power is in the hands of the state governments; very broad

Formula Grants

grants-in-aid in which a formula is used to determine the amount of federal funds a state or local government will receive; the greater the need, the greater the amount of grants being received; power is in the hands of the federal government because they write the formula for grants and can change the formula at any time; ex. welfare, education, etc.; usually once a year

Unfunded Mandates

regulations or conditions for receiving grants that impose costs on states and local governments for which they are not reimbursed by the federal governments; ex. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), NCLB (No Child Left Behind)

Labels in the minds of voters; Organizations that recruit and campaign for candidates; Leaders who try to organize/control legislative/executive branches; Political linkage institutions; A voice for the opposition

Political Parties act as...

Voters, Money, Info, Organization

Political Parties provide...


Have the ability to resist 3rd party threats and incorporate their themes/ideas

Why are political parties weak? (Systematic Reasons)

Have the ability to resist 3rd party threats and incorporate their themes/ideas; Separation of power makes it harder for one party to control the government; The Electoral College system favors majority parties and limits 3rd parties; PACs have taken over the role that parties used to have; • Primary elections have eliminated party "bosses"

Why are political parties weak? (Cultural Reasons)

American culture has separated politics from social, business, work, and cultural activities; Broad based coalitions have caused few divisive issues; The rise of independent voters has hurt party membership; TV/Internet has taken roles away from political parties

Bicameral (House of Representatives and the Senate)

The Legislative Branch is...

25 years of age; US citizen for 7 years; Resident of the district you represent

Requirements for HOR

Minimum of 30 years of age; US citizen for 9 years; Resident of the state they represent

Requirements for the Senate

2 years terms (all up at the same time); No term limit; 435 total members; Directly elected by the people; Proportioned by population

Terms of HOR

6 year terms (staggered - 1/3 of Senate is up for reelection every 2 years); No term limit; 100 total members; Used to be elected by the state legislature, but now directly elected; Equally represented

Terms of Senate

Declare war; Raise and support armies; Provide and maintain a navy; Provide for organizing the militia

Enumerated Powers: War Powers

Lay and collect taxes, duties to pay debt; Borrow money; Regulate interstate and foreign commerce; Coin money; Punish counterfeiting

Enumerated Powers: Financial Powers (

Establish rules of naturalization, post offices, establish and enforce patents, define and punish piracy and other crimes (treason) against the nation; establish courts

Enumerated Powers: Governmental Powers

The Elastic Clause (Legislative)

to make all laws which shall be "necessary and proper"

HOR Impeaches; Senate holds the trial

Legislative Powers: Impeachment

Congress holds the purse strings

Legislative Powers:

Review actions of the Executive Branch; greater when Legislative and Executive branch aren't controlled by one party

Legislative Powers: Oversight

Must pass both houses by a 2/3 majority

Legislative Powers: Proposition of Constitutional Amendments

Ex Post Facto laws (busting people with a new law on an old action), Bill of Attainder (bill directed against one group), Habeas Corpus (must be told why being detained; right to trial)

Legislative Powers: Powers Denied

17% of House is female; 16% of Senate is female

Congressional Makeup: Gender

10% of House, 1% of Senate

Congressional Makeup: AAs

5% of House is Hispanic; 3% of Senate is Hispanic

Congressional Makeup: Hispanics

VP - only power is to break a tie; President Pro Tempore - figure position, Oldest person of majority party in terms of service; Majority leader runs Senate; Minority Leader; Majority/minority whips - keep votes in line for each party

Leadership in the Senate

Speaker of the House (voted in technically, but majority always wins); Majority/minority leader; Majority/minority whip; Other leadership; Ranking Members

Leadership in the House

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.

How a Bill Becomes a Law in the House

Bill Introduction: Bill is introduced by a member and assigned to a committee, which usually refers to a subcommittee. Committee Action: Subcommittee performs studies, holds hearings, and makes revisions. If approved, the bill goes to the full committee. Full committee may amend or rewrite the bill, before deciding whether to send it to the House floor, to recommend its approval, or to kill it. If approved, the bill is reported to the full House and placed on the calendar. Rules Committee issues a rule governing debate on the House floor and sends the bill to the full House. Floor Action: Bill is debated by full House, amendments are offered, and a vote is taken. If the bill passes in a different version from that passed in the Senate, it is sent to a conference committee. Conference Action: Conference committee composed of members of both House and Senate meet to iron out differences between the bills. The compromise bill is returned to both the House and Senate for a vote. Full House votes on conference committee version. If it passes, the bill is sent to the president. Presidential Action: President signs or vetoes the bill. Congress may override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. Law

How a Bill Becomes a law in the Senate

Only difference in the Senate is that if approved and the bill is reported to the full Senate and placed on the calendar, SENATE LEADERS, not the RULES COMMITTEE of both parties schedule Senate debate on the bill.


A strategy unique to the Senate whereby opponents of a piece of legislation try to talk it to death, based on the tradition of unlimited debate. Today, 60 members present and voting can stop a filibuster (cloture vote).


In committee, when a committee sits on a bill until it simply dies.

Pork Barrel

Bringing money back to your district for projects


Trading Votes


Congress members already holding office. In congressional elections, they usually win because people already know their policies.


redistricting to give an advantage/disadvantage to a party, gender, race, socioeconomics, etc.


redistricting to contain a certain group; gives power to the group


redistricting to break up a certain group; takes away power from the group


redrawing boundaries so that the other party loses a district


Political funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create a political action committee and register it with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which will meticulously monitor its expenditures.

Interest Groups

Organizations of individuals who share a common political goal and unite for the purpose of influencing policy.

Roles of PACS: Representation

Representing their members' views to Congress, the Executive branch, and administrative agencies. This is mostly achieved by lobbying.

Roles of PACS: Education

Educate policy makers regarding issues that are important to the interest group. This is mostly done in committee hearings.

Roles of PACS: Agenda Building

Alerting proper government authorities about its issue, getting the issue on the political agenda, and making the issue a high priority for action.

Roles of PACS: Participation

Avenue for citizen participation. An example is litigation (law suits).

Roles of PACS: Policy Monitoring

Keep tabs on law's consequences, informing Congress and regulatory agencies about the positive and negative effects

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