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Politics of the United States
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT CLEP
Study Materials for the American Government CLEP exam.
Terms in this set (184)
Define Pluralist/Pluralism Theory
Theory that public policies emerge from compromises reached among competing groups.
Define Elitist Theory
Theory that a few top leaders make the key decisions without reference to popular desires.
What type of goods are available to all without direct payment?
What type of goods may all people use but are of limited supply?
What type of goods are provided by private businesses that can be used only by those who pay for them?
What type of goods are available to many people but are used only by those who can pay the price to do so?
What is generally the most significant influence on an individual's identification with a particular political party?
What are latent preferences?
Beliefs and preferences people are not deeply committed to and that change over time.
What are intense preferences?
Beliefs and preferences based on strong feelings regarding an issue that someone adheres to over time.
What groups of people are most likely to become active in politics or community service?
Those with higher levels of education and income
What is social capital?
Connections with others and the willingness to interact and aid them.
Who was John Locke? What theory is he known for?
A man who greatly influenced the political thought of British colonists in North America.
Responsible for social contract theory.
How did the delegates of the Constitutional Convention resolve their disagreement regarding slavery?
Three-Fifth's Compromise. It was agreed that 60 percent of a state's slave population would be counted for purposes of both representation and taxation.
What are enumerated powers?
The powers explicitly given to Congress in the Constitution.
What are reserved powers?
Powers given to the state government alone.
What is the New Jersey Plan?
A plan that called for a one-house national legislature; each state would receive one vote.
What is the Virginia Plan?
A plan at the constitutional convention to base representation in the legislature on population.
What is the Three-Fifths Compromise
Compromise between northern and southern states at the Constitutional Convention that three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives.
Why were the Federalist Papers written?
To encourage New York to ratify the Constitution.
What argument did Alexander Hamilton use to convince people that it was not dangerous to place power in the hands of one man?
One man could respond to crises more quickly than a group of men like Congress.
It was easier to control the actions of one man than the actions of a group.
What did the Fourteenth Amendment achieve?
The Fourteenth Amendment gave citizenship to African Americans and made all Americans equal before the law regardless of race or color. Over the years it has also been used to require states to guarantee their residents the same protections as those granted by the federal government in the Bill of Rights
What is a bill of attainder?
A legislative action declaring someone guilty without a trial; prohibited under the Constitution.
What is devolution?
A process in which powers from the government in a unitary system are delegates to sub national units.
What clause grants Congress the power to do whatever is necessary to execute its specifically delegated powers?
Article I Section 8. Elastic Clause (Necessary and Proper Clause).
What is an ex post facto law?
A law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed.
What is the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the Constitution?
Section of Article IV of the Constitution that ensures judicial decrees and contracts made in one state will be binding and enforceable in any other state.
What is the "Privileges and Immunities" clause of the Constitution?
Article IV section 2 of the Constitution that prevents a state from treating citizens of other states in a discriminatory manner.
What is a writ of habeas corpus?
A petition that enables someone in custody to petition a judge to determine whether that person's detention is legal.
What is most accurate about the sources of revenue for local and state governments?
Between 30 and 40 percent of the revenue for local and state governments comes from grant money.
In McCulloch v. Maryland, the Supreme Court invoked which provisions of the constitution?
The necessary and proper clause and supremacy clause.
True or false: the idea that "cooperative federalism respects the traditional jurisdictional boundaries between states and federal government" is a merit of cooperative federalism?
What is cooperative federalism?
A style of federalism in which both levels of government coordinate their actions to solve national problems.
What is dual federalism?
A style of federalism in which the states and national government exercise exclusive authority in distinctly delineated spheres of jurisdiction.
What is general revenue sharing?
A type of federal grant that places minimal restrictions on how state and local governments spend the money.
Describe New Federalism.
A style of federalism premised on the idea that the decentralization of policies enhances administrative efficiency, reduces overall public spending, and improves outcomes.
What is nullification?
A doctrine promoted by John Calhoun of South Carolina in the 1830s, asserting that if a state deems a federal law unconstitutional, it can nullify it within its borders.
Was President Reagan able to promote new federalism consistently throughout his administration?
Describe creeping categorization.
A process in which the national government attaches new administrative requirements to block grants or supplants them with new categorical grants.
Describe unfunded mandates.
Federal laws and regulations that impose obligations on state and local governments without fully compensating them for the costs of implementation. Ex. handicap accessibility
What does not promote the use of unfunded mandates?
How has the amount of federal grant money changed since the 1960s?
What is immigration federalism?
The gradual movement of states into the immigration policy domain traditionally handled by the federal government.
Define venue shopping.
A strategy in which interest groups select the level and branch of government they calculate will be most receptive to their policy goals.
What is the race-to-the-bottom dynamic?
A dynamic in which states compete to attract business by lowering taxes and regulations, often to workers' detriment.
What are civil liberties?
Limitations on the power of government, designed to ensure personal freedoms.
What is selective incorporation?
The gradual process of making some guarantees of the Bill of Rights (so far) apply to state governments and the national government.
What is a 'blue law' ?
A law originally created to uphold a religious or moral standard, such as a prohibition against selling alcohol on Sundays.
What is a common-law right?
A right of the people rooted in legal tradition and past court rulings, rather than the Constitution
What is covert content?
Ideologically slanted information presented as unbiased information in order to influence public opinion.
What is overt content?
Political information whose author makes clear that only one side is presented.
True or false: The Arizona v. United States decision struck down all Arizona's most restrictive provisions on illegal immigration.
What is the Bradley effect?
Is a theory concerning observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. The theory proposes that some white voters who intend to vote for the white candidate would nonetheless tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the non-white candidate.
Which institution has the highest average public approval ratings?
The Supreme Court
Describe the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
A law designed to help end formal and informal barriers to African-American suffrage.
What is the grandfather clause?
A clause that allowed people to vote if their father or grandfather had voted before Reconstruction.
What was the Help America Vote Act of 2002?
Legislation passed in 2002 to aid states in upgrading voting equipment
What was the National Voter Registration Act
Passed in 1993 and frequently called the "Motor Vehicle Act", it is a piece of legislation that includes a provision that makes it possible to register to vote when applying for or renewing your drivers license.
If you wanted to prove the United States is suffering from low voter turnout, a calculation based on which population would yield the lowest voter turnout rate?
The voting age population.
What characterizes those most likely to vote in the next election?
Those over forty-five years old.
What is the Federal Election Commission?
A six-member bipartisan agency created by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974. The federal Election Commission administers and enforces campaign finance laws.
Define the coattail effect.
The boost that candidates may get in an election because of the popularity of candidates above them on the ballot, especially the president.
What is a PACS system?
Political Action Committees; raise money for candidates &/or parties.
In which type of election are you most likely to see coattail effects?
What type of candidates tend to gain media attention?
Candidates with extreme viewpoints.
Describe a closed primary.
An election in which only voters registered with a party may vote for that party's candidates.
Describe an open primary.
Primary election in which any voter, regardless of party, may vote.
What is a Super PAC?
Officially known as Independent Expenditure-Only Committees; organizations that can fundraise and spend as they please to support or attack a candidate but not contribute directly to a candidate or strategize with a candidate's campaign.
What is a shadow campaign?
A campaign run by political action committees and other organizations without the coordination of the candidate.
What is retrospective voting?
Voting based on the past performance of a candidate.
What is prospective voting?
Voting for a candidate because you favor his or her ideas for handling issues
What is pocketbook voting?
Voting for a political party or candidate that benefits the voter the most financially.
What is an initiative?
Procedures available in some states for citizens to put proposed laws and constitutional amendments on the ballot for voter approval or rejection.
What is a recall election?
A procedure for submitting to popular vote the removal of officials from office before the end of their term.
What is a "muckracking" journalist?
The action of searching out and publicizing scandalous information about famous people in an underhanded way.
What is soft news?
News presented in an entertaining style.
What is yellow journalism?
Sensationalized coverage of scandals and human interest stories?
A written defamation of a person's character, reputation, business, or property rights.
Who are the Federal Communications Commission?
A federal agency that regulates the radio, television, wire, satellite and cable communications.
What is a sunshine law?
A law requiring certain proceedings of government agencies to be open or available to the public.
What is senatorial courtesy?
A custom whereby presidential appointments are confirmed only if there is no objection to them by the senators from the appointee's state.
What is soft money?
A contribution to a political party that is not accounted as going to a particular candidate, thus avoiding various legal limitations.
True or false: a president typically vetoes about a third of the bills passed by Congress
The usefulness to the president of having cabinet members as political adviser is undermined by what?
The loyalties of cabinet members are often divided between loyalty to the president and loyalty to their own executive departments.
True or false: the constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury cannot be restricted by the federal or state governments
In the electoral history of the US, third parties have been effective vehicles of protest when they do what?
Dramatize issues and positions that were being ignored by the major parties.
What is a function of the White House Office?
Advising the president on political decisions
What is a critical or realigning election?
An election in which there is a long term change in party alignment.
Which supporter of federalism warned people about the dangers of political parties?
In which type of electoral system do voters select the party of their choice rather than an individual candidate?
What is a first-past-the-post system?
A system in which the winner of an election is the candidate who wins the greatest number of votes cast, also known as plurality voting.
What is majoritarian voting?
A type of election in which the winning candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the votes, even if a run-off election is required.
What is plurality voting?
The election rule by which the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of vote share.
What were proportional representation election?
A party-based election rule in which the number of seats a party receives is a function of the share of votes it receives in an election.
Which of the following does not represent a major contributing factor in party realignment?
What did the Framers think would best protect judicial independence?
Life tenure during good behavior.
What is one important change in political culture since WWII?
US citizens are less trusting of government institutions and leaders.
What is The Federal Reserve Board?
A board that determines the domestic monetary policy of the United States.
What is monetary policy?
Managing the economy by altering the supply of money and interest rates.
Under what condition are interest groups most likely to influence policy making?
When the issue is a highly technical one requiring very detailed legislation.
Interest Groups vs. Political Parties
-Interest Groups are focused on one idea that all members believe in, endorse candidates
-Political Parties are very general, will take anyone, nominate candidates.
The most likely and often the most powerful policy coalition of interests is likely to include a federal agency plus what?
An interest group and a congressional subcommittee.
What are revolving door laws?
Laws that require a cooling-off period before government officials can register to lobby after leaving office.
Throughout most of the 20th century, what was most likely to occur in midterm congressional elections?
The party of the president typically lost seats in Congress, regardless of whether the president was a republican or democrat.
What is a bureaucracy?
An administrative group of nonelected officials charged with carrying out functions connected to a series of policies and programs. Groups like the CDC, FDA, and OSHA.
What is a bureaucrat?
A civil servant or political appointee who fill nonelected positions in government and make up the bureaucracy.
What is the merit system?
A system of filling civil service positions by using competitive examinations to value experience and competence over political loyalties.
What is the spoils system?
A system that rewards political loyalties or party support during elections with bureaucratic appointments after victory.
If the VP of the US is vacated, the constitution stipulates that the president must what?
Appoint a new VP with the approval of both houses of Congress.
The weakening of political parties is most often traced to what?
Progressive Era reforms
What is a line-item veto?
A power created through law in 1996 and overturned by the Supreme Court in 1998 that allowed the president to veto specific aspects of bills passed by Congress while signing into law what remained.
In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton characterized the judiciary as the ________ branch of government.
The least dangerous branch.
What is common law?
The pattern of law developed by judges through case decisions largely based on precedent.
Stare decisis means...
The principle by which courts rely on past decisions and their precedents when making decisions in new cases
Who is the US Solicitor General?
The lawyer who represents the federal government and argues cases before the Supreme Court.
What is a referendum?
A general vote by the electorate (the people) on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision.
True or false: federal administrative agencies have substantial influence over public policy through administrative discretion
What is most likely to weaken party leadership in the Senate?
The use of filibuster by individual senators.
What accounts for the greatest percentage of expenditure for state and local governments in the US?
Elementary and secondary education.
What do the Federalist Papers 10 and 51 warn against?
Warns against the dangers of factions and how checks and balances can help prevent these problems.
Congress has the least discretion to change what?
Interest on the national debt and entitlement programs.
True or false: the winner of the electoral college also usually wins the popular vote
What is the bully pulpit?
The ability to use the office of the presidency to promote a particular program and/or to influence Congress to accept legislative proposals.
What is the strongest determinant of an individual's voting behavior?
Political party affiliation
True or false: individuals who identify themselves as conservative would most likely support lowering barriers to trade
As compared with Republicans and Democrats, Independents in the US are typically less likely to what?
Vote in elections
What is the relationship between the media and citizens?
Citizens tend to seek out media that reinforce rather than challenge existing ideological views.
When judicial nominees come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify, the Senate is fulfilling which of its roles?
Advice and consent duties
Arizona v. United States
Established states don't have the power to regulate immigration.
Griswold v. Connecticut
Established that there is an implied right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution.
Baker v. Carr
One man, one vote
Marbury v. Madison
Established Judicial Review (Supreme Court has the final say in the law).
McCulloch v. Maryland
Maryland was trying to tax the national bank and Supreme Court ruled that federal law was stronger than the state law.
Gibbons v. Ogden
Established regulating interstate commerce is a power reserved to the federal government.
Plessy v. Ferguson
A 1896 Supreme Court decision which legalized state ordered segregation so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal.
Dred Scott Decision
Supreme Court ruling that declared slaves were not viewed as citizens but as property.
Schenk v. US (1919)
Established congress has the right to prohibit speech that causes a "clear and present danger"
Korematsu v. US
Established California was right to intern Japanese-Americans in camps during crisis of World War II.
Mapp v. Ohio
Established evidence illegally gathered by the police may not be used in a criminal trial.
Engle v. Vitale
Established mandatory prayer in schools is a violation of the establishment clause.
Miranda v. Arizona
Established the accused must be notified of their rights before being questioned by the police.
Escobedo v. Illinois
Defendants must be allowed access to a lawyer before questioning by police.
Tinker v. Des Moines
Students have the right to symbolic speech at school as long as it is not disruptive.
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Argued that schools were integrated enough and busing as a tool for integration was complete.
Roe v. Wade
Legalized abortion on the basis of a woman's right to privacy.
McCollum v. Board of Education
Established public facilities for religious purposes was not allowed. Separation between church and state.
Wesberry v. Sanders
Ordered House districts to be as near equal in population as possible.
Brown v. Board of Education
1954 - The Supreme Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal and ordered all public schools desegregated.
District of Columbia v. Heller
U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm.
Who are party identifiers?
Individuals who represent themselves in public as being part of a party.
What does sorting thesis propose?
Says that voters change party allegiances in response to shifts in party position. It suggests that polarization is a function of voters' paying more attention to national politics and voting more consistently.
This is one of the oldest and best-known American polling organizations. It is known for publishing timely public opinion research on a multitude of topics.
What is the iron triangle?
A three-way relationship among congressional committees, interests groups, and the bureaucracy to develop and conserve their own power, and expand their political influence.
What is a difference between a PAC and a super PAC?
Conservative interests favor PACs over super PACs.
True or false: The Supreme Court has opposed restrictions on spending on politics.
Who collects population data?
The US Census Bureau.
What is one of the few things that triggers a positive reevaluation of Congress?
When the US begins military involvement overseas; a foreign war.
The key means of advancing modern legislation is now what?
The budget process.
What is executive privilege?
The president's right to withhold information from Congress, the judiciary, or the public.
What does the Office of Management and Budget do?
An office within the Executive Office of the President charged with producing the president's budget, overseeing its implementation, and overseeing the executive bureaucracy.
What is the Executive Office of the President?
The cluster of presidential staff agencies that help the president carry out his responsibilities and is headed by the White House chief of staff.
What is an amicus curiae brief?
Translates to "friend of the court". The legal brief where someone who is not a party to a case assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.
One of the main ways interest groups participate in Supreme Court cases is by ________.
By filing amicus curiae briefs.
What is Dillon's Rule?
A legal principle that holds state power and actions above those of local governments and declares state governments to be sovereign relative to local governments
What are categorical grants?
Federal grants for specific purposes, such as building an airport. The most limiting grants.
What are 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. Less spending restrictions than categorical grants.
________ dictate the terms and conditions state governments would have to meet in order to qualify for financial assistance in a specific policy area.
Describe the Individualistic political culture
A culture that views the government as a mechanism for addressing issues that matter to individual citizens and for pursuing individual goals.
Describe the Moralistic political culture.
A culture that views the government as a means to better society and promote the general welfare.
Describe the Traditionalistic political culture
A culture that views the government as necessary to maintaining the existing social order or the status quo.
________ was the first state to institute all mail-in voting and automatic voter registration.
Under an ________ political culture, citizens will tend to be more tolerant of corruption from their political leaders and less likely to see politics as a noble profession in which all citizens should engage.
Individualistic political culture.
What is an amendatory veto?
A veto that allows a governor to send a bill back to the legislature with a message requesting a specific amendment.
What is a reduction veto?
A governor's authority to reduce the amount budgeted in a piece of legislation.
Congressional Budget Office
The congressional office that scores the spending or revenue impact of all proposed legislation to assess its net effect on the budget.
What is the Office of Personnel Management?
An independent agency of the United States government that manages the civil service of the federal government.
True or false: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka declared segregation by race in places of public accommodation unconstitutional.
False; it declared segregation by race in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS unconstitutional.
What is judicial activism?
The attempts by judges to influence public policy through their case decisions.
A theoretical explanation of the operation of diverse interests in American politics can be found where?
The Federalist papers
The declining number of marginal seats in Congress means what?
Fewer seats are won by 55% or less of the vote
What is agenda setting?
The ability of the media to define the importance of particular events and issues.
What is a check on the power of the United States Supreme Court?
Congress controls the number of justices who may sit on the Court.
What did James Madison argue in The Federalist paper number 10?
The growth of factions was inevitable in a democracy.
What is an example of monetary policy?
Increasing the reserve requirement.
What has most contributed to the persistence of the two-party system in the United States?
Plurality rules for determining election outcomes.
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