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American Government and Politics Today


... derived from the Greek words demos ( the people ) and kratos ( authority ) Direct Democracy Political decisions are made by the people directly, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: American Government and Politics Today

American Government and Politics Today
  • Chapter 1
  • The Democratic Republic

Politics and Government
  • Key Terms
  • Politics who gets what, when,
    and how
  • Institution an ongoing organization that
    performs certain functions for society
  • Government institution in which decisions are
    made that resolve conflicts or allocate benefits
    and privileges

Why Is Government Necessary?
  • Order the process of maintaining peace and
    security by protecting members of society from
    violence and criminal activity the oldest
    purpose of government
  • Liberty the greatest freedom of individuals
    that is consistent with the freedom of other
    individuals in the society can be promoted by or
    invoked against government

Why Is Government Necessary? (continued)
  • Authority the right and power of a government
    or other entity to enforce its decisions and
    compel obedience
  • Legitimacy the popular acceptance of the right
    and power of a government or other entity to
    exercise authority

Schools Are Different
Forms of Government
  • Totalitarian regime a government that controls
    all aspects of a nations political and social
  • Authoritarianism a system in which only the
    government itself is fully controlled by the
    ruler, therefore social and economic institutions
    exist that are not under the governments control

Forms of Government (continued)
  • Aristocracy rule is by the best, though in
    reality rule is by the upper class
  • Democracy political authority is vested in the
    people derived from the Greek words demos (the
    people) and kratos (authority)

Direct Democracy
  • Political decisions are made by the people
    directly, rather than by their elected
  • Direct democracy is attained most easily in small
    political communities

The Dangers of Direct Democracy
  • The founders believed in government based on the
    consent of the people
  • However, they were highly distrustful of anything
    that might look like mob rule
  • Therefore, they devised institutions to filter
    the popular will through elected elites

A Democratic Republic
  • Democratic republic and representative
    democracy mean nearly the same thinggovernment
    based on elected representativesexcept that a
    republic cannot have a vestigial king
  • Britain, with its largely ceremonial monarchy, is
    therefore a representative democracy
  • The United States, as created by the U.S.
    Constitution, is a democratic republic

A Democratic Republic (continued)
  • Principles of democratic government
  • Universal suffrage the right of all adults to
    vote for their representatives
  • Majority rule the greatest number of citizens
    in any political unit should select officials and
    determine policies
  • Constitutional democracy
  • Principle of limited government powers of
    government should be limited, usually by
    institutional checks without such limits,
    democracy could destroy itself

What Kind of Democracy Do We Have?
  • Majoritarianism government ought to do what the
    majority of people want
  • Elite theory society is ruled by a small number
    of privileged people who exercise power to
    further their self-interests
  • Pluralism politics is made of conflict and
    compromise among interest groups

Fundamental Values
  • Political socialization
  • Liberty versus order
  • Equality versus liberty
  • Economic equality
  • Property rights and capitalism
  • Capitalism an economic system characterized by
    the private ownership of wealth-creating assets
    and by free markets and freedom of contract

Tensions Over Big Government
  • How much power should the American government
    have and what role should it play in the lives of
    its citizens?
  • Example Katrinain this scenario, big
    government was considered desirable
  • Example National security
    policiesconcerning issues such
    as domestic surveillance, most
    Americans value limited powers

Political IdeologiesLiberalism versus
  • Conservatives tend to favor limited
    governmental involvement in the economic sector,
    and see economic freedom as a necessity for the
    good of the society regarding social issues they
    support traditional values and lifestyles
  • Liberals tend to favor governmental regulation
    of the economy to benefit the societys
    individuals regarding social issues they
    advocate for social freedom, civil rights, and
    social change

Political IdeologiesThe Traditional Political
  • Socialism a political ideology based on strong
    support for economic and social equality
    socialists traditionally envisioned a society in
    which major businesses were taken over by the
    government or by employee cooperatives
  • Libertarianism a political ideology based on
    skepticism or opposition toward almost all
    government activities

Classical Liberalism
  • Liberalism once meant limited government and no
    religion in politics
  • The term evolved into its modern American meaning
    along with the political evolution of the
    Democratic Party, which was once the party of
    limited government but has become the party of
    (relative) economic equality

Direct Democracy Today
  • Initiative allows voters to propose a law or a
    constitutional amendment
  • Referendum allows the legislature to refer
    legislative or constitutional measures to the
    voters for approval or disapproval
  • Recall allows the people to vote to dismiss an
    elected official from state office before his or
    her term has expired

The Traditional Political Spectrum
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A Four-Cornered Ideological Grid
  • We can break down the electorate into
  • Cultural and economic liberals
  • Cultural and economic conservatives
  • Cultural liberals/economic conservatives
  • Cultural conservatives/economic liberals
  • Classifying the votersall four viewpoints have
    substantial support based on polling data
  • Conservative popularityhowever, the term
    conservative, as a self-applied label, is more
    popular than any other label except moderate

Other Ideologies
  • Communism revolutionary variant of socialism
    that favors a partisan (often totalitarian)
    dictatorship, government control of all
    enterprises, and replacement of free markets by
    central planning
  • Fascism a 20th-Century ideology (often
    totalitarian) that exalts the national collective
    united behind an absolute ruler, rejects liberal
    individualism, values action over rational
    deliberation, and glorifies war

Ideology in the Islamic World
  • While communism and fascism are the historical
    ideologies that totalitarianism was coined to
    describe, our current international problem is
    with radical Islamism, as exemplified by al-Qaeda

The Changing Face of America
  • Aging
  • Population growth
  • Ethnic change
  • Changes in Hispanic community
  • Women in the workforce
  • Increasing levels of education

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U.S. Population
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Questions for Critical Thinking
  • Do you think a direct democracy is a rational
    option for governing in the United States?
    Describe the forms of direct democracy that exist
    and discuss the pros and cons of these

Questions for Critical Thinking
  • Do you think some people in American society
    equate security and order with protection against
    fellow citizens who are racially, culturally, or
    economically different? Why or why not?
  • Do you think protection against discrimination
    should be considered an issue of security as well
    as an issue of equality? Justify your answer.