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What is American Politics


What is American Politics? Poli Sci 1. Lecture 1. Gov. Davis' Political Quandary ... Are American political institutions unprepared for the information age? ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: What is American Politics

What is American Politics?
  • Poli Sci 1
  • Lecture 1

Gov. Davis Political Quandary
  • 36 billion budget deficit.
  • How to close the gap?
  • Tripling of car tax (legal loophole)
  • Cuts in social services
  • But Davis needed allies to beat recall election.
  • Cuts would be unpopular with moderates and

What to do?
  • Proposed high income and sin taxes instead of car
  • Working with core groups to shore up support.
  • But cuts were still required.
  • Who would be sacrificed to pay the deficit?
  • As individuals, groups, and governmental actors
    make and implement decisions about what is good
    or bad for society, politics is at work.

Politics is
  • Exercise of Power Competition of interests
  • Who gets what, when and how
  • the central process through which power and
    influence are used in the promotion of certain
    values and interests.

Politics is
  • a struggle or process that arises as a means to
    resolve conflict.
  • Differences over beliefs
  • Differences over social goals
  • Competition for scarce resources

Government and Politics
  • Complex societies need Government
  • to regulate conflict in society.
  • Rules for conflict (elections, legislatures,
  • Settlements through public policy acceptable to
    both winners and losers.
  • Public policy is the outcome of the struggle.

Government and Politics
  • Governments Impact
  • Daily lives impacted.
  • From what is safe to eat, to the death penalty.
  • Settlements to political disputes imposed by
    promising rewards or threatening punishment.

Government Authority and Legitimacy
  • Why do we obey?
  • Because Government works within the legitimacy of
    a democratic system.
  • Representative Democracy
  • Public elects representatives to make policy

Government Authority and Legitimacy
  • Promotion (and debate) of fundamental values
  • Liberty, equality, and property
  • Authority through punitive measures
  • Boundaries must be maintained to hold legitimacy.
  • Must not violate values of liberty, equality, and

American Ideals
  • Americans continue to believe in the value of
    their political institutions.
  • Hollywood portrayals
  • The institution is sound it just needs good
    people to run it.

How Sound is American Democracy?
  • Campaign fundraising problems
  • Voter apathy

Americas Challenges
  • Can American political institutions meet the
    challenges that face America?
  • 12.5 poverty rate (36 million Americans)
  • 3 of all Americans are illiterate, and 20 can
    barely read
  • 2.1 million people are incarcerated
  • 45 million Americans lack health insurance
  • What does democracy mean?
  • Material equality or equality of opportunity?

Americas Challenges
  • Are American political institutions unprepared
    for the information age?
  • Do we need to go beyond liberal and
    conservative categories?
  • Class Goal Analyze the process of who gets
    what, when, and how.
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