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American Government: Processes and Policies

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American Government. An Introduction. Today's Lecture. Define government and politics ... Politics ... Characteristics of American Democracy ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: American Government: Processes and Policies


1
American Government Processes and Policies
  • An Introduction

2
Todays Lecture
  • Define government and politics
  • Define Democracy
  • Discuss theories of democracy
  • Rational choice theory

3
Government
  • The institutions and processes through which
    public policies are made for society.
  • This definition leads to two basic questions
  • How should we govern?
  • What should government do?
  • Governments typically provide services, collect
    taxes, and maintain order

4
Politics
  • The process by which we select our governmental
    representatives and what policies they produce.
  • Politics produces authoritative decisions about
    public issues.
  • Agreement through compromise and bargaining
  • Also consider Lasswells definition
  • Who gets what, when and how.
  • Politics in a democracy concerns who participates
    and how.

5
Democracy
  • A system of selecting policymakers and of
    organizing government so that policy represents
    the publics preferences.
  • Equality in voting
  • Citizen control of the agenda
  • Aristotle and the traditional view
  • Mob rule
  • Ineffective government
  • Springfield epitomizes good and bad of democracy

6
Characteristics of American Democracy
  • Personal liberty freedom from interference from
    the government (civil liberties) and freedom to
    act free from governmental discrimination
  • Political equality one person, one vote
  • Popular consent governments draw power from
    consent of the governed

7
Characteristics of American Democracy (cont.)
  • Majority rule 50 percent one vote carries the
    dayusually
  • But also provisions to protect the minority
  • Popular sovereignty the right of the majority to
    govern themselves
  • Individualism

8
Some Theories of Democracy
  • Pluralism politics is mainly a competition among
    groups, where the public interest will prevail.
  • Elite and class theory groups with money will
    have power and influence groups are not equal.
  • Hyperpluralism groups are TOO strong and
    dominate all politics weakens democracy.

9
Rational Choice Theory
  • Groups and individuals act in their own
    self-interest
  • They weigh the costs and benefits of any decision
    and choose to maximize benefits and minimize
    costs
  • The distribution of resources often dictate
    whether an individual or group achieves what it
    wants

10
Rat Choice Applied
  • The framing of the Constitution
  • Framers agreed in part because creating new
    nation also benefited themselves
  • Voting and political parties
  • Voters vote for the person who will benefit them
    the most
  • Policymaking
  • Legislators and presidents support policies
    usually because it will benefit them on
    reelection day

11
Questions About Democracy
  • People
  • Are people knowledgeable about policy?
  • Do they apply what the know when they vote?
  • Linkage Institutions
  • Do interest groups help political process?
  • Do political parties offer clear consistent
    choices for voters or do they intentionally
    obscure their positions?
  • Do media help citizens understand choices?

12
Questions about the Scope of Government
  • Public and Linkage Institutions
  • Does the public favor a large, active government?
  • Do competing political parties force government
    to provide more public services?
  • Do elections control the scope of government?
  • Does pressure from interest groups create a
    bigger government?
  • Has the media helped control the size of
    government and its policies?

13
Summary
  • Weve defined government, politics, and
    democracy.
  • America is a unique democracy in which people
    have ultimate say over policy.
  • We have offered several theories of democracy,
    including rational choice theory.
  • Rational choice theory explains much that is
    American government and politics.
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