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Introduction to Government


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Title: Introduction to Government

Introduction to Government
  • AP American Government

Political Culture vs.Political Socialization
  • Political Culture a collection of beliefs and
    attitudes toward government and the political
    process held by a community or nation affects
    political behavior
  • Significance political culture allows society to
    agree upon the fundamental principles of the
    nation, to have a common perception of the rights
    and obligations of citizens, and to have a set of
    rules for participating in the political process
  • Political Socialization the process by which
    such beliefs and values are transmitted to new
    immigrants and to our children (core

Declaration of Independence
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
    all men are
  • created equal, that they are endowed by the
    Creator with
  • certain unalienable rights, that among these are
    life, liberty
  • and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Purpose of Declaration to establish the basic
  • There are universal truths that can be known and
    acted upon
  • There is equality before the law
  • There is a belief in a higher power that
    transcends human law
  • There are rights that are entitled at birth
  • There is liberty and the pursuit of happiness
  • Compare to Constitution

Understanding Government
  • Government a permanent structure (institution)
    through which society makes and enforces its
    public policies
  • Institution a long standing structure or
    association that performs certain functions for
  • Politics the struggle or process engaged in by
    human beings to decide which members of society
    receive the benefits or privileges and which
    members are excluded from certain benefits or

Why is there Conflict in Politics?
  • People have different beliefs over what is right
    or wrong
  • People have different beliefs over religion
  • People have different beliefs over the role of
  • People have different beliefs over what society
    goals should be
  • Because there is competition for scarce resources
    (i.e. benefits and privileges)

Why do Citizens Obey Laws?
  • Authority government has the authority to make
    such laws along with the ultimate right to
    enforce compliance with their decisions
  • Legitimacy people obey because laws possess
    legitimacy as a result of having been made
    according to an accepted political process by
    representatives of the people
  • Power government has power to enforce laws
    meaning that government has the ability to cause
    others to modify behavior and conform

Core Values
Individual Liberty all persons have personal
freedom but there are limits on those freedoms
we give up some of our freedom for the good of
government and society Political Equality all
persons are born with equal standing before the
government equal rights this leads to popular
sovereignty Majority Rule this assumes that the
right to rule belongs to the people and that the
people are equal decisions should be made by the
greater number of people Minority Rights the
majority is not the people therefore the rights
of the minority must be protected or everyones
rights will diminish
Economic Rights includes the right to own
property is essential to individual rights and
the pursuit of happiness but economic equality is
not guaranteed
Core Values
  • Definition a democracy which emphasizes the
    importance of citizen participation in government
    through debating, voting and holding office
  • Citizens are committed to learning about
  • Citizens are committed to participating in the
  • Citizens are well informed and discuss public
  • Citizens tell public officials what they think
    and they vote
  • Citizens share common goals and work together

Why Does the Reality of Political Participation
Fall Short of Classical Democratic Expectations?
  • Answer The United States is not a classical
    democracy because majority rule does not exist if
    the majority of the people do not participate.
    In addition, those who do participate do no
    represent the true demographics of the nation nor
    do those who are elected reflect the nations
  • Statistics
  • -- 50 of citizens do not vote in presidential
  • -- 67 of citizens do not vote in
    non-presidential elections
  • -- Less than 33 of citizens vote in local
  • -- 20 of citizens do nothing that is political
  • -- 10 of citizens take advantage of
    opportunities to participate

  • Definition the theory that American government
    is responsive to groups of citizens working
    together to promote their common interests and
    that enough people belong to interest groups to
    ensure that government ultimately hears everyone,
    even though most people do not actively
    participate in the government
  • Citizens join organizations that represent their
  • These groups bring members views to
  • This process create balance in the overall system
  • As a result, no group(s) can dominate the

Does the Reality of Pluralism Fall Short of its
  • In a marketplace of ideas, and political
    objectives under rules that allow for the
    distribution of policy victories across the great
    majority of the electorate while preventing any
    one group from becoming permanent losers. This
    allows the greater good to be served with an
    economy of participation.
  • Answer Despite this theory, many issues fall
    through the cracks of interest group
    representation (lack of organization,
    insufficient funds). There is no guarantee than
    an issue can be resolved through this process no
    can we guarantee that an issue can be resolved
    through this process nor can we guarantee that
    either party will be satisfied by a given policy.
  • Compare to Constitution

  • Definition the idea that it is difficult for
    government to arrive at solutions to problems
    because interest groups (organizations that try
    to achieve at least some of their goals with
    government assistance) have become so numerous
    and so many groups have a veto on issues that
    affect them.
  • With so many interest groups, it is difficult to
    find common ground to work out solutions to
  • Efforts to bring about major change in nation
    democratic priorities are extremely difficult
  • Gridlock occurs when policies are not
    administered effectively because the
    President/Congress cannot agree on what to do
  • Parties play the blame game which encourages
    elected officials to distrust each other and
    promotes public cynicism about government
    responsiveness and effectiveness
  • Compromise slows the process down and can lead to
    vaguely worded laws (seeming allowing others to
    then legislate)

What is the Validity of theTheory of Elitism?
  • Definition the an explanation of how government
    works that focuses on the roles of relatively
    small numbers of individuals in key positions
  • Based on the law of iron oligarchy which states
    that in any effective organization, power always
    gravitates towards a few
  • Argues that the United States is much less
    democratic than pluralist believe
  • Points out that groups with average or below
    average incomes have limited representation
  • Argues that interest groups create their own
    elite by establishing permanent organization with
    paid staff/leadership
  • Points out that over time, paid staff members
    being to identify with the decision-makers rather
    than the rank and file members
  • As a result, group membership no longer
    guarantees that ones interests will be
    accurately represented by the process

Power Elitism
  • Definition the belief that a small group of
    people share the most powerful jobs and make the
    most important economic and political decisions
    these decisions aid them in retaining power
  • Criticizes pluralism for focusing only on the
    public sector and ignoring the private sector of
    our dual system
  • Claims that citizens incorrectly assume that
    decisions are made in the public sector where
    interest groups compete intensely
  • Claims business forms a system unto itself,
    where the elite make decisions that affect the
    welfare of all Americans and use their vast
    resources to influence the outcome of public
  • Claims that under this system, groups with little
    or no representation are permanent losers and
    interest groups only compete for a small piece of
    the pie

What makes America great?
  • Our Shared Goals
  • Democracy
  • Individual Liberty
  • Economic Rights
  • Political Equality
  • Majority Rule
  • Minority Rights
  • Our Diversity
  • What else makes
  • America great?

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