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Week 204/17/2013°The ConstitutionTopic #1: Why did America’s Founding Fathers design a system of separate institutions sharing power?The problem?oFactional/selfish human natureoTyranny of the majority or minority -> oppressed those who are the numerical individualsThe solution?o“Separation of Powers” (separate institutions dividing, sharing, and balancing power)Three branches of governmentChecks and balances (examples in figure 2.4 on pg. 53 in textbook)Bicameral Legislature Federalism Republic (vote for representatives who represent us as the people)°°Topic #1: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Americanconstitutional structure as compared to parliamentary government? See Zakaria and Levinson articles in syllabusoAmerican Democracy Separation of PowersAdvantages:DeliberationCompromise/ Accommodation
Public ParticipationDisadvantages:Lack Accountability (All are part of a policy so no one to directly blame)Gridlock Inefficiency Parliamentary Democracy No Separation of Powers (e.g. PM from parl; PM’s party controls parl)Advantages:Efficiency Accountability Disadvantages:Less deliberation (hasty)Potentially dictatorial °°Is this system still appropriate in the age of the welfare state and nuclear weapons? Which system would you recommend to emerging democracies?American democracy is appropriate due to the system of check and balances. The country’s welfare state and the use of nuclear weapons won’t be executed from one party whereas Parliamentary Democracy would take advantage of the power. Good both ways. American Democracy can start emerge first due toits efficient system of checks and balances however with the systemof parliamentary, the system may improve to become American democracy. “Learn from mistakes” is a saying that can be held accountable for this emerging process. °°Public OpinionWhat’s so important about public opinion?
oU.S.= Republic (representative democracy)oGovernment takes cues from the publicThe problem?oTopic #2: Democratic theory presumes that in a democracy people are not informed enough to guide the policies that their government pursues. Yet much Political Science researchin the U.S has uncovered shockingly low levels of public information about politics.Some problems with U.S. public opinionoNon-attitudesoIllogical opinionsoIncongruent opinionsoPseudo-opinions°
Week 304/17/2013°Public OpinionSome negatives of U.S. public opinionoNon-attitudesoIllogical opinionsoIncongruent opinionsoPseudo-opinionsWe’re good at “satisficing”We’re not perfect, but at least the U.S. has: