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Political science 21A introduction to American politics discussion note for midterm

Political science 21A introduction to American politics discussion note for midterm

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Week 2 04/17/2013 ° The Constitution Topic #1: Why did America’s Founding Fathers design a system of separate institutions sharing power? The problem? o Factional/selfish human nature o Tyranny of the majority or minority -> oppressed those who are the numerical individuals The solution? o “Separation of Powers” (separate institutions dividing, sharing, and balancing power) Three branches of government Checks 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 American constitutional structure as compared to parliamentary government? See Zakaria and Levinson articles in syllabus o American Democracy Separation of Powers Advantages: Deliberation Compromise/ Accommodation
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Public Participation Disadvantages: 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 to its efficient system of checks and balances however with the system of 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 Opinion What’s so important about public opinion?
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o U.S.= Republic (representative democracy) o Government takes cues from the public The problem? o Topic #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 research in the U.S has uncovered shockingly low levels of public information about politics. Some problems with U.S. public opinion o Non-attitudes o Illogical opinions o Incongruent opinions o Pseudo-opinions °
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Week 3 04/17/2013 ° Public Opinion Some negatives of U.S. public opinion o Non-attitudes o Illogical opinions o Incongruent opinions o Pseudo-opinions We’re good at “satisficing” We’re not perfect, but at least the U.S. has:
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