Lenz_2013_FullText - American Government Orange Grove Texts Plus seeks to redefine publishing in an electronic world A joint venture of the University

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Unformatted text preview: American Government Orange Grove Texts Plus seeks to redefine publishing in an electronic world. A joint venture of the University Press of Florida and The Orange Grove, Florida’s digital repository, this collaboration provides faculty, students, and researchers worldwide with the latest scholarship and course materials in a twentyfirst-century format that is readily discoverable, easily customizable, and consistently affordable. American Government Lenz and Holman ISBN 978-1-61610-163-3 Timothy O. Lenz and Mirya Holman American Government University Press of Florida Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers Florida International University, Miami Florida State University, Tallahassee New College of Florida, Sarasota University of Central Florida, Orlando University of Florida, Gainesville University of North Florida, Jacksonville University of South Florida, Tampa University of West Florida, Pensacola orange grove text plus American Government Timothy O. Lenz and Mirya Holman Florida Atlantic University Department of Political Science University Press of Florida Gainesville · Tallahassee · Tampa · Boca Raton Pensacola · Orlando · Miami · Jacksonville · Ft. Myers · Sarasota Copyright 2013 by the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees on behalf of the Florida Atlantic University Department of Political Science This work is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit . org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. You are free to electronically copy, distribute, and transmit this work if you attribute authorship. However, all printing rights are reserved by the University Press of Florida (http:// ). Please contact UPF for information about how to obtain copies of the work for print distribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the University Press of Florida. Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author’s moral rights. ISBN 978-1-61610-163-3 Orange Grove Texts Plus is an imprint of the University Press of Florida, which is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University System of Florida, comprising Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida. University Press of Florida 15 Northwest 15th Street Gainesville, FL 32611-2079 Contents 1. Why Government? Why Politics? 1 2. The U.S. System of Constitutional Government 21 3. Congress 49 4. The Presidency 70 5. The Judiciary 95 6. Federalism 120 7. The Media, Government, and Politics 141 8. Public Opinion 162 9. Political Ideology 182 10. Political Participation 204 11. Political Parties 232 12. Interest Groups 251 13. Public Policy 272 14. Economic Policy 295 15. Food Policy 323 16. Crime Policy 344 17. Global Affairs 367 18. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights 412 CHAPTER 1: Why Government? Why Politics? 2 | Chapter 1: Why Government? Why Politics? “I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is 1.0 | What is Government? Government can be defined as the institutions and processes that make and implement authoritative decisions for a society. The government unit can be a city, county, state, regional, national, or international government. The decisions, which include laws, regulations, and other public policies, are authoritative in the sense that individuals and organizations are legally obligated to obey the decisions or face some kind of sanction. In the U.S., government includes the national government institutions (Congress, the Presidency, the federal courts, and a broad range of federal bureaucracies), the 50 state governments (state legislatures, governors, state courts, and state bureaucracies), and the local governments (counties, cities, and other special government units such as school boards). largely a waste of time” – H.L. Mencken (1880‐1956) “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” ‐Winston Churchill (1874‐1965) 1.10 | Why Government Is government necessary? Is it possible to live without government? Why do governments exist all over the world when people all over the world are so critical of government? These are old political questions that were first asked when people began thinking about life in organized societies. Questions about the need for government and the legitimate purposes of government are continually being asked because the answers reflect contemporary thinking about basic human values, including freedom, order, individualism, equality, economic prosperity, national security, morality and ethics, and justice. These values are central to government and politics in all countries although the values attached to them and their relative importance varies a great deal. Given the almost universal criticism of government, and a strong tradition of anti-government rhetoric in the United States, it is worth wondering “why government?” One recurring theme in American government and politics is the conflict between two basic values: freedom and order. Freedom (or liberty) is highly valued in the American political tradition. Individual freedom is an essential element of democracy. Self-government requires individual liberty. In the U.S., freedom of religion, speech, press, and association are individual liberties that are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The language of the First Amendment, which begins with “Congress shall make no law….,” reflects the most common understanding of individual liberty in the U.S. where freedom is usually defined as the absence of government limits. Order is also a basic political value. One of the primary responsibilities of government is to create and maintain good public order. Good public order is commonly defined to include public safety (individuals are protected from crime, foreign invasions, and domestic disturbances) as well as behavior that a society considers appropriate conduct. Governments use law to create and maintain these aspects of good public order. These laws sometimes limit individual liberty in order to achieve order. Politics is often about where to strike the right balance between allowing individuals the freedom to do what they want, to live their lives without government restrictions, and giving government power to control behavior in order Chapter 1: Why Government? Why Politics? to maintain good public order. In American politics, debates are often framed as freedom versus order because the relationship between individual freedom and government power is considered a zero-sum relationship: an increase in one means a corresponding decrease in the other. The power problem illustrates this relationship. 1.12 | The Power Problem The power problem refers to the need to grant government enough power to effectively address the problems that people expect government to address, while also limiting power enough so that government can be held accountable. The challenge is to give government enough power so that it can address or solve the problems that people want government to solve, such as providing public safety and national security and economic prosperity, while also limiting government power so that it can be held accountable by the people. Too little power can be a problem because weak governments or “failed states” can provide havens for criminals or terrorists. Too much power can be a problem because strong governments can threaten individual rights. Creating good government requires striking the right balance between granting and limiting power. Doing so is difficult because people have different views about the balance point. Politics is about reconciling individual, ideological, and partisan differences of opinion about the power problem. 1.13 | Politics People have different opinions about whether their political system, or the political system of another country, allows too much individual freedom or provides too little public order. People also have different beliefs about what government should be doing. The U.S. Constitution does not say very much about the specifics of where to strike the balance between rights and powers. It mostly provides general guidelines about powers and rights. The Fourth Amendment provides the people a right “against unreasonable searches and seizures,” but it does not say when a police officer’s search or seizure is unreasonable. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” but does not define it. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress power to provide for the “general Welfare of the United States,” but it does not define general welfare. The fact that the Constitution includes such general language means that some disputes about where the balance between government power and individual rights should be struck are more political than legal. In democratic political systems, politics is about different beliefs about how much power government should have and what government should be doing. Conservatives and liberals typically take different positions in political debates about government power, both the amount of government and its uses. Political opinions about the right balance between individual rights and government power are influenced by conditions. Is it a time of war or peace? Is the economy good or bad? Is there good public order or is it a time of crisis or disorder? These are the political conditions that determine public opinion. The Constitution does not say very much about government power during times of crisis or emergency. Article I Section 9 of the Constitution does provide that Congress may suspend the writ of habeas corpus “when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” But most questions |3 4 | Chapter 1: Why Government? Why Politics? about striking the right balance between granting and limiting power, or the balance between individual freedom and government power, or the right size and role of government, are left for each generation to decide depending on the particular circumstances they face. American politics is often framed as debates about the size of government. These debates are familiar arguments about big government versus small government. But politics is actually more likely to be about the role of government—the purposes and uses of government power. The “big v. small” arguments tend to distract from the disagreements about what government should be doing. Politics is about whether government is too strong or too weak, too big or too small, doing too much or too little. Politics is also about whether government is doing the right things or the wrong things, whether specific public policies should change, and whether the government has the right priorities. Many of these political questions about the right size and proper role of government are actually questions about whether a political system is a just system. 1.14 | Justice Justice is a basic concept that is hard to precisely define. It can be generally understood to mean that an individual is treated fairly. Politically, justice usually means that an individual is treated fairly by the government. The definition of justice as fairness includes the belief that individuals should get what they deserve: good or appropriate behavior is recognized and rewarded; bad or inappropriate behavior is recognized and punished. There are many definitions of justice, but most include a moral or ethical component—that is, definitions of justice commonly identify a particular set of values as important. Justice is important politically because it describes a proper ordering of things, values, and individuals within a society. The nature of a just society or political system has been the subject of human inquiry since people first thought about living a good life in an organized society. Justice is a familiar subject in works of politics, philosophy, theology, and law. The Ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle described what they believed to be the attributes of a just society and the best form of government to achieve justice. The Founders of the American political system also thought a great deal about a just society and the best form of government. The Declaration of Independence explains why the American colonists were justified in fighting the Revolutionary War against Great Britain. It includes a long list of charges that the “king of Great Britain” acted so unjustly that the colonists were justified in taking up arms and breaking their political bonds with Great Britain. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution also declares an interest in creating a form of government that promotes justice. It explains that the Constitution was established “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” The interest in justice was not limited to the founding era. Both sides in the Civil War claimed to be fighting for justice: the North fought against slavery, among other reasons, Chapter 1: Why Government? Why Politics? and the South fought for states’ rights, among other reasons. The various civil rights movements of the 20th Century were also organized efforts to achieve a more just society for Blacks, women, and other minorities. Political theorists continue to explore the meaning and importance of justice. In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls argued that “justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”1 The argument that justice is the most important virtue for our social, political, and governmental institutions to pursue reflects the continued value placed on justice in modern thinking about government and politics—but recognizing the importance of justice is much easier than actually defining it. Political science studies individuals (and individual behavior) and systems (and the workings of institutions). At the individual level of analysis, justice is as simple as a person’s expectation that she or he will be treated fairly. In this sense, justice is an expectation that a person will get what they deserve—whether it is recognition and reward for doing well and behaving appropriately, or sanctions for not doing well or behaving inappropriately. At the system level of analysis, a just political system is one that maintains a political order where individuals are treated fairly, where the system treats people fairly as is therefore a legitimate system of governance. One factor that complicates considerations of whether an individual is treated fairly or a political system is just is that fair treatment may be a universally accepted concept but views on what fair or just treatment is in a particular situation is a subjective value judgment. What justice means is further complicated by the fact that there are different types of justice. Retributive justice is concerned with the proper response to wrongdoing. Retributive justice is most relevant to the criminal justice system and the theory and practice of punishment as reflected in sentencing policy. The law of retribution—lex talionis—reflects the concept of retributive justice—the belief that punishment should fit the crime. The biblical verse “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, wound for wound, stripe for stripe,” embodies the principle of retributive justice. However, there is no consensus that the “an eye for an eye” principle of retributive justice should be interpreted literally to mean that justice requires taking an eye for an eye, a hand for a hand, a tooth for a tooth, or a life for a life. The alternative to this literal reading of retributive justice is the metaphorical interpretation. The metaphorical interpretation requires proportionality—a punishment that fits the crime. A just punishment must be proportionate to the crime, but justice does not require that punishment be identical to the crime. A second type of justice is restorative justice. Restorative justice is also relevant to the criminal justice system. However, unlike retributive justice, which is primarily concerned with punishing an offender, restorative justice emphasizes the importance of restoring the victim (making the victim whole again) and rehabilitating the offender. A third type of justice is distributive justice. Distributive justice is concerned with the proper distribution of values or valuables among the individuals or groups in a society. The valuables can be things of material value (such as income, wealth, food, health care, tax breaks, or property) or non-material values (such as power, respect, or recognition of status). Distributive justice is based on the assumption that values or valuables can be distributed equitably based upon merit. Political debates about economic inequality, a fair tax system, access to education, and generational justice (whether government policies |5 6 | Chapter 1: Why Government? Why Politics? benefit the elderly more than the young) are often conducted in terms of distributive justice: who gets what and who should be getting what. 1.2 | The State of Nature: Life Before or without Government One of the most important concepts in western political thought is “the state of nature.” The state of nature is used to explain the origin of government. The 17th Century English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) believed that life in a state of nature (that is, without government), would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” because human beings are self-interested actors who will take advantage of others. Hobbes believed that it is simply human nature for the strong to take advantage of the weak. The competition for economic and political advantage results in a constant “war of all against all” that makes an individual’s existence precarious. Hobbes and other social contract theorists believed that individuals who are living a precarious existence in the state of nature decide to enter into a social contract that creates a government with enough power to maintain order by controlling behavior. The terms of the social contract include trading some of the individual freedom in the state of nature for order, security, justice, or other political values. His classic work Leviathan (1651) describes a strong government with power to create and maintain order. The word Leviathan comes from the biblical reference to a great sea monster—an image that critics of modern big government consider appropriate. All ideologies include a view of human nature. Some ideologies are based on a negative view of human nature—one that describes humans as basically self-interested or even quite capable of evil. Some ideologies are based on a more positive view of human nature—one that describes humans as basically public-spirited or even benevolent. Ideologies with a more positive view of human nature assume that individuals are capable of getting along well without government, with minimal government, or with government that is much weaker than a Leviathan. For a view of human nature as capable of good or evil, that stresses the importance of education and socialization to develop the better instincts and moral conscience, read President Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, which a...
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