American Government and Politics in the Information Age text book

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Saylor URL:Saylor.org1This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under aCreativeCommons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Licensewithoutattribution as requested by the works original creator or licensee.
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Saylor URL:Saylor.org2PrefaceOur text is a comprehensive introduction to the vital subject of American government andpolitics.Governmentsdecide who gets what, when, how (See Harold D. Lasswell,Politics: Who GetsWhat, When, How, [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1936]); they make policies and pass laws that arebinding on all a society’s members; they decideabout taxation and spending, benefits and costs, evenlife and death.Governments possesspowerthe ability to gain compliance and to get people under theirjurisdiction to obey themand they may exercise their power by using the police and military toenforce their decisions. However, power need not involve the exercise of force or compulsion; peopleoften obey because they think it is in their interest to do so, they have no reason to disobey, or theyfear punishment. Above all, people obey their government because it hasauthority; its power is seenby people as rightfully held, as legitimate. People can grant their governmentlegitimacybecause theyhave been socialized to do so; because there are processes, such as elections, that enable them tochoose and change their rulers; and because they believe that their governing institutions operatejustly.Politicsis the process by which leaders are selected and policy decisions are made and executed.It involves people and groups, both inside and outside of government, engaged in deliberation anddebate, disagreement and conflict, cooperation and consensus, and power struggles.In covering American government and politics, our textintroduces the intricacies of the Constitution, the complexities of federalism, the meanings of civilliberties, and the conflicts over civil rights;explains how people are socialized to politics, acquire and express opinions, and participate inpolitical life;describes interest groups, political parties, and electionsthe intermediaries that link people togovernment and politics;details the branches of government and how they operate; andshows how policies are made and affect people’s lives.A Media Approach
Saylor URL:Saylor.org3Appreciating and learning these subjects can be a challenge.Inspired by students’ familiarity withmass media and their fluent use of new communication technologies, such as YouTube, Facebook,Twitter, live streaming, and the iPad, we have chosen an approach that connects our subject matter withthese media and technologies.

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