pols_ch1 - American Political Culture Introduction...

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American Political Culture Introduction Libertarian —one who favors minimal gov’t and maximum individual  freedom American want the gov’t to do things for them, but not to interfere with their  freedoms Although Americans rely on the government for many of their needs, trust  in government and the belief that individuals can influence government  have both declined ** Declining trust  in gov’t** Good citizenship & political knowledge—knowledge of government, of  politics, and of democratic principles. The relationship between a government & its citizens is dependent on the  form of government. Key American values:  liberty, equality, & democracy o Liberty —personal freedom & limited government o Equality —all individuals should have the right to participate in political  life & society on equivalent terms. o Democracy —placing considerable political power in the hands of the  ordinary people. Policies and practices sometimes contradict these values.  Americans are  sometimes willing to give up some liberty to have more security, etc. What do Americans Think? Americans are reluctant to give too much power to the government, and  are often suspicious of politicians.  However, Americans have also turned  to government for assistance in times of need & strongly support the  government in times of war. In 1933, the power of the gov’t began to expand to meet the crises created  by the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, and the run on  banks of 1933.  Congress passed legislation that brought the gov’t into  things such as home and farm mortgages, credit, and relief of personal  distress. Today, the gov’t oversees the nation’s economy; it is the nation’s largest  employer; it provides services to the citizens; controls the military; it 
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regulates many social and commercial activities of the American people. Americans are dependent on the gov’t & take it for granted.  However,  public trust has declined, and Americans feel now more than ever that they  have no influence.  What’s bad about it is that politically engaged citizens  and public confidence in government are vital for the health of a  democracy. Political Efficacy —the ability to influence government and politics (this is  declining) This sense that “ordinary people can’t be heard” is accompanied by  “government is run by a few big interests looking out only for themselves.” This loss of political efficacy is bad news for American democracy! Why  bother to participate if you believe it makes no difference? Without the 
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