Chapter 1: The Study of American Government Issues and Politics ➔ fundamental government finance problems are political , not mathematical ➔ examples of issues: ◆ Abortion, school prayer, gay rights, Immigration, welfare reform, environmental protection, gun control, Obamacare ➔ some are mainly about money/economic interests; others are about personal beliefs ★ Issue - a conflict, real or apparent, between the interests, ideas, or beliefs of different citizens ○ conflicts over ends and means ○ also argue over priorities, timing, and tactics ★ Politics - the activity by which an issue is agitated or settled ○ politically attentive and engaged citizens are the exception to the rule Power, Authority, and Legitimacy ★ Power - the ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person’s intentions ○ today almost every aspect of human life finds its way onto the political agenda ★ Authority - the right to use power ○ we accept decisions without question that are made by people who we believe have the right to make them ○ “formal authority” is the right to exercise power that is vested in a governmental office ■ Ex → president, senator, and a federal judge ★ Legitimacy - political authority conferred by law or by a state or national constitution What is Democracy? ➔ most Americans agree that no exercise of political power by government at any level is legitimate if it is not in some sense democratic ★ Democracy - “rule by many” ★ Direct Democracy - AKA participatory democracy, a government in which all or most citizens participate directly ○ both hold office and make policy ○ began in 4 th century B.C. in Greece ■ direct democracy possible in ancient Greece ■ small; citizenship extended to free adult male property holders ○ works in smaller groups; the larger a town/society gets, the less practical direct democracy becomes ○ voters can decide on referendum issues – policy choices appear on the ballot ★ Representative Democracy - a government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote ○ it is impractical for people to decide on public policy
■ limits of time, information, energy, interest, and expertise ○ direct democracy leads to bad decisions ■ people make decisions based on fleeting passions ■ people respond to popular demagogues ○ “will of the people” not synonymous with the common good Political Power in America: Five Views ➔ representative democracy – any system of government in which leaders are authorized to make decisions – and thereby to wield political power – by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote ★ Elites - persons who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resources, like money, prestige, or expertise Class View - wealthy capitalists and other economic elites determine most policies ➔ Karl Marx was a 19th century thinker who argued that governments were dominated by business owners until a revolution replaced them with rule by laborer ➔
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- Fall '19