AP Gov Unit 1 - Foundations of American Democracy.pdf -...

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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
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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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