Ch.1 Module - -1Chapter 1 - Politics, Government and...

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-1Chapter 1 - Politics, Government and Democracy To govern means to make choices. What roles should government assume? What are the costs and benefits? Who will be the winners and losers? What norms or values are reaffirmed or threatened when government makes policy choices? Freedom, order, and equality are pivotal concepts for understanding U.S. politics. All governments strive to maintain order, and most claim to respect individual freedoms in the process. Some, but not all, governments aspire to ensure equality. Government decisions to place strong emphasis on one of the values may result in the shortchanging of another. Stricter law enforcement measures may impinge on individual freedom. Governments have to make hard choices to determine an acceptable balance among these often conflicting norms. The text employs two models of democratic government, majoritarian democracy and pluralist democracy , to assess the process by which the United States makes these choices. The choices made by the government have consequences far beyond the border of the United States because of globalization , the growing interdependence among citizens and nations around the world. Despite the long-standing debate over how limited or pervasive the role of government should be, most scholars would identify three basic purposes: (1) to maintain order by preserving life and protecting property; (2) to provide public goods, such as highways, schools, and national parks; and (3) to promote equality through health and welfare programs and social equality policies. The third purpose is both the most recent (arising in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s) and the most controversial. The range of political and ideological beliefs about the scope of government authority or control form a continuum from totalitarianism, which represents total government control of all aspects of society, to anarchism, which places the highest value on freedom and is in opposition to any form of government. Between these extremes lie socialism, capitalism, and libertarianism, political philosophies that advocate, in decreasing order, the responsibility of government in economic and political matters. Communism is placed by some in the socialism category, whereas others see it as an instance of totalitarianism. The United States, with its emphasis on free enterprise, is clearly a capitalist country. Its two broad ideological doctrines, liberalism and conservatism, both endorse capitalism but differ on the extent of government intervention in the economy. The original dilemma of government arose from the need to maintain order, even at the expense of yielding individual freedom. The modern dilemma of government in the twenty-first century arose from the desire to promote equality—once again at the cost of individual freedom. Evidence of the tradeoffs among these three values—freedom, order, and equality—recurs throughout the book. The conflicts between freedom and order are usually obvious, but those between freedom and equality are often more
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Ch.1 Module - -1Chapter 1 - Politics, Government and...

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