Ch.5 Module - -1Ch.5 - Political Participation The...

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-1Ch.5 - Political Participation The democratic ideal that “government ought to be run by the people” does not determine how much citizen participation, and what kind, is necessary for democratic government. Proponents of direct democracy insist on citizen participation in formulating government policy. Practical observers contend that citizens can govern indirectly through elected representatives. Political participation takes two basic forms. Conventional participation refers to relatively routine political behavior using the institutional channels of representative government, such as election. Individuals may engage in supportive behavior, which expresses allegiance to government and country. Typically, however, citizens participate in influencing behavior in order to influence government policy. People may seek particular benefits for themselves, or they may hope to modify the broad policies of government. Unconventional participation, on the other hand, refers to relatively uncommon behavior that threatens or defies government channels. Terrorism is a particularly extreme form of unconventional participation. Americans generally disapprove of unconventional political actions that interfere with daily living. Unconventional participation, however, had some notable successes in influencing government policy during the Vietnam War. The civil rights movement relied on direct action —assembling crowds to confront business and local government—against racial discrimination. Direct political action requires a special commitment and willingness to sacrifice from those who participate in it. People participating in unconventional political behavior distrust the political system and have a strong sense of political efficacy and a highly developed sense of group consciousness. Studies suggest that Americans are at least as likely to participate in both conventional and unconventional political behavior as are citizens of other democratic countries—except for voting. Participation through elections is still the heart of the democratic process. Although the elimination of property-holding requirements expanded suffrage to all white males by the 1850s, other groups were incorporated much later. Blacks gained an effective right to vote only with the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women fought hard and long for the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, which guaranteed their right to vote. In 1971, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment extended suffrage to all citizens older than eighteen years old. The legacy of progressivism in U.S. politics left behind several mechanisms of direct citizen participation in policymaking. The direct primary allows ordinary citizens to vote directly for their candidates. The recall allows citizens to remove unpopular or incompetent officials from office before their term ends.
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This note was uploaded on 07/24/2010 for the course PS 001 taught by Professor Graham during the Summer '08 term at Los Angeles Southwest College.

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Ch.5 Module - -1Ch.5 - Political Participation The...

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