POLS101I – American National Government
American Political Culture: Seeking a More Perfect Union
Having read the chapter, the students should be able to do each of the following:
11856. Identify the core principles that constitute the American political culture. Discuss the influence of
these conflicting, inexact, and mythic beliefs on American politics.
11857. Discuss and define America’s core political ideals.
11858. Explain why politics is a struggle for power and advantage.
11859. Delineate the evolution of the social contract.
11860. Discuss the major rules of American politics: democracy, constitutionalism, and capitalism, and why
rules are necessary in politics.
11861. Explain differing theories of political power, including majoritarianism, pluralism, elitism, and
11862. Define and explain the importance of the political system model.
11863. Explain the five encompassing tendencies of American politics.
Focus and Main Points
Contemporary American government is placed in historical perspective in this chapter. Core principles that
have shaped American politics since the country's earliest years are examined briefly and concepts such as
power, pluralism, and constitutionalism that are central to the study of government and politics are also
assessed. In addition, the concept of a political system is explained along with the five encompassing
tendencies of American politics—enduring cultural ideals, fragmentation of governing authority, competing
interests, stress on individual rights, and a sharp separation of political and economic spheres. The main points
of this chapter are as follows:
The American political culture centers on a set of core ideals—liberty, equality, self-government,
individualism, unity, and diversity—that serve as the people's common bond. These mythic principles
have a substantial influence on what Americans will regard as reasonable and acceptable, and on what
they will try to achieve.
Politics is the process through which a society settles its conflicts. Political conflict has two primary