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American National Politics Notes

American National Politics Notes - American National...

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American National Politics Notes ***** anp1spring2010.wordpress.com topic posted on this page every tues 2-4-2010 Making Sense of Government & Politics A. What is Gov? a. Formal institutions through which a land & its people are ruled OR (according to weber) the institution in a society that has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force B. Who governs? a. Autocracies: governments controlled by one person b. Oligarchies- gov’s of the few c. Democracies- gov’s run by the ppl C. How much power?? a. Totalitarian- gov’s recognize little or no limits on their authority b. Authoritarian- gov’s rec (often reluctantly) some limits on their authority c. Constitutional (or liberal)- gov’s rec& often codify broad limits on their authority D. Nature & purpose of Gov a. 2 important schools of thought a.i. classical thinkers vs. social contract thinkers b. Classical Political Thinkers (ex. Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero) b.i. Aristotle--man are by nature polit. animals certain human attributes can best be achieved through polit association realize potential as human beings when we associate through politics polit assoc have a moral purpose—foster unity. b.ii. Main Q: what kind of gov helps us rec our own human excellence. c. Social contract Theory (Hobbes, Locke, Bill of Rights, Constitution) c.i. State is not a natural entity. Gov & politics are not part of who we are as human beings c.ii. “the state of nature (chaos)” –people are equal & possess certain nat rights b/c are humans (freedom) we have gov b/c we want gov. Gov to help us do those things we cannot do alone NOT b/c we need it. E. Foundations of Gov a. The Means of Coercion : Gov must have the pwr to get ppl to obey its laws & punish them if they do not b. The Means of Collecting RevenueI: Ea yr in the US, gov’s on every level collect enormous sums from the citizens to support their inst & programs F. Functions of Gov a. To maintain order b. To protect property c. To provide public goods (may be enjoyed by anyone & may not be denied to anyone) G. Politics: the conflicts & struggles over the leadership, structure, & policies of gov
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a. Goal: to share or say (power) in the composition of the gov’s leadership, how the gov is org, & what its policies are going to be b. Politics & gov are symbiotic: politics influences gov, but char & actions of gov influence politics c. Institutions: rules & procedures that guide polit behavior H. Coercion to consent a. Beginning 17 th c, gov’s started to acknowledge limits on their power a.i. Small # of gov’ began to provide ordinary citizens w/ a formal voie in public affairs through vote b. Expansion of Democratic Parties b.i. Three factors b.i.1. Internal conflict (ex. Class struggle) b.i.2. External conflict (emergence of nation states) b.i.3. Promotion of national unity & development c. Tying Democracy to Strong Gov c.i. Once citizens perceived that gov’s could operate in response to demands, they became willing to support expansion of gov c.ii. This linking of democracy & strong gov led to a wave of governmental growth in the West that continues today d.
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