Political Science 314
Political Surveys tell us a variety of things about the American
people and their system of government.
Americans appear, for
example, to expect a great deal from their government.
frequently become frustrated with the partisan bickering within
Congress and between Congress and the President, and yet they
distrust a government which is highly centralized and more
Americans distrust politicians and hold them in very
low esteem as a class, but have an extremely favorable view of
their form of government.
We find that Americans want a
balanced budget, but do not want any substantial program cuts.
Not surprisingly, we also find that the surveys indicate that
Americans really know very little about their government. Within
this system it is the Presidency which has become the
institutions which Americans see as the key actor and in many
ways the most controversy of the modern American governmental
The purpose of this course, then, is to improve students’
knowledge of the American political system and, in doing so, to
help them understand the reasons for, and the purpose of the
institution which appears in the second article of the
Constitution, the Presidency.
This, it is hoped, will give
students a better understanding of their political system,
permit them to make political decisions more rationally,
encourage greater political participation, and, in general, keep
some of them from tearing their hair out at the roots and their
blood pressure down.
The course divides into three parts.
First, it examines the
presidency as a political actor which has an image, expectations
by the public, and must be elected/ re-elected.
The media plays
a very important role in the building of the image and the
election process, and therefore its role in this process will be
a key part of this section.
Secondly, the course looks at how