American GovernmentChapter 1 – The Study of American Government
– the ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the firstperson’s intentions. People who exercise political power may or may not have the authorityto do so.
– the right to use power
– all, or most, citizens participate directly in either holding office ormaking policy
– people elect leaders to represent them. For representativedemocracy to work, there must be an opportunity for genuine competition of leadership. This requires that individuals and parties be able to run for office, that communication befree, and that voters perceive that a meaningful difference exists.
– when the actions of officeholders follow the preferences of thepeople very closely. In this case elected officials are the delegates of the people, acting asthe people would act were the matter put to a popular vote. The issues handled in amajoritarian fashion can only be those that are sufficiently important to command theattention of most citizens, sufficiently clear to elicit an informed opinion from citizens, andsufficiently feasible to address so that what citizens want can actually be done.
– identifiable group of persons who possess a disproportionate share of some valuedresource
– government is a reflection of underlying economic forces, primarily the patternof ownership and the means of production. All societies are divided into classes on the basisof the relationships of people to the economy. In modern society two major classes contendfor power—capitalists and workers. Whichever class dominates the economy also controlsthe government, which is nothing more than a piece of machinery designed to express andgive legal effect to underlying class interests.
Power elite theory
– a nongovernmental elite makes most of the major decisions, but thiselite is not composed exclusively of corporate leaders. The important policies are set by aloose coalition of three groups—corporate leaders, top military officers, and key politicalleaders. Government is dominated by a few top leaders, most of whom are outside thegovernment and enjoy great advantages in wealth, status, or organizational position. Theyact in concert, and the policies they make serve the interests of the elite.
– all institutions fall under the control of large bureaucracies whoseexpertise and specialized competence are essential to the management of contemporaryaffairs. Government agencies are dominated by those who operate them on a daily basis.
– political resources are so widely scattered that no single elite hasanything like a monopoly over them. There are so many governmental institutions in whichpower may be exercised that no single group can dominate most of the political process.Policies are the outcome of a complex pattern of political haggling, compromises, andshifting alliances. Almost all relevant interests have a chance to affect the outcome of decisions. Not only are the elites divided, they are responsive to their followers’ interests,and thus they provide representation to almost all citizens affected by a policy.Chapter 2: The Constitution
Articles of Confederation
– created a “league of friendship” among the states that couldnot levy taxes or regulate commerce. Each state retained its sovereignty and independence,each state had one vote in Congress, 9/13 states were required to pass any measure, and