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Study guide 1 for Basic American Politics

Study guide 1 for Basic American Politics

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Published by Dafina Amin
The Basics of American Politics, Wasserman
The Basics of American Politics, Wasserman

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Published by: Dafina Amin on Feb 06, 2013
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Dafina Amin 2-4-13 Politics Exam #1 Study Guide

1. Politics: The process of who gets what, when and how, described by Harold Lasswell. Whenever you have conflicting POVS, politics attempts to reconcile. Politics is everywhere and can be applied to any situation. Lasswell also wrote “The study of politics is the study of influence and the influential.” 2. Power: simply the ability to influence another’s behavior. Power is getting people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do. Power may involve force (often coercion), persuasion, or rewards. 3. Representative Democracy: 4. “Natural Rights:” Rights you’re born with which include equality, freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 5. Social Contract: Contract between government and citizens. Government is their to protect our rights and if we feel they are not doing so, we have the right to alter or abolish it. 6. Tom Paine: Wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense a few months before declaration admiring how Americans had the ability to start a whole new society, and civilization for themselves. 7. Declaration of Independence 8. Power Theories 9. Iron Law of Oligarchy: Political theory developed by Gernman syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in 1911 in his book Political Parties. It claims that rule by an elite, or oligarchy, is inevitable as an iron law within any organization as part of the “tactical and technical necessities” or organization. 10. De Tocqueville: French aristocrat who worried about the quiet despotism of America’s politics. 11. Thomas Jefferson: Main contributor to the Declaration of Independence. 12. Direct Democracy: The pure majority rule. 13. Inalienable Rights: Rights that the government cannot infringe upon 14. Government: Political association that does 1) makes rules determining who will get society’s values (wealth, respect, safety, resources) and 2) it alone regulates the use of legitimate force in society. 15. Majority Rule vs Minority Rights 16. Pluralism/Plural Elitism 17. Consensus: Basic agreement on the general political ideals and goals of society. Agreement on rules and results is the “cement that holds society together.” Specific examples include agreeing on the importance of civil liberties and the goal of equality of opportunity. 18. C. Wright Mills: a sociologist who wrote the Power Elite, the best known study of elite control in the United States, and who maintained that American

He believed that when man first appeared in the world. greedy.politics was dominated by a unified group of leaders from corporations. a strong leader that unafraid to use cold-blooded tactics. Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were both British philosophers with very different views regarding the state of nature. 20. The state of nature of man was beastly and animalistic. Locke believed that government was created in order to secure security. Essays: 1. Explain the significance of “social contract theory” in understanding American Government. As we understand it. Harold Lasswell: Political scientist who supplied famous definitions of politics. He concluded there were a number of different economic and social groups wielding political power in New Haven. Locke didn’t believe in inalienable rights. man was at risk of destroying himself. He believed because man was so bad by nature. in order to survive. Government is there to tell us right from wrong. Locke had a much more optimistic point of view. Rebelling meaning to revolution and hold re-elections. If at any time the people feel the government is not representing best interests. such as urban development and public education. Hobbes had a very pessimistic point of view regarding man’s state of nature. We expect certain things from our government just like our government expects certain things from the people. we didn’t deserve rights. we in turn give up our freedom. we the people have the right to rebel. And for the security and order given to us. ex. the military. a. He concluded that the people influential in education policy were not the same as those involved in urban development or political nominations. equal. the social contract is basically a contract between the government and the people implied in the Constitution. Only the strong survived. Without order. No one is born with rights. to impose rules and law and order to maintain harmony. and politics. He examines several important issues. We arrive free. the world was chaotic because man was basically born evil. The state of nature refers to the state man was in when first placed into the world. to see who made the key decisions. and they would do anything at the expense of someone else. He felt the remedy to the chaos created by man was a single sovereign. Compare and contrast the theoretical perception of Hobbes and Locke regarding the “state of nature” and why people form government. . a king. selfish. Obeying laws. He believed that man came to this world as a blank slate. Robert Dahl: Wrote “Who Governs?” which is a classic study supporting the pluralist model. 19.

cooperative. He also believed that instead of a single sovereign such as a king. He advocated the separation of church and state. as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of another human being. But it seemed Jefferson’s intention was to fight for a natural state. Inalienable rights. explain the seven main philosophical principles of the document. He believed that even the average laborer could be just as wise as a prince. we learn to become evil. Rather. a. Jefferson even directly quotes Locke by writing we have “certain unalienable Rights. we are forced by outside forces. Government has no right to tell us what to believe. To what extent has America extent has America fulfilled these aspirations? Explain and offer examples. who had little to say during collaboration meetings over the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson in turn was an optimist and believed man to be naturally good. aka god given rights. and the pursuit of Happiness. Although Hobbes and Locke have very contrasting views. What is the relationship of the social contract with Jefferson’s contentions in the Declaration of Independence? As offered in lecture. If they fail. basically for economic reasons. Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet called Common Sense a few months before the Declaration of Independence was written. Man chooses to live with others in order to gain security and to pursue happiness he couldn’t attain alone. the government is there to protect those rights. We are not born evil. amount them Locke says.” All he changed was property to happiness. Because Jefferson was a John Locke supporter. or king. The ideas for the Declaration of Independence were inspired by John Locke and Thomas Paine. that all men are created equal. it was hard for Jefferson not to like and agree with his views. 2. and independent. we the people must abolish it. He believed that when we all are born into this world. And in order to insure them. So in summary. And man formed government for their human cooperative needs and desires. Paine was basically saying how the Americans had in their power to start a whole new society and civilization for themselves. Liberty. This is different from laws the government enforces and we have to abide by. This is why he even begins by writing “we hold these truths to be self-evident. and this was probably due to black slaves being referred to as property and he did not want any discrepancies to who were . life. Thomas Jefferson. liberty. that among these are Life. and property (meaning our soul and mind). the people could be trusted to govern themselves under the right conditions. they agree that the main motive for man to establish government is to maintain security and order in society. was thrown into the role as the main writer. a utopia.” This statement could be difficult for many to understand. regardless of who we are. we are given inalienable rights. Paine’s envy and somewhat support to America separating. Individual rights were emphasized in tis document. we have certain rights and are born free to do whatever we desire. Locke believed we came into the world.

freedom. to do what’s right. however there have been slip ups when the majority has their support. right to revolution against oppressive governments to “preserve” liberty. 3. it is our right to alter or abolish it and institute new government. In lecture it was established that the Declaration of Independence had seven main philosophical principles. we Americans seem to have natural rights. and equality. and the right to free local government for the 13 colonies. This is the social contract. What are 2-3 positives and 2-3 negative aspects of pure or “direct” democracy as discussed in class? Explain de Tocqueville’s main critique and concern about democracy according to lecture. liberty. They were fighting to establish freedom. The social contract basically means that the government is their only to secure our rights and they have a contract to the people to uphold this. Jefferson is arguing that the social contract between the people and government had been broken and that revolution was necessary in order to preserve their liberty. And because the Americans felt their rights were being infringed upon. popular sovereignty of the people. Do you agree or disagree with de Tocqueville’s assessment? Why/why not? Lastly. inalienable rights. The government is only their as a service to serve our needs and to ensure to maintain our inalienable rights. they have the right to change it. They were the following: natural rights. which include equality. And if the people do not feel the government is doing what is best for them. At our present time. America has fulfilled this aspiration. Natural rights mean that we are born with certain rights. they were preparing to rebel to establish a new government. For the most part. Jefferson then lists many different offenses they believed the King had committed.permitted to these natural rights. People would have A couple of positive aspects to pure democracy is . Government by consent of government basically means that the people give up our right to govern to elect a representative to handle the job for us. and the pursuit of happiness. The government has not directly infringed upon the rights of others. The government expects certain things from the people and the people expect certain things from the government. government by consent of governed. alienable vs. they have the right to change it. what kind of government do we have in the United States? Explain in detail the five principles of this model as discussed in lecture. He also figured no one would be against pursuing happiness. It places great faith in the people that they can make decisions for what’s best for us. social contract. liberty. Direct democracy is the idea that the pure majority rules with little consideration for minorities. life. a. because they believed it was their right to do so. If the government threatens to take our rights away. If the government infringes upon their rights or the people are not happy with them.

black people were forced into slavery for many years. If we feel they do not accomplish what we wanted them to . However.that it allows for quick change and no representatives are needed. de Tocqueville’s main critique about democracy was quiet despotism. regular and frequent elections. The following are the five characteristics of representative/republican democracy: popular sovereignty.S. The founding fathers opposed direct democracy. It works like mind control. and laws we have limited choices. but they had to somewhat make it about the people. people cannot think for themselves. propositions. With the media and the influence of powerful people. Pure/direct democracy risks the uninformed/uneducated citizen making the decisions for what we vote for. We are fed all sorts of propaganda to brainwash us into thinking what we think are our own opinions. pluralism. we are “convinced” to pick what we wouldn’t necessarily agree with. the majority does not always know what is right. The pressure of conformity stifles democracy and individual creativity. They were the ones to establish that knowledgeable elitists would hold representative positions. and political liberty. I agree with this assessment because even when we hold elections and we vote for new representatives. He was worried that the majority is what often forces you to do what you want to do. The people are engaged in widespread participation through open debate for example. women were not treated equal to men. Nazis sought out to kill every Jew. and the government in return will be responsive to the people. This allows for the government to be a step removed. The ultimate power resides in we the people. political choice. There will be no middlemen representatives. the tendency for the masses to conform. Regular and frequent elections are important because we hold representatives accountable for their actions. As a result. Even now. just we the people rule. This is why the founding fathers did not want too much democracy because they didn’t trust the peoples. homosexuals are being denied several rights straight people have due to their sexual orientation. the problem with pure democracy is that. Conformity is a dangerous thing. people would have to take the time to become knowledgeable in the issues. So instead they designed the U. as demonstrated throughout history. Elections serves as a filtering system where we decide who will represent us based on their character and what they think is best for us. It can be extremely unstable and unfair. Popular sovereignty is the ideal that the government will be responsive to the people. Democracy has the potential to destroy itself from within. model of government to be representative democracy. It allows for quick change because voting for issues would be directly resolved by the people. At one point in time. This allowed for people to exercise their power to elect representatives to make the best decisions for us.

When people are voting in a representative democracy. bear arms). no gets too settled. rather than feeling like they’re picking the lesser of two evils. a representative government must have political liberty. Representative democracy creates a nation of groups. That is why a separation of powers was developed. New people and new ideas need to . it allows for a turnover of power. And because there are groups. there must be a balancing of the groups in order for them to have an equal chance for policy making. meaning that ideally we would all have individual rights that would be absolute (freedom of speech.accomplish. And lastly. such as 3 or 4 political parties. No group necessarily dominates the other but they are constantly competing with one another. they need to have a political choice. They must feel like they’re really voting for a case. Also. . They must have choices. we have the ability to take them out of power.

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