You are on page 1of 4

University of Texas at Dallas

GOVT 2301 Spring 2007


Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Brian Bearry Teaching Assistant: Jean MacDonald


Office: GR3.704 x4966
Office hrs: by appointment
email: bxb022100@utdallas.edu email: jeanmac@udallas.edu

Textbooks:
Kernell, Samuel and Jacobson, Gary. The Logic of American Politics 3rd ed. CQ Press
Tannahill, Neal. Texas Politics: Policy and Politics 9th ed.

Hamilton, Madison, Jay. Federalist Papers


These papers may be found at: http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/federalist/

Alexander Hamilton argued during the Constitutional Convention that men are attached to their
governments for what he considered five reasons: self-interest, opinion, habit, force of law or arms, and
honor. With this in mind, what would you say is the cause of most Americans’ attachment to their
government? Is it merely opinion imprinted through education; is it simply habit; or is the American model
of government the best guarantor of freedom and liberty yet devised by human beings? Or, are the
principles of the Constitution an eloquent deception so that the wealthy and “elite” can rule? What is your
attachment? Do you belong to that class of citizens who Roger Sherman argued (when discussing the
incompetence of the American people to elect Congress) should not be allowed to vote because you “lack
for information and are constantly liable to be misled?” Or, do you know the basic underlying principles,
institutions and functions of American government and politics? The purpose of this course is to discuss
questions such as these and to give you a broad overview of the foundation and purpose of American and
Texas governmental institutions and politics. The focus of this course will be twofold. The first aspect of
this course will be devoted to American foundational ideals and principles, such as republicanism,
federalism (to include local government,) separation of powers, majority rule etc.; as well as an excursion
into the meaning and structure of the US and Texas Constitution. The second part of this course should
help you should gain an appreciation for American and Texas governmental secondary institutions and
politics, in which we will explore public opinion, the media, political parties and interest groups, as well as
political campaigns and elections. By the end of the semester, you should have the intellectual foundation
to understand, analyze and discuss American and Texas national government and politics as it pertains to
contemporary American political life.

On completing this and its companion course, students will be able to:
1. provide examples and apply important theoretical and scholarly approaches to explaining state and
national institutional behavior, citizen involvement, and interaction between citizens and institutions of
government;
2. analyze and appreciate historical trends in the development of government institutions and their
constitutional foundations;
3. identify, describe and analyze various mechanisms of citizen political involvement.

Requirements, grading and participation:


Each student will be required to follow current events (you may use whatever newspapers, magazines,
internet sites—please ensure the source is considered “legitimate” as defined by common journalistic and
political standards). You will see current events questions on the tests and quizzes. There will be three
exams and a final exam for this course. Thus, your final grade will be determined as follows:

Three exams 20% each


Comprehensive final 30%
Quiz/participation 10%
Total 100%
Attendance, etc.
Attendance is expected and required. Failure of 4 quizzes will cause the loss of 5% of your final grade;
failure of 6 quizzes will result in the loss of 10% of your grade (one full-letter grade.) You will lose 5% of
your final grade for every 2 quiz failures thereafter. Should you miss a quiz due to an absence or tardy, a
grade of “F” will be assigned and will stand; the only exception will be for a previously determined
excused absence. You may use handwritten outlines of your reading when taking a quiz. There are no
make-up exams or quizzes. When challenging a grade, it is the responsibility of the student to produce the
requisite materials.
Cell phones, pagers, palm pilots and any other electronic device that rings, beeps, clicks, whirrs, etc.; turn
them off.—should a student need to be reminded more than once, it is possible that he or she could lose his
class participation grade or face dismissal from the course.

DO NOT BRING CELL PHONES INTO EXAMS. ANYONE CAUGHT WITH A CELL PHONE
OR ANY OTHER ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE WILL IMMEDIATELY
RECEIVE A 0 (F) FOR THAT EXAM.

Class rules and grades:

1. email: You must put your full name on all email correspondence. Emails sent without a name will not
be answered. We will NOT send exam, quiz, assignment and final grades via email. You may
receive your grades when exams, etc., are returned during or after class, or you may drop by my or the
TA’s office hours to receive your grades and other pertinent material.

2. In order for you to receive an excused absence, you must notify me or the Teaching Assistant prior
to class; or you must have a documented medical emergency; otherwise, all absences and tardies will
be considered unexcused.

3. All grades are final (unless there is a mistake when determining a grade—this does happen).
The time to be concerned with a grade is during the semester, not after. When challenging a grade, it is the
responsibility of the student to produce the requisite materials. There is no extra credit given in this class.

University Policy on Scholastic Dishonesty:


It is the policy of the University of Texas at Dallas that cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated under
any circumstances. Violations will result in immediate disciplinary action to the fullest extent of the
policy. See the University catalog for a detailed explanation.
Course outline and reading:
The Declaration of Independence may be found in the appendix of Logic of American Politics or
through a Google search online. The U.S. Constitution may be found on pp. 594

Tocqueville readings:
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/1_ch15.htm read section entitled: “Power Exercised by the
Majority Upon Opinion”
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch1_02.htm read: “Of the Principle Source of
Belief among Democratic Nations”

Jan 10—course introduction


Jan 12—Federalist #1; introduction to democratic political theory
Jan 15—MLK Day no class
Jan 17—lecture; democratic political theory cont.
Jan 19—Kernell, ch. 1 entire; introduction to American political science and vocabulary
Jan 22—Kernell, pp. 37-44, Declaration of Independence, p. 591; American founding; liberalism
Jan 24—Kernell, pp. 44-67; Constitutional Convention, ratification
Jan 26—Kernell, pp. 67-73, Federalist #10 & 51 pp. 604-610; American constitutional principles
Jan 29—Kernell, pp. 594-603; Constitution
Jan 31—Tannahill, ch 2 entire; Texas Constitution
Feb 2—lecture; Texas Constitution; exam #1 review
Feb 5—EXAM #1
Feb 7—Kernell, pp. 76-100, Federalist #46; introduction to federalism
Feb 9—Kernell, pp. 100-110; federalism cont.
Feb 12—Tannahill, pp, ch 3 entire; federalism cont. emphasis on Texas
Feb 14—Tannahill, ch 11 entire; Texas city government
Feb 16—Tannahill, ch 12 entire; Texas county government and special districts
Feb 19—lecture, exam #2 review
Feb 21—EXAM #2
Feb 23—Tocqueville, “Power Exercised by the Majority Upon Opinion,” “Of the Principle Source of
Belief among Democratic Nations;” introduction to American public opinion
Feb 26—Kernell, pp. 381-397; American public opinion
Feb 28—Kernell, pp.387-417; American public opinion
Mar 5—lecture; American public opinion
Mar 5-9—SPRING BREAK—no class
Mar 12—Kernell, pp. 538-552; news media and politics
Mar 14—Kernell, pp. 552-569; news media and politics
Mar 16—lecture, news media and politics
Mar 19—Kernell, pp. 504-520; interest groups
Mar 21—Kernell, pp. 520-536; interest groups
Mar 23—Tannahill, ch. 5 entire; Texas interest groups
Mar 26—lecture, exam #3 review
Mar 28—EXAM #3
Mar 30—Kernell, pp. 460-478; political parties
Apr 2—Kernell, pp.478-502; political parties
Apr 4—Tannahill, ch 6 entire; Texas political parties
Apr 6—lecture; political parties
Apr 9—Kernell, 420-435; voting , elections and political participation
Apr 11—Tannahill, ch 4 entire; voting, elections and political participation (emphasis on Texas)
Apr 13—lecture; voting, elections and political participation
Apr 16—Tannahill, pp. 159-178; electoral campaigns (emphasis on Texas)
Apr 18—Federalist #1, #10 & #51 (again;) “living” Constitution v. “original intent” debate
Apr 20--final exam review
Apr 23—FINAL EXAM
News sources:

Realclear Politics (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/index.html) Excellent source of political news and


opinion.

Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/) “Conservative” or right-leaning news site.

CNN (http://www.cnn.com/) “Liberal” or left-leaning news site.

Powerline (http://www.powerlineblog.com/) Generally high-quality conservative political commentary.

TomPaine.com (http://www.tompaine.com/blog.cfm ) Generally high-quality liberal political commentary.

Redstate (http://www.redstate.com/) Partisan conservative political commentary.

Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/) Partisan liberal commentary.

Drudge Report (http://drudgereport.com/ ) Just for fun.