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Test your knowledge

President Obama is giving a State of the Union address tonight- Why? a. He needs to shore up support b. Congress requested he do so c. The Constitution requires an annual report d. Its a tradition started when television became available
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Fiorina, Peterson, Johnson, and Mayer New American Democracy, Sixth Edition

Chapter 1 Democracy in the United States

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Government and Politics


Many Americans frustrated with government Healthy attitude? Weber on government: that institution in society that has a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force. Because government has the ability to coerce, it is natural to distrust and fear it. So why have governments? Do we really need them?

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Government and Politics


Governments are necessary because of people Madison: If men were angels, no government would be necessary. government necessary because often people do not agree and may not even get along Hobbes: A world without government would be nothing less than a war of all against all. So the next question might be: what kind of government?

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Types of Government
Government by One Person monarchs and dictators Actons quote on absolute power Government by the Few aristocracy: leaders chosen by birth oligarchy: leaders chosen by virtue of wealth, power or membership in political party Government by the Many Democracy: system in which governmental power is widely shared among the citizens, usually through free and open elections
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Traditional Types of Democracy


Direct democracy: type of democracy in which ordinary people are the government and making all laws themselves Representative democracy: an indirect form of democracy in which the people choose representatives who determine what government does Delegate Style: type of representative democracy in which ordinary citizens participate actively and closely constrain the actions of public officials; prospective voting Trustee Style: citizens play more passive role; choose representatives, but do not tell them what to do; retrospective voting
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The New American Democracy


Half a Million Elected Officials More elections than other countries 1 elected official for every 500 Americans National elections held every two years determine the winner of the presidential ticket, 100 senators, and 435 members of the House of Representatives State elections choose governor, state legislature, and most also elect lieutenant governor, treasurer, states attorney general, and many more Local elections 3,000 county sheriffs 90% of the nations 16,000 school boards Judicial elections Americans elect more than 1,000 state judges and about 15,000 county, municipal, and other local judges and officers of the court
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The New American Democracy


The Permanent Campaign The new American democracy is marked by a permanent campaign. Campaign literally NEVER ENDS. Line between campaigning and governing has disappeared Governing becomes campaign strategy At its worst can be harmful: public officials sacrifice long-term good for short-term electoral advantage

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The New American Democracy


The Permanent Campaign (continued) Seven developments have contributed to the permanent campaign Separation of elections Decay of party organizations Spread of primaries Proliferation of polls Rise of mass communication Profusion of interest groups Rising campaign costs

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The New American Democracy


Nominating Candidates and Deciding Issues Primary election preliminary election that narrows the number of candidates by determining who will be the nominees in the general election General election final election that selects the office holder Initiative proposed laws or state constitutional amendments placed on the ballot via citizen petition Referendum proposed laws or state constitutional amendment proposed by a legislature or city council that do not go into effect unless the required majority of voters approve it Proposition shorthand reference to an initiative or a referendum often enables citizens to bypass or overrule elected officials Are elections responsible for American exceptionalism?
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The Power of the Few


American democracy may have moved in a popular direction, but majorities do not get their way constantly Factors that give minorities an advantage: Voter participation Nominating process Single-issue voter Voter who cares deeply about some particular issue so that a candidates position on this one issue determines his/her vote Campaign resources Misinformed citizens
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Popular and Responsible Democracy in the United States


U.S. has always had more popular democracy than its European counterparts. Principles of popular democracy important founders incorporated them into the their rules; created mechanisms such as checks and balances that divided power among different representatives chosen in different elections by different constituencies

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Reform?
Americans frustrated by nature of government, but should view proposals for radical reform cautiously. Examples calls for more popular democracy more elections more opportunities to exert popular pressure or more power for elected officials Such reforms overlook the tremendous popular pressure from a diverse public that political leaders are already under. That may be part of the problem, not the solution.

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Figure 1.3 The Total Costs of American Elections Have Increased Dramatically in The Last Five Decades
Note: All figures have been adjusted For inflation in terms of 2001 CPI Dollars.

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A Pretty Good Government


Irony: We have greater opportunity to influence government, but we are increasingly disappointed in it. But there is more right than wrong with the U.S. often critics apply unrealistic standards of evaluation compare to other countries better in many areas, but not in everything important to examine what works and what does not particularly important to understand the effects of the permanent campaign

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Benefits of an Electoral Democracy


Churchill: democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried. Areas that need improvement: economic inequality and poverty rates homelessness absence of adequate medical care for many murder and incarceration rates Its important to examine why this is the case.

2009, Pearson Education