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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Government - Chap 1- Notes

Politic and government in life:

  • Prohibited schools from discriminating against genders and holding prayer sessions. Municipal boards regulate education and state certifies and pays teachers
  • Ages at which you can drive, drink, and vote regulated by federal government
  • Issues SSN and taxes wages for SS
  • As a college students you may by drawing money from a federal loan


    Government and the Young People

  • It is a proven stereotype that young people (under 25) are apathetic to politics and view it as corrupt and unchangeable
  • An age gap in the percentage of people who follow politics



    Defining Democracy

  • A means of selecting policymakers and organizing government so that policy reflects citizen's preferences


    Traditional Democratic Theory

  • Must satisfy the following:
    • Equality in voting: 'One person, one vote'
    • Effective participation: Citizens must have equal opportunities to express their preferences throughout the decision-making process
    • Enlightened understanding: A marketplace of ideas
    • Citizen control of the agenda: Citizens have collective right to control the gov's policy agenda
    • Inclusion: Must include and extend rights to all those subject to its laws
  • Must use majority rule: will of over half the voters should be followed
  • Majority cannot overrule minority rights: Rights such as freedom of speech
  • Representation: Make present once again (desires of the people should be replicated in government through the choices of elected officials


    Three Contemporary Theories of American Democracy

  • Pluralist theory:
    • Define: States that groups with shared interest influence public policy by pressing their concerns through organized efforts
    • (NRA or UAW)
    • Pluralist are positive that the public interest will eventually prevail in the making of public policy
    • Putnam argues that problems with democracy stem from a decline in group-based participation
    • Elite and Class Theory:
      • Critics of pluralists say that they miss the big picture by arguing that everyone can 'get a piece of the pie'
      • Define: Our society is divided along class lines and that an upper-class pulls the strings of thee government
        • Says that wealth is the basis of power
  • Hyperpluralism:
    • Define: Groups are so strong that government is weakened as the influence of many groups cripples government's ability to make policy
      • Many groups are so strong that the government is unable to act
    • Assets that there are too many groups for the political decision-making process
    • Groups are sovereign and government is merely the servant


    Challenges to Democracy

  • Increased technical expertise:
    • Ordinary citizens have the good sense to reach political judgments and that the government has the capacity to act on the judgments
    • However we live in a society of experts whose knowledge overshadows our own
  • Limited participation in government:
    • Americans do not take full advantage of their opportunities to shape the government or select its leaders
    • Challenges the foundation of democracy
  • Escalating campaign costs:
    • Political observers worry about the close connection between money and politics, especially in congressional elections
  • Diverse political interests:
    • The diversity of the American people is reflected in the diversity of interests represented in the political system
    • Interests find it easy to gain effective access to policymakers
    • Interest may use its influence to thwart those who's policy proposals they oppose
    • Policy gridlock: They have a veto over policy (occurs when there each policy coaltion finds its way blocked by others

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