American Government and Politics

Welcome to American Government 2008-2009


This class is not a civics course, nor is it an “introduction to” course. Nor is this a traditional survey course, the intended audience is college students. It is important to realize that the lectures and discussions will not summarize the readings nor describe the nuts and bolts of governmental bodies.

Instead, it offers an opportunity to explore in depth and systematically some rather sophisticated arguments, interpretations and controversies about the institutions (Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary) and the processes (Elections, Media, Public Opinion, etc.) of American government. Politics and the American political system are badly misunderstood by most citizens, and I will offer interpretations and analyses that may clarify some important events and practices.

I will present lectures and lead discussions that deal with specific aspects of American government and politics. We will critically interpret and evaluate significant parts of the political system. In the process I will try to debunk numerous deeply held but misleading beliefs people have about how politics work in this country. My mission is to challenge your basic beliefs, arouse your intellectual curiosity, and encourage you to think for yourselves. It is my hope that this hands-on experience of "doing" will both enliven your interest in political analysis and help you develop practical skills that you can use in other contexts as well.

Dr. Michael Thompson

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