- American Government and Politics
- American System of Democracy
- Civil Rights and Liberties
- People and Politics
- Political Institutions
- Public Policy
- Digital Story Project
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
Politics and Government
By: Brittany Kersenbrock, Becca Theimer, Kassie Weinland and Lacey Baehler
A Government is a preeminent institution within society in which decisions are made that resolve conflicts or allocate benefits and privileges. Without a government to control people’s decisions and actions, the world would be more hectic then it already is. There are many different types of government and many different ways government can be based upon. Economy, Politics, and Authority play a big role in the government today. Without the economy, many people in society would have no life. The economy brings in the goods and services that are bought and sold, another way to make a living. Politics play a huge role in society today. Politics is what keeps the government running, not always smoothly, but it keeps it going. Authority works as who picks the government and what works best for each society.
The types of government are: Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Capitalism is an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations. Socialism is a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of capital and land in the community as a whole. Communism is a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
In the politics of government, many of different countries use different types of politics that form better with their country. The U.S. is a Republic which is led by representatives of the voters. Each is individually chosen for a set period of time of 4 years and can hold office of 2 terms. Other types of politics include: Dictatorship which is ruled by a single leader and may use force to maintain control. Totalitarian is ruled by a single political party. Theocracy is form of government where the rulers claim to be ruling on behalf of a set of religious ideas. Monarchy has a king or queen who has absolute power. Parliamentary is led by representatives of the people. Each is chosen as a member of a political party and remains in power as long as his/her party does. Anarchy is a situation where there is no government.
The U.S. Constitution created a form of republican government that is now called a democratic republic which is a republic in which representative elected by the people make and enforces laws and policies. The people hold the ultimate power over the government over the election process, but all decisions are made by the elected government officials.
A political ideology is sets of beliefs about politics that are closely related. Conservation and Liberalism are the two main ideologies. Conservatism is a set of beliefs that includes a limited role for the national government in helping individuals, support of traditional values and lifestyles. Liberalism is a set of beliefs that include the advocacy of positive government action to improve the welfare of individuals and support civil rights. Liberalism also advocates the freedom of individuals. Government is how we Americans live today. It controls every person in society and runs the economy. It’s a way of life and will continue to be for many, many years to come.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2008 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. 2009.
Types of Government
Three Systems of Government
By: Brittany Kersenbrock, Becca Theimer, Kassie Weinland and Lacey Baehler
1.) Unitary System (most popular):
- Centralized government systems in which ultimate governmental authority rests in the hands of the national or central government.
- There are regions, departments: municipalities included in this system.
- Each region departments communities, elects, and appoints officials.
- This type of government system is currently used in France.
- The decisions of the lower levels of government can be over ruled by the national government.
- The national government can be cut off the funding to local government activities.
- National government handles everything dealing with education, police, and welfare.
2.) Confederal System:
- A system consisting of a league of independent states each having essentially sovereign powers.
- The central government has only limited power over the states.
- Central government has no ability to make laws directly unless members of each state give them support.
- It is the opposite of Unitary System of Government.
- There are very few places that have this system of government. One place that uses this type of government is in the European Union.
3.) Federal System:
- This is a combination between unitary system and confederal system of government.
- Authority is divided between a central and regional government.
- It usually has a written constitution.
- Both the central government and the regional government act directly with the people through laws and the actions of governmental officials.
- Central and regional government both has authority.
- It was founded in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, and Mexico.
Three Systems of Government: American Government and Politics Today pages 79-80
Articles of Confederation
By: Brittany Kersenbrock, Becca Theimer, Kassie Weinland and Lacey Baehler
A Confederacy is a political system which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers they expressively delegate to a central government. A voluntary association of independent states in which the member states agree to limited restraints on their freedom of action.
The second continental congress began writing the Articles of Confederacy in June 1776. They completed the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777. It was not until March 1, 1781 when all thirteen states had ratified and signed this document.
- New territory was claimed in the western lands.
- Passage of the northwest ordinance of 1787. This established a basic pattern of government for new territories north of the Ohio River.
- It represented the first real pooling of resources by American states.
- Congress did not have the right to demand revenues from the states; they could only ask each personally for the right to have some of their profit.
- It did not create a national system of courts.
- Everything that congress wanted to do had to be approved by nine of the thirteen states and any amendments to the Articles of Confederation had to be approved by all thirteen states.
- They did not have the power to raise money to support the militia.
Powers Granted To Congress
- They have the power to decide when to declare war and when to make peace with other territories.
- They can decide whether or not to enter into treaties and alliance with other countries.
- They can establish armed forces and determine when to use them.
- They can request people for the armed forces and a portion of revenue from the states.
- They can regulate the debt of our nation.
- They can fix or change important national things, such as standards of weights and measures.
- They get to operate governmental buildings such as post offices.
- They guarantee citizens of each state the rights and privileges of citizens in several states when present in another state.
- They help settle disputes between other states using petitions.
Powers Not Granted to Congress
- They do not get the privilege of controlling foreign relations.
- They can not compel states to meet military quotas. They can not draft soldiers.
- They can not regulate interstates; these are set aside for each state to earn money.
- They are not allowed to tax the people directly; they must rely on each state to collect taxes and give the appropriate amount to the national government.
- They do not have to power to produce more paper money.
Articles of Confederation: American Government and Politics Today pages 35-37
Brittany Ritter, Nicole Ritter, Jeremy Chase, Jerica Chase
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” A political principle that forbids government constraint on people in their choice of beliefs is the freedom of religion. It requires that one be free to act upon those beliefs. It includes the freedom to worship, to print instructional material, to train teachers, and to organize societies for their employment. Freedom of religion is closely joined with other freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. We Americans have the freedom to change religion or not to follow any religion.
For hundreds of years, people have been persecuted for their religious affiliation. However, before the 18th century, religious toleration was hardly evident. Within the U.S. Constitution religious freedom is based on principle. There have been several attempts by the government to regulate religion. For example in the 16th and 17th century the state tried to regulate the Church of England. As most of us have learned, settlers ventured to the new world with hope of escaped religious persecution. Many broke away from the Church of England. Some of these early colonies were not tolerant of certain forms of worship. This is when denominations of different liking were established. Not far after, the Bill of Rights was proposed in 1789. Principles were set forth to separate state power from the church.
Separating church and state in the United States has not been easy and we still battle with issues today. The First Amendment wishes the federal government to be “neutral.” However small things such as the requirement of church building codes, fire regulations, and sanitation laws sometimes get in the way. The “Free Exercise” and “Establishment” clauses constantly clash. For example, Mormon Polygamy claims based on the “Free Exercise” clause, were found unconstitutional. However, as we all know this very same clause has eliminated flag salutes in many public schools. On the other hand, the establishment clause is there to maintain that the government does not show preference to any religion.
The Death Penalty
Brittany Ritter, Nicole Ritter, Jeremy Chase, Jerica Chase
In a typical year, thousands of legal executions are carried out throughout the world in twenty-two nations. The United States ranks among the top four, along with China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the United States thirty-eight states and the federal government have capital punishment laws. Capital punishment, the death penalty or execution, is the killing of a person by judicial process for retribution and incapacitation. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offence.
The first death sentence historically recorded occurred in 16th Century BC Egypt where the wrongdoer, a member of nobility, was accused of magic, and ordered to take his own life. Throughout history the death penalty has been used and done in many different ways across the world. In the US the “Death Penalty” dates back to December 1607 in Jamestown. The first know execution was of George Kendall accused of sowing discord and mutiny (some sources say he was also accused of spying against the British for Spain). The first legal execution was in 1622 of Daniel Frank for theft. The death penalty has almost always been a feature of the criminal justice system, first in the American colonies and then, after independence, in the U.S. Beginning in the 1930s death penalty statistics have been collected on a regular basis. In 1972 the Supreme Court invited the states to enact more precise laws so that the death penalty would be applied more consistently. By 1978 twenty-five states had adopted a two-stage, or bifurcated, procedures for capital cases.
In the first stage, a jury determines guilt or innocent of the defendant for the crime that has been determined by statue to be punishable by death. If the jury finds the defendant guilt they move on to the second stage. They consider all relevant evidence to decide whether the death sentence is warranted. In the China the death penalty dates back to ancient Laws of China. In the 18th Century BC, the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon codified the death penalty for twenty five different crimes. Outside observers believe that China executes up to 10,000 citizens per year and because of that China instituted the requirement that all death sentences be reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court. China claims that the death penalty is necessary to fight crime and preserve social order. In the US, a majority of Americans are in favor of capital punishment for those convicted of heinous crimes.
Most States and the U.S. military use the method of lethal injection. Lethal injection refers to the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs for the explicit purpose of causing the death of the subject. In the U.S. few states still use methods such as electrocution, gas chamber, hanging and firing squad. In other parts of the world a variety of methods such as lethal injection and a bullet to the back of the head. The death penalty methods have improved over the years. In the past methods included burned, heavy weights on peoples chests, drinking poison and many other cruel methods. ‘Few public policy issues have inflamed passions as consistently and as strongly as the debate over capital punishment.’ The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court has never interpreted “cruel and unusual” to prohibit all forms of capital punishment in all circumstances.
Brittany Ritter, Nicole Ritter, Jeremy Chase, Jerica Chase
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “ ‘Affirmative action’ means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy.” Affirmative action (by my definition) is the process of the government using compensatory treatment or in ways reward various universities and business establishments if they hire women or minorities for certain job positions. This expands on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Instead of just limiting discrimination in the school and work place. It encourages it. It was started in 1965 by president Lyndon Johnson to try to jumpstart the women and minorities of that day into parts of society that discriminated against them. He said “This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek… not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” It is not limited to just jobs and schools. Affirmative Action also affects labor unions and any government funded organizations.
There has been much debate on if any Affirmative Action acts are constitutional. The First case that this debate came up in was The Bakke Case. Allan Bakke was a Caucasian student was trying to get into medical studies at the University of California. Bakke eventually discovered that his academic record was better than some of the minority students. He ended up suing the regents of the University on the grounds that he was a victim of reverse discrimination. He ended up winning the case because he said that the university violated his Fourteenth Amendment Rights. Ironically the Fourteenth Amendment originally prevented Caucasians from discriminating against African Americans, among other minorities. The case appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. They didn’t rule against either Allan Bakke or the University. They just ruled simply that the University must admit him into the college because of the way they conducted their admission methods.
There have been many more cases in the in the 1980’s and 1990’s regarding Affirmative Action and its violation of the fourteenth amendment. The courts progressively have been limiting schools and jobs ability to practice Affirmative Action. In 1995 the Supreme Court ruled that any case that involves any citizen being denied for not being a minority, the business or school will not be in favor with the courts. Another case similar to the Bakke case happened in 1996 when two Caucasians were denied into a law school in Texas.
In 2003 there were some cases that ruled in favor of Affirmative Action. These cases took place at the University of Michigan. The courts ruled that the affirmative action laws that were in effect at the university were fair enough to remain constitutional. This victory for Affirmative Action was not long lasted because three years later, the state of Michigan banned Affirmative Action. In 2007 the Supreme Court heard a case involving Affirmative Action in school programs. The court ruled it unconstitutional because of the violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
So in closing, Affirmative Action is dieing in the United States. It was never meant to be permanent anyways. It was only meant to help break down some social barriers that the country was having at the time. Yes at its core Affirmative Action was a good idea. Except for the fact that it is not fair. Minorities usually have a harder time succeeding in life than Caucasians, and Affirmative Action would help level this out. Unfortunately, it IS a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials 2008
By Scott, Nic, Anthony and Terry
Born in Westmoreland County, Va., on Feb. 22, 1732, George Washington was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, who were prosperous Virginia gentry of English descent. George spent his early years on the family estate on Pope's Creek along the Potomac River. His early education included the study of such subjects as mathematics, surveying, the classics, and "rules of civility." His father died in 1743, and soon thereafter George went to live with his half brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon, Lawrence's plantation on the Potomac. Lawrence, who became something of a substitute father for his brother, had married into the Fairfax family, prominent and influential Virginians who helped launch George's career. An early ambition to go to sea had been effectively discouraged by George's mother; instead, he turned to surveying, securing (1748) an appointment to survey Lord Fairfax's lands in the Shenandoah Valley. He helped lay out the Virginia town of Belhaven (now Alexandria) in 1749 and was appointed surveyor for Culpeper County. George accompanied his brother to Barbados in an effort to cure Lawrence of tuberculosis, but Lawrence died in 1752, soon after the brothers returned. George ultimately inherited the Mount Vernon estate.
By 1753 the growing rivalry between the British and French over control of the Ohio Valley, soon to erupt into the French and Indian War (1754-63), created new opportunities for the ambitious young Washington. He first gained public notice when, as adjutant of one of Virginia's four military districts, he was dispatched (October 1753) by Gov. Robert Dinwiddie on a fruitless mission to warn the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf against further encroachment on territory claimed by Britain. Washington's diary account of the dangers and difficulties of his journey, published at Williamsburg on his return, may have helped win him his ensuing promotion to lieutenant colonel. Although only 22 years of age and lacking experience, he learned quickly, meeting the problems of recruitment, supply, and desertions with a combination of brashness and native ability that earned him the respect of his superiors.
In June 1775, Congress commissioned George Washington to take command of the Continental Army besieging the British in Boston. He wrote home to Martha that he expected to return safe to you in the fall. The command kept him away from Mount Vernon for more than 8 years. On December 23, 1783, Washington presented himself before Congress in Annapolis, Maryland, and resigned his commission. Like Cincinnatus, the hero of Classical antiquity whose conduct he most admired, Washington had the wisdom to give up power when he could have been crowned a king. He left Annapolis and went home to Mount Vernon with the fixed intention of never again serving in public life. This one act, without precedent in modern history, made him an international hero. In the years after the Revolutionary War, Washington devoted most of his time to rebuilding Mount Vernon, which had suffered in his absence. He experimented with new crops and fertilizers and bred some of the finest mules in the nation. He also served as president of the Potomac Company, which worked to improve the navigation of the river in order to make it easier for upstream farmers to get their produce to market.
Washington served two terms as President. His first term (1789-1793) was occupied primarily with organizing the executive branch of the new government and establishing administrative procedures that would make it possible for the government to operate with the energy and efficiency he believed were essential to the republic's future. An astute judge of talent, he surrounded himself with the most able men in the new nation. He appointed his former aide-decamp, Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury; Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State; and his former artillery chief, Henry Knox, as Secretary of War. James Madison was one of his principal advisors. By 1796, Washington was ready for retirement, and no one could persuade him to accept a third term. With the help of Alexander Hamilton, he composed his Farewell Address to the American people, which urged his fellow citizens to cherish the Untion and avoid partisanship and permanent foreign alliances. In March 1797, he turned over the government to John Adams and returned to Mount Vernon, determined to live his last years as a simple gentleman farmer.
On December 12, 1799, Washington was caught out in sleet and snow while riding over his farms. The resulting illness progressed rapidly, and Washington suffered with a throat inflammation that made breathing extremely painful. Doctors arrived early on the morning of December 14 but could do little to ease his pain. He faced death with characteristic courage, saying, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. With his wife at his side, George Washington died at around 10:00 p.m. on December 14, 1799. Four days later a solemn funeral was held at Mount Vernon.
By Scott, Nic, Anthony and Terry
Immigration in the U.S. While immigration has played an important role in the building and formation of America, new federal laws have resulted in mass immigration. Throughout history, Congress has enacted laws and has had to amend them to control the flow of both legal and illegal migration to the United States. In 1948, legislation was first enacted in an effort to control the number of applicants fleeing persecution; it permitted 205,000 refugees to enter the United States. In 1952, Congress set in place major regulations setting parameters and quotas mostly for the eastern hemisphere and leaving the western hemisphere unrestricted.
In 1953, congress was again faced with having to increase the number of refugees from 205,000 to 415,000. In order to qualify as a refugee one must have a well founded fear of persecution, not be firmly resettled in a third country, and must not be an aggravated felon. In 1965, the national origin’s quota system was abolished but still maintained was the principle of numerical by establishing 170,000 hemispheric and 20,000 per country ceilings and a seven 1 category preference system. This system included the spouses of lawful resident aliens, brother and sisters of United States citizens, skilled and unskilled workers. To present date spouses and minor children of US citizens are exempt any quota system. In 1980, the refugee act removed them from the preference category and established clear criteria and procedures for their admission. In 1986, Congress was faced with yet another national crisis which it attempted to resolve by enacting the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
IRCA was considered to be the most comprehensive act which was to grant amnesty to those who had resided in the US illegally since January 1, 1982, created sanctions against persons and companies that hired illegal aliens, created the a new classification of temporary agriculture and granted amnesty to such workers, created a new visa waiver pilot program (VWPP) allowing the admission of certain non-immigrants without visas, created legislature for conditional status for those couples whose marriage is less than two years prior to immigrating to the US. Under IRCA 2.7 illegal aliens mostly from Mexico were given legal immigrant status. These new laws opened the door to the longest and largest wave of immigration ever-27 million since 1965, including illegal entries. The visa waiver pilot program (VWPP) is designed to extend reciprocity to the countries that permit US citizens to visit their countries without the need of a tourist visa. To date a total of twenty-nine countries are signatory to the treaty.
In order to qualify, countries must have a low rate of non-immigrant overstays to the US, and must have state of the art machine readable passports. 2 Prior to the enactment of IRCA, marriage fraud between non-citizens and US citizens was rampant and out of control. Measures were put in place to reduce this by requiring couples to submit proof to INS. This proof must show that the couple has been living together and submitted ninety days prior to the second anniversary. If the couple fails to establish that the marriage is valid, the non-citizen will not become a lawful permanent resident and will be faced with and order of deportation. The only exception, is that the non-citizen cannot be the subject of spousal abuse and be expected to remain in the marriage for the two years.
After almost thirteen years, Congress and the United States citizens have had the misfortune of reflecting on the blunders of the Immigration Reform Act of 1986(IRCA). The amnesty permanently added millions of poor people to our society. A study done by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) showed that after ten years in the United States, the average amnestied illegal alien had only a seventh grade education and an annual salary of less than $9,000 a year. The cost of amnesty to the American taxpayer is unbelievable. According to a recent study by the Center for American studies, the total net cost of amnesty after ten years comes to over $78 billion dollars. An amnesty sends the message that it’s okay to break the law. Eventually, it says, you will be forgiven, even rewarded for doing so. Further-more, it makes a mockery of the legal immigration process, where-in those who obey the rules, wait years to immigrate. Their is a list of 3.6 million eligible people waiting to be admitted as immigrants to our country; some of them have been on 3 that list for eighteen years. Illegal aliens make a mockery of those who respect our laws and our country’s sovereignty by waiting for an opportunity to immigrate. Again Congress and the American public are faced with a serious problem—the high number of criminal aliens.
Criminal aliens are a growing threat to public safety and national security, as well as a drain on our scare criminal justice resources. In 1980, our federal and state housed fewer than 9,000 criminal aliens. By the end of 1994, these same prisons housed over 59,000 criminal aliens. Today, criminal aliens account for over 25% of federal prison inmates and represent the fastest growing segment of the federal prison population. For the first time ever, more that 50,000 criminal aliens were deported in fiscal year 1997. In fiscal year 1998, the number jumped by more than 50% to 106,000. According to Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Lamar Smith, only a small percentage of criminals are being deported. Congress in 1996 passed a law that took effect last October that requires mandatory detention and deportation of aliens who commit any of a long list of offenses, regardless of how long ago they occurred. INS is making every effort to remove the criminal aliens expeditiously but many foreign countries hinder this process by not issuing the necessary travel documents in an expedient fashion. This intentional delay affect the American public, both socially and economically.
Closer to home, Miami’s foreign born population rose, in a ten year period, by about 28,000 since 1980. During the same period, the city’s overall population was increasing by about 12,000. 4 This caused the share of the population that was foreign born to increase from 53.7% to 59.7%. In contrast, the largest number of immigrants are of Cuban decent totaling 72,042, Haitians, 29,219, Jamaicans, 9,887. According to reports by the US Border Patrol, 2,000 Cubans have arrived since October 1, 1998. Since it’s enactment in 1965, The Cuban Adjustment Act has fundamentally treated Cuban nationals differently than any other national. This law provides Cuban nationals a “safe haven”, no questions asked, do as you please in America.
It is believed that the Cuban nationals are fleeing a government of persecution, but in my opinion, they are fleeing a government in economic shambles. Despite the fact that their country is economically inept they should be treated as any other person that comes to the country illegally. Nonetheless, as soon as Cubans set foot on American soil they are granted with employment authorization, can adjust their status to lawful permanent status (green card) within a year, can apply for US citizenship within five years, and government assistance (welfare). All of these benefits without really knowing about their backgrounds. For instance, a mass murderer in Cuba could set foot on US soil and based on a honor system interview conducted by INS, the person must be admitted.
By Scott, Nic, Anthony and Terry
Political parties are defined as a political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. Parties often espouse an expressed ideology or vision bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, coalition among disparate interests. Different parties always have different ideas on different issues. In the USA you hear about the Democrats and the Republican parties. However in other countries of the world you hear about many other parties. In Canada there can be any number of parties. There are the green party, liberal party, bloque party, and the Democratic Party. However there are many more.
The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in continuous operation in the United States and it is one of the oldest parties in the world. Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the "party of the common man" was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party and in 1800 elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States. Jefferson served two distinguished terms and was followed by James Madison in 1808. Madison strengthened America's armed forces — helping reaffirm American independence by defeating the British in the War of 1812. James Monroe was elected president in 1816 and led the nation through a time commonly known as "The Era of Good Feeling" in which Democratic-Republicans served with little opposition.
In 2004, it was the largest political party, with 72 million voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation. By comparison the Republican Party only has 55 million members. Barack Obama, the current President of the United States, is the 16th Democrat to hold that office. I personally like the ideas of the Democratic Party and I think that they will take the United States of America out of the hole they have dug themselves into. I do not know a lot about the American government because I am not from here. The Democratic Party has seen his fair share of historic presidents and here are just a few to name. Woodrow Wilson, John Quincey Adams, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. On the other end of the spectrum there is also the Republican Party.
In 1856, the Republicans became a national party when John C. Fremont was nominated for President under the slogan: "Free soil, free labour, free speech, free men, Fremont." Even though they were considered a "third party" because the Democrats and Whigs represented the two-party system at the time, Fremont received 33% of the vote. Four years later, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White House. Presidents during most of the late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century were Republicans. The White House was in Republican hands under Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush. Under the last two, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the United States became the world's only superpower, winning the Cold War from the old Soviet Union and releasing millions from Communist oppression. The symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. During the mid term elections way back in 1874, Democrats tried to scare voters into thinking President Grant would seek to run for an unprecedented third term. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper's Weekly, depicted a Democratic jackass trying to scare a Republican elephant - and both symbols stuck.
Behind all the elected officials and the candidates of any political party are thousands of hard-working staff and volunteers who raise money, lick the envelopes, and make the phone calls that every winning campaign must have. The national structure of the party starts with the parties National Committee. Each state has its own State Committee with a Chairman and staff. The structures go right down to the neighbourhoods, where a precinct captain every Election Day organizes workers to get out the vote. Most states ask voters when they register to express party preference. Voters don't have to do so, but registration lists let the parties know exactly which voters they want to be sure vote on Election Day. Just because voters register as a certain party, they don't need to vote that way - many voters split their tickets, voting for candidates in both parties.
By Bryan, Laurie, Caroline, Jordan
In this summary I will talk about many things including the US history of political parties, parties in the US today, the reasons the two-party system is still used today, what minor parties contribute today, and some mechanisms of political change.
A political party is defined as “a group of political activists who organize to win elections, operate the government, and determine public political policy” in American Government & Politics Today: the Essentials. This is different from factions, though factions usually come before the formation of a new political party. Factions are like subgroups that try to gain power and benefits by getting a position adopted by a party. The biggest difference is that political parties are a permanent organization where as factions are not. Political parties in the United States perform many functions including: recruiting candidates for public office, organizing and running campaigns, presenting alternative policies to the electorate, accepting responsibility for operating the government, and acting as the organized opposition to the party in power.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the United States formed a two-party political system. This happened even before the introduction of the Constitution. The first parties were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists wanted the Constitution to be ratified and the Anti-Federalists didn’t. By 1800, the Anti-Federalists party had become known as the Jeffersonian Republicans who represented the artisans and farmers. Thomas Jefferson led this party while; John Adams led the Federalist Party. The Federalist Party represented the merchants and the larger planters. Jefferson won this election and for the next twenty years voters regularly elected Republicans to Congress and the Presidency. The Federalists Party had collapsed leaving virtually no political opposition. This period became known as the Era of Good Feelings.
In 1824 the two-party system returned. The election of John Quincy Adams to the presidency the Republican Party split into the National Republicans who followed Adams and the Democratic Party who followed Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson defeated Adams in 1828. The National Republicans later became known as the Whig Party who stood for federal spending on such things as roads, among other things. The Civil War brought about the formation of the modern Republican Party which at the time was pushing to free the slaves. The Whigs had split in two; the southern Whigs stopped existing as an organized political party and the northern Whigs joined with the antislavery Democrats. After the Civil War the Democratic Party would dominate the white south for nearly a century.
The arrival of the 1900s brought with it a movement of political reform in both major parties. The Republican Party split temporarily, allowing Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party to win the Presidency along with a mostly Democratic Congress. Under Wilson’s rein as president the Democratic Party changed to be more liberal and the previous belief in a limited government leading to government action in the economy. Wilson’s Presidency is considered by many to have been a disaster.
Republican dominance ended as the Great Depression began during Herbert Hoover’s presidency. The Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as president in 1932. Under Roosevelt’s New Deal relief programs all citizens were eligible no matter what race. Because of this many African Americans were becoming Democrats. Democratic presidents were in power except for short stints, like Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1950s, until 1968.In the 1960s the two parties became almost completely in balance due to social issues. For the elections between 1968 and 2008 only 10 years of that did one of the two parties control both the presidency, Congress, and the House of Representatives.
There are many differences between the two major parties of the United States and their constituents. The Democratic Party is supported mostly by racial and ethnic minorities. Most Democrats are more likely to support social-welfare spending, government regulation of business and assisting the elderly with medical expenses. Republicans have been supported by people worried about national security rather than health care issues. Cultural beliefs play a major role in defining the beliefs of the two major parties, especially in recent years.
The three faces of a party include the party-in-the-electorate, the party organization, and the party-in-government. The party-in-the-electorate refers to anyone who can claim an attachment to the party. The party organization is the structural framework for the political party. The party-in-government consists of appointed and elected officials that identify with a party.
The two party system is still used today due to the winner take all electoral system and the Electoral College. Also, there are federal and state laws and legislation that favors the two major parties. In Congress the committee seats are divided up on the basis of party membership, so minority party members have to choose to be counted with one of the two major parties to get a position.
Third parties do not affect American politics by winning election very often. The impact of third parties can appear in two forms; first, it can influence one of the major parties to take up one or more issues or, second, it can determine the outcome of an election by pulling votes from one of the major party candidates.
There are three major mechanisms of political change. First, is called realignment. This is when a large number of constituencies shift their allegiance from one party to another. Next, is when large numbers of independent voters may result in political volatility. Finally, When the composition of the electorate changes, even when voter never change their party preference, one group may become more numerous making that group more dominant. This is called tipping.
Lending for the Lazy
By: Katie Spresser, Katy Hall, Mike Juennemann, and Reagan Coulter
Imagine a life of ease. You now have five years to do absolutely nothing. No work, just play. Don’t have to worry about anything just as long as that check gets to your mail box. Around here it would be hard to imagine someone who would live like that but down in New Orleans that’s how 125,000 people live. It tops the nation with the 5th highest poverty level. All thanks to us. Fair? I don’t think so.
Basically, these people are sucking the taxes right out of us. They use welfare towards their advantage. Welfare is defined as money given to those who are disabled, those who can’t make enough income, or simply just can’t find a job at all by the government. This aid is given through multiply types of known systems; Supplement Security Income, Medicaid, Medicare are mostly for medical purposes for disabled or injured Americans who have little or no insurance. Aid to Families with Dependant Children was a major player but has been removed from the systems and for the time being has been replaced with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Food stamps are a form of funding just not in currency so it can only go towards purchasing food. In the city of New Orleans I feel they completely take benefit of this. When you file for welfare you can receive money for a 5 year period while you’re supposedly looking for a job or getting your life back in order. These people are generally just lazy. They don’t want to have to work and can get away with it. It doesn’t just happen in New Orleans either. New Orleans is just a major part of it especially since Katrina hit. Welfare and government funding is a world wide coordination.
A majority of the applicants of welfare live in project housing and spend our hard earned tax money on whatever they see fit. For example, drugs or alcohol. Welfare does have a purpose. It is to be given to people who have been injured and can’t work, women who are divorced and left with families, and elderly people who can no longer work but live off of their retirement and many other difficult situations. The greatest cause of welfare is the needs of single women with families. Young women who get pregnant early in their careers or even high school and have no support look towards government funding to help them and their child survive. This situation is a prime example of what welfare was made for. To help those who sincerely are in need of money and can’t honestly live without some sort of help. Then there are those who use the program. For instance, women who are having trouble making an income are sometimes known to purposely get pregnant and have a child so they qualify and can receive more money. If they again need a higher amount of money they have no problem getting pregnant again to raise their dollar amount each month. Yet, 26% of children in New Orleans go hungry and 226,000 don’t have any sort of health insurance.
As mentioned earlier it would be hard in imagine someone around here who leads that kind of lifestyle but it does happen. Maybe not your next day neighbor but people in small communities do use this system of money. They continue to have children even though there are not enough funds. They feel no shame at all and have no obligation to change their lifestyles for the better. It discourages them from trying to help themselves at all. Because of certain requirements of welfare, if their income increases their amount of funding decreases so most just stay where they are at. Most are irresponsible from the beginning. They don’t save money and they never think of the future. For some reason they never protect themselves against pregnancy either. They start out in the red and never get out. For the year 2006 an estimated 35 billion dollars will be spent on welfare and trying to create more jobs within industries for people who are living in poverty. The government is trying to help and do what they can for those who in fact deserve a lending hand, but it’s hard to monitor millions of people to make sure they are trying to find a job or are truthfully disabled. There are a few things the Bush Administration has projected to assist the upgrading of welfare.
- Recipients would not be able to take account of education for their work activity.
- Suggest more money for marriage programs to keep parents working together.
- Amplify the amount of hours of work receivers must have as well as the overall percentage of applicants who don’t have jobs.
- Putting a stop to all cash assistance.
In our rural area it’s hard for me to understand how some people can let their financial situation get bad as a college student. I don’t have near the financial responsibilities as adults. But what I do know looking around at the average college student, majority doesn’t plan for the future or a tragedy that may wipe them clean. In Colby there are always jobs available it’s just a matter of going out and working that most people have a problem with. But I do know that if these people wouldn’t have become so dependable on everyone else, things might not have been so bad. If you expect nothing of from people that’s more or less what you’re going to get. We’ve let these people be lazy, irresponsible citizens. They react to a crisis with looting, murder, and raping and people are astonished by this. Rather then work for what you deserve, they are willing to take what comes easy. Our social welfare system allows many to become lazy and dependent rather than making hard working citizens who earn their own way. Until things change and the whole system is changed, I don’t suppose that many of the current welfare recipients will have the desire to get off the couch and go get a job, when they can still walk to the mail box and be paid for doing nothing.
Should They Stay or Should They Go?
By: Katie Spresser, Katy Hall, Mike Juenenmann, and Reagan Coulter
A foreigner is defined as someone who is excluded from or is not a member of a group. For many years the U.S. has been able to keep its promise to immigrants by allowing them to cross the boarder unto American soil for the opportunity of a better life. Well, as we all know that’s changed enormously. The United States House of Representatives passed a new bill recently on immigration that has made all illegal immigrants living right now in the US, felons. These people may be thrown into jail, deported, and restricted from ever entering America legally in the future.
An estimated 11 million illegal aliens are currently living on U.S. soil (Lazano,pg1). What’s sad about that is immigrants that have lived here for a while and have families that need to be supported. Families are uprooted and moved out of the country because the government can’t control the numbers coming in.
I have no problem with anyone who comes in to this country and wants to pay taxes and abide by the laws of our government. I do have a problem however with aliens who come over and change things. For instance when you go to a public restroom and the sign is written in three languages. Say your call Dell support and get someone who can’t even speak English. I think one mandatory regulation to be a citizen is you must speak English! Those are just things on the surface. What about immigrants with different religious backgrounds who demand change here saying we persecute their faith by demonstrating Christian like beliefs. This is when I feel they have over stepped their boundaries.
At the time, President Bush made a statement of recommendation for the situation, which many complained and opposed. His suggestion was this; we set up a temporary work program. In this program the government will give foreigners a job that no American worker wants. They will receive legal status for 3 years that is renewable but it will have to end. Participants who do not remain employed, who break the rules of the program, or law will have to return home. Workers may not be hired who are undocumented. These employees may still apply for full citizenship but have to wait just like any other. Bush also mentioned that they will be working harder to give more green cards. Right now there is a limit of 65,000 visas given out per year ( spofga pg 1). Those opposed to this program disagree because they think it won’t’ discourage other immigrants from coming in illegally. Keeping 100’s of the Hispanic race immigrants from crossing the “big fence”, is our toughest difficulty with American security. Hiring enough guards to patrol the boarder or individuals to check on all these “temporary workers” is just more money the government doesn’t have to spend on an issue like this.
Another solution to this matter is not allowing any more immigrants in the country at all. The U.S. government is thinking about building a 700 mile long fence that would run along the Mexican- Texas border. They have already increased the number of officers that guard the border right now but are considering many more. Due to the fact that more illegal immigrants coming in are causing wages to go down, many government politicians are encouraging this drastic solution. With unemployment rates at all time low, government officials are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Most want to encourage a better life for those that suffer but want to take care of the U.S. citizens first. Kansas officials have stepped out and stated their opinions at a rally held in Kansas City some time ago. Protesters called for stricter boarder enforcement and harder laws on those that hire these illegal immigrants ( Franey pg 1) The main problem with keeping aliens out is that it is almost impossible. Sealing off 12,380 miles of coastline, 3,986 miles of Canadian boarder, and 2,066 miles of Mexican boarder wouldn’t be a walk in the park ( DeFranco pg 2).
The final solution or temporary action for the moment is deportation. This includes all illegal immigrants currently on U.S soil that get caught and those who are currently trying to get to U.S soil. In Denver only, recorded in just one day, police arrested 1,200 immigrants who were currently living and working illegally. In eastern Colorado, 113 were taken into custody after being involved in vehicle accidents ( Hertneky pg 1). This deportation process is tearing apart families. Many of these immigrants have been here for a long time. They have kids that were born here and go to school here. Imagine having your dad, or mom, or older sibling be taken away just like that.
This law either way is going to cause dissatisfaction for many. The American economy does involve many immigrants. Some say our economy relies on these people but most don’t take into consideration what these people are going through. We too were once immigrants. Persecution and poverty forced our fore fathers to this land and we all got a chance for a new life. These immigrants are hoping for the same thing. Right now this issue is in the hands of our government, as I get older I have learned that that could be a scary thing.
The government does have many solutions that could be attempted but a matter of agreement has kept the situation at a stand still. A rather good idea I thought was a proposition voted down by the Senate. As of January 1, 2007, they would give a renewable visa to those who are here on the U.S ground, with the addition of visas granted to workers who are momentarily here. They would also set up a new method to legalize those who are high school graduates or agricultural workers.
Over all I think control does need to happen. There are too many coming in and using our government. Those that are here could stay if they follow regulations. Such as a high school education, speaking English, paying taxes, and never breaking the law. Around this area many farmers and hard laborers would be in big trouble if they did not have the number of immigrants working for them. These people that do the jobs no one else will do deserve something in return. As long as American don’t have to keep evolving to fit the needs of aliens.
The Scopes Monkey Trial
By: Katy Hall, Katie Spresser, Reagan Coulter and Mike Juenneman
SCOPES VS. STATE, 152 TENN. 424, 278 S.W. 57**
The Scopes Trial, also known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” tested the former Butler Act which forbade any public school teachers to deny the literal Biblical account of man’s origin and to instead teach originating from a lower animal species. In the summer of 1925, John Scopes, a high school biology teacher in Dayton Tennessee was charged with violating the Butler Act and illegally teaching evolution.
There were several events leading up to the Scopes Trial starting in 1859 with the publishing of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. In this first book, Darwin argued that Creationism was “erroneous.” In 1871, Darwin’s second book, The Descent of Man, directly stated that “man descended from a hairy, tailed quadruped…” These works so vivid in opinion, set the debate of creationism versus evolution into full fire. In 1914, George Hunter wrote a text entitled A Civic Biology, which was the book John Scopes used in his Dayton, Tennessee classroom. This work illustrated evolution in a more general sense as "the belief that simple forms of life on the earth slowly and gradually gave rise to those more complex and that thus ultimately the most complex forms came into existence."
As classrooms across America began teaching different things and the debate continued to rage on, more people entered into the argument on a national front. William Jennings Bryan, former ex-secretary of state and congressman, became a leader on the anti-evolution side and gave several fiery speeches denying the validity of evolution and its believers. Some such speeches were, “The Bible and Its Enemies” and “The Menace of Darwinism.” In these speeches, Bryan stood for Creationism and wholly defended the theory of a omnipotent God intelligently designing and creating mankind.
In 1924, Bryan delivered another speech in Nashville, Tennessee called, “Is the Bible True?” A copy of this reached Tennessee Representative, John Butler. On January 21, 1925, Representative Butler presented legislation to ban the teaching of evolution. The introduced law, known as the Butler bill, would prohibit the teaching of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Six days later, January 27, 1925, the bill passed the Tennessee legislature on a 71 to 5 vote. By March 13, 1925, the state Senate approved the bill, and eight days later Governor Austin Peay signed the legislation. The Butler Act was the first law to ban the teaching of evolution in the U.S.
A Chatanooga newspaper ran an ad for the American Civil Liberties Union looking for school teachers willing to volunteer and test the law by teaching the banned material. A group of town leaders in Dayton, Tenn., read the article and asked John Scopes if he would be willing to be indicted and bring the case to trial; Scopes agreed, under the impression he wouldn’t lose his job. On May 12, 1925, Bryan agreed to prosecute the case, thinking that it would receive national attention, and Clarence Darrow announced his participation as Scopes’s defense.
The Court Case
On May 25, Scopes was indicted by a grand jury as having broken the law by teaching evolution. By July 10, 1925, the trial began jury selections. Judge John Raulston was chosen to preside over the trial and began the first day on July 12, 1925. The next day, In an effort to have the Butler law declared unconstitutional, defense attorney Clarence Darrow gave a passionate speech disputing that the law violates freedom of religion. Darrow stated "we find today as brazen and as bold an attempt to destroy learning as was ever made in the Middle Ages."
On the third day, Judge Raulston overruled the defense's motion to have the Butler Act declared unconstitutional. Raulston stated that the law "gives no preference to any particular religion or mode of worship. Our public schools are not maintained as places of worship, but, on the contrary, were designed, instituted, and are maintained for the purpose of mental and moral development and discipline." Later that day, Scopes pleaded guilty, each party gave their opening statements, and zoologist, Maynard Metcalf, testified on behalf of evolution being a widely accepted scientific theory.
On July 17, 1925, Judge Raulston ruled in favor of a motion from prosecution to prohibit expert testimony from scientists. Raulston stated that the scientists’ opinions on evolutionary theory would "shed no light" on the real trial issue— whether Scopes violated the state's anti-evolution laws or not. On July 20th, the defense calls Bryan to testify as a biblical expert. Darrow asks Bryan if the Bible should be interpreted literally. As the questioning continues, Bryan accuses Darrow of making a "slur at the Bible," while Darrow mocks Bryan for "fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes."
The final day of the trial started with Judge Raulston's ruling that Bryan cannot testify or be questioned on the stand. Raulston states again that Bryan's testimony "can shed no light upon any issues that will be pending before the higher courts." Darrow then asks the court to bring in the jury and find Scopes guilty — a move that would allow a higher court to consider an appeal. The jury returns its guilty verdict after nine minutes of deliberation. Scopes is fined $100, which both Bryan and the ACLU offer to pay for him.
After the verdict was given, John Scopes gave his only statement of the trial, voicing his intent, "to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom — that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom."
After the Scopes Trial, in 1926, Mississippi began the second state to outlaw the teaching of evolution; Arkansas followed in 1928. The appeal case began in 1926, but the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the Butler Act was constitutional; however, the Scopes trial was overruled on a technicality, that the fine should have been decided upon by a jury, not Judge Raulston.
The Scopes Monkey Trial was indeed a bizarre case, but it began the start of chain of court cases leading up to the United States’ current political views on teaching evolution. In 1967, the Tennessee Supreme Court repealed the Butler Act and the precedent started by the Scopes Trial, legalizing the teaching of evolution.
Adam, Noah. Timeline: Remembering the Scopes Monkey Trial. NPR. 2005, Dec. 20
Famous Trials Homepage Tennessee vs. John Scopes - The “Monkey Trial”. UMKC School of Law. 2008, Apr. 25.
By Mindi Keith, Autumn Preston, Jon Richards and Tammy Huff
America is incorporated in the common law tradition which is part of our heritage from England. The common law doctrine of “to stand on decided cases” (stare decisis) makes the judges want to follow precedents established before by their own courts or courts that rank higher. The decision of courts of justice established by the United States Supreme Court (which is the highest court) are reinforcing on all lower courts. Fundamental sources of the American law are the U.S. Constitution, and state constitutions, laws enacted by the executive branch of government, regulations given out by the administrative agencies, and law established by judicial decisions in cases. Article III, Section 1, of the United States Constitution gives very little jurisdiction of the federal courts to cases involving a federal question, which is a question based on the United States Constitution, a treaty, or a federal law, or diversity of citizenship, which starts up when parties to a lawsuit are from different states or when the lawsuit involves a foreign citizen or government. The federal court system is a model consisting of U.S. district courts of appeals; and the United States Supreme Court. Cases can be appealed from the district courts to the appellate courts. In almost all cases the decisions of the federal appellate courts are final because the Supreme Court hears just a few cases.
The Supreme Court’s idea to go over a case is influenced by many things, like the significance of the issues involved and if the solicitor general us pressing Court to take the case. When the case is accepted the justices and their law clerks take on research on the issues involved in the case, hear oral arguments from the parties, meet to talk and vote on the issue, and announce the opinion, which is then given out for publication. Federal Judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate. When they are appointed, they hold office for life, barring misconduct. The nominations and confirmation procedure, especially for Supreme Court justices, is much politicized. Democrats and Republicans both understand that justices may have a seat on the Court for ages and want to have people appointed who share their beliefs. Nearly 20 percent of all Supreme Court appointments have been rejected or not acted on by the senate. In interpreting and applying the law, judges as expected become policy makers. The most important policy making part of the courts is the power of judicial review. Judges who take a role in confirming the activities of the other branches of government sometimes are characterized as “activist” judges who defer to the branches’ decisions on occasion are obligated as “restraintists” judges. In 1986, the Supreme Court began a changing shift and over time issued a number of conservative opinions. The courts are fairly divided between strongly conservative justices and liberal –to-moderate justices. Checks on the powers of the federal courts include executive checks, legislative checks, public opinion, and judicial traditions and doctrines. Polices are created in response to public problem or public demand for government action.
There are several major policy problems in today's society. They include health care, poverty and welfare, immigration, crime and the environment. Social Security system is becoming more of an issue in the United States. The Social Security Act was established to guarantee pension benefits for retirees. Employee and employer both paid an equal percentage into the program. Social Security is not a personal pension fund. The program was designed as a transfer system; the working personal is paying benefits into the system for people that have already retired. In relationship to the number of working class people has declined creating a deficiency in the amount of taxes for funds of the retires. Facts show that approximately three workers provide Social Security and Medicare benefits for each retired person. With the increase cost of Medicare and retirement benefits there will only be two persons available to pay for the benefits of each recipient. In order to prevent this problem the system needs to make their changes by the year 2030. What are the options to reform Social Security and Medicare? The most likely option is to raise payroll tax rate. To yield an eighty billion dollar annual increase we would need to raise payroll tax rate 2.2 payroll tax rate or an overall rate of 17.5 percent. One option is to increase the age of a person for eligibility to the age of seventy for full benefits.
Another proposal is a partial privatization. This plan encourages employees to invest a certain portion of their other investment options such as the stock market. An effort through lobbying and advertising campaign was held by the AARP to change public opinion. Majority of Americans opposed this plan. Policymakers can become aware of the problem policymaking through the media. The process of policymaking includes five steps: agenda building, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation and policy evaluation. The United States economy spends sixteen percent of is spending on health care and it’s still growing. The reasons for this growth process are in the increasing number of elderly people, advances in technology, and higher demand because costs are picked up by third party insurances. Medicare is a great example of this. It’s a program that helps people over the age of sixty-five pay health care expenses. The government has tried to put a restrain on the increasing growth in Medicare spending, but they have expanded to program to help cover prescription. People out for a Sunday drive can see many people on the streets living in boxes. A good number of Americans live in poverty or are homeless. According to the book the official poverty level is based on pretax income, including cash, and does not take into consideration in-kind subsidies (food stamps, and housing vouchers). The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 stated taking control over the programs of the states. It put sit limits on the number of years people can receive assistance and imposed requirements on welfare recipients. The act reduces the number of people who received assistant in the United States by a total of fifty percent.
A big issue today in the country of American is immigration. There are more than one million immigrants from other countries coming to the United States, and twelve percent of our population is made up of foreign born persons. In the year 1960 the Civil Rights Legislation helped the immigrants to overcome the pain of being discriminated against. Crime is becoming a popular topic in the United States, especially with the large amounts of crimes that are being committed by juveniles. According to statistics violent crimes that were being committed by juveniles, stated to decline between the years 1995 and 2004, but began to increase again in the year 2005. Crimes associated with illegal drugs sales and use has challenged policymakers. Everyone remembers that terrible day when our country was torn apart. Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day? Terrorism is one of the most devastating forms of crime that faces America and their government today. Even through our world was torn apart we stood strong and fought for our country and didn’t give up on America. When you wake in the morning to start a new day smell the fresh air, well it’s not so fresh. The United States is still faced with pollution problems. In 1969 the National Environmental Policy Act mandated that environmental impact statements needed to be prepared for all legislation that might affect the quality of our environment. Clean Water Act of 1973 constituted that the government made an attempt of trying to make the environment a cleaner and safer place.
There are two types of policy’s that are important for you to know about. The two polices are fiscal policy and monetary policy. Fiscal policy is the use of taxes and spending to affect the overall economy. Monetary policy is the utilization of changes in the amount of money in circulation to alter credit markets, employment, and the rate of inflation. Monetary policy is broke down into two categories: loose monetary and tight monetary. Loose monetary is where more money is created, encourages economic growth. Tight monetary is where less money is created, and may be the only way effective way of ending and inflationary spiral. Proposed solutions to the problem include raising taxes, reducing benefits, allowing more immigration, and partially privatizing the Social Security system in hopes of obtaining higher rates of return on contributions.
Dealing With Foreign Affairs
Foreign Policy includes the Nations outside goals and techniques used to achieve them. National security policy which is one objective of foreign policy is designed to protect the independence and the political and economic integrity of the United States. Diplomacy deals with the Nations Outside relationships and is an attempt to resolve conflict without restore to arms. United States foreign policy is almost always based on political realism. Terrorism has become a big challenge facing the United States and other nations. The United States waged war on terrorism after the attacks from September 11, 2001. United States armed forces occupied Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. Over 32,000 nuclear warheads are known to exist worldwide. A current challenge for world leaders is how to contain the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. Ethnic tensions and political instability in several areas of the world provide difficulties to the United States. Because of Cuba’s proximity it requires American attention. Despite efforts to keep the peace process going, Civil wars are tearing apart places like Rwanda and other countries. The Middle East continues to be the major conflict. The formal power of the president to make foreign policy comes from the United States Constitution., which designates the president as commander in chief of the army and navy.
The State Department is the executive agency with primary authority over foreign affairs. The intelligence community consists of government agencies engaged in activities varying from information gathering to covert operations. Three important themes have guided the United States foreign policy. In the early years of the nation, isolationism was the primary strategy. With the start of the twentieth century, isolationism gave global involvement. During the 1800’s the United States had a very small amount of international power and generally stayed out of European conflicts and politics, and so these years have been called the period of isolationism. The Monroe Doctrine on 1823 stated that the United States would not accept foreign intervention in the Western Hemisphere and would not goof with European affairs. The United States pursued an actively expansionist policy in America and the Pacific area. The end of the policy of isolationism towards Europe started with Spanish-American War.
United States involvement in European politics started to be more extensive when the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. World War II marked a very long lasting change in American foreign policy. The United States somehow was the only big country to come out of the war with its economy in order and the only country with operating nuclear weapons. The Cold War began when the alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States ended. A policy of containment, which assumed an expansionist Soviet Union, was enunciated in the Truman Doctrine. Following the hard times of the Vietnam War and the apparent arms equality of the United States and the Soviet Union, the United States adopted a policy of détente. Even though President Reagan took a tough stance towards the Soviet Union in his first term, his second term saw serious negotiations towards arms reduction, culminating in the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia came out as a less threatening state and signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the United States in 1992. The United States and Russia have agreed on a few issues in recent terrorism, but have disagreed on many other things like the 2003 war against Iraq.
Reference #1: http://www.isoc-ny.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/us_supreme_court_seal-300x300.png
Reference #2: http://www.bctheatre.com/archives/social_security_logo.png
Reference #3: http://www.youthleadership.net/demos/econgress/researchbill/topics_docs/images/foreign_policy_01.png
Reference #4 American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials 2008 Edition by Bardes, Shelley, and Schmidt published by Clark