- American Government and Politics
- American System of Democracy
- Civil Rights and Liberties
- People and Politics
- Political Institutions
- Public Policy
- Digital Stories
Welcome to American Government 2009-2010
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
Types of Government:
Authoritarianism is a type of regime in which only the government itself is fully controlled by the ruler.
Totalitarian** regime** is a form of government that controls all aspects of the political and social life of a nation
Totalitarian regimes or movements maintain themselves in political power by means of an official all-embracing ideology and propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that controls the state, personality cults, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of free discussion and criticism, the use of mass surveillance, and widespread use of state terrorism.
The term 'an authoritarian regime' denotes a state in which the single power holder - an individual 'dictator', a committee or a junta - monopolizes political power. The term 'Authoritarian' refers to the structure of government rather than to society. However a totalitarian regime does much more. It attempts to control virtually all aspects of the social life including economy, education, art, science, private life and morals of citizens. "The officially proclaimed ideology penetrates into every nook and cranny of society; its ambition is total."
Aristocracy which literally translates to rule by the “best;” in reality, rule by an upper class.
The term is derived from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". See Aristocracy for the historical roots of the term. The concept evolved in Ancient Greece, where by a council of prominent citizens was commonly used and contrasted with monarchy, in which an individual king held the power. Later, aristocracies primarily consisted of an elite aristocratic class, privileged by birth and wealth. Since the French Revolution, aristocracy has generally been contrasted with democracy, in which all citizens hold some form of political power.
Theocracy literally means rule by God or the gods; in practice, rule by religious leaders, typically self-appointed.
Current states with theocratic aspects:
Iran's government is described as a "theocratic republic". Iran's head of state, or Supreme Leader, is an Islamic cleric appointed for life by an elected body called Assembly of Experts. The Council of Guardians, considered part of the executive branch of government, is responsible for determining if legislation is in line with Islamic law and customs (the Sharia), and can bar candidates from elections, and green light or ban investigations into the election process.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's legal system is based entirely on Islamic law, or Sharia. Islamic law dictates anything from prohibitions on non-Muslim proselytism, alcohol, pork products, fornication, and Women's Rights. It also dictates aspects of economic life.
Holy See (Vatican City)
Following the unification of Italy, The Holy See (commonly known as the Vatican or Vatican City) became the last surviving territory of the former Papal States. In 1929, the Holy See was formally recognized as an independent state through treaties with the Italian government. The head of state of the Vatican is the pope, elected by the College of Cardinals, an assembly of senior Catholic clerics. A pope is elected for life, and voting is limited to cardinals under 80 years of age. A secretary of state, directly responsible for international relations, is appointed by the pope. The Vatican legal system is rooted in Canon Law, and subject to the dictates of the pope and changes to Canon Law made by conferences of senior clergy.
Oligarchy: rule by a few
Some examples include Vaishali, the French First Republic government under the Directory, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (only the nobility could vote). A modern example of oligarchy could be seen in South Africa during the twentieth century. Here, the basic characteristics of oligarchy are particularly easy to observe, since the South African form of oligarchy was based on race. After the Second Boer War, a tacit agreement or understanding that was reached between English- and Afrikaans-speaking whites. Together, they made up about twenty percent of the population, but this small percentage ruled the vast non-white and mixed-race population. Whites had access to virtually all the educational and trade opportunities, and they proceeded to deny this to the black majority even further than before. Although this process had been going on since the mid-17th- 18th century, after 1948 it became official government policy and became known worldwide as apartheid. This lasted until the arrival of democracy in South Africa in 1994, punctuated by the transition to a democratically-elected government dominated by the black majority.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, privately owned Russia-based multinational corporations, including producers of petroleum, natural gas, and metal have become oligarchs. Privatization allowed executives to amass phenomenal wealth and power almost overnight. In May 2004, the Russian edition of Forbes identified 36 of these oligarchs as being worth at least $1 billion.
Anarchy: the condition of no government
Before the Islamic Courts Union took control, large parts of southern Somalia were effectively functioning without a central government. However, an economic survey by the World Bank found that distribution of wealth in the country was more equitable, and the extent of extreme poverty was lower than that found in nominally more stable West African nations. According to the same paper, although southern Somalia was effectively operating without a federal government before the rise to prominence of the Islamic Courts Union, it was not an anarchist society in the sense that society was more or less chaotic than organized non-coercively. Despite this, a libertarian think tank reported that living standards in Somalia increased – in absolute terms, relative to the pre-Somali Civil War era, and relative to other nations in Africa – during this period. Economist Peter Leeson attributes the rather astounding increase in economic activity since the rise of statelessness to the security in life, liberty and property provided by Somali customary law — the Xeer — in most parts of Somalia, which insures for a relative free market.
The Transitional Federal Government, internationally recognized as the government of Somalia, is allied with the Islamic Courts Union and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, and backed by the United Nations, the African Union and the United States. It is currently battling various insurgent groups to regain control of the southern half of the country and restore national institutions.
Democracy: a system of government in which political authority is vested in the people. Derived from the Greek words demos (“the people”) and kratos (“authority”)
Direct Democracy: a system of government in which political decisions are made by the people directly, rather than by their elected representatives; probably attained most easily in small political communities
Countries with a Direct Democracy for a Government
In Switzerland, single majorities are sufficient at the town, city, and canton level, but at the national level, double majorities are required on constitutional matters. The intent of the double majorities is simply to ensure any citizen-made law's legitimacy (Kobach, 1993).
Double majorities are, first, the approval by a majority of those voting, and, second, a majority of cantons in which a majority of those voting approve the ballot measure. A citizen-proposed law (i.e. initiative) cannot be passed in Switzerland at the national level if a majority of the people approve, but a majority of the cantons disapprove (Kobach, 1993). For referendums or propositions in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), the majority of those voting is enough (Swiss constitution, 2005).
In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss copied the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states (Kobach, 1993). According to its supporters, this "legitimacy-rich" approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations, and that the United States is not one of them. Kobach states at the end of his book, "Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer." Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of European Union integration (see Trechsel, 2005)
Representative Democracy: a form of government in which representatives elected by the people make and enforce laws and policies; may retain the monarchy in a ceremonial role
Australia, unlike the UK or Canada, has adopted compulsory voting where citizens are required to register and vote in public elections. Those who do not vote are subject to a fine of AU$50.00 and or possible imprisonment although this rarely is the case. A voter is not required to cast a vote for a candidate and can cast what is known as a informal vote. Australia uses a single round preferential voting system. Where each candidate is ranked in order of preference. For the House of Representatives, a successful candidate requires 50% or more votes to be elected. If no candidate has 50% or more votes then the candidate(s) with the least number of votes is excluded and their votes redistributed according to the voters nominated preference. The Australian Senate is elected by a preferential Single Transferable Voting system of Proportional Representation.
Bardes, Barbara A., Mack C. Shelley, and Steffen W. Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: the Essentials. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
By: Boston Langley, Kaleb Howe, Ryan Westover, and Rachel Lamm
Why is Government Necessary?
By Haley Kistler
"A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them."-P.J. O'Rourke. Throughout the ages, government has been an issue of disagreement and discontentment. No one seems to be completely satisfied with their country's government. But without some form of government, a country becomes crippled in its basic functions.
Purpose of Government
Whether it be an aristocracy, theocracy, oligarchy, or democracy a government's most basic goal is to maintain peace and order within the country. Within the U.S. ( a democratic republic), other services have also been developed to help the country function.
*Justice and equality: within the goal of maintaining peace and order, criminals must be punished to protect the rest of the population. Laws have also been put in place to inform citizens of what is acceptable and not acceptable.
*Building infrastructure: through taxes, the government is able to provide its citizens with roads, school buildings, government buildings, etc.
*Public education: it is important that every U.S.citizen receive an education. To achieve this, the government builds and organizes schools to provide education to every community.
*Protection from threats: throughout the history of the U.S.,the military has been used to protect citizens from outside threats (mainly hostile countries and now terrorists). Within the U.S., police are used to prevent acts of crime and arrest suspects involved in crimes.
*Government relations: in addition to protecting it's citizens, the U.S.government must also work with other governments concerning current issues (nuclear weapons,trade, form allies during war time).
While every government strives to maintain peace and order, different countries achieve this through different means. In many countries, the government has maintained order by limiting their citizens' freedom. According to the human rights organization Freedom House, 36 percent of the world's nations do not grant this right. Countries such as Iraq, Libya, and Egypt have been controlled by dictators. While China, North Korea, and Vietnam are ruled by the Communist political party, others are ruled by their military, such as in Myanmar. Within these restrictive countries, rights including the freedom of speech, right to a fair trial, and freedom of religion are often absent. Citizens who don't obey their government's strict laws are subject to possible torture or execution.
Limits Within the United States
The United State's founding fathers were well aware of the dangers of an oppressive government. Through careful drafting of the "Declaration of Independence", the "Constitution", and the "Bill of Rights", the U.S. government was given limited power and citizens were assured specific rights.
Within the "Declaration of Independence", the founding fathers' knowledge of abusive government is evident: In the document's second paragraph it states "…That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government." The founding fathers knew that it was necessary to have certain limits on the government. These limits were formally addressed within the Constitution.
The Constitution was responsible for: creating specific laws to limit government, giving states specific rights, creating the use of checks and balances, establishing a republican government, and most importantly- giving control of the government to the people!
With the addition of the "Bill of Rights", the founding fathers made absolutely sure that citizens would be protected from an oppressive government. These first ten amendments to the Constitution both assured specific rights of citizens, and limited the involvement of government in the peoples' lives.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2009 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. pgs.5-6;34-35;45;49
The Powers of National Government
By Rhonda Barton-Rhan, Mary Lobmeyer, Samantha Wheelbarger, and Katrina Smith
The U.S. Constitution establishes a government based on "federalism," or the sharing of power between the national, and state (and local) governments. Our power-sharing form of government is the opposite of "centralized" governments, such as those in England and France, under which national government maintains total power.
The National Government has expressed, implied, and inherent powers. Expressed Powers are expressly written into the Constitution or into statutory law. Implied powers give congress all the powers that can be reasonably inferred by that are not written in the Constitution. Inherent Powers are implied powers but not by the necessary clause.
Concurrent powers are those exercised independently in the same field of legislation by both federal and state governments. Some states share concurrent powers with the National Government. Some concurrent powers are: the power to tax, borrow funds, establishing courts, and the charter banks and corporations. Most of these powers are limited to the geographic area of each state.
This is where the Taxes thing comes back. They Constitution prohibit or deny a number of powers to the national Government. So they have prohibited the power to impose taxes on good sold in other countries. The States are prohibited certain powers also.
The Supremacy Clause is the Constitutional provision that makes the Constitution and the federal laws superior to all conflicting state and local laws. This also works when the laws are implied and may not be expressed. States cannot use their reserved or concurrent powers to override national policies.
Exclusive Powers of the National Government
Under the Constitution, powers reserved to the national government include:
• Print money (bills and coins)
• Declare war
• Establish an army and navy
• Enter into treaties with foreign governments
• Regulate commerce between states and international trade
• Establish post offices and issue postage
• Make laws necessary to enforce the Constitution
• Exclusive Powers of State Governments
Powers reserved to state governments include:
• Establish local governments
• Issue licenses (driver, hunting, marriage, etc.)
• Regulate intrastate (within the state) commerce
• Conduct elections
• Ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution
• Provide for public health and safety
• Exercise powers neither delegated to the national government or prohibited from the states by the U.S.
• Constitution (For example, setting legal drinking and smoking ages.)
Powers Shared by National and State Government
Shared, or "concurrent" powers include:
• Setting up courts
• Creating and collecting taxes
• Building highways
• Borrowing money
• Making and enforcing laws
• Chartering banks and corporations
• Spending money for the betterment of the general welfare
• Taking (condemning) private property with just compensation
Systems of Government
Three systems of Government are the Unitary System, the Confederal System, and the Federal System.
The Unitary System
This system allows ultimate governmental authority to rest in the hands of the national or the central government. Meaning the ruling of the lower system of governments can be overruled by the National Government. Most countries today use the Unitary System. The Unitary system also let the National Government handle things like education, police, and the use of land, and welfare. Most Unitary governments also derive their power from the Central Government.
The Confederal System
This system is a league of independent states which a central Government of administration handles only those matter of common concern. This allows the nations or states to grant certain powers without the permission of the National Government. This system is basically opposite of the Unitary system in most every way. The United States had a confederate system of government under the Articles of Confederation, from 1781 to 1789.
The Federal System
This form of Government is a mix between the Unitary and the Confederal Systems of government. It is when the authority is divided between the National Government and the Central Government, has a written constitution, and usually act directly on the laws. The Federal System also has elected and appointed officials for Government.
American Government and Politics Today..2006-2007 Edition
The Constitution & Bill of Rights
The foundation of The United States’ government begins with The Constitution; ‘a supreme law that provides the framework for how the government works. The Constitution is a document filled with laws and guidelines on how the governmental system of the US should work and what can and cannot be done. The creation of this document was composed of many people’s ideas being put into one large document to give all that was needed. Within the Constitution is a section known as The Bill of Rights. The Bill Of Rights are the first ten amendments in the United State’s Constitution.
The start of the document is the preamble, stating out all of the purposes of the document. Within the preamble listed is: establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for common defense and to promote the general welfare. Here we are informed of what the entire document is working to do, protect and provide for the American people.
Next through the document comes the Bill of Rights. Within this section there are Ten Amendments listed with what they are supposed to do.
First Amendment - Known as the Establishment Clause. This amendment gives citizens freedom of speech, use of the press, right to assemble and petition. Without the first amendment there would be no gatherings, no way a person could speak out or use the press.
Second Amendment- Right to bear arms. This allows citizens to have weapons to use in need without being guilty of having a weapon.
Third Amendment- Quartering Troops. People do not have to allow troops into their home without their consent, unless a law has been established requiring those to quarter.
Fourth Amendment- Protection from unreasonable search and seizures. The fourth keeps the people from being unlawfully searched in property or housing without law enforcement having the necessary paperwork.
Fifth Amendment- Due process & double jeopardy. Approaches due process, double jeopardy and self-incrimination. Keeps citizens from having incriminating self.
Sixth Amendment- Rights to a trial by Jury along with rights to counsel Requires those with charges against must be allowed to a fair trial before any ruling.
Seventh Amendment- Civil Trial by Jury. Ensures those with claims against them will have the rights to a civil jury trial for said committed crime.
Eighth Amendment- Prohibits outlandish bail fees and cruel and unusual punishment. This amendment keeps from anyone using cruel and unusual punishment in a prison like environment and from keeping the held person from having outlandish bail fees
Ninth Amendment- Protection of rights not mentioned. Keeps certain rights as should be.
Tenth Amendment- Powers of State & People. Covers the rest of the powers not stated in the first nine.
Without all of the rules drawn out and established into a nice little list as given by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the country would be running about madly not knowing whether or not they were allowed to speak freely, have right to a fair trial, and all of the others as listed in the document.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2008 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. 2009.
Wikipedia. United States Bill of Rights. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights#Text_of_the_Bill_of_Rights
What Kind of Democracy Do We Have?
By: Sara Copeland
When it comes down to it, democracy is quite frankly the most practical, fair, and reliable way to run a country. According to our history, democracy was established when the Constitution was finalized and the views on democracy have drastically changed since that time. Throughout history, many different theories have developed about what kind of democracy we have; these are a few theories that explain how our system works; democracy of everyone, democracy for the few-elite, and democracy for groups. Each theory views our government and politics in a very different way, but I believe that it is arguable to say that a single theory best describes our democracy; each theory contributes to the kind of democracy we have.
Democracy of Everyone
When explaining a democracy of everyone, one word can sum up its description, “majoritarianism”. This simply means that the government is ruled based on majority rule. The government should seek to please the majority of the American public wants. This theory proves true in most cases, however in some of the most important events that take place in the United States, majority is not the outcome. Such as in elections, the president should be chosen based on popular vote and not electoral vote, However, that isn’t always necessarily so, if it were the case, Al Gore would have been president instead of George W. Bush in the 2000 election. Although the majority of the American public voted Gore for president, Bush was elected, based on the number of electoral votes. The theory that our democracy is “democracy of everyone” isn’t always true.
Democracy for the Few-Elite Theory
This theory states that only a small group of people are in power, but they are governing to only further their self-interests. It’s also said that, that small group of people make decisions with little help from the population. Although they have a goal of keeping government stable, it is only out of selfishness; they don’t want to jeopardize their spot in society. Out of the three theories of what kind of democracy we have, this one is almost a perfect match when is comes to our politicians. Government is run by state politicians, the Senate and the House, Congress, and our President. The theory of “democracy for the few” can be seen in a recent event done primarily by our very own President and his followers. When passing the Health Care Bill, they claimed that everyone would be able to see what decisions our nations leaders were making, however, when it came down to it, the negotiations and writings, were all done behind closed doors. The American public had little to nothing to do with the passing and approval of this bill. Our president did not care what society wanted, he only cared about getting “his” bill passed.
Democracy for Groups-Pluralism Theory
This theory has a view on politics regarding many political groups that fight amongst one another. Perhaps the most common political groups that are in a constant conflict are republicans, “blue dog” democrats, and democrats. These groups are constantly bargaining and compromising bills and legislation seeking the other group’s approval. The passing of the Health-Care Bill is another great example of conflicting groups, compromise, and bargaining. When is seemed as if the bill had no chance of passing, due to the fact that the conservative Democrats were refusing to vote for the bill, Obama bargained with them. One deal he made was with a Nebraska Democrat. In exchange for a yes vote on Obama’s bill, Obama offered him full and permanent federal aid for Nebraska’s Medicaid population. Bargaining and compromise take place everyday in our democracy.
BY: ETHAN RETHMAN
The Writing and Reason
On July 4, 1776, our Founding Fathers risked their lives, committing treason, by drafting the Declaration of Independence. Written by Thomas Jefferson, this document was sent to Britain claiming that they no longer wanted to apart of Great Britain and that they wanted to be their own country. They wanted the Colonies to be independent from the Mother Country (Britain) because of the unfair and unjust rules and regulations that were being placed on them. They wanted the independence because of the unfair taxes that Parliament made them pay; because they didn’t have a not have representative in Parliament.
The lack of representative meant that it was up to the others to choose the colony’s taxes. It wasn’t so much a want, as it was a necessity to our Founding Fathers. They needed the Colonies to be a separate country free of Parliament rule. Without this act of treason, the United States would not be here today, nor would our government. This document was significant because it showed foreign countries it legitimacy.
Natural Rights and a Social Contract
Declaring independence meant that they needed to come up with a whole new set of rules to govern the new country. The reason for wanting independence was because they believed in natural rights. These rights consisted of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are also known as the unalienable rights. It was believed that we were given and guaranteed these rights by our Creator. In the Declaration of Independence they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men are created equal, That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these right, Governments are instituted among Men, Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The very first line sums up how they view the rights, that they are “self-evident”; which means obvious. It was obvious to them that all men are created equal and that their created gave them the unalienable rights and that the government must secure those rights for all men. The first of those rights being life; you are guaranteed life and no one is permitted to take that from you. The second being liberty; which means freedom. The pursuit of happiness basically means, happiness isn’t guaranteed but the pursuit is always assured.
The social contract that came with the natural rights, it was a voluntary agreement among the colonists that in order to secure those natural rights, they must establish a government and abide by the rules set forth by it. The Declaration was based on the consent of the people; which means that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect their rights and if the government failed, the people could over throw the government.
The consent of the people also mean that the people determined and had a significant role in government. While under Parliament rule, questioning and challenging government was not tolerated and the Parliament did what they wanted, no matter if it was beneficial to the public or not; but in the new government it was about equality for the people. The government’s job was to protect the people.
Forms Of Government
There have been several types of government and rule throughout our world's history. The government as we know it in the United States is actually fairly new, and a radical concept. Most often throughout history, people have been under the rule of dictators and hierarchies. The following are just a few of the types of government.
the power and control of policy resides with a select and special few members of society such as the rich, royal, and religious leaders. This would be a great example of being born into the right family!
Nope, not just a movie about cats. Dictionary.com defines aristocracy as “a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class”. This also means that the government is ruled by people whom the state believes best able to handle the responsibility. Several people were given power, to avoid problems with one person holding too much power, as in monarchies. This seems to have been the beginning forms of balance of power.
This type of government literally means “without ruler”. This could mean the complete absence of governmental control, or a state in which each individual has absolute liberty and freedom over oneself. Anarchy most commonly happens when a state or body of people over throw their government, frequently during a state of war such as in the French Revolution.
The final, and perhaps most well known form of government, term to define is democracy. Although it is well known, it is not always entirely understood. There are two types of democracy, direct or representative. Both of the two types however, both have the same principle, to carry out the will of the people over which it governs.
Direct democracy is the government being ruled by the people.
Representative democracy means electing officials to represent the people of the government.
The most common characteristic of a democracy is considered to be “the majority rule”. Another defining attribute of democracy is the balance of power, and checks and balances.
By: Nichole Buskirk
Bibliography: wikipedia.com and dictionary.com
Concealed Carry Law
by:Garrett Zweygardt and Kyle Cox
Being able to carry a concealed weapon is a big responsibility for law enforcement, but even more of a responsibility for normal citizens. Due to the fact that a normal citizen can be punished by law for pulling the trigger and hurting someone else. However, we believe that a person should be able to carry a concealed weapon, due to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allowing citizens “the right to bear arms.”
The State of Kansas has put into action the Personal and Family Protection Act. This Act allows the residents of Kansas, who have completed all of the necessary criteria and guidelines, the right to carry a concealed weapon. "In 2006, the Kansas Legislature passed the Personal and Family Protection Act. Since July of 2006, over 22,000 Kansans have applied for concealed carry licenses. The first licenses were issued on January 3, 2007."
In the State of Kansas, there are licensure procedures that "must be taught by a qualified professional" and completed before an individual can carry a concealed weapon. In accordance to these procedures, one must:
• Complete an 8-hour weapons safety and training course and tests and obtain a certificate of completion from a certified instructor.
• Processing the application and issuing the license approval takes a minimum of 45 days, but by law cannot exceed 90 days.
• The county Sheriff will fingerprint the applicant and forward the entire packet to the Attorney General for processing.
• Fill out a 4-page application form and attach a 2"x 2" passport type color photograph.
• Acquire two cashier’s check s or money orders made payable to the county Sheriff ($40) and the Kansas Attorney General ($110).
• Submit in person the completed application with photo, training certificate, and checks to the Sheriff in the county of residence.
There are also laws that restricts who can have a carry concealed license, these are on the brochure. Once the individual has obtained a license they are put into a national database that all local and federal officials can access. The person must also renew their license every three years.
However, there are some people who disagree with this. They argue that more kids could get a hold of guns and hurt themselves or someone else and that criminals could get a hold of the weapons easier. They think that “everyone” will get it just to say they have it. However, with the strict rigorous testing and guidelines “those” people are weeded out. They also continue by saying that even police officers don’t need them. What if we the public are in trouble? Don’t we want someone to be able to protect us?
The Act does prohibit the carrying of guns into certain areas such as schools, courthouses, churches, or any other business with the proper sign. The sign is white with a black gun and a red circle and slash crossing out the gun. Most businesses can decide for themselves if they will allow a concealed weapon inside their building.
For all these reasons, we believe that the American public should be able to carry a concealed weapon based upon the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
By: Kelsie Johnson, Joe Meier, Tyler Sauvage, and Jake Cox
The first ten commandments is also considered the Bill of Rights. Theses first 10 commandments were put in place to limit the power of the national government. Today the Bill of Rights protects individual citizens from national and state governments.
The first amendment gives citizens the freedom of religion. Meaning that the government required a separation of church and state, by using the establishment clause. This gave people the freedom to exercise any religion they want to belong to. The government can interfere only when the religious practices work against the public policy or welfare. This first amendment also insures the freedom of speech, including symbolic speech. The government has critical actions that impose prior restraint on expression, in the use of commercial advertising. When expression causes a clear and present danger to peace or public order than the government can limit the first amendment for that issue. Other issues that the government can restrain the freedom of speech is when the expression is judged as obscene or slanderous.
Another part of the first amendment is the freedom of press. Press can write up any type of news there is, except for criminal trial that’s requested not to be publicized. Also, the freedom to assemble peaceably and petition the government. Permits can be given for certain things like parades, sound trucks, and demonstrations to protect the public safety. The same permits can be denied if the concern of public safety is at a higher risk.
Under the ninth amendment, rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution are not necessarily denied to the people. Among these unspecified rights protected by the courts is a right to privacy, which has been inferred from the first, third, fourth, fifth, and ninth amendments. A major privacy issue today is how best to protect privacy rights in cyberspace. Whether an individual’s privacy rights include a right to an abortion or a “right to die” continues to provoke controversy. Another major challenge concerns the extent to which Americans must forfeit privacy rights to control terrorism.
The Constitution includes protections for the rights of persons accused of crimes. The Fourth amendment insures that no one may be subject to an unreasonable search and seizure or be arrested except on probable cause. The Fifth amendment gives people the right to remain silent. The Sixth amendment states that the accused must be informed as to why he/she is being arrested. The accused also have a right to counsel, even if they cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for them. Also, the right to prompt arraignment and a speedy and public trial before an impartial jury.
The Supreme Court case Miranda v Arizona (1966) held that criminal suspects, that before an interrogation by law enforcement officials, must be informed on certain constitutional rights. Including the rights to remain silent, and to be represented by counsel.
When evidence is illegally seized the Exclusionary Rule will be put into effect. Which means that when evidence wasn’t seized properly it has to be admissible in court. There is a “good faith exception” to this rule: illegally seized evidence need not be thrown out owing to, for example, a tech defect in a search warrant. The Eighth amendment, cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited. Whether the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment continues to be debated.
American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials 2009-2010 edition (Pgs 108-145)
By Eddie, Skyler, Josh, Alfredo
Civil rights are a huge thing in the U.S, and I’m sure it’s a hand full for the government to keep it in contact. A common estimate of 12 million unauthorized immigrants are living in the U.S. Many of immigrants tried to grant citizenship and many protested for them. If you were a unauthorized immigrant you violated the law and got your chances of being a citizen would fall. Today, in contrast, we have numerous civil rights to turn to.
Civil rights refer to the rights of all Americans to equal protection under law, as provided for by the 14th amendment. The Constitution in 1863 provided of what we have today and that’s why African Americans have the rights they have. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the passage of the 13th,14th, and 15th amendments during the reconstruction period following the civil war, the constitutional inequality was ended. The civil right act of 1865 to 1875 responded to the freeing of the slaves giving “black codes” to regulate the African American freedom.
An attack on the separate-but-equal began with a series of lawsuits in the 1930s that sought to admit African Americans to state professional schools. Many whites did not want African Americans to be as the same school is cause of that many riots occurred. Therefore this started the civil rights movement. In December 1955, a forty-three-year-old woman by the name of Rosa Parks boarded a public bus. The bus became crowded and several white people stepped on the bus and told Ms. Parks to go to the back of the bus and she didn’t move. She was arrested and fined $10 and this is where it all started.
As the civil rights movement mounted in intensity, equality before the law came to be “an idea whose time has come,” in the words of then Republican senate minority leader Everett Dirksen. When the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson the African Americans had all or most of their rights now.
Women also had to struggle for equality, and during the first phrase of this struggle, the primary goal for women was to obtain the right to vote, then came the Women’s Suffrage Association led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In their view, women’s suffrage was a means to achieve major improvements in the economic and social situation of women in the United States. Nancy Cott contends to the word feminism, which means political, social, and economic equality for women. After gaining the right to vote in 1920, women started engaging in little independent political activity until the 1960s. Women in politics today hold political offices at all levels of government.
The female gender has been look at differently as into what positions they can hold and how much they are paid. The government passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 hoping to eliminate gender discrimination in the workplace. There was an amendment made to title VII to also include discrimination based upon pregnancy. Also the amount of money that is paid to a person is not to be judged upon what their gender is. They passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to make it so that males can’t be paid more for the same job as females. This act didn’t completely work because as of 2009, women were still earning, on average, 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.(Book)
Immigration illegal or legal is a big topic in today’s society (mostly illegal is what has everyone fired up). Illegal immigrants if caught are subjected to deportation. A problem with immigration is the language barrier. Education is affected because teachers have to know the immigrants language to teach them, and also to try to help them learn English. This is called bilingual education.
Older Americans are becoming more numerous every day. Age discrimination in employment basically sounds like exactly what it is, discrimination when it comes to a job. The Age Discrimination In Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of age unless age is shown to necessary to have normal operation of that particular business. Another act passed in 1973, the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in programs receiving federal aid. The Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that all buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities.
Same sex relationships between either male or female became more out in the open after the Stonewall Inn incident in on June 27, 1969. In later years to come, gays and lesbians, fought for equal rights with the state and local governments. Same-sex marriage is currently accepted nationwide in Canada and several other countries. (Book). Marriage benefits (such as joint ownership, medical decision-making capacity) should be available to all couples.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. "American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials. Wadsworth. 2009-2010
Messerli, Joe. "Should Same-Sex Marriages be Legalized?." Balanced Politics.Org.
Kansas Anti-Smoking Bill
Indoor air pollution is one risk that Americans can do something about. Indoor pollution sources release gases into the air. Inadequate ventilation, high temperatures, and humidity levels can increase concentrations of some gases. Smoking can release pollutants intermittently within a facility or home, yet the concentrations of this smoke can remain for a long time.
As of February, 2010, Kansas became the 28th state to approve a comprehensive clean indoor air law. This law goes into effect July 1, 2010. In my opinion, House Bill (HB) 2221 was the best compromise to protect the vast majority of Kansans from second hand smoke.
HB 2221 “prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, 80% of hotel/motel rooms, in home daycare, any enclosed place of employment and taxicabs and limousines. Smoking will be allowed on Casino floors, 20% of hotel/motel rooms, tobacco shops with 65% tobacco revenues, Private A and B clubs, and designated area of adult care facilities” (Kansas House Of Representatives, 2010[live session at the Kansas Legislature]). This bill allows local communities to pass stronger restrictions under local ordinances. Researchers, Meyers, Neuberger and He (2009) from the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine published an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showing a 17% reduction in heart attacks during the first year of clean indoor air law, with results improving to a 36% reduction by the third year. These results are consistent with a growing body of evidence that points to a direct link between heart disease and secondhand smoke exposure.
Because there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke exposure, it is imperative that employees be allowed to work in a smoke-free environment. According to the U.S. Surgeon General (American Lung Association, 2009), “nonsmokers exposed at work or home increase their risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease by 20-30%”.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment estimates that “Kansas taxpayers would pay $21 million less every year within the Medicaid program” (Clean Air Kansas, 2009/2010). This figure does not include the savings that will result from reduced heart attacks among the privately insured.
Clean indoor air is first and foremost a public health initiative. Selectively applying a clean indoor air law based on venue ignores the health hazards to patrons and workers. Kansans over the age of 21 are as worthy of protection as those under 21.
Exempting bars adds a layer of complexity to the law that will have the impact of creating a substantial loophole for any establishment with a liquor license. Under current Kansas law, “a drinking establishment is defined as premises which may be open to the general public, where alcoholic liquor by the individual drink is sold” (Kansas House Of Representatives, 2010[live session at the Kansas Legislature]). Therefore, any restaurant with a liquor license could qualify as a bar where smoking is allowed. “Some of the early clean indoor air efforts did exempt bars, based on a percentage of food and liquor receipts. Enforcement of such ordinances was very difficult, and very few states currently exempt bars from the law” (Kansas House Of Representatives, 2010[live session at Kansas Legislature]). Enforcement for the Clean Air Act law would be extremely difficult. Expecting law enforcement to differentiate between different types of establishments and to determine which qualify for a smoking exemption would further hamper enforcement efforts.
The economic impact of smoking can also be questioned due to the amount of money tax payers spend. “Annually in Kansas, taxpayers spend $196 million on smoking-related health care costs in Medicaid and $927 million on all smoking-related health care costs” (Clean Air Kansas, 2009/2010). These figures do not include lost productivity costs. “No reputable peer-reviewed study of the clean air policy changes indicates a negative economic impact” (Clean Air Kansas, 2009/2010). Many state restaurants and hospitality associations have supported this non-smoking environment, particularly when the smoking restrictions are applied equally to all establishments.
The work place rights’ issues at stake are the ability of employees to work in a safe environment. Many hospitality workers do not have access to sponsored health insurance, yet this group is subjected to secondhand smoke exposure on a daily basis. Nonsmokers exposed at work or home increase their risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease. The food and hospitality industry serves as the first entry into the job market for many teens and young adults.
What about business owners’ rights? Business owners’ state concern over the amount of money and business they will lose when this bill goes into effect. Many customers go to the bar after work to have a drink and cigarette before going home; thus this bar business will dramatically decline, and the owners’ livelihood diminishes. But, business owners do not have the right to willfully expose their workers, as well as patrons, to a Class A carcinogen.
Many alternatives to improving indoor air may help improve the cause.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2009), there are three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality:
1. Source Control: to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions. Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.
2. Improved Ventilation: increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the outdoor ventilation rate.
3. Air cleaners: the effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it collects pollutants from indoor air (expressed as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute).
These strategies to improve indoor air quality may help to some degree. The benefits far out weight the negative effects of smoking. And the best way to improve overall indoor air pollution was to pass House Bill (HB) 2221. It is the best compromise to protect the vast majority of Kansans from second hand smoke.
American Lung Association. (2009). State of Tobacco Control Retrieved June 14, 2010 from: http://www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org,
Clean Air Kansas. (2009/2010). Clean Air Kansas. Retrieved June 14, 2010 from http://cleanairkansas.org.
Kansas House of Representatives (2010, February). Live Session of the Kansas Clean Air Act Bill HB 2221 at Topeka, Kansas.
Meyers, D., Neuberger, J., & He, J. (2009). Cardiovascular
Effect of Bans on Smoking in Public Places: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 54, 1249-1255.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, March 26, 2009. Retrieved
June 15, 2010 from: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/is-imprv.html
Securing Rights for Persons with Disabilities
by Haley Kistler
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevented discrimination “based on race, color,religion, gender, or national origin” but it did not however protect those with disabilities. Further legislation was required to prevent discrimination and improve public services for the disabled.
In 1973, the first effort to obtain civil rights for the disabled came in the form of the Rehabilitation Act. In Section 504 of the act it states that "no otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance". Through this legislation, federally funded programs such as public schools, hospitals, and nursing homes could not discriminate based on a disability.
Five years later, the act was expanded to include the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. This board is responsible for making federal buildings more handicap accessible through ramps, elevators,etc. By 1992, the act also required electronic devices such as printers, federal web sites, and fax machines to be more accessible to the disabled.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Just as nondiscrimination and accessibility to services was required within federal programs, there was also a need for regulation in non-federal public services. Within the realms of employment, employers “may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities” and they “must reasonably accommodate the disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, unless an undue hardship would result”. Examples of accommodating a disabled employee would range from reading important information to a blind employee to allowing a cancer patient to leave work for cancer treatment. Tax credits and deductions are available to compensate employers that make their business more accessible to disabled employees.
Along with regulating the hiring and accommodation of disabled employees other public services affected by the ADA include the following*:
-Public accommodations: “Public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers, may not discriminate on the basis of disability, effective January 26, 1992. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt.”
-Transportation: New buses and trains must be handicap accessible. “Other new vehicles, such as vans, must be accessible, unless the transportation company provides service to individuals with disabilities that is equivalent to that operated for the general public.”
-State and local government operations: “State or local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. All government facilities, services, and communications must be accessible consistent with the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”
-Telecommunications Relay Services: “Companies offering telephone service to the general public must offer telephone relay services to individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD's) or similar devices.”
*Note: these requirements are only a few of the regulations within each branch of public service
Not All Disabilities Apply
In 1999, the Supreme Court began to restrict what disabilities were protected by the ADA. If the person's condition could be controlled with “medication” or “corrective devices” the act did not apply. Since 2002, severe nearsightedness, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, diabetes, and carpal tunnel syndrome do not fall under the protection of the ADA.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2009 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. Pgs.156, 176-77
Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press can be qualified as having freedom of speech, yet there are differences in the freedom of the two. When first setting out what the rules of ‘freedom of the press’ were, there were differences in ways and means of actually being able to communicate. With the change in technology, I feel it is time that the freedom of the press, be closer examined so as to clearly define what is ‘press’ anymore. Freedom of the Press is stated within the Bill of Rights as a right granted to us in the first Amendment. It’s stated under Freedom of Expression which we interpret as Freedom of the Press.
With people having blogs, websites, email, networking sites, radio and television, there are many more ways for people to communicate through the ‘press.’ Press can be defined as a means of communication through media for an audience, or just the ‘print media’ responsible for keeping everyone informed. The methods change so much for people to receive the information that a print media isn’t the only form these days.
Of course, it used to be considered that the Freedom of the Press was just that of printed media such as newspapers, flyers, magazines, and the ‘traditional’ ways of communicating through media. Now, of course, there are many more ways of communication and getting things out there. I think that the Freedom of the Press should be covering the electronic types of media. To not consider news websites, anchor blogs, as being a part of the press would be an unfortunate choice to make.
Because there are so many sites out there, I do think they are covered under the Freedom of the Press. Now, I would say the definition of Freedom of the Press is the ability to have free communication through electronic medias and printed communication.
Citizens of the United States are lucky to be able and have Freedom of the Press protecting things that are written and communicated. There are many countries that don’t have such liberties protecting their written and electronic media.
If there was no Freedom of the Press, there would be many more ruffled feathers of people from other areas, claiming that the person who’d written an article was out of control and writing things that they had no right to write.
By being able to have Freedom of all methods of communication and media, the people who are indeed writing these publications are safe to not be attacked by agencies for writing things that not all groups would agree with the writer’s publications.
Since we are able, as US Citizens, to have the liberties given to us by our Constitution, we are a lucky bunch to be protected as well as we are. Having the liberties such as Freedom of the Press, gives us the ability to share our opinions, research and just about anything else we feel we need to share with the rest of the country being able to be safe from people attacking us just from our point of view.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2008 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. 2009.
Wikipedia.com. Freedom of the Press. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_press
The Death Penalty
BY: ETHAN RETHMAN
Execution of criminals has been around forever and has been used by nearly all societies. Capital punishment is mostly used for crimes such as murder, treason, or as part of military justice but in some countries, crimes such as rape, adultery, incest, drug trafficking, and human trafficking result in the death penalty. Some militaries courts-martial have capital punishment for offenses such as cowardice, desertion, insubordination, and mutiny. Over time there has been many different ways of executing a criminal and some of these methods include a breaking wheel, boiling to death, flaying, slow slicing, crucifixion, stoning, burning, etc.
Although most countries have had capital punishment in the past, only 58 nations currently practice it with 95 countries abolishing it. There may only be 58 countries using the death penalty but over 60% of the world’s population lives in countries with capital punishment. One of those countries that still has the death penalty is the United States. The first person sentenced to death in America was in 1608 and was hanged for spying for the Spanish government. The Espy file lists 15,269 people executed in the US between the first execution in 1608 and 1991. Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty and New Mexico will be the 15th state to ban the death penalty on July 1. There are currently 35 states that still have the death penalty today with Kansas being one of them. There were 51 executions in 2009 with 51 of them by lethal injection and 1 by the electric chair in Virginia. Texas had the most executions with 24.
The legal administration for the death penalty in the US is complex. There is a four step process which starts with sentencing. Once a defendant is sentenced to death, the case will go into a direct review where an appellate court examines the case and decides whether the decision was legally sound or not. They then either let the sentence stand, order a new capital sentence hearing, or find them not guilty. If the death penalty stands, it will then go on to the state collateral review where the prisoner may challenge his sentence. However only 6% of death sentences get overturned. After the state collateral review the prisoner may file for Federal Habeas Corpus which is where state prisoners may attack a death sentence in federal court. This is done to make sure the state courts have done a good job in protecting the prisoner’s constitutional rights. About 21% of cases are reversed through federal habeas corpus.
Some of the methods used in the United States today include lethal injection which is most common, electrocution, gas chambers, hanging, and the firing squad. Lethal injection has been used for all but 6 of 387 executions since 2000. The process of lethal injection is the prisoner is bound to a gurney where two needles are inserted into their veins and a saline solution is injected. Sodium thiopental is injected to put the prisoner to sleep followed by pancuronium bromide which causes paralysis and stops breathing. Finally potassium chloride stops the heart. Some executions take from 20 minutes to over an hour.
Capital punishment is a controversial issue with many different organizations and people participating in the debate. Arguments for and against the death penalty are based on moral, practical, religious, and emotional grounds. People for the death penalty argue that it improves the community by making sure convicted criminals do not offend again and people against believe that it is barbaric in nature and it puts the government on the same base more level as those criminals involved in murder. Another issue is the cost of capital punishment. The death penalty is still heavily debated today on whether it is constitutional or not.
Rights of Gays & Lesbians
By: Sara Copeland
When it comes to the topic of controversy, the rights of gays and lesbians is right at the top. Laws, politics, and society have been targeting this group since before the 1960s. The questions that have risen involve marriage, military, and child custody and adoption. The government has become so intertwined in our lives that I don’t believe that there is a stopping point. Is there a point to where they’ve gone to far? The matter of gay and lesbian rights doesn’t have anything to do with ones opinion, whether one agrees with it or not, it should be on the matter that civil rights and liberties have been taken from this minority group. Although they do play a role in both political parties, there is no denying the enormous amount of controversy surrounding their rights
Should a man and man be allowed to wed? A woman and woman? Should they be entitled to the same benefits as a married man and woman are? Laws have gone back and forth on the issue of same-sex marriage. In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Currently, five states, along with Washington D.C., allow same-sex marriages. On March 3, 2010, same-sex couples, by law, were allowed to purchase marriage licenses in our nations capital, Washington D.C. Although
Without the marriage license, not only are gays and lesbians not recognized as a married couple by law, but no matter how long they’ve been together, they will not receive any benefits that a couple married for only one year would receive. This is not true in all states, but the majority does not recognize a homosexual relationship in any way. The benefits lost by a same-sex couple include: the right to make medical emergency decisions for their partner, the right to take leave from work to care for their ill partner, the right to share joint property and debt (even after a break up), the right to inherit Social Security benefits, and the right to inherit property in the absence of a will. The couple could be life long partners, yet all of these rights would be denied.
One of the most recent political debates involving gays and lesbians, is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The exclusion of gays in the military started in World War II when military leaders made an official policy banning gays from combat, from fear that it would hurt troop morale. However, under President Bill Clinton, he promised to lift the ban and he did just that with his “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. This policy was put into effect to for protection for gay and lesbian soldiers, which meant that the military could not inquire their sexual orientation and homosexuals could not reveal their sexual preferences. If they were found to be gay, or they admitted it, they could be discharged. In 1997, a district court ruled the law unconstitutional; however a federal appellate court thought otherwise and reversed the verdict. The Supreme Court refused to review the case. Although the policy was set forth for the good and protection of gays and lesbians, it has been relatively ineffective.
Child Custody & Adoption
Not only has same-sex marriage been banned in most states and gays are looked down upon for joining the military, based on their sexual preference, adoption, visitation rights, and child custody used to be banned. It is no longer banned in half of the states for same-sex couples to adopt and only one of the 50 has banned single-parents adoptions by gay men and lesbians. I believe that the requirements for adoption should be based on the best interests of the child, not the sexual preference of the perspective parent. According to eHow.com, the requirements to adopt a child in the United States include: adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old, the applicant’s spouse must be a willing partner, a home assessment is done, married couples must be married for at least two years, a background check is required with no criminal record, no substance abuse problems, and the adoptive parents must be in good health. No where in there did it say, adoptive parents must be heterosexual.
By Sylvia, Angel and Jenny
Interest groups—we’ve all heard of them. The American Cancer Society, National Association of Realtors, and National Wildlife Federation are just a few in the extensive list of interest groups that are promoted throughout the U.S.A. So what exactly are these interest groups? What makes them powerful? It is important that we explore these groups to gain a better understanding of the United States and the way our government runs.
According to American Government and Politics Today: the Essentials, an interest group is defined as “an organized group of individuals sharing common objectives who actively attempt to influence policymakers.” Such groups can be found at local and national levels. They may have only a few members, or they may have thousands, if not millions, of members.
There are numerous reasons why Americans join interest groups. Many people join groups simply for the pleasure of associating with others who have the same interests. They join to gain a sense of belonging. People with these solidary incentives may not be actively focused on changing the public agenda, but the groups themselves still take political actions. Others may join interest groups for the economic benefits and opportunities that are available. This is the concept of material incentives. For example, many retired people become members of AARP because the group provides discounts, travel opportunities, and other benefits for members. There are still other people who join interest groups out of a desire to take a stand for their own beliefs. A person with purposive incentives feels strongly enough on an issue to take a stand by becoming a member of an interest group with the same beliefs he or she has. (Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt, 227-8)
The United States is comprised of many different types of interest groups. Most groups are sectioned into specific categories. Because there are so many interest groups that directly represent economic interests, the Economic Interest Group category contains the largest number of interest groups. This category has groups specifically for the interests of businesses, agricultural groups, public employees, and the unorganized poor as well. Environmental Groups focus specifically on the interests of the natural environment of the U.S.A. Groups like the National Wildlife Federation and Greenpeace Society are found in this category. Another category of interest groups is Public-Interest Groups. This category contains groups that share public concerns, such as pollution and consumer protection. Still other categories of interest groups are One Issue Groups, Ideological Groups, Professional Groups, and Specific American Organizations. Needless to say, there is an interest group for everyone. (229-35)
Because there are so many interest groups attempting to influence politicians, it is difficult for a group to stand out above the rest. There are certain characteristics that an interest group must have in order to become powerful. First it is important that an interest group have many members and resources. It is not impossible for a small group to become powerful, but the larger organizations have stronger financial bases, and therefore have better resources to make their agendas known to policy makers. It is also important to have good leadership. Strong leaders can develop effective strategies in which they are better able to promote their beliefs on certain issues. Often a strong leader may hold a prominent position as well, which gives a group better access to more sources of power. Perhaps the most important factor in determining the power of an interest group, though, is the motivation of the members within that group. If the members are passionate enough to send letters to local politicians, or petition their beliefs, that group is often considered powerful. (235-37)
Interest groups are a very important factor in our American society. Not only are there groups promoting just about every belief imaginable, there is a place for every American in one interest group or another as well. These groups are great ways for individuals to get involved and actively voice their opinion on certain issues. Everyone has a voice, and every voice matters. Interest groups are simply ways to make one’s voice be heard louder and stronger.
"Interest Groups." Wikipedia. 01/20/2010. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, Web. 13 Feb 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interest_group>.
Jeans, Suzanne. Et al. American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials. 09/10 Ed. USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. 222-49. Print.
Images located on bing.com
By Sylvia, Angel and Jenny
The news media is a very complex industry. Not only do reporters inform us about what is happening in the world around us but they tell us events in our own government. It is amazing to see how much we have progressed through the years and how reporters have changed the way citizens view the media. Back in the day, they relied on newspapers to cover the events of our nation. Then the radio was invented and that became the main stream of media news.
Now, reporters use not only newspapers and radio stations, but also television shows/stations, bill boards, and internet web pages, web casts, and web blogs. This makes it nearly impossible for one to say they haven't heard the buzz on our governments’ latest policies or actions. However, the government feels that the media has progressed too much and is not reporting factual claims and should be stopped by the law. This can never happen though because the law extends great freedom to journalists, but they must stay objective in the matter. According to the textbook The American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials:
While the Court has held that the First Amendment is relevant to radio and television, it has never extended full protection to these media. The Court has used a number of arguments to justify this stand – initially, the scarcity of broadcast frequencies. The Court later held that the government could restrict “indecent” programming based on the “pervasive” presence of broadcasting in the home.
Because of this, the government has given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to fine broadcasters for either indecency or profanity. One example of this happened in 2004 during the Super Bowl halftime performance where singer Janet Jackson had a “wardrobe malfunction.” The CBS Corporation was fined $550,000 for Jackson’s indecency.
Even though the government can play “mommy”, the “teenage” media still is not government owned. All of the American broadcast media, and a good portion of the print media as well, are owned primarily by wealthy individuals. Direct ties to the biggest of big businesses are almost unbelievably extensive, and these ties are what compromise news coverage and give it that severely bias edge that keeps audiences ensnared. Moreover, the media empires are, first and foremost, profit-making corporations that conduct themselves like other corporations when it comes to corrupting American politics. That is, the parent corporations of many make so-called "campaign contributions" and also act against the public interest in other ways. As big winners in the corruption game, they show no signs of serious interest in political reform. As large corporations themselves, the mass media want the same preferential treatment, and have the same desire to grow without bounds, as all other corporations.
Allegations of political bias in the media are common, although there is considerable controversy concerning the nature of this bias: neither liberals nor conservatives are pleased. Conservatives allege that the media exhibit a liberal bias. On the other hand, liberals allege that the media exhibit a pro-corporate, plutocratic bias. However, it is believed that such charges rely on a faulty and simplistic analysis of the American political and economic spectrum. The truth is that the apparent liberalism of some of the mass media is primarily cultural, and rarely economic. In effect, and like most other American institutions, the mass media advance the economic interests of the wealthy few at the cost of the interests, and values, of the majority; and the self-indulgent, empire-building interests of the wealthy few are not those of either liberals or cultural conservatives.
"Court Tosses FCC 'Wardrobe Malfunction' Fine ." NY Daily News. 07-21-2008. The Associated Press, Web. 15 Feb 2010. <http://www.nydailynews.com>.
Jeans, Suzanne. Et al. American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials. 09/10 Ed. USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. 286-337. Print.
Images located on bing.com
"The Mass Media & Politics: An Analysis of Influence." Progressive Living. Web. 15 Feb 2010. <http://www.progressiveliving.org>.
Images found using bing.com
Campaigns, Elections, and the Media
Marilyn Horinek, Corey Woofter, Ted Juenemann
Candidates that run for office submit a petition to their local election board. They must also meet requirements; such as residency, age, and or be natural-born citizen. Women usually run for state or local offices but there is an increase in the number running for Congress. Whereas, it has been the white, male and financially well off (usually a lawyer), that run for office.
Prior campaigns were meeting the people, kissing the babies, town meetings, etc. while today campaigns are less personal and more media coverage. Political consultants are seen in just about every level of campaign if a candidate wishes to win. Their job ranges from raising contributions to advertising with the purpose of winning. One of the ways that must be accomplished is by name recognition.
Opinion polls are used for media and for the candidates to show what the people think about the issue or the candidate. Focus groups are used to delve deeper into to the candidate’s personality and their issues. Tracking polls are used toward the end of the campaign trail.
Financing the campaign is extremely important if they wish to stay in the running until Election Day. Many campaigns had to bow out early due to a lack of funds. Corrupt practices resulted in government regulating campaign financing as early as 1925 & 1939 (Hatch Act). The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and later in 1974 and1976 instituted reforms limiting spending and contributions. The reforms allowed unions and corporations to start political action committee (PAC’s) to raise money for their candidates. These reforms also limited the amount that was donated to a specific candidate. Candidates were required to report their contributions with a list of who donated and how much, and what it was used for. A donation (“soft money”) was legal, as long as it was used to pay for specific things such as; voter registration, general publicity, and national conventions. In 2002, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, banned “soft money” and increased individual contributions limit.
January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court rejected corporate spending limit. According to an article written by Adam Liptak, in The New York Times, “Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit”. In essence, the Supreme Court said that government had no business regulating free speech be it political or individual. Opposition to the ruling fear corporate money could end up corrupting democracy as we know it today. The article states that Justice Stevens, opposing the verdict, says that a grave error was made and that media outlets may influence elections.
The presidential primary is a statewide election and is the longest running campaign. It starts in the primary, continues in the party’s national convention and ends on election day. There are closed, open, blanket, and runoff primaries. Closed is where the voter is limited to the candidates of their chosen party. Open voting is when you can only vote in one party primary regardless of your party affiliation. Blanket is voting for candidates in both parties. Runoff is a second primary held between the top two candidates when no candidates receive a majority of votes. Front-loading is where states hold their primaries as early as possible and thus more influential. Caucuses select delegates of their chosen party to send to the national convention to nominate a presidential candidate and propose policies. Voters vote for party electors who in turn vote for their party’s choice for president. Of the total 538 electors, a presidential candidate must win 270 electoral votes. Electors are pledged to vote their party’s choice but are not constitutionally bound to it.
In colonial times, white males with a certain minimum amount of property were allowed to vote. Every white male was allowed to vote by 1856 and black males by 1870. Women in Wyo. were allowed to vote in 1870. Women in the rest of the United States had to wait until 1920 to vote. Older Americans are more likely to vote than younger ones; along with voters with more formal education. Minorities are less likely to vote than whites whether it is by choice or because they are not yet citizens. States with two strong parties are more apt to have higher voter turnout. Media coverage has been blamed for low voter turnout; whether it is because of not enough informative information or they are put off by negativism.
Media provides entertainment, news reporting, public agenda, socializing, and providing a political forum. Media will use political events to entertain. News reporting includes investigative reports as well as opinions on events and ideas. They set up public agenda telling what the government ought to be doing and subjects for discussion. Media socialization teaches young people in America what it means to be an American. The internet blogs, podcasts, and Web sites are changing political campaigns making it harder for politicians to control their campaign. How a politician appears in the media is important and more so during presidential debates.
American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials, 2009-2010 Edition.
Marilyn Horinek, Corey Woofter, Ted Juenemann
What is a political party? A political party is a group of political activists who organize to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy. Unlike the interest groups who sharpen their political issues, political parties sometimes blur their issue positions to attract a broader range of voters. Political parties are also responsible for the recruitment of candidates for public office, organize and run elections, present alternative policies to the voters, assume responsibility for operating the government, and act as the opposition to the party in power.
There have been many different political parties in our history as a nation. In fact, the evolution of this nations' political parties can be divided into seven periods. (a) the creation and formation of political parties from 1789-1816; (b) the era of one-party rule, or personal politics, from 1816-1828; (c) the period from Andrew Jackson’s presidency to the Civil War era, from 1828-1856; (d) the Civil War and post-Civil War period, from 1856-1896; (e) the Republican ascendancy and progressive period, from 1896-1932; (f) the New Deal period, from 1932 to about 1968; and (g) the modern period, from approximately 1968 to the present. The major difference in parties can date back to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Democrats have advocated government action to help labor and minorities, and the Republicans support self-reliance and limited government. The constituents of the two parties continue to differ. When looked at closely, policies actually enacted in recent years suggest that despite gibberish to the contrary, both parties are committed to a large and active government. The cultural differences are the least important as economic issues in determining party allegiance.
The two major parties have dominated the political landscape in the United States for almost two centuries. The reasons for this include (a) the historical foundations of the system, (b) political socialization and practical considerations, (c) the winner-take-all electoral system, and (d) state and federal laws favoring the two-party system. For these reasons, minor parties have found it extremely difficult to win elections. A minor, or third, party or parties have emerged from time to time, sometimes as dissatisfied, splinter groups from within major parties, and have acted as barometers of changes in the political sense. A case of a splinter party emerged when Theodore Roosevelt was at odds with the Republican Party. This resulted in the formation of the Bull Moose Progressive Party. Other minor parties, such as the Socialist, Independent, or Constitutional parties, have formed around specific issues or ideologies. Third parties can affect the political process (even if they do not win) if major parties adopt their issues or if they determine which major party wins an election.
American Government & Politics Today: The Essentials, 2009-2010 Edition.
Interests groups have almost always played a part in politics somehow. Be it from support of a candidate non-monetarily, to monetarily supporting a candidate. There are times of course, when the interest groups are invited to help in the process of policy-making, according to Bardes. There are many types of interest groups that aid in different ways. If an interest group feels the need, they can hire a lobbyist to try and work on influencing members of the House or Senate along with committees formed by Congress.
In History, it shows that when a problem arises, we, Americans, tend to make little groups to work out the problems and find possible solutions for the problem. Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was blown away by the fact that Americans did form groups to solve even civic problems, relationships and interests, according to Bardes.
There are many types of interest groups in American society today. Interest groups can range from those near the white house to those such as a PTA or a “Go Green” group. The main thing they have in common is the groups are all working towards achieving a goal they feel needs to be met.
Interest groups can have positive about them such as, they are sometimes able to influence groups to go their way to work together and collaborate ideas to make one great purpose and movement. They are able to help solve problems effectively and can be there for support when needed to make social movements like large rallies and such.
Of course, with everything there will always be a negative side to the positive. Interest groups tend to get a bad rap for buying candidates for Congress and sometimes even Executive office. If there are groups large enough with enough money to help support the candidate in their campaign with the trade off that the candidate will support the interest group’s main purpose and help push for the legislation wanted by that group.
There are multiple types of interest groups out there that a citizen can support if the need is felt. Two of the main types of interest groups are the Economic Interest Groups and Environmental Interest groups.
Economic interest groups are those who strongly believe that the economics are the most important factor to be thought about. Environmental interest groups are out to support the environmental aspects of society, holding them higher than the economic groups in their views. Both play important parts in how the society of interest groups functions and what each does.
All groups have some important role that they are in search of achieving. It just depends on how much effort is put out, how well like the group is and if they can find the right candidate who will be willing to support and help the groups achieve their goals.
According to the Fortune’s “Power 25” – The 25 Most Effective Interest Groups - they are:
3. National Federation of Independent Business
4. American Israel Public Affairs Committee
5. American Association for Justice
6. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations
7. Chamber of Commerce of the US
8. National Beer Wholesalers Association
9. National Association of Realtors
10. National Association of Manufacturers
11. National Association of Home Builders of the US
12. American Medical Association
13. American Hospital Association
14. National Education Association of the US
15. American Farm Bureau Federation
16. Motion Picture Association of America
17. National Association of Broadcasters
18. National Right to Life Committee
19. America’s Health Insurance Plans
20. National Restaurant Association
21. National Governors’ Association
22. Recording Industry Association of America
23. American Bankers Association
24. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
25. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
(According to Bardes)
Interest groups are everywhere, seeking out what can be done and how to effectively accomplish their goals.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2008 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. 2009.
Wikipedia.com. Advocacy Groups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocacy_group. 21 June 2010.
Nixon Against America
Starting with William McKinley and ending with George W. Bush. The Grand Old Party (GOP) or Republican Party has been successful since the start of the 1900s having 13 presidents compared to only eight Democratic presidents. However, this number should only be 12 Republicans to nine Democrats, because in the Election of 1972, Richard Nixon defrauded his way into the White House. This point has already been proven. The case of the United States vs. Nixon significantly changed the U.S. by keeping the President from using his power to cover-up crimes he committed.
Richard Nixon had a background in law and politics long before he was elected President of the United States. He first started out by graduating from Duke University Law School in June 1937, finishing third in his class. Also, Nixon was also a strong advocate of civil rights, he did a great deal to integrate the public schools and finish business begun in 1954 with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, he focused the issue on educational quality rather than race and urged that busing be only used as a last resort. School integration remains as one of the Nixon administration’s great domestic achievements.
Nixon was a positive influence in the Civil Rights movement. He then served as Vice-President to Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953-1961. In November of 1960, he lost a close race in his first attempt to become president to John F. Kennedy, and in November 1962 he lost the California Governor election to Pat Brown. He finally was elected President in November 1968 barely edging out Hubert Humphrey.
As President, Richard Nixon worked to keep information quiet from the public. In June of 1971 the New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers which were about the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Nixon then created a group called the Plumbers to “plug” information leaks. At the beginning of September 1971, these so called Plumbers which included E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy supervised the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to find damaging information about him. Ellsberg had given the New York Times copies the Pentagon Papers. Next, in March of 1972, the Watergate break-in was allegedly approved by John Mitchell, Attorney General and director of the (CRP) Committee to Re-elect the President, allegedly approved the break in of the Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate Building. On June 17, 1972, five of Nixon’s Plumbers were arrested in the Watergate building in Washington D.C. In September 1972 Hunt, Liddy, and the five Watergate burglars were indicted on federal charges by federal judge John Sirica. This incident is referred to as Watergate. In November of 1972 Nixon was re-elected in a landslide victory over George McGovern, winning 60 percent of the popular vote and 49 out of 50 states.
On February 7, 1973, the Senate voted 70-0 to begin the Watergate Investigation. In March of 1973, Haldeman, John Dean, and Nixon discussed payoffs to silence the Watergate burglars. On April 30th Nixon announced the resignations of Haldeman, Dean, and John Ehrlichman. The Senate began its nationally televised hearings in May and also appointed Archibald Cox as the Special Prosecutor. In late June of 1973, Dean implicated Nixon in the cover-up during a televised testimony before the Senate’s Watergate committee. In July Alexander Butterfield announced that “Nixon had a secret taping system in place at the White House” (United States vs. Nixon 1974 1), and Nixon refused to turn over any tapes relevant to the investigation. Also in July, Cox subpoenaed nine recordings of presidential conversations.
In the case U.S. vs. Nixon, the government took on the President. Nixon, the defendant, refused to turn the tapes over “claiming the conversations were entitled to absolute confidentiality by Article II of the Constitution” (United States v. Nixon 674). In August, Judge Sirica ruled he must turn over the tapes and the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Judge Sirica’s decision. Soon after the White House announced that it would appeal the decision, the case was brought to the U.S. Supreme Court. A reason it went to the Supreme Court so fast was because it was dealing with the President of the United States.
The Saturday Night Massacre happened when Cox was fired and Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resigned. Leon Jaworski was named Special Prosecutor succeeding Cox. In February of 1974, Sirica’s grand jury named Nixon an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate cover-up. Nixon responded by pledging to never resign from office. In April, Jaworski subpoenaed 64 additional taped conversations, and Nixon said he would supply edited transcripts of the conversations to the Judiciary Committee. The next day the transcripts were released, but Nixon refused to turn over the tapes and documents that Jaworski wanted.
In May Jaworski appealed to the Supreme Court for a ruling on the subpoenaed tapes. And on July 24 the Supreme Court had a concurring opinion of 8-0 that Nixon must turn over the tapes to Jaworski. The justices sitting on the bench were Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan Jr., Warren E. Burger, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell Jr., Potter Stewart, and Byron R. White. William H. Rehnquist abstained and did not participate because Nixon had appointed him to his position. In the case “Judge Powell questioned Nixon’s claim that the tapes had to be kept secret to protect the public” (United States vs. Nixon… 1). A week later the House of Representatives approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon. The first article against him was obstruction of justice by attempting to cover-up the Watergate Scandal. The second article was for abuse of power, and the third article was for interfering with congressional investigations. On August 5th Nixon admitted he had been involved with the Watergate cover-up as early as June of 1972. The next day later he resigned and Gerald Ford, whom was appointed by Nixon, replaced him.
There were many effects of the decision. For example, Nixon is the only President to have resigned from office. Even though he pledged not to resign numerous times. The next one is that it shows that no one is above the law. Finally, it upheld the checks and balances as stated in the Constitution to keep from one branch of government becoming to powerful.
Checks and balances in a tripartite government are the basic principles that the United States were founded on. This case has even shown today’s Presidents that they cannot go above and beyond the rest of the government just because they are President. The case also affected Gerald Ford greatly as well. He gave Nixon a fully unconditional pardon, which some experts believe is to why he did not win the next election.
The U.S. vs. Nixon significantly affected the U.S. as it showed that someone could not use power to cover-up a crime. The justice system has stayed in and continues to insure the strength of the country. The judge’s decision to make Nixon turn over the tapes was a good decision; it showed people that no one, not even the President is above the law. This case sets a standard for people to live by showing them that they cannot get away with everything they do.
“United States v. Nixon 1974.” America.gov. 2008. America.gov. 6 December 2007
“United States v. Nixon.” Civics Today Citizenship,
Economics, & You. Ed. Richard C. Remy. New York:
Glencoe, 2007. 674.
“United States v. Nixon Further Readings.” American Law and Legal Information. 2008.
http://law.jrank.org. 4 April 2008 <http://law.jrank.org/pages/13513/United-
The 20th Century Campaign
By: Sara Copeland
Campaigning: Then and Now
Presidential campaigning has drastically changed from the beginning of the 20th century up until now. The changes in campaigning have changed due to the developments in new technology. In the beginning of the century, information was gained through newspapers and the radio. Then, as technology grew, television and now, internet, has become the key source to finding information about our future leader. The personal aspect between the presidential candidate and the voters has continually decreased in the last 40 years. Voters had typically gotten their information from the presidential candidate himself or from a person working on behalf of the candidate or party. However, most of the information that voters receive is through the media, mostly by news channels: CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, other local news channels, and even Comedy Central. Based on the source, information can be manipulated in favor, or not in favor of the candidate. As fewer voters side with a party, campaigns are less party-centered and more candidate-centered. In result, the candidate relies heavily on their own political organizations and less on their party’s organization.
Now that the presidential candidate relies on their own political organization, they hire political consultants. A political consultant is like a wedding planner or interior designer; they do all the work to make the final product look good. The political consultant devises a campaign strategy months before the election, they raise money, seek endorsements, arrange for the candidate to speak in public, gain support for the candidate, and do massive advertising for the campaign. Hiring a political consultant only became popular due to the use of advertisement on T.V. There are claims, however, that political consultants are only out seeking their own benefit, not the benefit of their client. Some have been labeled “cookie cutter consultants”, which means that they basically use the same themes and strategies for one client to another, despite the differences in campaign. Although, these political consultants have recently been labeled negatively, there is no doubt that a candidate needs a personal assistant such as this to make their campaign a success.
Winning the Election
In order to win the election, the political consultant and the candidate’s core campaign organization must maximize their candidate’s popularity. They do this through a number of advertisements and public appearances. They focus on their candidate’s visibility and appeal. They want voters to recognize the candidate, but they mainly want them to recognize their name. A name that a voter sees and hears the most is the name they’ll most like mark in the election because they are more familiar with the name. On the other hand, if the candidate is already well known, the strategists focus on amplifying the candidate’s achievements and encourage them to vote for the particular presidential nominee. Most campaign’s frequently aim to criticize one another, in hopes of revealing faults, encouraging negative publicity, and making the voters raise question or concern of the opponent. However, if a candidate is from a third party or is an independent, then the strategy is to give voters logical reasons to why they should abandon their major parties and side with the third party and candidate. Unfortunately, these third party nominees are generally named not good enough for consideration, and usually drop out. Then the major party campaign organizations aim to gain the third party votes by appealing to the now, candidate-less, voters.
As Election Day nears, the media posts tracking polls. These polls give the candidates an idea of how people are going to vote in the upcoming election. These polls don’t only track election processes, they also track approval and disapproval of presidential decisions. These polls allow candidates and their organizations to sway the votes of some voters in the final days.
American Government Notes 2009-2010, Dennis Hermreck
Party Identification and Demographic Influences
by Haley Kistler
What influences a person to join the Republican party or the Democratic party? Just as education, income level, religion, etc. affect our daily lives, these demographics also influence our political affiliation.
Those who graduate from high school and go on to earn a bachelors degree are more likely to vote than those who never received a high school diploma. In 2000, 31% of voters had a bachelor's degree or higher, while only 9% of voters had not finished high school. And unlike past years, those with a college education are now more likely to vote Democrat than Republican. Also, those with only a high school education tend to vote Republican.
Voters' level of income also tends to affect their party affiliation and voting activity. Overall, those with a higher income are more likely to vote. Seventy-two percent of those with a family income of $50,000 or more tend to vote while only 38% of low income families vote (less than $10,000). Income status also influences whether a voter is conservative or liberal. Liberals tend to promote monetary aid to those in lower incomes and thus lower income citizens tend to vote liberal. In contrast, those with a higher income, tend to be against the liberal agenda and are more likely to vote conservative.
Although education and income take the lead in predicting vote outcome, religion still has an influence. Today, more Protestants and Catholics are joining together in their public opinion. But during the late 1800s and early 1900s the two groups were divided with Protestants voting Republican and Catholics voting Democrat. But even more important in deciding political party, is church attendance among the religious. Both Protestants and Catholics who attend church at least once a week are more likely to be Republican. African Americans of all religions,and Jews, tend to be Democrats.
Race and Ethnicity
*African Americans: Since FDR's leadership in the 1930's, African Americans have been primarily democrat. Although they do support some conservative views (anti- homosexual marriage and anti-abortion), their views including civil liberties and social welfare lean more towards the left.
*Hispanics: Due to immigration issues arising since the Bush administration, Hispanics have also tended to vote Democrat. Although Bush proposed an immigration reform to help illegal immigrants, the Republican party strongly opposed the idea. Two-thirds of Hispanics voted for Obama in 2008.
*Asian American: Political views are split among Asian-Americans, but there are slightly more Democrats in this demographic.
*Muslim American: In 2000, the majority of Muslims voted for George W. Bush. But with the terrorist attacks came increased Muslim discrimination, leading to more Muslims becoming Democrats.
There is even a difference between men and women in party affiliation. Since Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1980, women have tended to be more liberal than men. Aside from conservative views on national security (since September 11th), women tend to support liberal causes such as the environment, civil rights for homosexuals, and opposition towards the death penalty.
Lastly, depending on the region within the U.S., voters will either be Democrat or Republican. The majority of those on the West Coast and the Northeast are Democrat, while those in South, Great Plains, and the Rockies are usually Republican. Notably, the South has converted from being primarily Democrat to primarily Republican. Also, those in urban areas tend to be Democrats in accordance with their more liberal lifestyle, while those in small towns live a more conservative lifestyle and are more likely to be Republicans.
Bardes, Shelley, Schmidt. American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials. 2009 Edition. Wadsworth Political Science. pgs 200-204
Major Parties in the United States
BY: ETHAN RETHMAN
The first party I want to talk about is the democrats. They evolved from the Anti-Federalist that opposed the fiscal policies of Alexander Hamilton in the early 1790s and became the Democratic-Republican Party. This party favored states’ rights, opposed a national bank, wealthy, money interests, and were strict to the constitution. They gained power in the 1800 election. The Federalist Party later broke apart. The Democratic-Republicans were later split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe. The people that supported Jefferson’s principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, formed the Democratic Party. The others formed the Whig Party which was a commercial party and was less popular. It was not until the 1850s when the Democrats rival, the Republicans were formed.
Historically the party favored farmers, laborers, labor unions, and religious minorities. It opposed unregulated business and finance and favored progressive income taxes. Today the voter base has shifted and the party favors more social freedoms, affirmative action, balanced budget, and a free enterprise system. The Democrats believe the government should play a major role in reducing poverty and social injustice and should have a system of progressive taxation. Most Democrats are liberals which is the center-left in the US political spectrum. The liberals believe in change which is Obama’s slogan. The party has the most registered voters as of 2004 with 72 million voters. Roughly 35% of American voters identify themselves as Democrats. In the election of 2008, they won with Barack Obama. Some of their beliefs on recent issues are that we should work on is a universal health care reform, raise the minimum wage, find a renewable energy, and raise taxes. The Democratic party also believes we should protect the enviorment, lower college tuition fees, protect gay rights and reproductive rights, and support embryonic stem cell research.
The other major party in the US today is the Republican party. The party was founded in 1854 by activists, modernizers, ex-whigs, and ex-free soilers. They were the biggest opposition to the Democratic Party and first came to power in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln. They were located in the northeast and upper Midwest. Their belieifs were in their 1856 slogan “free labor, free land, free men,” which meet they opposed slave labor and the plantation system.
Today most Republicans are conservatives and have been called the Grand Old Party or GOP. They are considered the right of center in the political spectrum. As of 2004 they had the second most registered voters with 55 million. They currently want offshore drilling, do not belief in universal health care, and want tax cuts. They believe we are not causing global warming, are pro-life, and want a strict constitution. They also believe in lassiez-faire economics or individual achievement as the primary factors behind economic prosperity. Republicans are known as old-fashioned and like to keep things the way they are. They believe in family where the man works and the wife stays at home with the kids.
The Republicans and Democrats are both still going strong today. The Democrats won the last election with Barack Obama but before that the Republicans had office with President Bush. These two parties should be around for a long time and seem to never agree on the same things. I myself am a Republican.