- American Government
- Ideas and Rights
- Political Behavior
- Political Parties
- Digital Stories
Welcome to American Government 2015-2016
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
Should Voters Have to Pass a Test Before Voting?
Steven Nelson x
There is a debate among individuals whether there should be a test that voters must be required to take before voting. The proposed test varies from economic competency tests to literacy tests to basic civics tests.
Voter tests have a bad rep due to their use in segregating whites and blacks up until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many opponents of voter tests argue that they go against democracy. They claim that it is simply another form of discrimination against the lower classes. They argue that these tests would limit the number of people whose voices are heard. Another argument is that these tests may become biased depending on who makes them. If these tests do become biased they could very easily change the course of their election.
Here is an example of how literacy tests have been been used wrongly as a major civil rights violation. According to the group Civil Rights Movement Veterans, black citizens who wished to register to vote in the South were made to read aloud lengthy and complex passages from the U.S. Constitution:
"The Registrar marked each word he thought you mispronounced. In some counties, you had to orally interpret the section to the registrar's satisfaction. You then had to either copy out by hand a section of the Constitution, or write it down from dictation as the registrar spoke (mumbled) it. White applicants usually were allowed to copy, Black applicants usually had to take dictation. The Registrar then judged whether you "literate" or "illiterate." His judgement was final and could not be appealed.
Proponents of voter tests argue that these tests would improve the overall intelligence of the voting p
population. The idea behind the voter tests is to weed out ignorant voters who are just voting for a particular candidate because someone told them to. Another primary motive behind voting tests is to ensure that candidates know what it is that they are voting for.
This is what syndicated columnist and editor-at-large of the National Review Online Jonah Goldber wrote in 2007 "Instead of making it easier to vote, maybe we should be making it harder. Why not test people about the basic functions of government? Immigrants have to pass a test to vote; why not all citizens?"
What I think: I feel that there should be a basic test that voters should be required to pass before being allowed in the booth. This won’t be any type of IQ test but rather a very straightforward test on an objective view point of the fundamental stances of each candidate. The test would be agreed upon by each of the major candidates and a trusted third party mediator so as to keep the test from being biased. I imagine this test as a short 10 question multiple choice test taken at random from a pool of around 30 pre-approved questions. Individuals should be given the opportunity to take the test a total of three times giving them an opportunity to go back and study more if they fail the test the first time.
I think that the biggest advantage of this test is that it will cause many people to pay attention to their government and everyday political issues. I believe that through this test more people will become involved with their local government. Because it is a relatively easy test, I don’t think that it will shrink the voting population significantly. The goal of this test is to ultimately create a stronger, smarter, and more involved republic.
No Longer a Slave because of Habeas CorpusFurkat Melikov x
There were approximately 3.5 million Africans transported to America to be sold into slavery before 1807 when slavery was no longer possible. It is reported that somewhere between 10% and 20% of the slaves died during the travel to the United States. The 13th Amendment freed slaves in the constitution. However, it was Habeas Corpus that made the freedom for James Somerset a reality. Somerset was a slave owned by Charles Stewart who was an official from Virginia. In 1749 Stewart purchased Somerset in Virginia. Somerset was a slave for Stewart for over twenty years. Stewart trusted Somerset as his man servant and took him with him to London. When they reached London Somerset ran away.
It was often thought that when a slave reached any English soil that they were free because slavery was no longer allowed in England. Stewart had Somerset kidnapped and put him on a ship to be returned to Jamaica. He planned on selling Somerset. There were lots of people that were against slavery in England and they were able to get a writ of habeas corpus to free Somerset. The abolitionist worked on the case free of charge. Lord Mansfield who was the judge who heard the case of Stewart vs Somerset, granted freedom to Somerset and let him stay on English soil. Some individuals thought that this was the beginning of ending slavery but in reality it was Lord Mansfield’s ability to keep Somerset on English soil. Lord Mansfield clearly stated, “Only determined that a Master cannot by force carry a Slave out of England.” However, this case was so powerful that it renewed the interest in anti-slavery in both England and in the United States. The Somerset case was used to free slaves who were traveling with their masters.
Habeas Corpus is the right to have a fair trial if you think you have been wrongly imprisoned. This ensures that prisoners that are being held because of being charged falsely have a right to request a fair trial. This allows prisoners being held under a state decisions to contest being in prison and have the federal government hear their case. I understood what habeas corpus meant when I read a definition that said it is a petition filed asking that a detained person be reviewed to see if they are in fact being held legally and because they are actually guilty. I found it interesting that it can also be used in family law for a parent who has been denied custody of a child. It services as a check to make sure that the state courts are paying attention to federal constitutional rights. I understand that some people may feel that the writ of habeas corpus takes away state power and weakens the forces of authority. I find it appropriate that the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended when it is “in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety.” Such instances include the fight against the Ku Klux Klan and during the War on Terror.
The legal roots of abolition. (2005, Apr 28). Bay State Banner Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/367443402?accountid=27424
Collins, J. (2013, Oct 20). Book review: 'lord mansfield,' by norman poser; lord mansfield revolutionized contract and insurance law. he became the legal godfather of england's commercial might. Wall Street Journal (Online) Retrieved from
Wardle, L. D. (2008). From slavery to same-sex marriage: Comity versus public policy in inter-jurisdictional recognition of controversial domestic relations. Brigham Young University Law Review, 2008(6), 1855-1926. Retrieved from
Federman, C. H. (1996). The primacy of rights and the procedures of federalism: The development of habeas corpus and federal-state relations, 1789—1991 (Order No. 3027455). Available from ABI/INFORM Complete. (304312228). Retrieved from
** Jade Kruse x
Freedom of Speech
The first Amendment states, that “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.” Protected by the first amendment freedom of speech can be applied any many ways. The most common way that sometimes is taken beyond control is by the words we say, and the way we say it. Everyone is allowed their own opinion however; opinions are offensive and sometimes can be harmful. Many people tend to over comply the right of free speech. Free speech is meant so that “We the People” have the right to be heard. Freedom of speech does not mean we have the right to trample over others with our foul language or discriminating thoughts. The argument in today’s day in age is that our freedom of speech is being taken away, people are not releasing that free speech is not freedom of complaining.
Another way freedom of speech can be expressed is in symbolic speech, which is a legal term in United States law used to portray actions in a meaningful and constructable to deliver a certain message or statement to those viewing it. This leads to pure speech which is the right to convey speech though behavior. People like to show their political frustrations with actions for example (burning the flag in a protest.) Many times behavioral speech will be seen at riots and large protestations. People seem to get caught up in the words Freedom of Speech and forget that the meaning is to be heard not seen.
In politics it is common for commercial product and professional services to utilize freedom of speech through advertisement. Have you ever seen an election billboards basically telling you who to vote for sometimes even without a backup or support line? Many times these billboards are trash talking and bashing their competitors. Freedom of speech does protect those that make these signs, however it sometimes attracts the voters in the opposite way. Some people find it hard to choose their vote when both representatives have negative ads about their opponent. In political campaigns it also becomes a trend for money persuasion, of course under certain circumstances.
Lastly freedom of speech protects the right to remain silent. Many times this may to be told to an apprehended citizen. Freedom of speech is not just your friend but it can also be used against you. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. It seems how many peoples mothers or teachers never told them that if that can’t say anything nice to not say anything at all.
What does free speech mean? United States Courts. Web. 22 February 2015 http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/constitution-activities/first-amendment/free-speech.aspx
Free Speech. American Civil Liberties Union. Web. 22 February 2015
Sarah Churchwell X
Ideas and Rights
This country was built on the ideas of it’s people- the ideas that gave us the rights that we have today. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states:
“ We hold theses 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.”
This revolutionary era was a critical time for this country, it showed other great nations of this world that we were/are a force to reckoned with, and that we weren’t going to take anyone’s crap. Once that was put in place, we set up a whole new system that was based on individual goals and freedoms. Our fore fathers took those goals and turned them into what know as the Bill of Rights, along with the rest of the Constitution. The Bill of Rights is the first ten amendments in the Constitution, “these set out the rights-the protections from the government-that every citizen is wed. The rest of the Constitution contains a mixture of expanded individual rights, shifted election rules, modified government rules, and expanded or adjusted government powers over individuals. From the time it was written, to now, and onward to the future, it has shaped this country by giving its people a voice and a shot in the future.
In conclusion, the ideas of our fore fathers set a plan into play for this nation. I’m grateful that they were brave enough to go after what they wanted, following their dreams, and I’m grateful the ones who still fight for this nation to keep it how it is-safe and sound. Not many other countries are fortunate to have what we have, but I’m very happy to say that we do.
Morone, James A., and Rogan Kersh. "By the People: Debating American Government." By the People: Debating American Government. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195383331/>.
Is the Right to Privacy Really a Right?
David Dickerson x
There is an intelligence organization in the United States that is known as the National Security Agency, or NSA. The primary responsibility of the NSA is to monitor global communications and collect data for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. It also protects the U.S. governments’ data and communication systems against foreign infiltration. In 2013, a former contractor for the NSA named Edward Snowden leaked classified documents that revealed that the NSA has been collecting the private information of United States citizens via nine different internet firms as part of a program known as PRISM. The NSA also intercepts the telephone and internet conversations of billions of people every day, and tracks the movements of hundreds of millions of people by monitoring their cell phones. An internal audit has revealed that the NSA has broken privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times per year. Those revelations and others like them have caused many people to question the U.S. governments’ policies in regard to collecting information on its own citizens. More specifically, the questions are: How much right does the government have to collect the personal information of its citizens in the interest of national security, and how much right do individuals have to their own privacy?
There is no specific right to personal privacy written in the Constitution. There are sections that protect certain aspects of personal privacy, such as the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of belief and the Sixth Amendment’s prevention of illegal search and seizure. However, there is no blanket statement that says that individuals have the right to all forms of personal privacy. In any instance where there is not a specific amendment that covers an aspect of personal privacy, the government is largely left to regulate itself. Congress and the individual departments of the U.S. intelligence services are responsible for setting the guidelines that govern which aspects of personal privacy that a given department can choose to respect or ignore.
In my opinion, it is this fact, combined with the necessary secrecy inherent in intelligence gathering, which creates such potential for abuse. Departments within the U.S. intelligence community are largely left to regulate themselves, especially in areas where Congressional guidelines are vague or non-existent. There is some outside oversight in the form of the press and citizens watchdog groups, but these are far better at discovering abuses after they occur than they are at preventing them in the first place. There is also the fact that information gathering technology continues to improve faster than the rules that govern its use can be put into place. In addition, the manner in which some agencies go about collecting information in the first place can cause problems. For example, some of the communications monitoring that is done by the NSA isn’t done by people, but instead is handled by computer programs that search e-mails and phone conversations for specific key words or phrases that may indicate a possible threat. When someone says, “I’m going to kill the President.” another person can usually tell by context and vocal tone whether or not that person is serious, whereas a computer program can’t. This in turn can lead to situations where a person who has no actual intention to commit a crime is tagged as a potential threat anyway.
It is my belief that, while correcting the various abuses of authority within the intelligence community on an individual level is a good thing, it does nothing to correct the root cause of the problem. A better solution in my mind would be for Congress to pass an amendment that defines and protects an individual’s right to personal privacy once and for all. While in the days of the founding fathers the only thing you needed to maintain your privacy may have been a tall fence and thick curtains, today the situation is more complex. Thanks to the proliferation of the internet and the increased popularity of social media, there is now more personal information about everyone available than ever before, and I feel that a broad and final solution would ultimately be better than correcting each abuse as it occurs.
“The Right of Privacy.” Exploring Constitutional Law. University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, 2011. Web. 2 May 2015.
“National Security Agency.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 27 April 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.
Haley O'Neal-Spiess x
“In God We Trust-ed?”
When researching what ideas the founding fathers of America held to be necessary, a lot of phrases and principles all pointed to one factual lead. This factual lead would later become America’s motto. The American motto is printed on all of American currency and is stated to be, “In God We Trust.” This American Motto is based off of many principles that the founding fathers of America had set out to become the basis of our country. There were twenty-eight principles that were set into formal rights for American citizens. Out of the twenty-eight principles the key ideas that informed me on how to conduct this essay were principles one, four, five, six, and eight. These five principles are some of the most important principles, if they are not for sure the most important ones. These principles are certain keys for how the American motto came to be, and all speak of God.
Principle number one states: “The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.” In this statement, it is meant to be presumed that Natural law is God’s law. Thomas Jefferson clarified this principle and statement by exclaiming in the Declaration of Independence that “there are laws which govern in the affairs of men which are “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” After configuring the quote of Mr. Jefferson, It really made sense to me. Here on earth, we need to have certain laws governing mankind, yet the laws of God and nature will always triumph over any rules that mankind has set out. Nature is unpredictable, we hear of tsunamis and hurricane’s wiping out cities. These are “earth neutralizing” laws that could shut down any kind of standing government to some effect.
Principle number four goes well in hand with principle number one. Principle number four is stated as, “Without religion, the government of a free people cannot be maintained.” Religion as well as morality is the basis of a person’s or society’s disposition. Morality cannot be maintained without a form of religion teaching them morals and ethics. The ethics and morals held by many American’s today have stemmed down a long web of generations, and our founding fathers were among many who brought these kind of morals to America.
Principles five and six are much in the same of each other. Principle five states: “All things were created by God, therefore upon him all mankind are equally dependent and to him they are equally responsible.” Principle six reinstates this idea by saying: “All mankind were created equal.” The underlying statement between these two principles is that without having this be a morality of a whole society, people could end up corrupting the system. During the time of these principles being set forth, it is to my knowledge that slavery was a big question of morality. This questioning is what led to the Civil War, as well as President Abraham Lincoln signing away slavery. America’s founding fathers wanted the new society to have in mind that all mankind should be condemned to be equal before God, the law, and in their rights.
William Blackstone is quoted for principle number eight. This is a key principle in my eyes, and shows the needed truth for today’s modern America. “Mankind are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights.” The rights that are being spoken of are established by God as well as nature. These are called Natural Rights, as spoken of previously in the first principle. These natural rights are, but not limited to, life, liberty, and unjust law proceedings. No person should have enough power to destroy another being’s rights, unless the owner of those rights has committed a crime that follows with a forfeit.
Before the Civil War, a lot of American’s as well as Governmental heads had come to know of these principles through the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and most importantly, the Bill of Rights. However, after the Civil War, the American Motto was publicized and printed on our currency. This was due to the increased religious sentiment during the Civil War. Our founding fathers had wanted this morality throughout the land of America. However in modern day America, the motto: “In God We Trust” is in my opinion just thrown around and not acted upon as much as it was in our yesteryears. In just my lifetime I have seen our motto being acted upon, transition into something not many people care about. While I was in Elementary school we said the Pledge of Allegiance. In modern day society, people are offended when this idea is even thought of, but yet, after research and gaining knowledge, this seems to border a thin line of terrorism to their own country. In a country where the founding ideas were set out to help the American morality be that of one trusting in God, the most basic principle concepts have been swept under a rug. This Sweeping has, in my opinion, lead to a country functioning with unneeded corruption. Our motto is “In God We Trust,” yet many American Citizens do not live by this motto anymore. My thinking is that for the American Government to maintain a trust between this democracy and us citizens we must go back and reinstate those founding principles.
In conclusion how can “We the government” go against our founding fathers firm foundation of our country’s policies by demonizing such beliefs into being an act of terrorism?
Way, Jim Bob. "28 Fundamental Principles of the Founding Fathers." 28 Fundamental Principles of the Founding Fathers. 20 May 2010. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2517643/posts>.
"About." History of 'In God We Trust' 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 4 May 2015. <http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx>.
Steve Nelson x
Super Pacs: What they are, and why you should care
That is the amount of money raised by Super PACs in the 2014 election cycle. What does this mean to you?
First let me begin by explaining where Super PACs came from. Before Super PACs were super they were just PACs or Political Action Committees. These were heavily regulated committees which were restricted to giving a maximum of $2,500. Corporations and Unions were forbidden from donating to them at all. In 2010 two supreme court cases changed all of that and ushered in the era of Super PACs. There would no longer be any limits on money that a PAC could raise and that corporations could donate as much money as they wanted. The court based its decision on the idea that limiting donations equated to limiting free speech. Through allowing corporations and lobbies to donate, they essentially granted them personhood. These Super PACs use their money to influence decision-makers in order to get them to vote for their individual purposes. They do this largely by the funding of and making of mudslinging ads. Although Super PACs can’t be officially connected to candidates, the dividing line is a little cloudy. The two super PACs that were most closely related to the presidential candidates from 2012 were run by their former aides.
So what does this mean? The founding of Super Pacs means that Corporations and fat cats can now use their deep pockets to influence the masses. How much influence can these people buy? $695,504,310 worth. This majority of this money isn’t coming from small funders and grassroots organizations. 63% ( > 430 million) of the money given by donors was offered by the top 1%. Our country was built on the principle of equality and these laws allow the rich to have much more say in the government than the poor.
One of the most troubling aspects of Super PACs is that unlike their predecessors they do not need to disclose where they get their funding. Not only is it possible, it is likely that multi-billion dollar companies can use their money to vastly change the results of elections so as to meet their needs.
For example, Koch Industries are reported to have spent nearly $240 million last year alone as it funded three dozen organizations funding organizations that support its libertarian views. The New Yorker described the Koch Brothers as “longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation.” These views all seem to help their own purposes. They recently released an $889 million budget for the next two years that funds the company’s sprawling network. These are the ways in which wealthy corporations abuse the system to further their own needs going against the basic tenets that our society was founded on.
Super PACs need to either be abolished or more firmly regulated. Failing to do so would result in an oligarchy of the rich.
Deja Cato x
Political Behavior and Voting
Political participation has a lot to do with political behavior. The movements begin small but political participation is any activity that shapes, affects, or involves the political sphere. Political participation ranges from voting to attending a rally to committing an act of terrorism to sending a letter to a representative. Political scientists categorize Americans’ political participation in three main ways. Not everyone fits neatly into one or another category, but the categories are a useful way to draw clear differences. Passionates are the most deeply involved group, because they follow politics very closely and they are aware of the details on the leading issues in the country.
There are many benefits of political participation. From college students to senior citizens, Americans who join civic groups are more likely to vote regularly and participate more they have a healthier, wealthier and generally more satisfied with their lives. With public involvement we begin to learn to trust other people, as well as achieving personal goals we have for ourselves and other aspirations.
A political scientist by the name of Robert Putnam has been observing the fact that the democratic government is beginning to fail simply because of the fact that people aren’t willing to get involved. Public involvement is beginning to decline so much that many of us have a hard time grasping what the main idea means. Americans have a hard time of getting a clear sense of our public selves. A few engage passionately, a larger number are more moderately engaged and the majority of us are only sporadically involved, and most just have a difficult problem understanding the idea of collective participation. With active participation grades can be improved and social networks.
Electoral activities come with the voting process. First you must register to vote, after you obtain your drivers license. Second you must make yourself familiar with the candidates and show up on Election Day to your assigned polling place. In some locations you have to wait in line. You will be directed to a voting booth that has curtains. Once you walk in you might see either a touch screen panel or a pen and paper and in some states there may be a lever. Compared to other countries, the United States holds more frequent elections. A reigning question is why is US voter turnout so low, compared to that in other democratic countries? The answer is that the sheer number of elections reduces the inclination of some citizens to participate. Voting is the most widely recognized form of civic participation with more than 118 million people turned out for the 2012 presidential election.
Civic Voluntarism has a long pedigree, many Americans engage in public activity without even describing it as being politically motivated. People don’t understand that if they don’t vote they will not have a voice in the decisions that are being made in America but will fail to go out and vote in the elections that are taking place. Young Americans from the ages of 18-24 don’t usually participate in the voting process. Their voices need to be heard by exercising ones public rights it can be as simple as following news headlines.
By The People Debating American Government
Kelsey Wilson x
We all have heard of Political Parties over TV. What do we really know about political parties? What do they do for our country? Beside the fact there is anywhere from two-three parties that run for office, democrats, republicans, and minor parties. As a reader reads along they find out what a political party is, how it began, and how U.S. parties work.
So what is a political party? A political party is “an alliance of a like-minded people who work together to win elections and control of the government.” Political parties also elect their candidates for office. The political parties range in size, and area. For example: “Large political parties generally have millions of members and supporters.”
Most of us do not know when a political party began. The political parties “started to develope in the late 1600’s” Representing different people the Romans formed two groups to please each. They had the Patricians(nobles) and Plebeians(wealthy) which represented different families. The “Political parties developed as representative assemblies gained power.” However, England began to change after what they call the “Popish Plot of 1678.”
Parties in the U.S. are runned by committees in the states and country. Every four years the U.S. holds a national convention which where they choose their delegates in the primaries to nominate for president and vice president. These parties are usually highly organized, and they use computers to sort out the votes. “Special-interest groups able to raise money and turn out voters for candidates they favor have grown in influence.”
The Republican Party commonly referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being its historic rival the Democratic Party. The GOP began in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854. A small group of abolitionist gathered to fight the expansion of slavery and invented a party dedicated to freedom and equal opportunity.
The Democratic Party was founded in 1828. Since the 1930’s the party has promoted a social-liberal and center-left platform, supporting a mixed economy and social justice. It pursues a mixed economy by providing government intervention and regulation in the economy Republicans believe that each person is responsible for his or her own place in society. Government should enable each person the ability to secure the benefits of society for themselves, their families and for those who are unable to care for themselves. The Republican philosophy is based on limiting the intervention of government as a catalyst of individual prosperity. Government should only intervene in specific cases where society cannot effectively act at the individual level.
With the core belief that individual destiny should be in the individual’s hands, governmental power and resources should be kept close to the people, through their state and community leaders, and not centralized in distant federal government agencies. Democrats believe it is the responsibility of government to care for all individuals, even if it means giving up some individual rights and/or subordinating enterprise and initiative. Democrat Party administrations have pushed for the centralization of power in Washington D.C., with only secondary consideration for the rights of both individuals and communities. Democrats have favored federal-level interventions that replace community-based solutions to community problems. These tactics have created several federal regulations and controls that are often in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, causing a severe erosion of local authority.
Kelsey Wilson x
A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure. Policy Making has many steps to follow. First you have to recognize the problem. Many conditions disturb people. Such as unsafe workplaces, crime, high taxes, pollution and the cost of medical care. But all disturbing conditions do not automatically become problems, people should realize that the government can’t solve everybody's issues, all that would do is just create more problems, however it is the government's job to protect us and represent us as a whole.
Next is the agenda setting. An agenda is a set of problems that the government wants to solve. Usually there will be more problems than what the government can handle therefore some issues will be solved earlier than others and also have more attention on them. Agendas are usually reshaped when a new president takes office. A crisis such as, war, depression or a tragic accident almost always re-prioritizes issues.
After agenda setting is formulating the policy. Usually several conflicting plans from various political interests take shape. Various players — the president and White House aides, private research organizations-may take part in formulating new policy.
The fourth step is adopting the policy. Once many plans are presented one policy is accepted by the decision-makers. In many cases, a policy is adopted when congress passes a law. Policy is built in a series of small steps passed over time.
Next is Implementing the policy. Most public policies are carried out by administrative agencies in the executive branch, sometimes the courts get involved in implementing decisions they make. Agencies use many different way to make sure the policy is carried out. Sometimes they punish people and organizations who do not follow the policy.Lastly is Evaluating the policy. Policy makers try to determine what the policy is accomplishing or if it’s being carried out efficiently. The Evaluation process takes place over time with help from many different players. Decision-making, then, is a continuous process with numerous people participating. At any given time, government is at various stages of policy-making in a never-ending quest to provide solutions to countless societal problems.
Katie Fleener x
Gerrymandering is when the redrawing an election district in a way that gives the advantage to one party or when they achieve results by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency. Gerrymandering begin way back in 1812 when a Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a bill that redrew the districts to help his party. His new districts looked like a salamander. Gerry + salamander = Gerrymander.
After the 1900 census, some states used the process to enhance the number of black representatives. It put more black representatives in but it also made fewer Democratic representatives. Though in 1995 when the Supreme Court learned what they were doing they ruled that race packing was not allowed. In 2012 there was 44 black representatives compared to the 29 in 1995, so they are still gaining black representatives.
Packing is when they place all like-minded voters into one district to make that vote go to either one or the other of the two political parties. Cracking is when they spread them out so that the political parties will form a minority in a district.
Arizona after the 2000 census took seven years to figure their districts out. While they were trying to figure out the districts they also had a legal fight about the districts going. In May 2003 Republicans won control of the Texas legislature they immediately wanted to redraw the congressional districts. The 51 Democrat leaders left the state and went to Oklahoma, because a certain number of members have to be present to pass a bill. The Democrat leaders left so the bill could not be passed.
After the 2010 census ten states were forced to rearrange their districts after losing population. All ten states also lost a seat in the House, Ohio and New York lost two seats in the House. Eight states were population gainers. Texas gained four seats in the House. Florida gained two seats in the House. All of the population gainers and losers had to engage in the messy, politically charged redistricting process. Gerrymandering is at least partly to blame for the lopsided Republican representation in the House. Democrats are under-represented by 18 seats. Republicans drew some really funny looking Congressional Districts.
Districts that follow a general shape tend to be more compact, while those that have a lot of wiggly lines and random offshoots tend to score poorly. They also tend to have some gerrymandering in the district. If we just had neutral panels draw the districts there would not be as many fights in the House. California had a neutral panel draw their districts after the 2010 census.
By The People: Debating American Government by James A Morone and Rogan Kersh (Textbook)
Savannah Gamble x
Dr. Michael Thompson
9 April 2015
Political behavior is defined to include both tangible forms of behavior and also topics such as political psychology, public opinion, mass communications, and even more. Politics focus less on political institutions and more on the individuals and groups in the U.S.
One form of political behavior is called voting behavior. Voting behavior depends on a lot of different things such as gender, age, race, culture, and lastly religion. When running for candidate you have to keep in mind all these certain things because they are all very important.
Voting behavior is probably the most important types of political behavior. Who ever if running for candidate has to realize who their voters are and try to understand the different types of voters. Such as age. Age is a very important thing for candidates to look at because the older generation of people have a very different view than the younger generation and you have to be able to please both.
There is a lot more to political behavior than just voting behavior, but voting behavior in my opinion is the most important.
Deja Cato x
The importance of Political Parties
The two party system generally dominates American politics. The two major parties that are represented by Americans is Democratic and Republican. Political parties are an essential component of democracy. By competing in elections and mobilizing citizens behind particular visions of society as well as through their performance in the legislature, parties offer citizens meaningful choices in governance, avenues for political participation, and opportunities to shape their country’s future.
In many countries, however, political parties fail to respond to citizens’ concerns and are widely distrusted by the public. When public confidence in political parties is compromised, the entire democratic process suffers. In all sustainable democracies, the party system must be deeply and durably entrenched in the fabric of society. Political parties are a central feature of any democracy. They are the vehicles by which citizens come together freely to campaign for public office, express their interests and needs, and define their aspirations for their society. While there are parties without democracy, there can be no democracy without political parties.
The Democratic Party has changed significantly during its more than two centuries of existence. During the 19th century the party supported or tolerated slavery, and it opposed civil rights reforms after the Civil War in order to retain the support of Southern voters. By the mid-20th century it had undergone a dramatic ideological realignment and reinvented itself as a party supporting organized labour, the civil rights of minorities, and progressive reform. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, the party has also tended to favour greater government intervention in the economy and to oppose government intervention in the private, noneconomic affairs of citizens. The logo of the Democratic Party, the donkey, was popularized by cartoonist Thomas Nast in the 1870s; though widely used, it has never been officially adopted by the party.
In Ripon, Wisconsin, former members of the Whig Party meet to establish a new party to oppose the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Whig Party, which was formed in 1834 to oppose the “tyranny” of President Andrew Jackson, had shown itself incapable of coping with the national crisis over slavery.
With the successful introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854, an act that dissolved the terms of the Missouri Compromise and allowed slave or free status to be decided in the territories by popular sovereignty, the Whigs disintegrated. By February 1854, anti-slavery Whigs had begun meeting in the upper midwestern states to discuss the formation of a new party. One such meeting, in Wisconsin on March 20, 1854, is generally remembered as the founding meeting of the Republican Party.
The Republicans rapidly gained supporters in the North, and in 1856 their first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, won 11 of the 16 Northern states. By 1860, the majority of the Southern slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans won the presidency. In November 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president over a divided Democratic Party, and six weeks later South Carolina formally seceded from the Union. Within six more weeks, five other Southern states had followed South Carolina’s lead, and in April 1861 the Civil War began when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.
By The People Debating American Government
Tim Cubit x
I think political parties is different categories with the government and they also do different things with the government. A political party is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.
There are two main political parties that I’m going to talk about and they are Democratic and republican parties those two parties are main parties that really deals with government, and the government run a lot of thing and play a big part in the U.S. The modern political party system in the U.S. is a two-party system dominated by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. These two parties have won every United States presidential election since 1852 and have controlled the United States Congress to some extent since at least 1856. In the Democratic Party there is a lot of going on such as when the nation activated with two political parties the Federalists and the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICANS.
During early American past politicians have a tendency to take sides, starting with the discussion over the Constitution, and continuing with the differences between two of George Washington's breakfront members — Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The leaning has persisted throughout American history. Even yet political parties are frequently viewed as "necessary evils," they quiet play an important part in American government and politics today. The two broad-based main political parties’ suggestion alternatives to voters and support connect citizens to their management. If people didn’t know about the two main political parties they can get a better understanding of them by reading about them because some people believe they have a different meaning to them ,some people believe that they play only half the part with government but that’s not the case they play a major part especially the Democratic party.
The other main party that plays a big role in the government is Republican Party. The Republican Party, commonly referred to as the GOP (abbreviation for Grand Old Party), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being its historic rival the Democratic Party. As this explains above it explains it’s one of contemporary political parties in the U.S and that’s a very important role in the U.S because they decide most of the decisions in the U.S and they run almost every business in the U.S. Also a lot of people don’t really like the republican side because they don’t agree with the republican rules and they beliefs , they have a lot of beliefs such as most believe in one and woman marriage ,they believe the opposite sex should get married and other parties doesn’t like that but they believe that’s the right thing to do. So a lot of other parties don’t really them. And another thing is that they shouldn’t acknowledge gay marriage in other states but others believe that it shouldn’t matter if it’s same sex or not and they believe that so they go to other political party to vote against the Republican Party. To conclude this, both parties are big rivals and both believe in different laws, rules beliefs etc. It’s a lot of tension that goes on between both parties and it will never end because its strong hate but I believe in some areas they have to work together to get something accomplished that relates to the U.S. But again I believe that the hate won’t stop until the world’s ends but hopefully things will get better and they will work together.
Dontrell Lyons x
A political party is an alliance of like-minded people who work together to win elections and control of the government. Political parties compete against one another for political power and for the ability to put their philosophies and policies into effect.
At the national level, there are only two politicians who are not members of Democratic or Republican parties, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Both are considered to be independents, but Sanders was involved with the Vermont Progressive Party which has a few seats in the Vermont state government.
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the younger Republican Party. Tracing its origins back to the Democratic-Republican Party, the modern Democratic Party was founded around 1828.
Democrats believe in ideals and principles that benefit all Americans, with opportunity and justice for all, devoid of discrimination based on one’s status, age, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
The party was founded on the conviction that wealth and privilege shouldn’t be an entitlement to rule and the belief that the values of hardworking families are the values that should guide the people.
The USA did not became the most prosperous country in the world by rewarding greed and recklessness or by letting those with the most influence write their own rules. The USA got here by rewarding hard work and responsibility, by investing in people, and by growing our country from the bottom up.
Today Democrats are fighting to repair a decade of damage and grow an economy based on the values of Main Street, not greed and reckless speculation. Democrats are focused on rescuing our economy not just in the short run but also rebuilding our economy for the long run—an economy that lifts up not just some Americans, but all Americans.
The Republican Party, commonly referred to as the GOP (abbreviation for Grand Old Party), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being its historic rival the Democratic Party. This Party was founded in 1854
The Republican Party beliefs have changed a lot from its founding in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854. It was launched as a fundamentally left-wing political party with the primary aim of bringing down slavery in the country. Over the years, however, the party has slowly but surely shifted to right-wing conservative beliefs, especially in the way it handles the economy and the role of the government. This shift is not surprising; political parties are known to change their beliefs over time as previous issues are resolved and new issues crop up.
During the 19th century, the biggest issue in the country was slavery and the Republican Party was forged on its beliefs about the issue. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have changed their stance on various issues and their beliefs over the years in order to stay relevant and appeal to the thoughts and beliefs of the voting Americans.
Haley O'Neal-Spiess x
Before the Democratic Party came about there weren’t political parties to join or compete against. George Washington, our first President did not belong to a political party. He also hoped oncoming presidents would continue the same Partisan system. Even though it was Mr. Washington’s wishes to continue non-parties, it was under his administration that the Federalists and Antifederalists were created. The Federalist party was created by Alexander Hamilton. Following this creation, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson formed the Democratic-Republican party. The main difference between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republican party are their views of Governmental regulations.
The Federalists wanted a strong national government whereas the Democratic-Republican favored state rights and less federal control. In the election of 1824 the Democratic-Republican party was split in two, with the help of other new parties coming up to oppose the existing parties. The jacksonian Democrats, named after President Andrew Jackson, dominated against the Whigs of that time. These same Whigs fell out of favor compared to the growing Republican party. The view of Political Parties in the early days of our government was almost non-existent. In the present day governmental leads are almost always leaning to one political party or another. This gives American voters another reason to choose a person over another. Being apart of a said political party gives an idea of what that political person’s beliefs are. In the early days of the Democratic party, democrats placed high emphasis on mortality and were perceived as conservative.
Today’s thoughts on the democratic party is that they’re progressive liberals who emphasize on personal rights and liberties. Today’s political parties are no doubt based on the same political parties from the beginning, yet their policies have surely changed over the years. Although there has been only 15 democrats to hold the presidential office, they have still altered history as it stands. In 2004, 72 million voters voted to enter democrat, Barack Obama, as out first colored President. In 2011 USA Today reviewed the voting polls. To which this outcome was that the Democratic Party was still the largest political party with more than 42 million voters, compared to the 30 million Republican, and 24 million third party/independent voters. The facts that we can draw from this are as followed, the first political party to be recognized, is still the largest party standing, and this party is the Democratic party.
Boundless. “The Modern Era of Political Parties.” Boundless Political Science. Boundless, 14, Nov. 2014. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2015
“U.S. Political Parties” , Political Parties in the United States. Web. 19 Feb. 2015
The Two-Party System
David Dickerson x
For the majority of its history, the United States has existed under a two-party political system. While the parties themselves have changed names and identities throughout the country’s history, there have always been two major ideological divisions within our government. It may surprise some Americans to learn that this is not the case in many other democratic countries. Several countries in Europe, for example, have three or more political parties who enjoy strong support from their populations.
Political parties were never part of the founders’ original plan for the country. There is nothing written about political parties in the Constitution. So how is it that the United States came to possess its current two-party structure? The original political parties formed during the election of 1796. The Federalists, led by John Adams, believed in a strong national government. The Democratic - Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson, believed that most power should be left in the hands of state and local governments. The two leaders were bitterly opposed to each other’s political philosophies, which had the effect of polarizing their supporters into two camps. Thus, two political parties formed within the American government, in spite of the efforts of leaders like George Washington, who spoke out against such an occurrence.
While the United States government has been under the control of two major parties for most of its history, the parties themselves have not always been the same. The Federalist Party enjoyed much support early in its formation, but they lost control of the government to the Democratic – Republicans in the election of 1800 and were relegated to the minority for the rest of the parties existence. In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected president as a Democratic – Republican candidate. He shortened the name of the party to the Democrats. Former members of the Federalist Party joined with members of the Democratic Party who disliked Jackson to form the National Republican Party, also known as the Whigs. The National Republicans existed between 1836 and 1852, when debate over the issue of slavery tore the Party apart. The issue of slavery also caused the Democratic Party to split into the Northern Democrats, who favored abolition, and Southern Democrats. In 1854, the Northern Democrats formed into a new political party, the Republican Party, whose first presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln. Both of these Parties are still in existence to this day.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a two-party system? Ironically, the main advantage and disadvantage are the same – a limited number of choices. The fact that there are only two parties to choose from makes it easier for the average voter to make up their mind which candidate to vote for. The United States is a large country and extremely diverse in terms of race, economic status, religion, and political philosophies. If every one of these groups formed a political party and put forth their own candidate, the result would be an overwhelming number of choices. In such a situation, it would be difficult for any party to achieve enough of a majority to fulfil its chosen agenda. However, the fact that such a diverse country is only represented by two major parties is also a disadvantage. The major parties monopolize most of the campaign donations and political support, which means that any candidate who is interested in winning is best served by aligning his views with one of them. This creates mass conformity in government policy while simultaneously marginalizing candidates and voters whose views differ from the established “party line”. In my opinion, the two-party system also creates a detrimental level of competition within the government. Since a party who achieves a majority in both branches of Congress can pass its agenda mostly unopposed, the parties’ emphasis becomes about winning Congressional seats rather than compromise. With only two choices, it becomes easier to view politics as a competition, with a clear winner and loser, rather than being about achieving the best results for the nation as a whole. I believe that in a political system with a larger number of parties, compromise would become a necessary part of governing, and this could lead to more rational moderation and less polarization towards one of two extremes.
“Two Parties Emerge.” U.S. History. Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, n.d. Web. 20 February 2015.
“The Origins and Functions of Political Parties.” Scholastic. Scholastic Inc., 2015. Web. 21 February 2015.
Savannah Gamble x
Political parties are an essential part of democracy. In a lot of countries their political parties aren't as strong as the ones that we have here in America. Here in the United states we have many different types of political parties also. Political parties in other countries fail to respond to their citizens needs. We have political parties because they are the central of any democracy. Its a way for people to come and freely vote for public office. When the political parties are working correctly they develop the same ideas and use it in the political system. Citizens may have different opinions over what the political parties believe.
Political parties play a very huge role, because they are our government and they make the final decisions about how our government is ran. Political parties do not always see eye to eye and thats not always a bad thing. When they don't agree that means they are trying to find a better solution.
Political parties have and always will play a crucial roll in our government. There will also always be a lot of debate about and among out political parties. If we didn't have political parties then our government wouldn't be one of the strongest in the world.
Katie Hopkins x
When Americans talk about political parties, they usually only think of two parties; Republicans and Democrats. They think of the political leaders of these parties and think of the goods and bads that are going on in the government currently, and then they state their opinion on what they think is best, depending on what party they tend to associate with; Republican or Democrat. Some people tend to forget that there are other political parties as well. The two main minority parties are the Independent and Libertarian parties.
The Independent American party believes that we must focus on the Declaration of Independence along with patriotism and national sovereignty. They believe in the traditional family and a “respect for life, liberty, and property”. The Independent American party was founded in 1998, so it is still a fairly new political party.
The Libertarian party believes in “minimum government, maximum freedom”. They believe that people should be able to engage in any activity they wish, as long as it is “peaceful and honest”. They believe that individuals should be able to follow their dreams without the government interfering. The Libertarian party was founded in 1971 and currently stands as the third largest party in the United States of America.
These two parties are the main minority parties that one might hear about today, along with the majority parties of Democrats and Republicans. So, the next time you hear talk of political parties and what’s going on in the government, remember that there are more than just two parties to side with, and more ideas that might work as well.
Lacie Langhofer x
The Bull-Moose Party
The United States of America; land of the free and home of the brave! That, and the reign of the almighty political parties. Nowadays, we as Americans are familiar with only two political parties; Republican and Democrat. Unfortunately, what these two parties stand for can often become blurred and their values questioned. But aside from these two popular parties, an older party arose from one, the Republican Party entitled the Progressive party or as President Roosevelt later called it, the “Bull Moose Party.”
After getting denied another chance to run as president for the Republican Party in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt took it upon himself to form his own political party. In this party, he kept true to his beliefs focusing the party’s agenda on women’s suffrage, farm relief, revisions of banking, social welfare for women and children, among many others.
The Progressive party also known as the Bull-Moose Party was formed in 1912. The party got this name from a quote President Roosevelt said when asked whether or not he was fit to be president. He then responded with, “I’m as fit as a bull moose.”
The main point of this Progressive Party was the emphasis on its platform. As stated earlier the topics discussed was women’s suffrage, farm relief, and others. The main emphasis of the party’s platform was to try and transform both the Democrat and Republican’s outlook on business affairs and interests. The platform simply stated this: “To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” With that, the platform also called for strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions, registration of lobbyists, and the recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings. As far as the social aspects of the Bull-Moose party, it focused on a National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies, social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled, limited injunctions in strikes, a minimum wage law for women, an eight hour workday, a federal securities commission, workers' compensation for work-related injuries, an inheritance tax, and a Constitutional amendment to allow a Federal income tax. This party’s platform also greatly urged states to embrace various measures for “direct democracy,” meaning when a people vote or decide on policy initiatives directly.
Aside from the party’s platform, the Bull-Moose party or formally known as the Progressive Party didn’t last as long as the candidates had hoped for; even with the Bull-Moose ticket party pulling very near to twenty-five percent of the popular vote. While the thoughts and ideas brought forth by this party seemed necessary and legitimate to the times, the party unfortunately lost the election and the will to go on. The Republican Party regained its strength, and in four short years, reunited.
Sarah Churchwell x
Since not everyone thinks the same way we have clashes in ideas and beliefs, one of the major disagreements that Americans get caught up in is politics, and more specifically, political parties. You have two major political parties, which are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party, which follows a liberal program, promoting a strong central government, and expansive social programs (mascot and color: Donkey and blue) and then you have the Republican Party, which favors a conservative stance, a limited central government, and a strong national defense (mascot and color: elephant and red). There are other minor political parties that individuals take part in, not many are named, and some people don’t even consider themselves part of any party what so ever. Politicians usually are part of the two major political parties, and their major parties contribute to helping them get elected into what ever political position they forge after.
In conclusion, I believe that the politics is used to either tear people apart or bring them together, or actually have done both. We all want a better country and someone to adequate to run this country and keep us as a nation safe. Today, though, many people don’t want to get caught up in all of the drama and prefer not to even identify themselves with politics in general, but it is important.
Morone, James A., and Rogan Kersh. "By the People: Debating American Government." By the People: Debating American Government. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195383331/>.
"Oxford Dictionaries." Oxford Dictionaries. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/>.
3 Branches of Government
There are three branches of the Government Executive branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch. And they are very important to the U.S. To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three parts, which are the three branches.
The Executive Branch is headed by the president who carries out federal laws and recommends new ones, directs national defense and foreign policy. Also performs ceremonial duties. Executive Branch has powers such as directing government, commanding the armed forces, dealing with international powers. Acting as chief law enforcement officer, and vetoing laws. The president of the executive branch is head of the branch he appoints or removes Cabinet members and officials. He negotiates treaties, and acts as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The executive branch also includes the vice president and other officials, Such as members of the cabinet. The cabinet is made up of the heads of the U.S major Departments of the government. The cabinet gives advice to the president about important matters.
The legislative Branch is led by the congress which include the House of Representatives and the Senate. The main tasks of the two is to make the laws. Legislative Branch also has powers which include passing laws, origination spending bills house, impeaching official’s senate, and approving treaties senate. Legislative branch makes me the laws written, discussed and voted on in congress. There are 100 senators In the Senate, There’s two from each state. Senators are elected by their states and serve six-year terms. In the legislative Branch the vice president of the U.S. is considered the head of the senate, but it does not vote in the Senate unless there is a tie. The Senate approves nominations made by the president to the cabinet, supreme court and also federal courts. The Senate must ratify all treaties by a two thirds vote.
The last of the branches is called the Judicial branch which is led by the by the Supreme Court, Its powers include interpreting the constitution, reviewing laws, and deciding cases involving states’ rights. These Branches are very important to the U.S.because without the powers they have, laws want be passed, people wouldn’t have rights to do rights. The Supreme Court rules whether sometimes is constitutional or unconstitutional- whether or not it is permitted under the constitution on the Supreme Court there are nine justices, or judges. Eight associate justices and one chief justice. The judges are nominated by the president and approved by the senate. They have no term limits. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. They decisions are final, and no other court can overrule these decisions. Decisions of the Supreme Court set precedents. New ways of interpreting the law. These Three branches of the government play a very important role in the U.S. they might be not be right all the time but they are very helpful and many ways.
Justin Underwood x
May 1 2015
In Missouri of 1820 they divided the country at the 36° 30' parallel between the pro-slavery, agrarian South and anti-slavery, industrial North, creating an uneasy peace which lasted for three decades. This peace was shattered in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Settlers would decide if their state would be free or slave. In early 1854, the first proto-Republican Party meeting took place in Ripon, Wisconsin. On June 6, 1854 on the outskirts of Jackson, Michigan upwards of 10,000 people turned out for a mass meeting "Under the Oaks." This led to the first organizing convention in Pittsburgh on February 22, 1856. The gavel fell to open the Party's first nominating convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1856, announcing the birth of the Republican Party as a unified political force. The elections of 1854 saw the Republicans take Michigan and make advances in many states, but this election was dominated by the emergence of the short-lived American Party. By 1855, the Republican Party controlled a majority in the House of Representatives. The new Party decided to hold an organizing convention in Pittsburgh in early 1856, leading up to the Philadelphia convention. As a direct outgrowth of the "settler sovereignty" of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an armed band of men from Missouri and Nebraska sacked the town of Lawrence and arrested the leaders of the free state. The anti-abolitionists had made it clear that "settler sovereignty" meant pro-slavery. The nickname of the Republican Party didn't get attached to it until 1888. Previously, the nickname had been used by Southern Democrats.
The oldest mass-based political party in the world is democratic party. The party traces its ancestry to the collaboration between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison of Virginia and Aaron Burr and George Clinton of New York. The fateful alliance between Virginia and New York, between the planters and small farmers of the South with the small farmers of the West and urban workers of the East, began a durable coalition of American politics that endured into the middle of the twentieth century. By the mid-1850s the Democratic Party was the only significant national institution that united adherents both North and South. The Democrats accomplished this feat at a time when churches, professional associations, and fraternal organizations, to say nothing of the Whigs, had split over the issue of slavery. On the other hand, the Democrats spent the following sixteen years as a political minority, identified with a kind of retrogressive agrarianism in the South and ethnocentric tribalism in the North. The election of Woodrow Wilson transformed the Democrats in 1912. He led the party away from its agrarian roots and toward an energetic form of progressivism. Wilson's progressivism was more concerned with promoting economic competition than with regulating monopolies. The 1920s were a period of eclipse for the Democrats.
The party was bitterly divided over ethnocultural issues, including Prohibition, immigration restriction, and whether or not to recognize the Ku Klux Klan. The Democratic Party was deeply divided between Drys and Wets, Protestants and Catholics, Klansmen and their antagonists. In 1954 the Democrats regained their control of both houses of Congress after their losses in the 1952 Eisenhower landslide. The Democratic leadership was able to work with Eisenhower to promote a bipartisan approach to such issues as nuclear energy, federal aid to education, interstate highways, and limited civil rights legislation. The Democrats in Congress and the Eisenhower administration proved unwilling, or incapable, however, of opposing Senator Joseph McCarthy, until his own ruthless excesses destroyed him.
The cost of hunger
by Furkat Melikov
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a non-partisan organization that focuses on low-income American’s. This organization reports that nearly 1 million of the nation’s poorest adults between the ages of 18-49 will lose their food stamp benefits in 2016. The reason that they will lose their benefits is because the economy is getting better. Legislature passed that some laws could suspend the three month rule of receiving food stamps in areas where jobs were hard to find. This will no longer be allowed in those states where the unemployment rates are going down. These American’s are put in a position of get up in work for your food because the people’s taxes are not paying for it anymore.
What do people do when this type of assistance runs out? They are forced to find other ways to feed themselves. These million adults are able to work and have no children and that is why the food supply is limited to three months. This policy forces these adults to get back into a training program or work to earn food. Unfortunately, food pantries and soup kitchens are so busy that they cannot accommodate the need to feed these people. Some states do have jobs available and training but others do not. One solution to this issue is to start giving relocation fees into areas where there are jobs available for these individuals. I believe that if a person cannot find a job in a location where they are living that they should move where there is a job they are capable of doing even if their highest level of education is a high school diploma or GED. We currently have policies that allow illegal immigrants to work jobs because American’s will not work them, why not have those American’s that can work relocate so that tax payers are not paying for food stamps.
SNAP policy was put into place for families with children, senior or those adults with disabilities. 46 Million American’s in poverty have been helped with this policy. People argue that those that receive this benefit should receive some type of drug testing. Some states have actually passed legislation that requires drug testing for people that receive SNAP benefits. Those individuals that have been convicted of a felony or have been convicted of the distribution of illegal drugs have been banned from any type of benefit. There are 18 states that have proposals that require drug screening for individuals receiving benefits. I would think that in states like Colorado that permit the use of marijuana that they would have a large issue doing any type of drug testing. Kansas had 28 proposals for legislation in 2012 for the testing of recipients who receive benefits based on having a child in the home. On April 13, 2016 Governor Brownback signed Senate Bill 149 which requires recipients of cash assistant to go through a drug screening based on their demeanor, missed appointments, police records, prior drug use or termination from previous employers.
The effectiveness of these policies is necessary to help out those that are truly in need. It is also necessary to have restrictions on the policies that are made to protect the rights of the tax payers. One of the most important steps in policy making is the policy evaluation and feedback step. This stage of the policymaking is important especially in situations where the tax payers dollars is going towards the funding of food program and social services benefits.
Policymaking Gone Wrong (EC)
Steven Nelson x
A large portion of a politician’s job is policymaking. Some of the time their policies are intelligent, groundbreaking ideas that improve the lives of those it affects. Some of the time, for whatever reason, they just suck. In 2010 Michelle Obama was the figurehead of one of the latter.
Imagine a classroom filled with children. These children have been working hard all morning solving math problems, studying for tomorrow’s spelling test, doing what good young children are expected to do. The bell rings, and the children scurry down to the lunchroom. They wait in line as visions of the delicious meal to come, dance in their heads. They are expecting to see full plates filled with the delicious and nutritious food that they have become accustomed to. But today is different. Today they won’t see all the food that they have been craving for so long. You see, in 2010 the USDA unveiled “Historic Improvements to meals served in America’s schools.” Some of these “Historic Improvements” included one-size-fits-all meal plans that ban some foods like two percent and whole milk, and rationing other foods like peas and potatoes. It also severely limits portion sizes, making the average lunchroom look like a modern version of Oliver Twist.
Considering the huge cuts found in these meal plans, you would expect them to be much cheaper than the original plan. But somehow this plan was actually much more expensive. In fact this plan was projected to cost seven billion more dollars over the next five years. That is a lot of bread for a surprisingly small amount of bread. With our national education falling behind other countries like it is, it is important that we use the money specifically designated for our schools as efficiently as possible. This program essentially wasted the taxpayers’ hard earned money.
The intention of this bill was to improve the nutrition of school meals across America. However, it has achieved quite the opposite. These lunch changes have had many negative effects on the children that they are forced upon. There is no way that a growing 200 lb senior boy should be allotted the same amount of food as a petite freshman girl. The one-size-fits-all lunch plan is unrealistic. Many of the students have complained, some quite publicly, that the food given to them during lunch is simply inadequate, that the sensation of being hungry and poorly fueled leads to a lack of concentration and a subsequent decline of performance in their educational endeavors. Many student athletes have also complained that the signs of the lack of nutrition has leaked onto the playing field, and has lead to poor performance in physical activities as well. The new meals program, which was designed to improve students’ physical fitness, has, ironically, achieved exactly the opposite.
There are many unintended consequences of this bill that are quite detrimental to the health of students around the nation. Because many students aren’t receiving enough nutrition through their lunches at school, they must find other sources of food. The most common place for these kids to get their food would be at their local gas station. The food options at these stores are usually far less nutritious than those that they would normally find at school. Another alternative they have found is to bring their own lunch from home. These unregulated lunches are often much more unhealthy than the lunches that they had originally received. The place where these lunches hit the hardest is in the poverty stricken areas around the country. The school lunches in these areas were often times the primary source of nutrition for these kids. There are children all across the nation whose parents are unwilling to, or are simply unable to give them enough food. The cheap lunches that these students received were very often one of the few things keeping these kids in school and off the streets. For some of these kids the lunches they receive from the school is the most substantial meal that they would eat all day, and the 850-calorie-or-less meals that their lunches are being replaced with are simply not enough.
The fact of the matter is that although the FDA had good intentions with this bill, it is in practice, detrimental to the health of the students that it is trying to help. The large majority of students were pleased with the old lunch plans. However, the new act has students saying “Please sir, I want some more.”
Policy-making in the USA
Dontrell Lyons x
Congress, the President, the Cabinet, advisers, agency bureaucrats, federal and state courts, political parties, interest groups, the media…All of these groups interact to make political decisions in the United States.
Public policy is a goal-oriented course of action that the government follows in dealing with a problem or issue in the country. Public policies are based on law, but many people other than legislators set them. Individuals, groups, and even government agencies that do not comply with policies can be penalized. This complicated process goes through a predictable series of steps:
1. Recognizing the problem.
At any given time, many conditions disturb or distress people, such as unsafe workplaces, natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes, crime, pollution, or the cost of medical care. But all disturbing conditions do not automatically become problems. People have to recognize that government can and should do something about them. For example, most citizens probably do not expect government to prevent hurricanes. However, they may expect government to help hurricane victims through quick relief actions.
2. Agenda setting.
An agenda is a set of problems that government wants to solve. Usually there are so many of them that they must be prioritized, with some problems getting earlier and more attention than others. Agenda setting may respond to pressure from interest groups, political parties, the media, and other branches of government. Agendas usually are reshaped when a new president takes office or when the majority party in Congress changes after an election. A crisis such as war, depression, natural disasters, or a tragic accident, almost always re-prioritizes issues.
3. Formulating the policy.
At this stage, usually several conflicting plans from various political interests take shape. Various players — the president and White House aides, agency officials, specially appointed task forces, interest groups, private research organizations, and legislators — may take part in formulating new policy.
4. Adopting the policy.
Once various plans are presented, one policy is accepted by the decision-makers. In many cases, a policy is adopted when Congress passes a law. Policy adoption may also take place when the president signs an executive order or when the Supreme Court rules on an important case. Policy is often built in a series of small steps passed over time by different players, and eventually, a complex policy emerges.
5. Implementing the policy.
Most public policies are carried out by administrative agencies in the executive branch, although sometimes the courts get involved in implementing decisions they make. Agencies use many techniques to see that policy is carried out. Sometimes they punish people and organizations who do not comply with policy. For example, a state can take a driver's license away from a bad driver. Or the government may offer incentives, like tax breaks for contributing to the presidential election campaign. They even appeal to people's better instincts, such as using the slogan, "Only you can prevent forest fires."
6. Evaluating the policy.
Policy makers often try to determine what a policy is actually accomplishing or whether or not it is being carried out efficiently. Often the evaluation process takes place over time with contributions from many of the interacting players. Most evaluations call for some degree of change and correction, and inevitably, at least some of the players will disagree. The whole process then begins again, starting with re-recognition of the problem.
Decision-making, then, is a continuous process with numerous people participating. At any given time, government is at various stages of policy-making in a never-ending quest to provide solutions to countless societal problems
PolicymakingJade Kruse x
In the making of political decisions in the United States it takes interaction from: Congress, the President, the Cabinet, advisers, agency bureaucrats, federal and state courts, political parties, interest groups, and the media. With so much interaction, policy makers often try to determine if the initial motive is being pursued. Evaluating the policy takes time as there are often many different ideas from a variety of participating groups. Many of the policies undergo a revise and revision period; however, just like any large discussions debating important things there are always some parties that do not agree. After the problem has been identified and a tentative policy has been drafted the groups then go back and revisit the problem to make sure that their policy will work. This process is a lengthy one that is always being revised and revisited among the groups helping to form the policy. There are always problems arising among the society thus there is always a need for policy making. Throughout the year the groups are continuously trying to provide answers for the numerous problems that arise throughout society.
Although the courts are sometimes required to insure that the policies are being carried our correctly, the majority of public policies are supported by administrative agencies within the executive branch. There are many ways in which to insure a policy is carried out the way the agency wants it to be. Punishment may be inflicted onto those who do not comply with what the agencies are looking for or asking of them. They also like to come up with catchy slogans and propaganda to sway people into backing their policy. States have their own ways of making the policies that they to want happen, a reality. They can offer incentives for backing a certain policy or financial aid for helping to back and support what they want to accomplish from a policy. One way or another an agency is going to accomplish what they want and make sure that the policy that they believe in becomes a reality. In all politics it common for there is usually an alternative motive that drives the agency to push harder and make sure the policy is accepted.
Before the acceptance of policies can be made various plans are presented. Congress has to pass a law to put the policy in action. With the Supreme Court’s approval the president signs an executive order to adopt a new policy. Small steps and long periods of time are the key to building an intricate policy. Before making the policy it is important for the agency’s to set an agenda of the problems that the government wants to resolve. The agenda method is so important because there are usually so many problems that need solved that they must be prioritized. Interest groups, political parties, the media, and other branches of government primarily hold the power of decided which issues to be solve are more important and need to be taking care of soonest. With a new president in office or when the majority of Congress changes after election it is common for agendas the agenda to be revised and reshaped. Of course the agenda may be changed and re-prioritized do to a crisis out break such as natural disaster, depression, tragic accident or war.
Policymaking is a way for the government to visibly show that they are taking action with a goal in mind to deal with a problem, a issue or a situation in the country. Without our government going through this extraneous process of problem solving our country would not be as successful as it is today.
11. Policy Making: Political Interactions. American Government. Copyright 2008-2014 Owned by the Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia. Web. 20 February 2015
Politics and the Policymaking Process. My socialworklab. Web. 20 February 2015
Lacie Langhofer x
What does policy making even mean in terms of our national government? Does it mean the making of laws? Or does it mean setting precedents or traditions for years to come? Policy making can fit both of these questions. The definition according to collinsdictionary.com is, “the formulation of ideas or plans that are used by an organization or government as a basis for making decisions.” As the definition is quite broad, policy making in our federal government simply means, any actions made towards fulfilling answers and decisions.
Before the government goes about deciding and executing policies for the U.S citizens, problems or concerns must arise in order for them to do so. For a specific policy to be evaluated in goes through a series of steps. These steps are as follows: agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation, and termination.
Agenda building consists of finding a topic that America has felt a necessary action needs to be taken towards. Whether this be illegal immigration, or something as broad as crime on the streets. Another example of agenda building would be after a natural disaster such as an earthquake. Should citizens be allowed to rebuild there? Would it be a waste of money to rebuild for the chance another earthquake could strike?
Formulation as well as adoption simply means coming up with an approach to solving a problem. This allows for many branches of government, Congress, and even outside opposing groups to state their opinion on the matter in order to come up with an appropriate decision. Once a decision is made, the adoption process begins to take place. An adoption of a policy is final when Congress passes legislation.
The next step in policy making is the implementation process. A lot of times the implementation process is done not by those parties who originally adopted and built the policy, but by other institutions. For instance, if Congress passes a policy over a specific thing, it is up to the main organization to fulfill the rules and limitations regarding that policy.
The evaluation and termination process is the last step in policy making in our government. When the government officials evaluate the policy, it means they are examining it and overworking the fine details in order to carry on and implement the new policy. If, for some reason, there is a disagreement regarding the new policy, (which rarely, if ever happens) it is terminated and the process of policy making is repeated.
Policy making in our government does not necessarily have to be done by government officials themselves. Sometimes, outside opinions are welcome in order to get a chance to hear what the public thinks or feels about a certain situation. A lot of times, this can be considered Open Policy Making and can have along with it, a case study. For example, officials in the U.K decided to look into running a policy engagement campaign for a Dementia Challenge in partnership with an Alzheimer’s Society. They wanted to understand the views of the people to determine aspects in this policy dealing with dementia patients. These officials went about asking individuals on their thoughts about the matter. Asking, “How to care for people with dementia,” and, “how their careers could be improved,” and also, “how can we create dementia friendly communities?” By asking these questions in this case study, it proved to be helpful in implementing the appropriate needs for the patients and also the public.
Overall, policy making can be a long, tedious process. From agenda building, to formulation or adoption of the policy, and the evaluation, long hours are spent to ensure these policies are executed with the United States citizen’s best interest in mind.
By: Jessica Schwarzer x
When it comes to the laws and policies of the United States each were sought and thought out by the act of policymaking. Policymaking is the forming of ideas or plans by an organization or the government as a basis when making decisions. Policymaking is a long process that comes with many steps, which includes agenda building, formulation, adoption, implementation, evaluation and termination. Each step is very complex in how it is accomplished and each a great amount of time to complete throughly. Without policymaking, many issues in the United States that extend from industrial tariff to simple citizen aid after a disaster, would not be settled.
Before policymaking comes into play, an issue worth fixing must be present. This issue has to be brought forth and introduced to the government. Whether it be that a citizen does not feel safe at a city park in a neighborhood full of crime, to a vast amount of citizens requesting aid for a natural disaster that they believe the government is not helping out with. One must prove that there is an immense danger or issue going on so much so that the government needs to step in and create a policy to end this issue. These issues are ones that citizens believe need to be fixed in order for one to feel comfortable in the nation they live in. Agendas of the government include issues that the government must fix to maintain a vital community. Once the government deems that an issue is worth fixing, then policymaking is finally put into play.
The next step and most important in policymaking is the formulation and adoption of a policy. In formulation, an approach must be thought up and examined to value the worth of how it will work. This will be the solution to the problem. Congress, the executive branch, interest groups and the courts may be involved in the formation of a policy. Many contradictory proposals will be thrown at the policy to see if there are any weaknesses within the policy. After much review the policy is then put before Congress. The policy is then either adopted or not adopted by Congress. A policy is finally adopted once Congress passes legislation, the regulations become final, or the Supreme Court renders a decision in a case.
Once a policy is adopted, implementation takes place. Implementation is simply the carrying out and continuation of a policy. Institutions and parties that did not formulate or adopt this policy are often the ones that are implementing the policy. Many problems can arise for there are hardly any set rules on how to follow through on implementing policies. Some policies bringing more uproar than others, causing a few problems within the policy that must be fixed over time with the implementation step of policymaking.
The last step in policymaking is the evaluation and termination of policies. As common sense would know, evaluation is simply determining if a policy is working or not. This can become a difficult task to say the least. Analysis’ are done by many people whether they are within or not within the government. These people view if the expenditures the government is spending on policies is worth it. If a policy is deemed unworthy of doing its job it comes down to terminating it. Terminating policies can be an even more difficult process. This is due to the fact that there were weaknesses within the policy that were overlooked when going before Congress. Money could’ve been greatly wasted and this is never good. Policies that are an absolute fail are a given to be terminated.
Inside of all the laws and policies an American citizen deals with daily during their life is the great working of how each was made. To have a law or policy made there must be an issue to be assessed and fixed. The United States government works hard in finding every possible way to make the lives of its citizens more comfortable and proud to live in its great nation.
Justin Underwood x
Freedom Of Speech
The first amendment of the United State Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the first amendment from interference by state governments. Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.
Despite popular misunderstanding the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the first amendment is not very different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows an individual to express themselves through publication and dissemination. It is part of the constitutional protection of freedom of expression. It does not afford members of the media any special rights or privileges not afforded to citizens in general. The right to assemble allows people to gather for peaceful and lawful purposes. Implicit within this right is the right to association and belief. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities. The right to associate also prohibits the government from requiring a group to register or disclose its members or from denying government benefits on the basis of an individual's current or past membership in a particular group. There are exceptions to this rule where the Court finds that governmental interests in disclosure/registration outweigh interference with first amendment rights. The government may also, generally, not compel individuals to express themselves, hold certain beliefs, or belong to particular associations or groups. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action. It works with the right of assembly by allowing people to join together and seek change from the government.
**Differences between the House and the Senate.
Katie Fleener** x
Washington asked Jefferson, "Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?" "To cool it," replied Jefferson. "Even so," said Washington, "we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it." A famous (though perhaps fictional) simile often quoted to point out the differences between the House and Senate involves an argument between George Washington, who favored having two chambers of Congress and Thomas Jefferson, who believed a second chamber to be unnecessary.
American Congress is bicameral meaning that they have two parts to house. Congressional power is extensive and very clearly defined in the Constitution. Constitution mandates a census every 10 years. The House of Representatives and Senators reflect different national priorities. The populists appreciate how responsive the House is, while, the advocates appreciate the stability embrace of the senate.
The powers expressed in the Constitution are the Founder’s belief that the power be shared among all the units of the Government. With the two chambers when both of them have positive votes then it is approved to legislation. That is their way of Checks and Balances. The House usually takes a day to pass a vote while the senate takes a week sometimes two or three weeks. The House votes reflect on how it will affect their district of the people they are representing while the Senate thinks about how it will affect the country as a whole.
In the House you have to be at least 25 years old and you go for a two year session. While in the Senate you have to be at least 30 years old and you go for a six year session. There is 435 voting members in the House while in the Senate there is 100. The Senate is two people per state, while the House is based on population and right now roughly each House representative represents about 700,000 people.
To delay bills that want to be passed the Senate can use either a Filibuster or they can even place a Legislative hold on the bill. The Senate reflects representation on smaller states. The House is very organized and has a clear set of rules and procedures to follow.
In the House there is 44 African Americans while in the Senate the past three African American Senators have represented Illinois. Obama was one of them and he left his spot two years into it to become President. In 2013 there had been a record of 20 women in the Senate. In the House there was 81 women representing in 2013. The House has a greater diversity in religious and professional representation.
Book: By The People Debating American Government- James A. Morone and Rogan Kersh
Steven Nelson x
Dontrell Lyons x
Kelsey Wilson x
Haley O'Neal-Spiess x
Jessica Schwarzer x
Deja Cato x
Savannah Gamble x
David Dickerson x
Justin Underwood x
Sarah Churchwell x
Growing up in a small tall town, you don’t usually get very much interaction in the subject of politics, my peers and I learned about if in school from grade to grade but not many of us were involved in any other way, shape, or form of it, at least until we became the legal age of 18. I was one of the first kids in my class to turn 18, which made me somewhat excited-I finally got to vote and that was something I guess I took pretty seriously even though I didn’t really know what I was suppose to do. Then it hit me; I knew exactly what to do. I remembered my upbringing in a conservative Republican family, I remembered my reason for becoming a conservative Republican, I remembered what that stood for, so once I remembered that it was easy to begin my voting process. My parents and I received our ballots in the mail and when we were ready we began to read them over individually at the kitchen table. I knew about most of the bills or issues that I may or may not have voted on due some research but with some of the officials that were being voted on, I needed my mom and dad’s trusted help. They informed me about Colorado’s state officials and our town-Burlington’s officials, what they were about or stood for, also what they wanted to accomplish in our town and state. Once I was informed, I continued the careful process of voting and before I knew it, I was finished and had voted for the first time in my life. We sealed up our ballots, drove down to the courthouse and turned our ballots into a drop box, which was set up outside of the courthouse. This was a really important thing that I’m glad that I got to experience.
Paige Graton x
Jade Kruse x
Katie Fleener x
Lacie Langhofer x
Tim Cubit x