Introducing Government in America
1. Students will be able to distinguish among the fundamental concepts of government, politics, and public policy. 2. Students will understand how government, politics, and public policy are interrelated. 3. Students will be able to ascertain how people can influence the government's policy agenda. 4. Students will be able to describe the basic concept of the policymaking system. 5. Students will be able to determine the essential principles of traditional democratic theory. 6. Students will examine the three contemporary theories of American democracy: pluralism, elite and class theory, and hyperpluralism. 7. Students will be able to discuss and analyze the challenges to democracy presented in the text. 8. Students will be able to address the issue of the scope of government and explain how the scope of government is relevant to an understanding of democracy. 9. Students will be able to describe how liberals and conservatives differ in their positions concerning the appropriate role and scope of government. 10. Students will be able to understand the importance of individualism in limiting the scope of American government. 11. Students will begin to assess the two questions that are central to governing and that serve as themes for this textbook: How should we be governed? and What should government do?
I. Two Central Questions for Governing
A. this chapter will introduce three important concepts: government, politics, and public policy B. two fundamental questions about governing that will serve as themes throughout this book:
1. How should we govern?
a. this book will examine the workings of democratic government, evaluate the way that American government actually works compared to the standards of an "ideal" democracy, and continually ask the question "Who holds the power and who influences the policies adopted by government?"
2. What should government do?
a. this book will explore the relationship between how American government works and what the government does b. debates about the scope of government are among the most important in political life II. Government and Politics
1. government, politics, and policymaking are interrelated 2. Government: the institutions that make authoritative decisions, or public policies, that apply to all of society 3. our government consists of four groups: Congress, the president, the courts, and federal administrative agencies (often referred to as bureaucracy) a. also there are thousands of state and local governments that make polices affecting us b. there are approximately 500,000 elected officials in the United States c. policies that affect us are being made almost constantly
B. Functions of Governments
1. Regardless of how they assumed power, all governments have these five central functions in common a. Maintaining a national defense: usually maintained by armed forces 1. the United States spends around $275 billion a year on national defense b. Providing public services: schools, libraries, weather forecasting, highways, public parks 1. Public Goods: services that can be shared by everyone and cannot be denied to anyone c. Preserving order: governments must have police power to provide order to society d. Socializing the young: most modern governments pay for education and use it to develop support for national principles among the young 1. practices such as the Pledge of Allegiance seek to foster patriotism and love of country e. Collecting taxes: governments need to collect money to pay for the public goods and services that it provides
1. Politics: the way government makes decisions about public polices is through politics a. determines whom we will select as our government leaders and what polic...