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AMERICAN GOVERNMENT

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									AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
What is GOVERNMENT?
 Government is one of the oldest
      institutions on earth.

Enlightenment philosophers traced
 its origin to ancient Mesopotamia.

Theistic thinkers trace its origin to
  God’s early dealings with man.
 What we know for certain is that
early man felt a need to control – to
              govern –
           his actions.

From the earliest times, it appears
   that life without a controlling
      influence was, as British
 philosopher Thomas Hobbes later
    put it, “…nasty, brutish, and
                short.”
The 4th century B.C.
        Greek
     philosopher
      Aristotle –
   student of Plato
    and teacher of
    Alexander the
     Great – was
 among the first to
  ponder the origin
   and purpose of
     government.
He studied the polis
    – the ancient
  Greek city-state.

The English terms
   “politics” and
   “citizen” both
  derive from the
    Greek term
      “polis.”
The word “polis” is little remembered
today outside of academic circles.

We are more familiar with the more
modern terms “country” and “state” –
and we use them interchangeably.
        GOVERNMENT
 The institution through which
  the public policies of a state
    are made and enforced.

But this is the formal definition
        of government…
    We encounter many
“governments” in our lives…
Your Family

Schools

Jobs

Churches, Synagogues, Temples, and
Mosques
In each of these institutions, law (or
    rule) making and law (or rule)
          enforcing goes on.

   In other words, someone (or a
    group) acts as legislator (rule-
      maker) and executive (rule-
              enforcer.)
In this course, we will largely be
  speaking of government in its
     more formal sense – the
     institutions, offices, and
   individuals who govern us –
   and that as it pertains to the
     United States of America.
 Now, getting back to “countries”
         and “states”…

What political scientists and historians
 call the state is the dominant political
      institution in the world today.
              The state
   (from the Latin stare, “to stand”)

A political community that occupies a
 definite territory and has an organized
  government with the power to make
and enforce laws without approval from
             any higher power
There are close to 200 states in our world
   at the beginning of the 21st century.



      The United States of America
            is one of them.
Now lets look at each of the
  four characteristics of a
           state…
           Population

States are made up of people.

Some states have extremely large
populations, some extremely small.
  The largest state in the world
today in terms of population is…
      The People’s Republic of China




Population – Jan. 2009 – just over 1.3 billion
                   people.
The smallest state in the world in
    terms of population is…
          Vatican City




      Resident Population - 900
  What difference does the size of a
    country’s population make?

It can add to the number of problems
the country faces – overcrowding,
housing, food shortages, etc..

It can also be a source of political
instability, if the government doesn’t
deal with the problems effectively.
               Territory
States (countries) always have defined
borders, separating their territory from that
of other countries.

The boundaries of a state may be defined by
natural formations, such as oceans, rivers, or
mountain ranges.

They may also be defined simply by artificial
man-drawn lines on a map.
The territorial size of a state may
         be large or small.
The largest state in the world in
     terms of territory is…
            Russia




  Over 6,500,000 square miles
The territorial size of the United
             States…




   3,718,711 square miles
The smallest state in the world today in
        terms of territory is…
              Vatican City




                 Size?
          Just under 109 acres!
           Government
States must be organized politically,
which is to say that they have a formal
government structure.

States have different types of
governments based on their unique
historical experience.
          Sovereignty

The ability to make and enforce laws
           and to set policies
        without the approval
        of any higher power.
          In other words…
The Congress of the United States can pass
  laws and the President can sign them into
    law – or veto (reject) them – without the
      approval of the British or Canadian
  Parliaments, the Japanese Diet, the Israeli
                 Knesset, etc..


And – of course – those legislative bodies can do
   the same without our Congress’ approval!
Theories for the Origin of the State

       I. The FORCE Theory
    The first government emerged in
     prehistoric times when a strong
      man (or a group of strong men)
       rose up and forced his will on
     others with the threat of violence
                 and death.

    Source of power: Physical Strength
II. The EVOLUTIONARY Theory
    Some scholars believe that the
     state evolved from the family.

   Evolution in this context simply
     means change in a particular
               direction.

   The head of the primitive family
   was the authority that served as
           a government.
   An extended family might include
          hundreds of people.

     Abraham’s descendants in the
Torah, the Old Testament of the Bible, and
             the Koran are
    an example of the emergence of
             this kind of rule.

     Gradually, over time, the large
    extended family required a higher
      degree of social organization.
III. The DIVINE RIGHT Theory
Also called the Euro-Asian power model

   The idea that earthly rulers acquire
     their authority from God (or “the
      gods”) – and that God (or “the
    gods”) has chosen certain special
people to rule over others by “divine right”

            Important to many
  civilizations throughout human history
  The Egyptians had their Pharaohs.

   The Chinese had their Emperors.

        Europe had its Kings.

  Each were held to be men endued
   with power from on high to rule
             other men.

 They were believed to be “god-men” –
and to oppose them was to oppose God!
  (Or, at least, that’s what they wanted
         their subjects to believe!)
      Government = Powerful

      The People = Powerless

     The American Revolution
was fought in opposition to this idea!
And now we turn to the theory for
the origin of the state on which the
   Founding Fathers based our
              country…
The Social Contract Theory
Beginning in the 1600’s, Europeans
began to challenge rulers who believed
their authority came from God.

They were supported by the writings of
philosophers who believed that the
origin of the state was in a social
contract – an agreement among the
members of society.
The most important social contract
      philosophers were…

   Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
            of England

               and

 Jean Jacques Rousseau of France.
Thomas Hobbes’
great contribution
 to social contract
  theory came in
      his book
     Leviathan,
    published in
        1651.
 Hobbes wrote that
 early man lived in a
   state of nature.

  No government
      existed.

Without an authority
   to protect people
  from one another,
    life was “nasty,
 brutish, and short.”
 By social contract (an agreement among the
  members of society), people surrendered to
 the state the power needed to maintain order.

The state, for its part in the contract, agreed to
                protect the citizens.

But the state had absolute power over the lives
                  of the people.

  Once they surrendered their freedom, they
               were powerless.
…and Hobbes did not believe the people
 had any right to break the agreement.



He acknowledged no right of revolution.
John Locke took
     the social
    contract an
  important step
      further.
In 1688, the British
  Parliament forced
  King James II out
     of office and
   invited William
     and Mary of
   Orange to rule –
      an event in
    British history
    known as the
       Glorious
     Revolution.
In Two Treatises of
  Civil Government,
     published in
     1689, Locke
    defended the
   action taken by
   Parliament and
  went even further.
He wrote that people were naturally
   endowed with the right to life,
       liberty, and property.

These rights are born into us, Locke
                wrote.

They are part of our very nature as
          human beings.
To preserve these rights, people freely
contracted with one another to
surrender power to a governing
authority.

As long as the government fulfilled its
obligation to protect the natural rights
of the people, the people permitted it to
continue in power.
But, if government ever failed to
 protect the natural rights of the
people, the people had the right to
break the contract, abolishing the
           government.
         Nearly a century later,
   the American colonists revolted
            against the rule of
King George III of England, citing, in the
   Declaration of Independence, the
  political philosophy of natural rights
      that Locke had written about.
 The Sources of the Authority of Modern
             Government
(1) LEGITIMACY


 The willingness of people to obey the
   government.

   In democratic countries, the
   government’s legitimacy is based on
   the consent of the governed.
(2) COERCIVE FORCE

 Derives from the police, military, and
 judicial institutions of government.

 Government can force people to obey
 the law, by punishing them with fines,
 imprisonment, even death if they do not
 do so.
  Today governments in general serve
 several major purposes for the state…

(1) To maintain social order

(2) To provide public services

(3) To provide for national security and
   the common defense

(4) To provide for and control the
    economic system
The Framers of the Constitution listed the
purposes of American government in the
     PREAMBLE to the Constitution
  “We the People of the United States, in order to…”
1. Form a more perfect union
2. Establish justice
3. Insure domestic tranquility
4. Provide for the common defense
5. Promote the general welfare
6. Secure the blessings of liberty to
   ourselves and our posterity
  “…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
                United States of America.”
      Types of Government
    In order to study them, political
    scientists classify governments
    according to three criteria:
(1) Where is the power located?
(2) What is the relationship between the
    lawmakers (the legislative branch)
    and the law-enforcers (the executive
    branch)?
(3) How many govern?
The answers to these questions
   comprise various forms of
         government.
   Where Is Power Located?

  UNITARY GOVERNMENT

- A central or national government
     has supreme power.

- The central government may create
     lower levels to govern smaller
     units and may give those
     agencies limited powers.
 CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT
 (CONFEDERATION)

- A loose alliance of independent,
      sovereign states.

- The states may create a central
     government of strictly limited
     powers.
  FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

- The central government shares
    power with regional governments

- The United States Constitution
    created a federal system of
    government.
 What Is The Relationship Between The
 Lawmakers (Legislative) And The Law-
         Enforcers (Executive)?

  PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT
- The Executive (the Prime Minister
    and his or her Cabinet) – members
    of the Legislative Branch
    (Parliament)

- The Prime Minister : the leader of the
     majority party in the House of Commons
     in Parliament
 PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT

- The Chief Executive - the President –
    is elected separately from Congress
    and serves a separate term of
    office.
              How Many Govern?
    Political philosophers going back to
     Aristotle have identified five kinds of
                      rule:
(1) Rule of one : Autocracy
     – Monarchies and Dictatorships

(2) Rule of a few : Oligarchy

(3) Rule of “the many” : Democracy
     - Rule by majority

(4) Rule of Law : Republic
     - From the Latin res publica – the “public thing” (the
     Law)

(5) Rule of None : Anarchy
             AUTOCRACY:
              Rule By One
ABSOLUTE or TOTALITARIAN
DICTATORSHIP

- The oldest and one of the most
  common forms of government

- Sources of power: Force, Fear

- Most dictators seize power by force
 and hold on to their power through
 the ruthless use of the military or a
 secret police
- The ideas of the dictator are glorified.

- The government tries to control all aspects
  of social and economic life

- Exs. of totalitarian dictatorships:
   (1) Adolf Hitler – Nazi Germany
                      (1933-1945)
   (2) Benito Mussolini – Fascist Italy
                           (1922-1943)
   (3) Joseph Stalin – The Soviet Union
                          (1924-1953)
- Key ideas in a totalitarian dictatorship:

(A) The government is not responsible
       to the people



(B) The people can in no way limit
       their rulers
MONARCHY

- Source of power: Family bloodline,
                   inheritance

- Two types:
    (A) Absolute Monarchies
        - EX.: King Abdullah of
                Saudi Arabia
    (B) Constitutional Monarchies
        - EX.: Queen Elizabeth II
                of England
 But a pure AUTOCRACY where one
person truly rules alone is impossible!


Monarchs and Dictators must have the
help of others – vassals, lords, a secret
   police organization, a loyal military
 force, etc. – in order to rule a country!

   So true Autocracy, as a form of
   government, doesn’t really exist!
           OLIGARCHY:
           Rule By A Few
Sources of power: Wealth
                  Military Power
                  Social Position
                         or
                  A combination of
                     the three
                  Sometimes: religion
 - EXS.: today’s communist powers
           (such as CHINA)

 - Key idea: the claim of rule for the
                     people

An oligarchy is the only real way a King
    or Queen – or a Dictator – or the
  members of one political party – can
             rule a country.
  So OLIGARCHY, as a form of
government, is frequently found in
       history and today.
              DEMOCRACY:
             Rule By Majority

From the Greek language –
              demos = the people
   kratien = (plural form of krater) to rule

Aristotle coined the term demokratia to mean
the rule of the people. We have anglicized it
to democracy.

Key idea of democracy: the people hold
sovereign power
    In his Gettysburg Address,

   President Abraham Lincoln

     described democracy as

“…government of the people, by the
   people, and for the people…”
But two forms of DEMOCRACY have
 existed in history – and only one of
     them is practical as a form of
     government over a country –

        Rule by MAJORITY
 Two Forms of Democracy
Direct Democracy

- Suited only for small societies

- Exs.: New England town meetings
        The smaller states or cantons
          in Switzerland

                No country today
                   is ruled by
                direct democracy.
 Majority Rule

- Do we really have majority rule in the
 United States?

- Do we really want majority rule?
Well Known to the Founding Fathers:
  The Danger of Rule by Majority

The Founding Fathers called Democracy
“mobocracy” – the rule of the mob.

They knew that true majority rule can lead
very quickly to tyranny…
 - Either a “tyranny of the majority”
   or a dictator (or other tyrant) that
   the people turn to in order to have
   order and safety
The Founding Fathers saw DEMOCRACY as a
   transitional form between oligarchy and
                   anarchy.

They never intended the United States to be a
                DEMOCRACY.

 The word DEMOCRACY is not used at all in
     America’s Founding Documents (the
  Declaration of Independence and the U.S.
 Constitution) because the Founding Fathers
        never created a DEMOCRACY.
The Founding Fathers created the United
       States to be a REPUBLIC!

         How do we know that?

Because they told us over and over again
    in our Founding Documents that,
  nationally, we were to be a REPUBLIC
  and that “republican” government was
    guaranteed for each of the States.
      What is a REPUBLIC?


Republic - from the Latin res publica –
the “public thing” (the Law)



Republic – the Rule of LAW
 As Benjamin Franklin was leaving the
  final session of what has come to be
 called the Constitutional Convention, a
    woman stopped him on the street.

     She inquired of the great man,
“Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?”

           He responded,
“A Republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.”
We used to know this by heart!
It was discussed around our family supper
tables, celebrated in our literature, taught
very carefully in our schools.

We still are given the opportunity every
morning in this school to place our hands
over our hearts and pledge our personal
allegiance to our flag “…and to the Republic
for which it stands…”.
Why did the Founding Fathers draw such
a distinction between a democracy and a
                republic?


Because they knew a REPUBLIC – where
  the Law rules (not single leaders, nor
  small groups, nor even the majority) –
 offered the greatest possible protection
    for individual, personal LIBERTY!
 Characteristics of American
        Democracy
Individual Liberty
 - Not total freedom, but freedom
   within the law

Majority Rule but with protections for the
rights of the minority
 - The Founding Fathers knew that
   any majority can tyrannize a
    minority if minority rights are
     not protected
Free Elections
 - Everyone’s vote “weighted” equally
 - All candidates can freely express
   their views
 - Citizens are free to help candidates or
   support issues
 - Few legal requirements for voting

Competing political parties
 - What is a political party?
In human history, democracies have been rare.

                   WHY?

 Because they tend to devolve into anarchy.

    In addition, because what we know as
     democracy today appears to require a
   particular environment in which to develop
                   and flourish.
Five General Criteria Needed For
The Development Of Democracy

              #1

DEMOCRACY REQUIRES CITIZENS
     WHO ARE WILLING TO
   PARTICIPATE IN CIVIC LIFE.
                    #2

DEMOCRACY REQUIRES A FAVORABLE
           ECONOMY.

Democracy succeeds more in countries
without extremes of wealth and poverty and
that have a large middle class.
Democracy succeeds in an environment of
economic freedom (a free enterprise
economy).
Democracy succeeds more in countries with
stable, growing economies.
            #3

DEMOCRACY IS MORE LIKELY TO
  SUCCEED IN COUNTRIES WITH
   AN EDUCATED CITIZENRY.
                  #4

DEMOCRACY CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT
         A STRONG CIVIL SOCIETY,
     a complex network of voluntary
      associations, economic groups,
 religious organizations, and many other
          kinds of groups that exist
       independently of government.
                 #5

Democracy also prospers where there is
 a general CONSENSUS or agreement
 among the people about the social and
    political values and goals of the
                 society.

            Valence issues

             Wedge issues
        Economic Theories

Economics – the study of human
efforts to satisfy unlimited wants and
needs with limited resources.

The world’s three major economic
systems:
     A. Capitalism
     B. Socialism
     C. Communism
Five Characteristics of Capitalism

Private ownership of property and resources

Free enterprise

Business competition

Freedom of choice

The possibility of profits
Buyers and sellers have unlimited
freedom to make economic decisions
in a free market.

The government adopts a laissez-faire
(French: “Leave it alone”) policy.
No nation has a pure capitalist system.

The United States has a mixed economy in which
free enterprise, or capitalist practices, are combined
with and supported by government influences.

Major news sources, including Newsweek magazine,
have suggested that – since the economic downturn
last fall and the election of President Obama in
November – the economic direction we are taking is
more toward government control and farther away
from free enterprise.
                     Socialism
    Under socialism, the government owns the means
    of production and makes most economic
    decisions.

    Socialism has three goals:

(1) Public ownership of most land and
    the means of production

(2) Government control over most economic
    decisions

(3) Equal distribution of wealth
Socialists believe workers should share
equally in the benefits of production.

Opponents (like me) say that socialism
stifles individual initiative and hinders
economic growth through high taxes.
             Communism

Based on the conviction that history is a
    struggle between two classes –

 The bourgeoisie own the means of
 production and use their economic
 power to oppress the proletariat, or
 workers.
This struggle must end in violent revolution,
after which government owns the means of
production and distribution.

In time one class will evolve, property will be
held in common, and there will be no need
for government.

In a perfect communist system, Karl Marx
theorized, government would just “wither
away.”

In communist systems, as they exist today,
all economic decisions are made at the upper
levels of a very powerful national
government.

								
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