Constitutional Underpinnings

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Constitutional Underpinnings

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1. Constitutional Underpinnings What is politics?

2. Word Association What words come to mind when you hear the word “politics”? Does the word have a more positive or negative connotation?

3. Machiavelli Machiavelli’s name is synonymous with tough and dirty politics Author of The Prince. One of history’s first political scientists.

4. Machiavelli Quotes “The ends justify the means.” “It is better to be feared than loved.” “By no means can a prudent ruler keep his word. Because all men are bad and do not keep promises to you, you likewise do not have to keep your promises to them.”

5. Can we be hopeful about politics?

6. A neutral view of politics Harold D. Lasswell Who gets what, when, and how. (and where) All of us are political, we’re just not used to calling it that. You don’t have to take a class to get politics. Aristotle was correct when he wrote, “Man is by nature a political animal.”

7. State of Nature game Why were teams successful? Was it strategy or an unfair advantage? How would the outcome be different if teams were not allowed to attack, only invest?

8. Social Contract Theory “The only valid government is one based on the consent of the governed.” - Locke Rulers and citizens enter into an agreement, or a social contract Government by the people, masses

9. Locke’s influence on the US “A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another… - John Locke, of Civil Government “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal.” - Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

10. Political Power Power – ability of one person to cause another person to act in accordance Authority – right to use power Legitimacy – what makes the law or leader a source of “right”

11. Pick the illegitimate leader!!!

12. What makes a Democracy? Principles necessary for a democracy to exist. Universal suffrage (everyone vote) Political Equality (all votes counted equally) Majority Rule Government responds to public opinion

13. Can uneducated/poor people be trusted? Direct Democracy – citizens create/vote on laws Problems 1. Impractical for reasons of time, expertise How do you get 300 million people to vote multiple times per day on issues they no nothing about? 2. Masses of people make unwise decisions based on emotions (Hitler was elected) “The masses are turbulent and changing and seldom judge or determine right.” -Alexander Hamilton

14. Representative Democracy (Republic) Citizens elect representatives Gov’t MEDIATES popular views “Will of the people” ? “Common interest” EX. Lower gas prices, minority rights Reps are educated on issues at hand Prevents fast, sweeping change Minority rights more likely to be protected

15. Theories explaining how democracies ACTUALLY function

16. Democracy Theory Test What theory is supported by the fact that… The US holds mainly elections where the person who receives the most votes wins. Most US representatives are upper class people. The President appoints hundreds of people for gov’t jobs or judgeships, all have special powers. Interest groups spend millions of dollars toward campaigns of favored candidates. Gov’t can call for referendums, or votes by the people to pass or strike down potential laws. The candidate who raises the most money for an election almost always wins.

17. Pluralism Modern society consists of many groups (ex. Economic, religious, cultural, ethnic.) that compete with each other to achieve goals Groups that influence gov’t, work hard, and have largest membership get what they want Even if the average citizen does not keep up with politics, their interests will be protected by their group. Groups must COMPROMISE to achieve goals

18. Arguments for and against the Pluralist view Relatively low numbers of people join interest groups. Poor citizens have less opportunity to join interest groups or contribute to them. One can’t assume that group decisions are always in the best interest of the nation.

19. Marxist Theory (Elite) Control the economic system = control the political system. Politicians require massive funding to win elections, and rely on corporations to supply them.

20. A Reminder… These are only theories. They are people’s perception of our democracy and the way it functions. Which theory is correct??? Pluralist – most popular today Majoritarian – popular pre-1950’s Elite – rising since the 80’s (Michael Moore) Bureaucratic – gov’t spending more than ever before just to run itself

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