An Introduction to Government in America. The Problems. Our Meaning of Government…. Government is an institution that makes authoritative decisions a given society
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Government in America
The government certainly
has an extensive impact on
our lives, but we also have
a similar impact on our
government as well
Politics Policymaking System
People have interests, problems, & concerns
Linkage Institutions get involved – the media, political parties, and interest groups run w/ those concerns
The Policy Agenda is set – public officials and others given an issue attention
Political Issues take over – the issue arises and people disagree about it and how to fix it
Policymaking institutions get involved – Congress, the President, the Courts
Public Policy is established – laws, budgets, rules (Social Sec., Food and Drug Administration, etc.)
The Impacts of the policies must be viewed: (1) Does it solve the problem? (2) Does it create more problems?
Depending on the answer, the policy can cause the cycle to repeat itself as it returns to the concerns of the people
The system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the preference of the public
The people being gathered to discuss and vote on decisions made by government
Used in ancient Athens and in some small New England communities today
The people elect representatives to run the government and express their beliefs
State governments are an example – people have power of initiatives, referendums, and recalls
Our national government is actually a republic – power rests with the elected officials, not the people
Equality in Voting
A principle of “one person, one vote” --- doesn’t have to be universal, but should be representative
Citizens must have enough and equal opportunities to express their preference
A free press and free speech are essential to foster civic understanding
Citizen Control of Agenda
Citizens should have the collective right to control the government’s policy agenda
The government must extend rights to all of the people
The fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory, meaning that choosing among alternatives must have a majority of the votes
The principle of traditional democratic theory (1) guaranteeing rights to those not in the majority & (2) they may have become the majority through persuasion & reason
Another part of the theory is the characteristic of representation --- the relationship between the few leaders and the many followers
An overall set of values widely shared within a society
Liberty – The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life
Egalitarianism – Upholding the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political, social, and economic equality
Individualism – Anyone can work hard and get ahead on their own, (1) social theory advocating liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual, (2) the principle, habit of, or belief in an independent through or action, (3) the pursuit of individual rather than common of collective interests (egoism)
Laissez-Faire – government upholds the autonomous character of economic order, believing that government should intervene as little as possible in the direction of economic affairs
Populism – representation of the common person, the working class, the underdog, etc.
Liberals argue that they protect the “little man” by using the government to create laws to protect them; Conservatives argue they protect the “little man” by keeping government off of their backs…Both are correct and use this safe strategy in American politics
Is the government, or you as an individual, the most important factor in helping to solve your problem?
Our governments today account for 1/3 of the nation’s GDP
Our government employees over 24 million people
Our government spends $3.8 trillion each year, much of which directly and indirectly impacts its citizens
Our government owns 1/3 of all of the land in the United States
Our government currently runs a national debt that is over $17 trillion…and growing
Where do we draw the line and say it is too much?
When does the gov’t have to protect the rights of the minority?
Does the expansion of the power and responsibility of government contract our liberty as individuals?
Is the wisdom of millions of Americans more important than a single government employee?