Chapter 1:Introduction to American Government • “We have so many young people who feel apathetic and critical and cynical about anything having to do with politics.” • -John Glenn • This is in the introduction of chapter 1 in your textbook. • Aren’t you excited about government now?! • Do we agree with Mr. Glenn? Or, is he just a bitter old man? Why do you think he feels this way?
Blame T.V.? • Lots of statistics back up a lack of political participation and interest among those under 25. • This age demographic appears to be disinterested in American politics. • Lowest voter turnout rate. • Why do you think this is? • Have the reasons changed?
What are Politics? • Who we elect as government leaders • & • What policies these leaders pursue and what laws they pass (or don’t).
Politics…(another definition) • “Who gets what, when, and how.”
Political Participation • This is how we get involved with our government. • How so? • Voting; although the U.S. has a very low voter turnout rate (~60% for presidential elections). • Running for office. • Joining an interest group; many of which are single-issue groups. • What’s an interest group?
The Cycle of Policy & Government • 1. Issues arise in society, • 2. attention is paid to them via media and interest groups(known as linkage institutions). • 3. they become part of the political agenda, • 4. are dealt with in the various policy institutions (Congress, Prez., Courts). • 5. become policy (sometimes), • 6. and then take affect upon society.
Public Policy • Any law, budget, court ruling handed down by the government. • more essential definitions from Chapter 1… • Democracy= system of government reflecting citizens preferences (of the people)... • United States is a Representative Democracy. • What does that mean?
Principles of Democracywhat needs to happen in order for democracy to function? • Equality in voting- • Opportunity to participate- • Understanding; done through free speech and press- • Citizen control of the political agenda- • Inclusion; a balance of majority ruleand minority rights.
Theories of Democracyhow do policies actually get introduced and made? • 1. Pluralism: groups with shared interests organize and influence public policy equally. • 2. Elitism (Elite & Class theory): Our government is heavily influenced by the wealthy. • 3. Hyperpluralism: the influence of groups is so strong that it causes our government to stall and not get anything accomplished.
Challenges to Democracywhat stalls policy? • Expertise of those with a voice. T.V. commentators, pundits, hosts, etc. • Many Americans receive information through these outlets, but is it correct? • Limited participation. • Low participation among Americans; distrustful and don’t feel represented. • Campaign costs $$$ • Who can afford to run for office? • Diverse political interests • Conflicting ideas result in policy gridlock.
Key Aspects of American Political Culture what political values are shared by Americans? • LIBERTY • EGALITARIANISM • INDIVIDUALISM • LAISSEZ-FAIRE • POPULISM • What do these concepts mean? • Do they hold true for all people today? Through history?
Fun with Statistics about the U.S. Government • our government will spend this much in 2013 • Our government employs 2 million people • Our government owns 1/3 of the land in the U.S. • Our government occupies 2.6 billion square feet of office space across the U.S. • Our government owns/operates 400,000 non-military vehicles.