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Chapter One

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  1. Chapter One The Foundations of American Government

  2. What is Politics? • The struggle or process that people engage in to decide which members of society get certain benefits or privileges and which members of society are excluded from benefits or privileges

  3. What is Government? • An institution, or ongoing organization with a life over and above the lives of the individuals who are part of it at any given moment in time • The institution within which decisions are made that resolve conflicts or allocate benefits and privileges

  4. Why Do We Need Government? • Security • Order

  5. Types of Government • Totalitarian regime – rule by a small group or an individual dictator • Authoritarianism – only the government (not social and economic institutions) arefully controlled by the ruler • Oligarchy – rule by a few elites, who make decisions to benefit their own group • Aristocracy – initially rule by the best suited, which meant the wealthy, later it meant titled nobility • Democracy – political power is vested in the people • Direct democracy – when citizens vote directly on laws

  6. What Kind of Democracy Do We Have? • Majoritarianism – the political theory that, in a democracy, the government should do what the majority of the people want • Elite theory – the idea that society is ruled by a small group who exercise power in their self-interest • Pluralism – a theory that views politics as conflict among interest groups, where decisions are made through bargaining and compromise

  7. Fundamental Values • Liberty versus Order • Economic equality versus the Right to Property

  8. Ideology • A closely linked set of beliefs about the goal of politics and the most desirable political order • Liberalism advocates government action to improve the welfare of individuals, support for civil rights and tolerance for social change • Conservatism advocates a limited role for the government in helping individuals and support for traditional values and lifestyles

  9. Table 1-1: The Traditional Political Spectrum

  10. Figure 1-1: A Four-Cornered Ideological Grid

  11. Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources: • Book’s Companion Site: http://politicalscience.wadsworth.com/schmidtbrief2004 • Wadsworth’s Political Science Site: http://politicalscience.wadsworth.com • Government Resources on the Web: http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/govweb.html • Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy: http://www.puaf.umd.edu/IPPP