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Politics A primer. Primer: n. (prim- er or prahy-mer ) 1. Any book or study of elementary principles. Politics. Politics: n. ( pol-i-tiks )

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politics a primer

PoliticsA primer

Primer: n. (prim-er or prahy-mer)

1. Any book or study of elementary principles


Politics: n. (pol-i-tiks)

  • The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.

“Who gets what, when and how.”

-Harold D. Lasswell-


Politics: n. (pol-i-tiks)

“Politics is the art of the possible”

“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

--John Kenneth Galbraith--

first objective
First Objective
  • Be able to explain all four types of governmental systems as explained by Aristotle
  • Greek philosopher
  • Taught by Plato
  • Was 5’ 9” 156 lbs
  • Greek philosopher from 5th century BC
  • Listed several forms of government
  • For each form there is a positive and negative version
aristotle s types
Aristotle's types
  • A ruler (one)
  • Exclusive multiple rulers (few)
  • Inclusive multiple rulers (many)
  • Everyone rules (all)
a ruler
A ruler
  • Monarch, king
  • Tyrant, dictator
exclusive multiple
Exclusive multiple
  • Aristocracy (rule of the wise, sometimes used synonymous with plutocracy)
  • Oligarchy (rule of the strong)
  • Plutocracy (rule of the rich)
inclusive multiple
Inclusive Multiple
  • Republic (representative rule of the people)
  • Rotating: all citizens serve for a short time in government (farmer senator)
  • Elitist: small group of educated representatives who serve government as a career (lifetime senator)
everyone rules
Everyone rules
  • Democracy (people rule)
  • Mobocracy (anarchy)
baron de montesquieu
Baron de Montesquieu
  • Full name Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu
  • Born Jan 18 1689, died Feb 10 1755
  • Wife Jeanne de Latrigue
baron de montesquieu1
Baron de Montesquieu
  • Devised an idea of checks and balances in government
  • Three forms of government supported by a social principle
    • Monarchies (rely on principle of honor)
    • Republics (rely on principle of virtue)
    • Despotisms (rely on fear)
niccolo machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Author of The Prince
  • Machiavelli is associated with “dirty politics”
  • Name used as an adjective
    • Example: “That was a Machiavellian take over.”
  • Quotes;
    • “The ends justify the means”
    • “It is better to be feared than loved”
  • Quotes:
    • “A prince should imitate the lion and the fox. The fox recognizes the trap; the lion frightens the wolves.”
    • By no means can a prudent ruler keep his word. Because [all men] are bad and do not keep promises to you, you likewise to do not have to keep your promises to them.
second third objectives
Second/Third Objectives
  • Explain why political philosophers theorized a state of nature
  • What is the social contract? Where did it come from? And why does it matter?
state of nature
State of Nature
  • Political philosophers created this theory to explain why government is necessary
  • Dealt with what life would be like without government/laws
    • Who would enforce laws?
    • Would there be laws?
    • Who would look out for the weak?
    • Who would rule?
    • Would there be order?
social contract
Social Contract
  • People give up absolute freedom to gain protection, order, other freedoms
  • Government gains power/authority by agreeing to honor certain rights and provide protection
  • This creates a contractual relationship between the people and the government
  • Contract: agreement between two entities in which both sides agree to give up certain things in order to gain other things
social contract theory
Social Contract Theory
  • Government derives a mandate from the masses, not from some ceremony
  • Government “of the people”
  • Source: Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
thomas hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
  • Leviathan
  • All people are selfish
  • In the absence of authority (state of nature) people will turn on each other
  • Life will be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
  • Famously lampooned in Calvin & Hobbes comic strip
john locke
John Locke
  • Two Treaties of Civil Government
  • Put forward the Social Contract idea
  • “The great chief end of men uniting…under government is the preservation of their property [and so, their natural rights].”
  • Natural Rights: Life, Liberty and Property
locke s theory
Locke’s Theory
  • To protect natural rights they form government
  • State of nature existed before government
  • People had total freedom
  • But no protections for Natural Rights
  • If government does not protect these rights they have an obligation to dissolve the government
fourth objective
Fourth Objective
  • Explain the Founders view of democracy.
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Adhered to Locke’s philosophy
  • Changes Life, Liberty and Property, to Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
founders and framers
Founders and Framers
  • The founders were classically trained
  • Were fearful of tyrants
  • They were also fearful of the people
  • Democracy was thought to be the most dangerous form of government
democracy is bad
Democracy is bad?
  • Famous Quotes:
    • “A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments.” Aristotle
    • “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson
democracy is bad1
Democracy is bad?
  • Famous Quotes:
    • “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” John Adams
    • “Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship.” Alexander Hamilton
  • Not exactly a ringing endorsement
democracy is bad2
Democracy is bad?
  • Contemporary quotes:
    • “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill
    • “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Churchill
    • “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” Louis L’Amour
    • “Democracy is dumb.” Kevin Barrows
robert dahl s criteria for an ideal democracy
Robert Dahl’s criteria for an ideal democracy
  • Equality in voting
  • Effective participation
  • Enlightened understanding
  • Citizen control of the agenda
  • Inclusion
    • majority rule + minority rights
fifth objective
Fifth Objective
  • Explain the theories of our democracy and how the Founders made sure we had “just the right amount of democracy” in our system of government
theories of democracy
Theories of Democracy
  • Pluralist: numbers of groups that are similar who press the government to look after their interests
  • Elitist: small group makes most important decisions (also called power elite)
    • Three groups corporate heads, key military leaders, some key government leaders
  • Bureaucratic: those who operate the government agencies really manage society
  • Marxist: all power is a result of economic privilege or status
  • Majoritarian: people as a whole vote on everything
we the distrusted people
We the distrusted people
  • Did the Founders trust us?
  • The Constitution shows the Framers basic distrust of the people
    • Electoral College
    • Unelected Judicial Branch
    • Senators appointed by the states (originally, changed by 17th amendment)