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Studying Texas Politics and Government

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  1. Studying Texas Politics and Government

  2. A Framework • Pulls together facts and places them in context • Explains the history of Texas politics and government • Results • An appreciation for Texas’s political past • A comprehension of contemporary politics and government • An understanding of change

  3. Components of the Framework • Conceptions of Politics and Government • Central Role of Ideas: The American Creed • Analyzing Politics • Individualism • Liberty • Equality • Analyzing Government • Constitutionalism • democracy • Analyzing Political Change

  4. Politics and Government • Politics involves “the authoritative allocation of values for a society.” • Government consists of those institutions and process for making public policy • Public policy is any government decision • Institutions include the structures of government that make the decisions • Processes include the way decisions are made

  5. American Creed • America was built on a set of ideas • These ideas have been strongly supported since the late 18th century • The ideas perform two functions: • Provide a national identity • Limit government

  6. Five ideas: Individualism • Most important and source for other ideas • Confirms the worth of each individual • Grants a person the right to pursue life, liberty and property free from social constraints • Allows person to act in accordance with his/her own conscience

  7. Five Ideas: Liberty • Different from individualism • Freedom from government • Disagreement over how much liberty a person should have • Conflict between liberty and social order

  8. Five Ideas: Equality • Greatest problem for Americans • Three meanings • Political equality • Economic equality • Social equality

  9. Five Ideas: Constitutionalism • Places limits on government • Contract among members of the political community • Provides the structure of government • Distributes the powers of government

  10. Five Ideas: Democracy • Rule by the people • Procedures for making decisions • How government decisions are made • Who participates in government decisions • How much weight is assigned to each participant’s preferences

  11. Conditions of Democracy: Fiskin • Political equality • Each person’s preferences given equal consideration, and each person has an equal opportunity to formulate his or her preferences • Nontyranny • Public policy must not infringe on the fundamental rights of any member of society.

  12. Conditions of Democracy • Participation • A significant percentage of the population is engaged in politics and government. • Deliberation • There is a meaningful discussion of political issues so that each person can make an informed choice on issues and candidate.

  13. Forms of Democracy & Conditions • Majoritarian democracy • Majority rules • Values majority rule; formal political equality • Direct or indirect • Protection of minority may present a problem

  14. Forms of Democracy & Conditions • Pluralist democracy • Interest-group democracy • Values protection of minority rights; representative government in diverse society; deliberation

  15. Institutions & Forms of Democracy • Majoritarian Democracy • Unification of authority; centralized politics • Institutions: executive and political parties • Separation of powers: undesirable • Judicial review: undesirable

  16. Institutions & Forms of Democracy • Pluralist Democracy • Separation of authority; decentralized politics • Institutions: legislature and interest groups • Separation of powers: desirable • Judicial review: necessary

  17. Non-democratic Alternative • Elitism • Power is concentrated and held by those who control the economy. • The conditions of democracy are not met. • Decisions made by the elite flow down to the masses, who do not influence those decisions. • Most politicians are merely intermediaries between the elites and the masses.

  18. Political Change • IvI Gap • Attempt to create institutions that reflect all five ideas • Impossible since the ideas are often in conflict • Creates a cognitive dissonance: discrepancy between what we believe (five ideas) and what we do (institutions)

  19. Factors Influencing Responses • Strength in belief in the ideal • Strong • Weak • Clarity of perception of the gap • Clear • Unclear

  20. Responses to the IvI Gap Perception of the Gap Clear Unclear Strong Strength of Belief in Ideal Weak

  21. Historical Responses to the IvI Gap • Moralism: 1965 – 1975, reaction to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Civil Rights Movement, Voting Rights, Women’s Movement • Cynicism: 1975 – 1980, removal of a president, war continued, improvement in many areas, gap was not eliminated. • Complacency: 1980s + • Hypocrisy: 1961- 1965, Kennedy’s inaugural address, Peace Corps,

  22. Factors Associated with Periods of Moralism (Creedal Passion) • Economic growth followed by downturn • Disparities in wealth in society • Large number of young people in society • Leadership—people who point out that America has not achieved the ideal