unit i notes basic concepts of american democracy
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Unit I Notes Basic Concepts of American Democracy. What is government?. That complex of offices, personnel, and processes by which a state is ruled. The earliest evidence of government dates back to Egypt more than 2,500 years ago. Why is government necessary?. People need rules and laws.

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what is government
What is government?

That complex of offices, personnel, and processes by which a state is ruled.

The earliest evidence of government dates back to Egypt more than 2,500 years ago.

why is government necessary
Why is government necessary?

People need rules and laws.

People need order

People need organization

People need services

People need protection

how does american government impact our daily lives
How does American government impact our daily lives?

Imposing taxes

Regulating trade

Requiring school attendance

Passing and enforcing labor laws

Funding the military

Regulating air and water quality

what is public policy
What is public policy?

All the things that a government chooses to do.


Guaranteeing free speech and press

Imposing income taxes

Funding the space station

No pass-No play

Setting minimum wage

three branches of american government
Three branches of American Government

Executive: President and Cabinet: Power to enforce law

Legislative: Congress: Power to make law , tax, and spend

Judicial Branch: Supreme Court and Federal Courts: Power to interpret laws and the Constitution

what is a constitution
What is a constitution?

A fundamental set of laws setting out the principles , powers, and structures of a government.

what is politics
What is politics?

The process by which a society decides how powers and resources will be distributed within that society.

Who gets what!

what is a state
What is a state?

A body of people organized politically who are sovereign.

four characteristics of a state
Four Characteristics of a state

Population Territory

Government Sovereignty


Human inhabitants


Defined borders


Creator and enforcer of public policy and law.


Absolute and supreme power within the borders of a state. No outside forces make and enforce law and policy.

state v state
state v. State

A state has all 4 characteristics. (USA)

A State has no sovereignty. (Texas)

If you know the location of sovereignty, you can determine a state’s form of government.

four theories of the origin of the state government
Four theories of the origin of the state (government):

Divine Rights of Kings Theory

Evolution Theory

Force Theory

Social Contract Theory

divine right theory
Divine Right Theory

God grants certain people the right to rule. Power is derived from religion and birth.


evolution theory
Evolution Theory

Government evolved gradually over time from family, to Clan, to Tribe, to government.


force theory
Force Theory

Government begins by force or military might.


social contract theory
Social Contract Theory

Government begins when people agree to form a state by giving up some of their freedom in exchange for protection.


philosophers of the social contract theory
Philosophers of the Social Contract Theory

*John Locke *

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Henri, The Baron deMontesquieu

Thomas Hobbes

James Harrington

basic principles of the social contract theory
Basic Principles of the Social Contract Theory

Man is born in a “State of Nature”

Man lives under the “Law of Nature”

Man chooses to form a government for protection

Man must give up some rights in exchange for protection

If government fails to protect the rights of the people, the people have the right to choose a new government.

the social contract theory if the basis for thomas jefferson s declaration of independence
The Social Contract Theory if the basis for Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

The SIX basic democratic ideas borrowed from John Locke :

“All men are created equal..”

“they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights..”

“that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

“governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..”

“that whenever any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…”

“…and to institute new government…”

classical forms government 1 absolute monarchy
Classical Forms Government: 1. Absolute Monarchy

A political system in which “one man” has hereditary rule . No other institutions of government exist.


2 dictatorship
2. Dictatorship:

A political system in which an individual or small group hold absolute political power.


3 feudalism
3. Feudalism

A political system based upon the rule of local lords bound to a king by the ties of loyalty and land. A hierarchy of titles and land determined power.


4 democracy
4. Democracy

A political system based upon the consent of the people in which rights are guaranteed by the government to all people.


5 aristocracy
5. Aristocracy

A political system in which power is distributed based upon noble birth and title.


6 oligarchy
6. Oligarchy:

A political system in which only a few people have power, usually those who have been “chosen”.


7 facism

A political system in which the government has absolute power based upon a belief in nationalism and military might.


8 anarchy
8. Anarchy

A political system in which there is no government, rule, or law.


9 tribal government
9. Tribal Government:

A political system in which all economic resources are collectively owned and people owe allegiance t o a chief or leader.

three classifications of government
Three Classifications of Government

Geographic Distribution of Power

Number of people who may participate

Relationship between legislative and executive branches

1 unitary system of government
1. Unitary System of Government

A political system in which all power belongs to the national government.


advantages to unitary government
Advantages to Unitary Government:

Uniform system of law nation-wide.

No power struggle between the national and local governments.

Less expensive government.

disadvantages to unitary government
Disadvantages to Unitary Government

No local government.

Only a few people have law-making power for the nation.

No diversity of law.

federal system of government
Federal System of Government

A political system in which power is constitutionally divided between the National government and State governments with the National government supreme.


advantages to federal systems of government
Advantages to Federal Systems of Government

Allows for regional differences in law.

Divided power allows for more people to have a voice in law making.

National supremacy helps to create national identity.

disadvantages of federal government
Disadvantages of Federal Government

Multiple, often wasteful levels of government make government more expensive.

Confusion about the law

Conflict between National, State, and local government over power.

confederate system of government
Confederate System of Government

A political system in which power is constitutionally divided between the national government and the States with the States having supremacy.


advantages of confederate government
Advantages of Confederate Government

Allows for regional differences

Local officials are primarily responsible for government decision-making.

Limited national government ($)

disadvantages of confederate government
Disadvantages of Confederate Government

Little or no national power or identity.

States in conflict over power.

No one person is in charge of the nation.

parliamentary government
Parliamentary Government

A form of government in which the legislative branch (Parliament) is dominant and chooses the Executive.


characteristics of parliamentary government
Characteristics of Parliamentary Government

Three interdependent branches

Legislature is dominant

No fixed terms of office

No separation of powers

Prime Minister is chosen by Parliament from Parliament

Only Parliament is directly elected by the people

advantages of parliamentary government
Advantages of Parliamentary Government

Government can act very quickly

Very little conflict between the branches

No expensive national election for Prime Minister

disadvantages of parliamentary government
Disadvantages of Parliamentary Government

Taxes and laws may pass too quickly

Prime Minister may be fired by Parliament without cause

Political instability can lead to economic instability

presidential government
Presidential Government

A form of government which has 3 independent branches.


characteristics of presidential government
Characteristics of Presidential Government

Three, separate, equal branches of government

Fixed terms of office (Exec and Leg Branches)

Separation of Powers

Checks and Balances

Legislature directly elected by the people

Executive elected indirectly by the people and independent of the Legislature

advantages of presidential government
Advantages of Presidential Government

Each branch has set powers

Checks and Balances prevents abuses of power

Executive is independent of Legislative

disadvantages of presidential government
Disadvantages of Presidential Government

President and Congress are designed to be in conflict

Law-making is difficult and lengthy

No one has all the power or responsibility all the time

democratic government
Democratic Government

A form of government in which the people are sovereign.


characteristics of democracy
Characteristics of Democracy

Government is chosen by the people in competitive elections

Personal liberties are guaranteed by the government

Equality before the law

advantages of democratic government
Advantages of Democratic Government

High level of freedom for all people

People have a choice in government

No one is above the law

disadvantages of democratic government
Disadvantages of Democratic Government

Everyone has the same rights, even “bad” people

Conflict over rights

Change takes a long time

two kinds of democracy
Two kinds of Democracy :

Direct or Pure Democracy: everyone votes on all laws themselves

Republic or Indirect Democracy: people elect representative to make the laws


A form of government in which power is held by one person or a small group of people and the people have few rights.


advantages to dictatorship
Advantages to Dictatorship

Change can take place very quickly

Little conflict over rights

All decisions are made for the people by the government.

disadvantages of dictatorship
Disadvantages of Dictatorship

People have few or no rights

Governments regulates personal lives

Government officials have more rights

types of dictatorship
Types of Dictatorship

Totalitarian: government has absolute and unchallenged power

Authoritarian: government has total control over all aspects of the peoples’ lives

how can i tell if my country is really a democracy
How can I tell if my country is REALLY a Democracy?

Is there a written constitution?

Do all adults have the right to vote?

Are there regularly scheduled elections?

Are there secret ballots?

Are there REAL choices on the ballot?

Do people have the right to protest and criticize?

Do the people have religious freedom?

Does the government have to answer to the people?

five principles of american democracy
Five Principles of American Democracy

Fundamental Worth of the Individual

Equality of All Persons

Majority Rule Restrained by Minority Rights


Individual Liberty

economic systems
Economic Systems

An economic system is an organized way of providing goods and services to society.

It is NOT the same thing as a form of government!


An economic system based on the private ownership of property, the profit motive, and economic freedom.

Created by Adam Smith is his book The Wealth of Nations, 1776


characteristics of capitalism
Characteristics of Capitalism

Private ownership of property

Limited government intervention in the economy

Government support of entrepreneurship

Consumer protection is limited

Freedom of economic choice

Government subsidies of business

Government uses taxes to provide some services

Government provides limited social services to some people

advantages of capitalism
Advantages of Capitalism

People have economic choices

Freedom of mobility

The market sets prices and supply

Government supports innovation

Profits and incomes are unlimited !

disadvantages of capitalism
Disadvantages of Capitalism

Only productive people are rewarded

Limited social services are provided only to the neediest members of society

Government uses personal income to support business



An economic system in which private ownership of property is combined with public ownership(gov’t).

First created by Aristotle about 400 BCE

Sometimes called democratic socialism

characteristics of socialism
Characteristics of Socialism

Nationalization of major industries

Workers have direct role in economic decisions of nation (vote)

Government central planning regulates the economy

High taxes to re-distribute wealth

Extensive social services for all citizens

advantages of socialism
Advantages of Socialism

Government provides all with necessities of life

Everyone has benefits

Government can control the economy

disadvantages of socialism
Disadvantages of Socialism

No incentive to work harder

Limited economic choice

Entrepreneurship not rewarded

Taxes are VERY high (80%+)


An economic system characterized by collective ownership of all resources and the absence of private property and social classes.

Created by Karl Mark and FredrichEngles in their book Das Capital, 1865


characteristics of communism
Characteristics of Communism

Nationalization of all businesses

Government controls the economy

Economic freedom is non-existent

Limited social services are provided to all

Profits are illegal

Repressive political system is required to achieve economic equality

advantages of communism
Advantages of Communism

Everyone is economically equal

Everyone’s needs are provided by the government

Everyone has a job

Government can change economic priorities quickly

disadvantages of communism
Disadvantages of Communism

No incentive to work hard

Very limited economic choices

Only needs are provided

No economic mobility