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Political Studies
Undergraduate 1

Additional Political Studies Flashcards




political culture *
Guided by our societal values
• Foundation for how government is run
• American political culture emphasizes the values of personal liberty, equality, popular
consent and majority rule, popular sovereignty, civil society, individualism, and religious
• Learned and perpetuated in schools, media, home, religious institutions, etc.
representative democracy
-Also known as “indirect democracy”
- A system of government that gives citizens the opportunity to vote for representatives that will act and make policy on their behalf
-A system whereby citizens elect representatives to a governmental decision-making body
social contract theory *
• Hobbes and Locke
• Very influential in the writing of the Declaration of Independence
• Belief that people are free and equal by natural law, but civil law requires that they give up
freedom in exchange for security
• Individual liberty in exchange for some rights to be governed
• Unspoken agreement between the people and their government signifying the people’s
consent to be governed
• “I will exchange some of my individual freedom for protection of my general welfare by the
Declaration of Independence
• “All men are created equal”
• “Unalienable rights”
• right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
• “right of the people to alter or abolish [government],” Jefferson: popular sovereignty
• states our preference for democracy
• pluralism: power sharing among many
• elitism: power in the hands of the elite
• tension is created as American pluralism competes with elitist tendencies
• history of “power to the people” juxtaposed against tradition of elites holding the bulk of
ideology (including conservatism, liberalism)
conservative: less government, emphasize fiscal responsibility, favor local action over federal
-social conservative: conservatism with an emphasis on how moral teaching should be supported by government
-liberal: favors governmental involvement towards change in the status quo to foster equality and general well being of citizenry
-libertarian: favors a free market economy and no governmental intervention in personal liberties
Types of Government
-monarchy: power in hands of hereditary royalty (eg. Kings and queens)
-totalitarianism: power in the hands of one leader who rules according to self-interest and without regard for individual rights and liberties (eg. Saddam Hussein)
-oligarchy: power in the hands of an elite minority, where participation in government is predicated on the possession of wealth or status (eg. Whites in apartheid South Africa)
-democracy: power in the hands of the people, either directly or indirectly
Articles of Confederation
• written in 1777, after we declared our independence, framers drew up a compact among the original thirteen colonies that established a loose league of friendship
• organized the colonies into a unified government and established some laws
• affirms that national government draws its powers from the states
• linked the colonies (now states) together for national defense (against the English)
• states linked together for limited purposes including peace negotiations, coining money,
defense, and controlling a post office • after Revolutionary War, opposition felt it was too weak a document in the areas of interstate
and foreign commerce and relations, judicial power, and taxation
separation of powers
• divides government power between legislative, executive, and judicial branches
• branches share some duties and have some distinct duties
• states have some powers that can not be usurped by the federal government
• equality and independence of each branch is ensured by the constitution
• ensures a distribution of power
checks and balances
• power between branches should constantly be in balance, and each branch has the authority to
check/limit that power
• a response to monarchy; minimizes threat of tyranny from any one branch
necessary and proper clause **
• last paragraph of Article I which spells out Congressional Powers
• gives Congress the authority to pass any law that is deemed necessary to carry out the specific
and listed seventeen Congressional Powers as enumerated in Article I
• the basis for implied powers
• opposition (anti-federalists) feared this clause would give Congress limitless power to
exercise legislative authority in local and state matters
• provides constitutional flexibility because it grants that even those laws not listed, can be
enacted by Congress if considered necessary
supremacy clause *
• portion of Article VI mandating that national law is supreme to all other laws passed by states
or any other subdivision of government
• U.S. constitution and national/federal law reign supreme
Purpose of US constitution
• To spell out American values
• A blueprint for how the government is to be structured
• Document that establishes the structure, function, and limitations of government
Articles I, II and III of Constitution – generally know what they cover
• They cover the powers of each branch
• I – Congress: pass laws, declare war, approve treaties and presidential appointments, establish
lower courts
• II – Exec: enforce federal laws and court rulings, propose legislation, make foreign treaties,
nominate federal judges, Commander in Chief
• III – Judiciary: interpret federal laws and U.S. Constitution, review decisions of lower courts
McCulloch v. Maryland
-Denied the right of states to tax the federal bank -
-Supreme Court decision that reinforces the power of the national government over state power
-Reinforces supremacy clause and implied powers
-The Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of the necessary and proper clause (enumerated powers say x, and therefore y can be implied) to arrive at the Supreme Court ruling paved the way for later rulings that upheld the expansive powers of the federal government
3/5 compromise *
-Agreement made at the Constitutional Convention that slaves would be counted as 3/5 of a citizen so that the South would have more voting power
-Iterates the subjugation and dehumanization of blacks
-Reinforces institutionalized racism
Remember the Ladies
• “all men are created equal”: women had no constitutionally granted power and were not
represented in government
• iterates the subjugation of women
how to amend Constitution *
• two-stage formal amendment process that requires both state AND federal government
• proposal and ratification
• can be proposed by 2/3 vote in both houses of congress or by constitutional convention
• can be ratified by approval by legislatures in 3⁄4 of the states or approval by conventions in 3⁄4
of the states
Bill of Rights
• there were states that would not ratify the constitution without the Bill of Rights that spelled
out and insured individual liberties in the spirit of the social contract and the Declaration of
• the answer to the question “but what are our rights as citizens?”
Federalists Papers
• a series of public essays written by a few Federalists that propagandized and highlighted the
benefits of the U.S. constitution while ratification was being argued
Federalism – including why govt grows despite people complaining about it **
• system where government is shared between states and national government
• respects that states and regions have their own identity
• balances power among states regardless of size
• centralized government provides citizens security and protection in the midst of possible
factionalism in the presence of diverse competing interests
• provides citizens redress with various avenues to attempt to right wrongs
• government continues to grow despite public complaint because there is a general expectation
of federal support that has been built into our modern American political culture that came to be as a result of the strong government that came out of New Deal and Great Society programs
New Deal/Great Society*
New Deal: FDR: a variety of federal programs enacted to stimulate depressed economy: led to an unprecedented growth of federal government and opened the channels of cooperative federalism between federal, state, and local governments
-Great Society: LBJ’s response to poverty and discrimination: growth of federal government through programs that helped the poor and disadvantaged in states and municipalities that seemed disinclined to offer assistance to their poor
New Federalism/devolution
• New Federalism: Reagan’s proposal to return power to the states enacted from the 80s until
9/11 in 2001 through which steps were made to shrink the size of the federal government in
favor of more state government programs. (9/11 led to a re-growth in size and scope of the
• Devolution: 1994 Contract with America was a Republican agenda/push to scale back on
federal government involvement in favor of state programs
• Significance of The Devolution Revolution and New Federalism: federal government AND
state government programs have continued to grow despite attempts to curb growth on federal government: we have seen federal acts such as No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act (both are federal programs coming from Republicans) and TANF (a program that gives states more power in establishing welfare eligibility)
unfunded mandates
• National laws that direct sate or local government to comply with federal rules or regulations
but contain little or no federal funding to defray the costs of meeting these requirements
• A cause for concern among state governments that can not afford to fund costly federal
10, 16, 17t, h, amendments
10th: Power to the States: states retain those powers not specifically set out in the US Constitution as specifically belonging to the national government; article 4 prohibits the national government from altering or abolishing states
-16th: Federal Income Tax: more money to the federal government, more power to the federal government
-17th: US Senators to be elected by popular vote: increased power to federal government, taking power away from the state (state legislatures)
constitutional provisions granting power to the federal gov’t
• Article I, section 8: necessary and proper clause
• Article VI: supremacy clause
• 16th Amendment: income tax
• Article I: only national government can make foreign policy, enter into war, levy import taxes, coin money, regulate commerce
initiatives – what they are; pros, cons, purpose
• A proposed CA law by put forth by the public
• Purpose: to give Californians access to creating legislation and amending the constitution
• Pros: power to the people, direct democracy, speedy process
• Cons: costly, wording unclear, suggests a lack of faith in legislature, interest group
involvement can be deceptive
Proposition 13
• Significance of Prop 13 is that we have an example of direct democracy and a strong
grassroots movement which has had profound and long lasting effects
• Limits how much residential and business property taxes can increase per year
• Good for fixed income property owners
• Bad for CA economy which has less revenue coming in to fund local services and the public
Basic structure of CA government and role of branches, leaders, Governor
-Exec – Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, --Secretary of State Legislative – bicameral, two houses: Senate and Assembly; responsible for representing citizens, policymaking, and executive oversight
- Judiciary – Trial Courts, Appellate Courts, California Supreme Court
line item veto *
• While the governor has the basic power to veto legislation handed to him/her by the
legislature, in the case of bills that spend money (appropriations bills), the CA Governor has a
line item veto which permits the Governor to eliminate some items in the bill without having to veto the entire measure
term limits/Prop 140
• Term Limits Proposition that limits elected officials time in office
• CA State Senators: 2- 4yr terms
• CA State Execs: 2- 4 yr terms
• CA State Assemblymembers: 3- 2 yr terms
• Pros: diffusion of power, encourages fresh ideas and opportunity for minorities, limits the
agendas of “career politicans”
• Cons: lack of experience in the Legislature, turnover has been disruptive in passing
legislation, hasn’t really helped women an
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