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Critical Thinking and American Government



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Critical Thinking and American Governmenthelps students develop the ability to read critically, to summarize information concisely, to formulate generalizations and hypotheses, to draw logical inferences, to assess the strength of opposing arguments and positions, and to practice obtaining and analyzing reliablesources on the Internet.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Governing Principles and Ideologies

1.1       Reading the Constitution                               

1.2       The Framers of the Constitution and Republicanism                        

1.3       Contemporary American Political Ideologies            

1.4       Direct Democracy via the Web                      


Chapter 2 - Federalism                                                    

2.1       Creating Federalism   

2.2       Reforming K-12 Education:  The Disputed Role of the Federal Government

2.3       The Amendment Process       

2.4       Is the Federal Government or Are the States in Charge of the Minimum Drinking Age? 


Chapter 3 - Public Opinion and the Mass Media          

3.1       Public Confidence in U.S. Institutions              

3.2       Bias and Accuracy in the News Media: The Case of CBS News and George W. Bush’s Military Record                            

3.3       Are the News Media Doing Their Job?  Hard and Soft News                      

3.4     Distinguishing Fact from Opinion in the Internet Age


Chapter 4 - Political Parties and Elections                     

4.1       Presidential Elections: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago?

4.2       Gerrymandering                     

4.3       To Vote or Not to Vote?                   

4.4       Alternative Voting Systems               


Chapter 5 - Interest Groups                                            

5.1       AARP Versus Generations X and Y: Mismatched Interest Group Power

5.2       Earmarks and Pork: Can We Live Without Them?

5.3       Whither Campaign Finance Reform?                                    


Chapter 6 - Congress                                                       

6.1       What Is the Role of a Congressional Representative?                   

6.2       Why We Hate Congress but Love Our Member of Congress                                   

6.3       Blacks in Congress                 

6.4       Legislative Apportionment                  


Chapter 7 - The Presidency                                                         

7.1       The Electoral College             

7.2       Evaluating Presidential Performance 

7.3       The Power of the Sword                                


Chapter 8 - Bureaucracy and the Regulatory Process              

8.1       The Fourth Branch                                         

8.2       The National Security State   

8.3       How Much Regulation Is Enough? How Much Is Too Much?  A Case Study of Gene Therapy Protocols


Chapter 9 - The Judiciary                                                                       

9.1       Establishing Judicial Review             

9.2       Judicial Activism Versus Judicial Restraint: The Supreme Court and the Juvenile Death Penalty

9.3       What Role Should the Senate Play in Judicial Appointments?                     

9.4       Beating the Odds on Judicial Appointments             


Chapter 10 - Civil Rights                                                               

10.1     Mandating Racial Segregation by State Law

10.2     Same-Sex Marriage: The New Civil Right?                           

10.3     The Gender Wage Gap                      

10.4     The End of Affirmative Action?                   


Chapter 11 - Civil Liberties                                                           

11.1     The Tension Between Civil Liberties Advocates and Civil Rights Advocates: Campus Hate Speech Codes                                   

11.2     Sexual Intimacy and the Right to Privacy                 

11.3     Random Drug Testing in Public Schools                   

11.4     Offensive Speech: Jerry Falwell, Hustler, and Funeral Protestors       


Appendix 1    For Instructors: A Guide to Using This Textbook

Appendix 2    The United States Constitution


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