American Government Myths and Realities

by ; ;
  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-12-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • View Upgraded Edition

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $79.95 Save up to $69.04
  • Rent Book $10.91
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


What the typical introductory-level student knows about American government and politics is often based on common myths that distort the reality of the political world. Rather than dismissing those myths as outright falsehoods, American Government: Myths and Realities, 2014 Election Edition, encourages students to confront their preconceived notions in order to think critically about government and politics. Clearly and distinctively woven into each chapter, the myths-and-realities theme provides a pedagogical framework that engages students with interesting conundrums while effectively covering the core concepts of American government.


* Stunning full-color visuals and updated graphs and charts

* Full coverage of the 2014 midterm elections and Supreme Court decisions

* Updated throughout to address such issues as public opinion and political participation, the media, and civil liberties and civil rights (now covered in two separate chapters)

* "Policy Connection" features at the end of each chapter present domestic and foreign policy content

* "Asked & Answered" features employ a question-and-answer format in order to examine various political issues

* "Politics & Popular Culture" features, available online at www.oup.com/gitelson, demonstrate how music, movies, television, and books reflect and impact the way that Americans think about government and politics

Author Biography

Alan R. Gitelson is Professor of Political Science and former Assistant Provost and Chair of the Department Political Science at Loyola University.

Robert L. Dudley is Professor of Government and Politics, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA) at George Mason University.

Melvin J. Dubnick is Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire and Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University.

Table of Contents

Each chapter ends with a Conclusion, Key Terms, a Focus Questions Review, and Review Questions.
Chapter 1. Making Sense of American Politics
Myths & Realities: What are the roles of reason, myth, and belief in American Government?
"It Just Makes No Sense!"
The Nature and Role of Government and Politics
What Is Government?
What Is Politics?
The Role of Government in American History
What Are the Fundamental Issues of Government and Politics?
Who Should Govern?
Where Should Governmental Authority Be Vested?
Understanding American Government and Politics
Political Myths
The Power of Reason
Asked & Answered: How knowledgeable are U.S. students about their government?
Beliefs and Ideologies
Policy Connection 1: How do we make sense of public policies and programs? (Government Policy in General)
The Legal Label
The Pervasiveness of Policies
Public Policies Dealing with Public Problems
Chapter 2. Constitutional Foundations
Myths & Realities: Is the Constitution a living document?
The Constitutional Trade-Off
An Imperfect Document
The Setting for Constitutional Change
The Framers
The Roots of the Constitution
British Constitutional Heritage
Common Law
Major Statutes
The Colonial Heritage
The Onset of Revolution
What the Framers Did
Establishing Legitimacy
Structuring Authority
Balancing National and State Authority
Structuring Authority within the National Government
The Case of the Electoral College
Distributing and Describing Governmental Powers
Powers in the Federal System
Powers within the National Government
Limiting Governmental Powers
Allowing for Change
Asked & Answered: So you want to change the Constitution?
Interpretations and Constructions
What the Framers Accomplished
The Principles of American Constitutionalism
The Rule of Law
Separation of Powers
Checks and Balances
National Supremacy
Applying the Five Principles
Policy Connection 2: How can we use models to make sense of American policymaking? (Government Policy in General)
Making Sausage
The Process Models
Lawmaking Model
Policymaking Stages Model
The Decision Models
Rational Choice Models
Bargaining and Compromise
The "Who" Factor
Chapter 3. Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations
Myths & Realities: Do the individual states retain constitutional sovereignty?
The Importance of Federalism
"Screw Nevada"
"Commandeering" New York
The Sovereignty Issue
The Evolution of American Federalism
Battles over Meaning (1790s-1860s)
From Separation to Cooperation (1860s-1920s)
Toward Cooperation and Local Participation (1930s-1950s)
The Urban Focus (1960s-1970s)
Reforming and Devolving (1970s-1990s)
Twenty-First-Century Challenges (2001 and Beyond?)
The Actors of American Federalism
National Government Actors
The Supreme Court
The White House
The Federal Bureaucracy
States in the Federal System
Local Governments
Nongovernmental Actors
Intergovernmental Lobby
Asked & Answered: Who is responsible for America's elaborate systems of roads and highways?
Policy Connection 3: How are education policies and aid to the poor affected by American federalism? (Domestic Policy)
The Constitutional Setting
Education Policy
Access to Education
Funding of Education
Educational Curriculum
Educational Quality and Accountability
Aid to the Poor
Old and New Welfare
Chapter 4. Civil Liberties
Myths & Realities: Do civil liberties mean that we can do anything we want?
Defining and Preserving Liberty
Applying the Bill of Rights to the States
The First Amendment Freedoms
Freedom of Speech
Changing Standards
Symbolic Speech
Technology and Free Speech
Freedom of the Press
Prior Restraint
Freedom of Religion
Establishment of Religion
Free Exercise of Religion
The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Due Process and Crime
Right to Counsel
Searches and Seizures
Asked & Answered: Do police officers who are conducting a search have to knock and announce their presence before entering your home?
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Doctor-Assisted Suicide
Policy Connection 4: How can the government maintain its commitment to civil liberties
while minimizing the nation's vulnerability to attack? (Foreign Policy)
"We are going to war"
The Garrison State Approach
The Temporary State of War Approach
The Glass Firewall Approach
The Enemy Within Approach
Chapter 5. Civil Rights
Myths & Realities: Does everyone have the opportunity to participate equally in the American political and social system?
The Crime of "Driving or Shopping While Black"
The Continuing Struggle Against Racism
Asked & Answered: What do we mean by Jim Crow?
Public Education
Public Accommodation
Voting Rights
Sex Discrimination
Paternalism and Discrimination
Women in the Work Force
Women and Educational Achievement
Sexual Harassment
Sexual Orientation
Equal Protection and Sexual Orientation
Same-Sex Marriage
Changing Views
Equality and Citizenship Status
Affirmative Action
Policy Connection 5: What is the relationship between American domestic policies and
U.S. foreign policy? (Foreign Policy)
Vulnerability and Exceptionalism
Chapter 6. Public Opinion and Political Participation
Myths & Realities: Is there such a thing as majority opinion?
Witches, Ghosts, and Public Opinion
What Is Public Opinion?
How We Develop Our Beliefs and Opinions
Agents of Political Socialization
Family and Friends
The Media
Political Culture
Adult Socialization
How Polls Work
The Paradox of Public Opinion
Group Opinion: Diversity and Uniformity
College Students and "Twentysomethings"
Race and Ethnicity
Asked & Answered: Are young people in the United States and in other nations inattentive and inactive in the political process?
Avenues of Political Participation
Acting on Opinions
What Influences Participation?
A Closer Look at Women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans
African Americans
Asian Americans
Policy Connection 6: How do public opinion and public attitudes affect environmental policies? (Domestic and Foreign Policy)
The Public and Climate Change
Linking Opinions to the Environment
Policy Developments
Chapter 7. Political Parties
Myths & Realities: How much do the Democratic and Republican parties differ from one another?
Sorting Out the Puzzle of Political Parties
What Parties Are and What They Do
The Three-Headed Political Giant
Who Belongs to Major Parties and Why?
In the Driver's Seat: Democrats and Republicans
Independents: Taking A Back Seat in Politics?
If Parties Are So Important, What Do They Do?
Simplifying Voting
Building Electoral Coalitions
Developing Public Policy
Winning Elections
Organizing Government
Mitigating Conflict
American-Style Politics: The Two-Party System
The Winners: The Democrats and the Republicans
Realignment of Parties
Why Two Parties?
Winner Takes All
A Division of Interests
A Similarity of Goals
State Laws
The Hidden Actors: Third Parties in the United States
Asked & Answered: Shouldn't we have more than just two party options on the ballot?
Party Structure from the Bottom Up
Local Parties
State Parties
National Parties
Policy Connection 7: Do the two major parties really offer different approaches to managing the American economic system? (Domestic and Foreign Policy)
Images and Realities
Role of Government in the Economy
Macroeconomic Policy Tools
Economic Development Policies
Trade Policies and Globalization
Tax Incentives
Industrial and Supply-Side Policies
Chapter 8. Campaigns and Elections
Myths & Realities: Do politicians always break their campaign promises?
Campaigns and the American Public
Nominations: The Selection Process
Why Do People Run for Office?
The Caucus: Old-Fashioned Politics
Primaries: The New Kid on the Block
The Changing Role of Nominating Conventions
Who Gets Nominated?
The Race for Office
Financing Campaigns: The Buying and Selling of Office?
Act I: The Federal Election Campaign Act
Act II: The Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act
Act III: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Asked & Answered: Why can't we reduce the role of money in elections as other nations do?
Does Money Buy Victory?
Organizing Campaigns: The Old and the New
Campaign Organizations
Campaign Strategy
The New Campaign Style
The Media and Campaigns: Are We Brainwashed?
Campaigns and Political Parties
Voting and Elections
Who Is Allowed to Vote?
Who Votes?
Demographics and Voter Turnout
Disappointed Electorate
Why Do People Vote the Way They Do?
Candidate Image
Party Identification
Retrospective Voting
Group Influences
The Other Elections: Referenda and Initiatives
The 2014 Elections: A Changing Political Landscape?
The Electoral College
Promises, Promises: The Link Between Campaigns and Public Policy
Policy Connection 8: Are elections an effective way to make public policies? (Domestic Policy)
Electing a Public Policy
A Brief History
Chapter 9. Interest Groups
Myths & Realities: Are all interest groups corrupt and self-serving?
Interest Groups, Lobbying, and Congress
Movers and Shakers: Interest and Other Advocacy Groups
Interest Groups
Asked & Answered: Are college students represented by interest groups?
Economic Interest Groups
Citizen Activist Interest Groups
Public Sector Interest Groups
Foreign Nation Interest Groups
PACs and Super PACs
What Makes an Interest Group Powerful?
Information and Expertise
Countervailing Forces
Interest-Group Tactics: "You Don't Lobby with Hundred-Dollar Bills and Wild Parties"
Electioneering and Policymaking
Building Coalitions
Grassroots Pressure: Power to the People
Hard-Line Tactics
Interest Groups and Democracy
Policy Connection 9: How have some interest groups been able to shape American public policies? (Domestic Policy)
The Hundred Years War
Chapter 10. Media and Politics
Myths & Realities: Does the media have the power to influence public opinion?
The Rise of the Media
The Early Days
The Broadcast Media
Diversity and Concentration
Government Regulation
Government Licensing
Equal Time
Making News
The Effects of the Mass Media
Setting the Agenda
Conducting Politics in the Media: Old and New
The Uneasy Alliance Between Government and the Media
Covering the President
Press Conferences
Going Public
Asked & Answered: What are leaks, and where do they come from?
Covering Congress
Covering the Courts
Policy Connection 10: How do government policies shape the media landscape? (Domestic Policy)
How Government Created Corporations
Antitrust Enforcement as Policy
That's Entertainment!
Chapter 11. Congress
Myths & Realities: Is Congress ineffective and buried under partisan bickering?
Filibustering One's Own Bill
A Portrait of Congress
A Congressional Portrait
Education and Occupation
Race and Sex
Getting Elected
Asked & Answered: Why are there so few women serving in legislative bodies?
The Work of Congress
Making Laws
The Power to Tax
Producing the Budget
Congressional Oversight
The Organization of Congress
Congressional Leadership
Leadership in the House
Senate Leadership
The Committee System
Types of Committees
Committee Size and Membership
Committee Assignments
Committee Leadership
The Congressional Staff
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Committee Consideration
Floor Action
The Senate Floor
Conference Work
Congressional Voting
Policy Connection 11: What policies are responsible for the national debt? (Domestic Policy)
The Debt Itself
Tax Expenditures
Mandatory Spending and Entitlements
Discretionary Spending
Chapter 12. The Presidency
Myths & Realities: Is the president all-powerful?
The Growth of the Presidency
First Presidents
The Modern Presidency
Presidential Roles
Chief of State
Chief Executive
Powers to Appoint and Remove
Power to Pardon
Executive Privilege
Chief Diplomat
Executive Agreements
Congressional-Executive Agreements.
Power of Recognition
Diplomatic Appointments
Commander in Chief
Chief Legislator
Recommending Legislation
The Veto Power
Line-Item Veto
Asked & Answered: What is a signing statement?
The Seamless Web
The Institutional Presidency
The Cabinet
The Executive Office of the President
The Office of Management and Budget
The Council of Economic Advisers
The National Security Council
The White House Office: Two Management Styles
The Vice President
Presidential Influence
Persuading Congress
Party Loyalty
Staff Lobbyists
Personal Appeal
Public Opinion
Policy Connection 12: Does the president really control American foreign policy? (Foreign Policy)
The Containment Approaches
Post-Containment Approaches
The Myth of the Grand Strategy
Chapter 13. Bureaucracy
Myths & Realities: Are Washington bureaucrats unresponsive and incompetent?
Where the Hell Is the Cavalry?
A Profile of the Federal Bureaucracy
Who Are the Bureaucrats?
Political Appointees
Asked & Answered: What are the "plum jobs" in the federal government?
Merit Systems
Wage Systems
What Do Federal Bureaucrats Do?
Where Do Civil Servants Work?
Executive Office of the President
The Cabinet Departments
Independent Executive Branch Agencies
Regulatory Commissions
Government Corporations
Other Agencies
A Diverse Institution
Growth of the American Bureaucracy
Overview of Bureaucratic Growth
Explaining the Growth of the Bureaucracy
Bureaucratic Power
The Sources of Bureaucratic Power
External Support
Administrative Discretion
Longevity in Office
Skill and Leadership
Limiting Bureaucratic Power
Self-Restraint and Limited Resources
The White House
The Courts
Limits and Responsiveness
Bureaucratic Problems
Pathological Incrementalism
Calls for Reform
Policy Connection 13: Have policymakers addressed the problems of incompetent and unresponsive government? (Domestic Policy)
The Progressive Obsession
A Call for Economy and Efficiency
Toward Executive Empowerment
Post-Watergate Retreat from Bureaucracy
Emphasis on Performance
Chapter 14. Courts, Judges, and the Law
Myths & Realities: Are judicial decisions completely objective and final?
The Supreme Court Chooses a President
The Origins and Types of American Law
The Structure of the Court Systems
The Federal and State Court Systems
Lower Courts
U.S. District Courts
Courts of Appeals
The Supreme Court
Specialized Courts
State Court Systems
Interactions among Court Systems
Recruiting and Removing Judges
Federal Judges
Asked & Answered: Are all judges selected the same way?
Appointments to the District Courts
Appointments to the Courts of Appeals
Appointments to the Supreme Court
Who Becomes a Federal Judge?
Removing Judges
The Supreme Court at Work
Oral Argument
Conference Work
Writing and Announcing the Opinion
Interpreting the Constitution
The Implementation of Court Decisions
Compliance by Other Courts
The Role of Congress and the President in Implementing Court Decisions
Policy Connection 14: What role does discretion play in our criminal justice system?
Four Stages of Discretion in Criminal Justice
The Aaron Swartz Case
The Necessary Evil (?) of Discretion

Rewards Program

Write a Review