Basics of American Politics

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  • Edition: 14th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-02-23
  • Publisher: Pearson
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Updated in a new 14th edition,The Basics of American Politicscovers all the terms and topics a reader will need to understand the nuts-and-bolts of American government and politics. Written to engage readers, and kept short to provide a flexible foundation, this book uses a dynamic game metaphor to engage readers in the basics of the American political system and the contact sport of politics. Beginning with a clear definition of politics, it introduces four governmental and four nongovernmental "players" who must abide by the "rules of the game" established by the Constitution and civil liberties. It ends by examining rival theories of who wins and who loses in American politics.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
What Is Politics?p. 1
The First Day of Classp. 2
Politics and Powerp. 3
Elitesp. 4
Authority: Legitimate Powerp. 4
The Need for Governmentp. 6
What is Government?p. 8
Making and Supporting Decisionsp. 9
The Study of Politicsp. 9
Political Science and Microsoftp. 10
Why Give a Damn About Politics?p. 11
What Is This Book About?p. 13
Thought Questionsp. 14
Suggested Readingsp. 15
The Constitution: Rules of the Gamep. 17
The Second Day of Classp. 18
Background to the Constitutionp. 19
The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)p. 20
The Constitutional Conventionp. 21
The Framersp. 22
Motives Behind the Constitutionp. 23
Federalists vs. Anti-Federalistsp. 25
Ratification and the Bill of Rightsp. 26
Four Major Constitutional Principlesp. 27
Separation of Powers and Checks and Balancesp. 28
Federalismp. 30
The Debate over Modern Federalismp. 32
Limited Governmentp. 34
Judicial Reviewp. 36
How Is the Constitution Changed?p. 36
Amendmentsp. 37
Judicial Interpretationp. 38
Legislationp. 38
Customp. 39
Why Has the Constitution Survived?p. 39
Case Study: Federalism Caught in a Storm: The Katrina Disasterp. 41
Wrap-Upp. 44
Thought Questionsp. 45
Suggested Readingsp. 46
The Executive Branch: The Presidency and Bureaucracyp. 47
The President and die Constitutionp. 50
The Electoral Collegep. 51
Vice Presidentp. 52
History of the Presidencyp. 53
Types of Presidentsp. 56
Modern Presidentsp. 57
The Obama Presidencyp. 61
Presidential Hatsp. 62
Chief of Statep. 62
Chief Executivep. 63
Chief Diplomatp. 63
Commander-in-Chiefp. 64
Chief Legislatorp. 65
Party Leaderp. 67
The Public Presidencyp. 68
The Federal Bureaucracyp. 70
Executive Office of the Presidentp. 70
The Cabinet Departmentsp. 75
The Executive Agenciesp. 77
The Regulatory Commissionsp. 77
Problems of Bureaucracyp. 78
Rise of the Civil Servicep. 80
Bureaucrats as Policymakersp. 80
The President and the Bureaucracyp. 81
Case Study: 9/11: A President's Trial By Firep. 84
Wrap-Upp. 87
Thought Questionsp. 88
Suggested Readingsp. 88
The Legislative Branch: Congressp. 91
Makeup of the Senate and Housep. 93
Role of the Legislatorp. 93
Who Are the Legislators?p. 94
Malapportionment and Reapportionmentp. 97
Organization of the House of Representativesp. 98
Organization of the Senatep. 101
How Congress Worksp. 102
The Committee Systemp. 104
How Committees Workp. 104
Committee Chairs and the Seniority Systemp. 106
Specialization and Reciprocityp. 108
Major Committees in the Housep. 108
Major Committees in the Senatep. 109
On the Floor, and Beyondp. 111
Filibusterp. 114
Presidential Vetop. 114
The Budget Processp. 116
Other Powers of Congressp. 118
Case Study: Controlling Global Warming-The House Climate Billp. 120
Wrap-Upp. 125
Thought Questionsp. 126
Suggested Readingsp. 126
The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court and the Federal Court Systemp. 129
Federal Court Systemp. 130
U.S. District Courtsp. 130
Courts of Appealsp. 131
Special Federal Courtsp. 131
The Judgesp. 132
Jurisdictionp. 134
U.S. Supreme Courtp. 135
The Final Authority?p. 136
Early Years of the Courtp. 137
Judicial Review and National Supremacyp. 137
The Court after the Civil Warp. 139
Modern Courtsp. 140
The Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)p. 141
The Roberts Court (2005-)p. 144
"The Least Dangerous Branch of Government?"p. 146
Internal Limits on the Courtp. 146
External Limits on the Courtp. 148
Strengths of the Courtp. 149
The Court as a Political Playerp. 151
Judicial Activism vs. Judicial Restraintp. 151
Case Study: Separate but Equal?p. 154
Wrap-Upp. 157
Thought Questionsp. 158
Suggested Readingsp. 158
Civil Rights and Liberties: Protecting the Playersp. 161
What Are Civil Liberties and Rights?p. 162
Expanding the Bill of Rightsp. 164
Civil Liberties: Protecting People from Governmentp. 165
Freedom of Speechp. 167
Freedom of Religionp. 170
Right of Privacyp. 171
Due Process Rightsp. 173
Civil Rights: Protecting People from Peoplep. 174
Which People Need Protection? Suspect Classificationsp. 175
Race as a Suspect Classificationp. 175
Is Sex Suspect?p. 178
The Politics of Civil Liberties and Rightsp. 179
Judgesp. 179
The Justice Departmentp. 180
"Private Attorneys General"p. 180
Legal Strategiesp. 181
Obeying the Courtsp. 182
Public Opinion and Civil Libertiesp. 183
Case Study: Fighting Terror, Guarding Libertiesp. 185
Wrap-Upp. 188
Thought Questionsp. 189
Suggested Readingsp. 190
Voters and Political Partiesp. 191
Votersp. 192
Who Votes?p. 192
Political Socializationp. 194
Class and Votingp. 195
Who Doesn't Vote?p. 196
Explanationsp. 200
Political Partiesp. 202
Party Functionsp. 203
The Rise of Today's Partiesp. 204
Maintaining, Deviating, and Realigning Electionsp. 205
2004 and 2008: Whose Realignment?p. 207
Polarizing the Parties: The Growth of Partisansp. 208
View from the Inside: Party Organizationsp. 210
Machines-Old and Newp. 211
American Party Structurep. 212
National Party Organizationp. 214
Fundraisingp. 215
The National Conventionp. 216
View from the Outside: The Two-Party Systemp. 219
Causes of the Two-Party Systemp. 219
But do the Two Parties Have a Future?p. 220
Case Study: Triple O-Obarm's Online Operationp. 222
Wrap-Upp. 225
Thought Questionsp. 226
Suggested. Readingsp. 226
Interest Groups and the Mediap. 229
Interest Groupsp. 230
Types of Interest Groupsp. 231
Lobbyingp. 233
Campaign Contributionsp. 237
Do Group Interests Overwhelm the Public Interest?p. 241
Mediap. 243
What Are the Media?p. 244
What Do the Media Do?p. 248
Media and the Marketplace of Ideasp. 250
Media and Governmentp. 253
Media and the Publicp. 254
Case Study: The Candidate: A Day in the Life...p. 257
Wrap-Upp. 260
Thought Questionsp. 261
Suggested Readingsp. 262
Who Wins, Who Loses: Pluralism versus Elitismp. 263
Pluralismp. 264
Examples of Pluralismp. 265
Criticisms of Pluralist Theoryp. 266
Elitep. 266
Elite Examplesp. 268
Criticisms of the Elite Viewp. 269
The Debatep. 270
Newer Viewsp. 271
Wrap-Upp. 273
Thought Questionsp. 274
Suggested Readingsp. 274
Appendixp. 275
The Declaration of Independencep. 275
The Constitution of the United Statesp. 278
Glossaryp. 293
Indexp. 300
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Great Introduction into American Politics March 31, 2011
I enjoyed this textbook. I now have an understanding of how our country operates. To say that it is a big political system is an understatement. There are many fundamentals that underlay a lot of what is mentioned in this textbook. If someone is looking for a textbook to read to give them a brief overview of our political system then I would say that this textbook is going to suit them perfectly. If however, one is looking to go more in depth on certain subjects within our political system, then I would say to look for a textbook that is published for information on that specific purpose.
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Basics of American Politics: 4 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

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