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Lecture

Poli Sci 2300- United States


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 2300X
Professor
Peter Arthur

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Monday, October 4, 2010
United States
Political System
American Government’s personality:
oRepublic – all government officials elected or appointed (by elected
officials)
oFederation – Constitution divides roles of state
oSeparation of powers – Judiciary, Legislative, Executive
oChecks and balances – No violations of power
Political System
Few others:
oPolitical system: presidential system
oRegime history: representative democracy (Declaration of Independence
1776, Constitution 1787)
oExecutive: president
oLegislature: Bicameral (Upper House, Lower House)
oJudiciary: Supreme Court
oParty System: Two major parties
Constitution
Centrepiece of political system; blueprint by which the US is governed
Four functions:
oOutlines the structure of government
oDistributes power among branches
oDistributes power between fed & states
oDescribes limits on powers of government (Bill of Rights)
Constitutional amendment = rigorous two-state process
Proposed by 2/3 of both houses of Congress of 2/3 state legislatures
Ratified by ¾ of state legislatures
Example: thousands proposed, 33 got Congress support, 27 ratified
Why limited amendments?
oTwo Reasons: 1) The original constitution was very well written 2)
Political disagreements have made it difficult to make any changes
The Executive
The President:
oMost powerful or restricted?
Checked – by the Constitution and Congress
Presidential power on two factors:
oAbility to persuade
oAbility to build coalitions inside/outside Congress
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