September 8, 2011
Unpacking Political Culture
- The general political values, attitudes, and beliefs that were widely held within a political
- Each state/city has their own political culture(s).
o In general, most Canadians prefer things to be stable.
Example: New York has their own political culture.
For examples, you can’t assume all Texans vote Republican.
o In the United States, they emphasize freedom and liberty.
o In Iran, the country itself is quite conservative.
Among the capital, you may find very many liberals.
American Political and Social Values
- Americans prefer freedom and take it seriously. The problem is that no two people have
the same definition of “freedom.” A good example is healthcare.
o People came to the U.S. with the prospect of freedom and land.
As a result, there are far less social services than countries such as Canada.
Socialism, or things like that, will never get you elected in the United
There is no political equivalent to the NDP.
Americans very much embrace free-market capitalism.
From a cultural standpoint, America is much more cultural collectivist
There is a context of individual freedom as long as they are within
the American constraints.
Democracy, population and ideological consensus.
Americans are huge believers in majoritarianism.
It helps that America has a two-party system, as it always result in
a majority of votes.
September 13, 2011
- A variant of liberalism.
- In American culture, it makes both conservatism/liberalism sound like… liberalism.
o First branch: welfare, progressive, reform
o Second: classical, neoclassical
These people eventually become “conservatives.”
They view poverty, inequality and other things of this nature as
impediments to freedom.
If you’re poor, and you’re rich, they aren’t really free.
In response, classical liberals were formed.
o Social policies
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Liberals and conservatives are totally different.
Example: Michele Bachmann is a social conservative.
Themes of values: cowboys, frontiers, American exceptionalism,
The U.S. spends 40% of the world’s budget on military.
They glorify their history.
They love growth.
You’ve got to be growing.
1.75 million are in an illegal workforce.
The USA is a global and the largest economy in the world.
China recently became #2.
o Only in America will people let high debt levels get away.
Economic problems with structures in the USA
o Debt is still an enormous issue within the United States.
o The rich are getting richer.
o As little government intervention as possible.
September 15, 2011
Various parts of American social structure
- Most generations tend to believe that things are getting better and better.
- You have greater access to technological items, and they constantly get cheaper.
o The appearance is that your lives are getting better.
- BECAUSE we live in a world of globalization, you have far greater choice of consumer
items at a far greater price.
Race and ETHNICITY
- In the United States, ethnicity plays a very important role, such as things like prison rates,
education rates, etc.
- Social mobility doesn’t really apply if you’re a minority.
- Difference: race is a completely artificial creation based on false leads about biology and
genetics. Ethnicity is different social groups.
- Racial stereotypes are based on historical stereotypes.
o ONLY 3% OF women are running companies today.
o Wage gaps still exist to this day.\
o The United States is significantly more religious that any other western country.
o Religion continues to play a huge role in the American political process.
o IN THE PROCESS of scrapping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
o Regional differences exist greatly in the U.S. when it comes to same sex marriage.
o Regional differences play a huge role in shaping U.S. policies.
o The U.S. is huge (geographically and among other things), but they are connected.
o Surprisingly, Americans can get together very well.
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September 20, 2011
- Most often associated with a Christian idea that God has deemed America for a special
o A lot of Americans would say this is self-evident.
- How is it a good thing?
o From an American standpoint, it is a good thing because it provides a unifying
narrative for the United States.
o The idea that the U.S. is special allows people who move there to accept it.
o It is an idea that even the most partisan people will agree with.
o Even groups that are subjugated buy into the idea that America is exceptional.
o From an external standpoint, exceptionalism is a good thing because America
tries to spread democracy and liberalism around the world, wherever it goes.
Because of their belief that the United States has a special mission, they
will often promote freedom and liberty.
o It helps drive the engine of freedom and democracy.
- How is it a bad thing?
o The belief in American exceptionalism makes the country far more intolerant of
different ideas and/or views.
o Once you tie God into anything, he becomes the “ultimate trump card.”
o It can also lead to a desire to spread uniformity, such as American political values.
o It can lead to the U.S. intervening in affairs of other countries where their
intervention is useless and not necessary in the first place. A good example may
be the Iraqi invasion.
- Why does it matter to us?!
o What happens in the United States affects the world, whether you like them or
o It really is the hegemony of the global world.
o There are thousands of troops abroad.
o Their idea regarding terms of specific “missions” is obviously quite important.
o They have a very real and potent global footprint.
o They are often condemned for lack of action and are also often condemned for
their interference into world affairs.
September 22, 2011
- Unpacking the US Constitution
o On display
o Americans are huge believers in constitutionalism
Constitution is a symbol
The view is that the constitution is written the exact way as the founding
Document that is intended to be interpreted as the founding father
intended it to be.
In many countries, the constitution is nothing more than a window
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A minority of countries actually practice constitutionalism.
Canada and the United States embrace constitutionalism.
Great Britain has an unwritten constitution.
All rules appear to be scattered.
US constitution does not state Supreme Court can strike down
o It’s an unwritten convention.
US Constitution is rigid.
o First ten amendments became the U.S. Bill of Rights.
o Since the Bill of Rights, the constitution has been changed
By comparison, Mexico is working on 400
Five major functions
First major function: it defines American
o Congress will be bicameral: Senate
and House of Representatives. It also
states federal and state governments,
as well as a president.
Second: divides powers/responsibilities
between political institutions.
o Senate must approve all foreign
o Not always cut and dry.
Third: it serves to regulate the relationship
between American citizens and their
o The U.S. government can only do
o Your relationship as a citizen to the
government is very much shaped by
Fourth: it serves as a political symbol.
o Very powerful and potent political
Last: Constitution explains how to change
itself. Explains amending formula.
o It’s been very hard to do so.
o ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) has
had difficulty passing it. It gives men
and women equality.
o Two-thirds of states, Congress and
House must pass legislation in order
to change constitution.
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o Goes back to colonial times.
o Back then, Christian minorities were being persecuted by Christian minorities.
o Fairly-poor people moved to the United States.
Established elites such as the aristocracy didn’t move to the United States.
o The character of the U.S. is shaped by these original people.
Economic opportunity was tied to a lack of social structure.
You had the option to move up the social ladder.
All this falls under the heading of “liberal.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are moving into the colonies, and they
There was a major problem: there were French colonies just to the
They would spend close to a century fighting four major wars.
Results in British victory.
Various tax measures by the British become known as “the intolerable
United States is born in opposition to government.
In Canada, we play our little role.
The Quebec Act
o The act that makes Quebec bigger.
Took over really great farmland.
o Gives French people in Quebec civil law.
Gives them two legal systems, as well as with
1776: Declaration of Independence
o Fighting begins 1775 though.
o In order to beat the British, the Americans/French need to
create an army.
Everyone in the army is given one-year terms.
That way, the army never becomes permanent.
Eventually, reality catches up, and they stop it.
They almost lose the war by default because of their
fear of government.
Freidrich Wilhelm von Steuben
o Hired to essentially professionalize the U.S. Army
o One of the key revolutionary changes is “proper latrines.”
o American army is largely trained by a German guy.
o The only reason the British didn’t conquer Americans from
the start is because of misconception that Americans loved
o The British have been good at putting down revolutions.
o British believed it was Americans acting out, like
The Americans became a professional army.
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o In 1783, the Treaty of Paris is signed, and the United States
The Americans conveniently forget about how the
French helped them.
Their victory doesn’t change their distrust of
One of the first things they do is disband their army.
When they decide to get together to construct what
would be the United States, they create a
Where the component pieces are more
powerful than the government.
Initial government remains with individual
colonies, which are now states.
They decide that a Confederal government
- Amendments and Assessments
- Church and State
September 27, 2011
Constitution is considered by Americans to be their fundamental values. They hold it dear to
themselves, as well as with the Declaration of Independence.
- It was a holy document as considered by Abraham Lincoln.
- It is important to know why the constitution was written and what was intended by the
people who wrote it.
- Treaty of Paris began the American independence movement.
- 13 former colonies had control to land east of the Mississippi.
- To the west was Spanish territory.
o Mississippi could not provide access to the region.
- The threat of war and being hanged kept the colonies united.
- They were too busy partying and making profits to worry about their army.
- Many of the states had closer ties to Britain than one another.
- Each state had fairly long and unique histories, giving them special identities, which they
treasured and valued
o Many colonies were founded for religious reasons.
o People escaping domination of the Church of England and seeking religious
o Massachusetts was Congregationalist.
o Maryland was Catholic.
o New York was still a slave state.
o It would become clear that slavery would eventually be extinguished.
o The North was the home of capitalism in the United States.
It was made up of merchants, bankers and manufacturers.
o The Southern economy was much less diversified.
The North would want to develop its industry behind high tariffs.
o The south would end up being in debt to the north.
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o The south became the supplier materials for northern industries.
o For the time being, following the end of war, Great Britain detained the “Articles
A confederation is where the sovereign units is the lower level of
government and the national unit derides all its powers.
The national unit functions on a basis of consent from a confederated
The United States was a confederation of 13 states.
o No executive power, judiciary, army or navy existed.
o Congress passed laws that were mainly executed by state governments on a
There was no way to compel them to carry out those laws.
o America was a joke.
o Many of the people who risked their lives were farmers.
They were paid in worthless notes.
They had no value.
They were very restless and unhappy as a result.
o Debts went up because of Congress.
Bonds were worth 1/6 of their nominal value.
Nobody was prepared to lend money to this country.
The British had rebuffed an embassy.
o In 1786, Virginia and Maryland made a treaty with one another like sovereign
states to regulate fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.
In other states, they expressed concern about states being able to act alone.
In September of 1786, many states called for a meeting for the state to
The meeting was called for Annapolis, MD, and only five states attended.
Meeting was formed with calls to completely overhaul Constitution.
o Many western farmers were being hurt by tight credit policies imposed by the
eastern banks and were facing foreclosures on their properties.
Formed groups called “the regulators.”
Their intention was to prevent the debt courts from functioning.
Governors of the states called up their militias to defend the courts.
Militias refused to cooperate.
Governor of Massachusetts appealed to Congress for assistance, which
Failed to provide Congress the military means to support such a
Governor created his own army.
o Reaction: Springfield was invaded for weapons, etc.
o Attack on armoury failed.
Troops were defeated and headed to Canada.
In the face of armed insurrection, the United States was considered to be
teetering on its last legs.
o Perceived threat of excessive democracy.
Democracy is greatly feared.
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Democracy in states such as Rhode Island were feared for reasons:
Forgiveness of debt.
Payment of debt by farmers.
o Each state would print notes that would be legal tender and
they could print many, which led to inflation, which
favoured the debtor as opposed to the creditor.
o Congress did agree to convene, but only to offer amendments.
o The states were invited to choose delegates to send to Philadelphia.
o In May of 1887, 55 men assembled in Philadelphia to discuss potential reforms.
Thomas Jefferson was in Paris.
o In order to ensure delegates to not feel bound by the state legislatures,
proceedings would occur behind closed doors.
Any agreements would be ratified by specially-called state conventions.
o With a presentation of the Virginia Plan, the convention decided that it would not
amend the Constitution-it would write an entirely new one!
There needed to be an independent, strong central government.
They were all agreed on that.
The first centred on the issue of representation of this Congress.
Under the Virginia Plan, representation would be based on
The small states objected to this.
New Jersey plan would have given each state single votes.
Deadlock was broken after Connecticut Compromise.
o Congress was divided into two chambers: House of
Representatives and Senate.
Senators would be chosen by the state legislatures.
New York objected to the idea(s) and left the convention.
o The other great issue, which divided the delegates, was the question of whether
the votes should be represented by citizens.
If you include the slave population, this would boost of population
representation of the southern states.
First five presidents: one wasn’t from Virginia and served only one term.
o J.S. Mill had a great fear of the tyranny of a majority.
o They rejected the British parliamentary system, probably because it gave too
much power to the executive powers.
o They had certain principles:
Limited power of the democratically elected government elected by the
With frequent elections, it was also believed that executive power should
have checks placed upon it.
Drew heavily on their knowledge of the Roman republic.
The only way to curb abusive use of power is through system of checks
There were numerous compromises to be made, if legislation were
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- Furthermore, the House of Representatives would be elected by the people.
o Both the Senate and House of Representatives would collaborate on the passage
of legislation, which the president would sign into law.
- Slaves had to be returned to the owner if the owner requested it.
- One of the states that people had great uncertainty about was New York.
o The architect of the constitution is considered to be John Jay, Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison, a friend of Thomas Jefferson, who would be the
founder of the Democratic party.
o Because things were uncertain, Hamilton and Madison agreed to write a series of
articles a New York newspaper defending their disagreements, which became
known as the “federalist papers.”
- Can this country go to war without the approval of Congress, as well as torture?
o What do executive powers mean precisely?
o It was assumed the executive executes the will of Congress.
- Preamble of the Constitution
o It was a contract drafted by the people of the United States.
o All legislative power is vested in Congress.
o All the powers granted to the feds were granted to colonies and not to the
- Article I deals with Congress.
o Section 8 deals with the power of the feds.
- Section 9 contains a few amendments based on liberties and says habeas corpus cannot be
suspended by Congress.
o Habeas corpus is a medieval law. It’s a requirement after one’s detention that you
appear in front of an impartial court.
September 29, 2011
Article II established the executive branch/executive power.
- It is vested solely in one person.
- “The buck stops here!” according to Harry Truman.
- It is unclear what the executive power means.
- Executive is seen as responsible for protecting the country.
- Rome’s executive power was invested in two consuls.
- They wanted powerful, effective presidential power.
o Having more than one source of power was considered ineffective.
- Gave rise to the idea of unitary executive.
o If the executive power is vested in one person only, nobody else has the right to
meddle with those executive powers.
o President’s personal powers cannot be meddled with by Congress.
- The presidential oath is also provided by Article II, Section 7
o The president takes an oath that he’ll to preserve, protect and defend the
constitution to the United States to the best of his ability.
o President can’t use commander-in-chief powers to have military tribunals as long
as courts are open and functioning.
o Given right to make treaties, but subject to 2/3 votes of the Senate.
o He nominates judges but needs supermajority approval from Senate.
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o The president also has power to recognize ambassadors from other countries, such
o Any bill passed must pass majority of House and Senate, and goes to president for
If president vetoes legislation, it dies.
Congress can override the veto, but it requires the vote of 2/3 of House
and 2/3 of Senate.
o President is required from time to time to give state of the union speech.
- The president has power to speed up passage of legislation in Congress.
- Salaries of Supreme Court judges can be increased, but not decreased.
- For the most part, criminal law is state law.
o Example: states like Texas consider death penalty.
- All federal trials must include a jury.
Article 4 covers aspects of the judicial system
o Means jurisdictions respect each other’s law.
- Amendments to constitutions are only acceptable if ratified by state conventions by ¾ of
Some would argue that the constitution was created as a capitalist cause.
- It was created to defend capitalist interests.
- States are to set voter eligibility rules.
United States embraced federalism due to concerns of having strong central government.
- Eventually, the United States bought into the idea of becoming its own federation.
- Federal government is sovereign?
Congress has the power to declare war.
- This is usually ignored, totally…
Congress can discipline and organize state militias
- Congress has Elastic Clause?
- Senate must approve presidential appointments.
- If electoral college can’t choose president, majority of electors choose president.
o Vote goes to House of Representatives and each state has one vote.
October 4, 2011
- The Senate is appointed by the legislature of the states.
- There was recognition that the federal government needed a strong executive power.
o they wanted to protect themselves from the abuse of power.
- Consolidation of the executive, legislative and judiciary functions in one hand.
- There were fears that the executive would be weak.
- None of the branches should be dependent on the other, with the exception of the
Supreme Court justices.
- President and vice president were elected via electoral college.
o System eventually changes and elector has two votes?
o Since each elector had two votes, it was possible for two people to get a majority
in the electoral college.
o Person with greatest majority would get to be president.
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o In 1800, there was a tie.
o Terms of office are fixed, meaning they are immune to threats of being
o President serves a four-year term
o There were no limits to how many terms
Washington set the precedent of two terms.
Terms are fixed; cannot be raised or lowered.
There are checks.
Federal government’s powers are limited by Senate.
o Senate must ratify treaties by 2/3 vote.
o Procedures to be used are determined by the Senate.
o President must be convicted by 2/3 majority.
o Was also conservative about the danger of the government being dominated by
special interest groups.
- Power of the people was actively feared and House was to be elected every two years.
- Supreme Court was considered to be least dangerous branch by Hamilton
o Had no executive power to carry out its judgments
- United States was founded as a republic.
o A federated republic.
o Drafters of new constitution
- Congress was not large enough to be representative?
o Four states quickly ratified changes to the process.
October 6, 2011
Bill of Rights
- Constitution was ratified, but number of people said they did not want to ratify without
specific guarantees, including Bill of Rights
- Thirteen colonies already had Bill of Rights within them
- There were 17 original amendments to Constitution
- Bill of Rights were first ten amendments to Constitution
o 17 amendments after Bill of Rights covering a whole variety of radically different
- 12 Amendment:
o Amendment changes the way the president is elected
o Enshrines the electoral system that exists in the U.S.
o System in which they elect president and vice president.
o Initially, the United States stated that person with most votes was president and
vice president was person with second highest amount of votes.
o No political parties existed, and there was no anticipation of people voting along
o Every person in the Electoral College is allowed to vote for two people, and each
party was putting in their own candidates.
o Jefferson and Burr were tired in the electoral college in 1800
o Burr and Hamilton duelled in 1804
o Every state gets to have a certain number of electors for the Electoral College
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Formula involves House of Reps + Senators = Total Electors in Electoral
The minimum a state can have is three.
It is a winner take-all-system.
Number is not representative.
Once you’ve won a state, every elector votes for the president.
You can win without an actual majority.
It is possible to become president with less votes than another guy.
- 13 Amendment
tho Abolishment of slavery.
- 19 Amendment
o Grants women the right to vote.
- 18 and 21 are linked.
tho Banning alcohol for 18 and unbanning alcohol in 21 Amendment.
- 25 Amendment
o Sets out transfer of powers if one should die in caucus.
o President dies, vice-president becomes president.
o Nobody becomes vice president?!! Spot becomes vacant!
o If vice-president dies, president of the Senate becomes president.
o Created amendments for vice-president to appoint someone vice president should
o Issue never came up again until Agnew, Ford and Rockefeller, thanks to that cool-
sounding Watergate scandal
- The State of the Constitution
o The U.S. Constitution has been enormously successful, based on all accounts…
o It is still relevant to the United States, despite being the oldest continual
Constitution in the world.
o Nobody dismisses it.
o Shortest constitution in the world.
o Allows clauses to apply to new situations that couldn’t be possibly conceived of
200 years ago.
o Shortness/vagueness are keys to success.
o Weaknesses of vagueness:
Can be interpreted in different ways and different people in contradictory
- Separation of Church and State
o United States is a much more devout country than Canada.
o It is important to mention God in reference to one god.
o Van Orden v Perry/McCreary v. ACLU decided that displaying ten
commandments in courthouse was unconstitutional
- Stephen Breyer was swing vote in both cases
o Four conservative justices voted the same way and believed ten commandments
o Four liberal justices believed displaying ten commandments was unconstitutional
- Lemon Test/Burger Court?
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o Courts were named after chief supreme court justice
o Lemon Test was established.
Tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, statute must have a secular
legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that
neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster
an excessive government entanglement with religion.
o For Breyer, ten commandments that are displayed within Kentucky courthouse
have primary purpose of displaying Christian thinking and thought.
- John Paul Stevens/Antonin Scalia
o There are two broad interpretations of the Constitution
o Scalia is supporter of the of the originalists
Believes in interpreting constitution as close to forefathers as possible
Stevens disagrees and believes it is a living document that evolves and
grows with society
o Eventually, atheists are not accepted in American society, based on what Stevens
o Scalia says that we should go back to original intentions of forefathers and
original intentions to promote God.
o It is not the Supreme Court’s job to address religious intoleration.
October 11, 2011
- Types of government
o Types of governing systems
o The Unitary System
Strong central government
Component parts have no power at all
Power flows exclusively from central government
An example is Saskatoon, which gets its powers from the provincial
o Federal System
Strong central government and strong component parts
They are two separate institutions, but they are equal.
States have certain powers in the United States. Within those powers,
states can do whatever they want.
Today, the feds have intervened in state jurisdiction even when they
The feds are much more powerful than the states.
o Confederation/Confederal system
Components empower a central authority to govern on their behalf.
Articles of Confederation was the first system of the American
government, leading to a confederal system.
Various component parts empower a central authority, ut the central
authority holds no real power.
United Nations is a great example.
o State System
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In this conflict/system, it has always been the federal government vs. the
Conflict has been going on for 200 years. Of course, people take sides.
Sides people take can often be predicted by ideological view.
Progressive (welfare) liberals will usually prefer strong central
o Does not exist within Republican party
o Can often be found in Democratic party
Traditional fiscal conservatives and libertarians usually prefer
stronger state governments.
o All for different reasons.
o They basically don’t trust me.
o They view people as flawed.
o It is better to have power concentrated on the states at the
lower level so that decisions that are bad wouldn’t
necessarily affect everybody decentralization of power
o Traditional conservatives also believe that local areas and
governments are better positioned to deal with local issues.
o Libertarians are people who support the idea of being able
to do anything, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else
smaller government. Strong local government. fiscal
conservatives are the same.
o Fiscal conservatives believe in free markets and believe
that markets should be free in order for them to function
properly market will self-correct if you do this.
Social conservatives/neo-conservatives: it depends…
o Whatever benefits the religious.
o God in the classroom?
o If one doesn’t like the educational system, it leads to
o Neoconservatives tend to support conservative values and
o Neoconservative strongly support strong federal
government regarding the security
- Government, no matter what level, has been a non-factor to the lives of most people.
o In the past, people on farms could go for days (long time) for long periods of time
without being affected by the government.
o The relationship between the state and the federal government.
The first big question involved questions of commerce.
o Gibbons vs. Ogden, 1824
One of the most crucial Supreme Court decisions regarding the setting of
relationships economically between the federal government and the states.
Gibbons runs a ferry service that crossed state lines (NY/NJ), and his case
re-enforced the Commerce Clause.
Ogden had been granted the right to run a ferry between New York and
New Jersey approved by New York state government.
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The Supreme Court found in favour of Gibbons.
Commerce Clause: congress has the power to regulate Commerce with
foreign nations, and among several States, and with the Indian tribes
o Supreme Court continues to support slavery in terms of state powers but
eventually overturned could have been done earlier.
o Furthermore, the Supreme Court continued to support the states in other areas,
economically, especially with taxes.
o When the federal government attempted to raise taxes, the Supreme Court shut it
down, forcing the creation of the 16 Amendment
o 16 Amendment:
Makes it easier for the federal government to create taxes
Once they start taxing, it doesn’t really stop… does it?
Number of pages of federal tax rules has steadily increased over the
years… from 400 to 72000+.
The federal government is able to make money in a more “efficient”
o Even at this point, the federal government seems really small.
o The Great Depression occurred, and things went really bad while the government
o Most of the legislation that was attempted by FDR was ruled unconstitutional
o FDR attempted to pack the Supreme Court by adding more seats in the Supreme
Court eventually backs down due to public outcry ultimately, it didn’t
matter because he becomes the second person to do this… appoint nine
Supreme Court justices he outlives them all. fills eight positions and
appoints same person twice.
o We are seeing a huge increase in the size of the federal government at this point in
o From 1933 until 1953, Democratic presidents kept getting elected… again by
o Lyndon Johnson
Supports what he calls “the great society.”
October 13, 2011
- Federal government operates within traditional areas of state control.
- Feds often encroach into areas of state control Why accept federal intervention?
Once the government gets in, they never get out. Example in Canada: healthcare is a
provincial responsibility but feds influence how it works.
- Large size of government provides for programs that the states need.
- As the feds get bigger through WWI, WWII and the Cold War, and with Lyndon
Johnson’s “great society” programs.
o Goal was to wage war on poverty.
o Under Johnson, things like Medicare, food stamps, National Endowment for the
Arts and a bunch of other programs were brought into place. All of these
programs causes the federal government to get bigger, with many of them
overlapping state areas. States need $$$ though.
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- Following Lyndon Johnson, we’re going to see the beginning of the push back in the
terms of size of federal government. Part of this is the guy that follows Lyndon Johnson.
- Richard Nixon
o He is Republican.
o Nixon wants to shrink size of government, but Democrat-dominated Senate
denies all of it.
o Congress increases aids to states and local governments.
o They start to pass programs that aid the states more, thus increasing the size of the
o Nixon’s attempts are completely trashed by funny Watergate scandal.
One of the scandal’s effects was the creation of the Office of the Special
Nixon is forced to resign.
Gerald Ford becomes president and then pardons Nixon.
Destroys any real credibility he may have had.
o The power of the presidency at the time was at an all-time low.
o Supermajority can override a presidential veto.
o There was little oversight over money that sent to the states and local
o The U.S. would enjoy about 30 years of economic growth before it starts to go
- All of this eventually led to the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
o Reagan decides to change the size of government by reducing it.
o Reagan comes in 1980 and defeats Jimmy Carter.
One of his platform ideas is revising federalism.
Wanted to return power to the states that he says have been taken by the
o Reagan wanted to make government small enough so that he could choke it to
death in bathtub
Problem he faced: Democrat-controlled Congress
- Clinton comes to power in 1992.
o By 1994, the Republicans take over Congress for first time in almost 40 years.
o The deficit was reduced for the first time in over a decade.
o In 2000, it is decided that states need to be more empowered.
- George W. Bush
o Jumped into contemporary federalism.
o Fiscal mess doesn’t start with Bush.
o Policies he was left with and lack of action on other parts were left for him led
to accelerated economic deterioration.
o Under Bush, 9/11 occurred, and economy got hit badly.
o They passed $1 trillion in tax cuts, leading to income tax cuts and increased
spending real estate bubble pops RECESSION!
o Leads to huge economic crisis.
o Bush administration and Obama administration follow textbook rules $1
trillion stimulus deficit gets worse.
o Trends call for government size to be reduced.
Page 16 of 38 POLS 248
- Tea Party Movement
o A name for a movement for unorganized people who share a vague goal.
o Most agree that government is too big and the deficit needs to be tackled
o Their victory in 2010 election means all future government policies are now
tinged with questions of deficit and debt.
o No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, social benefits and the military these things
make up a huge part of the government AND budget.
o Narrative has gotten to the point where it talks about cutting those things and
wanting the Pentagon to cut.
- Big Government and Small Government
o Debate is about and how much government is involved.
o Everybody supports some kind of government involvement.
o If you don’t support government intervention at all, you are an anarchist.
o Most people support infrastructure.
o Most people support the idea of government creating quality standards.
o You are saying that it’s okay for government to have taxes… so everybody
supports the idea of having some sort of taxation.
o By necessity, government must be larger today than it was 100 years ago.
o Government is involved in more ways than in our lives today.
o When government is involved, it is involved in very overt and small ways.
o Size of government can act as a huge hamper while completely irrelevant to
- On Tuesday, October 18
- 80 minutes long
- It is closed-book
- The midterm itself of consist of three sections
o Consist of multiple choice section
Answer on exam sheet itself.
Will contain multiple correct answers.
o Short-answer section
You must answer in paragraph form and in sentences.
Out of ten marks.
o Short-essay section
Will ask you to provide what you think of something
Should be double-spaced.
Must use pens.
October 20, 2011
Big Government vs. Small Government
- You need government to regulate capitalism.
- This is one of the arguments for more government intervention.
- They limit freedoms.
Page 17 of 38 POLS 248
- If you look at the government today, it is so horribly in debt that the world economy is in
- It is government’s job to step in and prevent economic inequality.
Economies of Scale
- Charge less and make money off of it.
Arguments for activist government:
- Big Government
o Provides public goods, such as infrastructure.
o Regulating industries.
o Social services not included in healthcare.
o Paternal/maternity leave.
- According to some, these things will pay for themselves.
Advocates for smaller government believe that government should be involved only in these
- External security (military)
- Internal security (cops)
- Justice (judges)
- In order to pay for things, you must pay exorbitant taxes.
- Having big government takes away choice, raise taxes and overregulates.
- Breeds dependence on governments.
- Activist government people are not communist and socialist.
October 25, 2011
- House of Representatives
o 435 members exist.
o They are elected every two years.
o That number is capped and never goes up.
o Number of seats each state gets is revamped after every census.
o It is not divided by population like in Canada. It is divided by states based on
o Have had some important ramifications because the south is gaining population
faster than other regions, resulting in more seats for the southern states.
o Eventually will affect Electoral College votes.
o Two senators per state.
o 50 states X 2 senators = 100 Senate seats
o Each senator is elected for a six-year term.
o Senior and junior senators exist (senior for longer).
o Every two years, the United States elects a third of the Senate.
- Karl Rove: key to winning elections is by expanding issues.
Page 18 of 38 POLS 248
- Americans are most democratic people on earth if you count based on how many
positions are voted for.
o They vote for 530,000 positions.
o They vote for things, such as justices, district attorneys, sheriffs, etc.
o America is also quite far ahead in terms of direct democracy.
o It also embraces direct democracy (recall votes, ballot initiatives).
o FOR every state except Nevada, you must elect members and senators.
o Most people get elected on “the president’s coattails.”
One of the reasons why the president’s coattails is so big is because of the
Obama’s party spent over $1 billion on 2008 presidential election.
- One of the big issues in American politics right now is partisanship.
o The Republicans are evil and Democrats are soulless and lack morals.
o The United States is in a highly partisan position.
o Have become more and more partisan in last 20 years.
o The high levels of partisanship in the elections themselves lead to partisans
o Partisanship is driven by the primary system.
o If you are not partisanship, you may face a primary challenger and people who
vote in those primaries are very partisan.
o Obama has given up on bi-partisanship.
o Another key issue in voting is that the elections are expensive.
Candidates running for office should also require financial resources, thus
limiting who can run.
Special interest groups often raise money for individual organizations.
October 27, 2011
Voting Issues in “Amedica”
- Bush won the election in 2000 as Gore was considered to be “too partisan.” Bush
appealed as a great conciliator.
- Bush was known as “compassionate conservative.”
- Gore should have won election. Instead, he refused to be supported by popular Clinton.
- Gore performed incredibly poorly in debates and came off as arrogant while Bush came
off as charismatic (as guy someone would actually like).
- Ralph Nader
o “Safety expert.”
o Only people who would have voted for Gore would have voted for Nader.
o Causes Gore to lose New Hampshire.
- Bush wins 271-266, and one of the closest Electoral College votes on record.
- Electoral College
o Becomes second issue.
o The 2000 election is the fourth example in American history where presidential
candidate wins Electoral College, but loses popular vote.
o When people talk about Bush being illegitimate, they are not referring to number
of votes… they are referring to what happened in Florida.