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Lecture

POL203 Lecture 02.docx


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL203Y1
Professor
Ryan Hurl

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The Constitution of 1787:
The Institutional Basis of American National Government
September 22nd, 2011
Lecture 2
American Political Culture: Multiple Traditions
Liberalism:
Free and open markets
Small governments, little intervention
Republicanism:
All governments should be close to the people
Active participation of people
Takes on various forms
Notion that government power should be monitored
Progressivism:
The role of government should expand and change
To accommodate changing social and economic conditions
Ascriptive Hierarchy:
Rights and responsibilities should be based on certain cultural characteristics
Ford Commercial
“I wasn't going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was
going to buy from a manufacturer that's standing on their own: win, lose, or draw.
That's what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding
when you fail that you gotta' pick yourself up and go back to work. Ford is that
company for me.”
Ford is playing on certain traditions within American political life
Progressive Idea:
Notion that government should work closely to maintain large financial institutions
Can’t be understood as a simply left wing or right wing idea.
The Origins of the American Constitutional System: Why bother studying it?
Main Argument
We can see the constitution of 1787 as an early success of American
liberalism
It is the single most important factor in understanding American politics as a
whole
Want to understand the recurring pattern of American politics
Have to analyze constitution

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Institutions matter, what is an institution?
Not a building, but a set of rules/practices
Society Institutions Political Outcomes
Designed to be inefficient
Created by people with different interests and plans
The inefficiency of the legislative process was a common ground
What is a constitution?
A way of structuring political power
Policy Agency: Who will exercise power?
Policy Authority: What can be done with what power?
Policy Process: How shall the power be exercised?
Why do they structure things this way?
Why did they create the system of electing the senate?
What is the purpose of the Electoral system?
Timeline of the American Revolutionary Era
1776 - Declaration of Independence (revolutionary war begins)
1781 Articles of Confederation ratified (first American constitution)
1783 - Peace treaty ratified
1783-1786 problems: Financial-monetary, international relations, domestic order
1787 Constitutional Convention
1788-1790 debates and ratification
Problems helped to explain why there was a mass in favour of constitutional
reform
America’s First Constitution:
The failure of Republicanism in the Post Revolutionary Era
Liberalism and Republicanism in the
Declaration of Independence
:
Protecting Rights through Democratic Self-Government
Locke
Revolution is an appropriate response to any government imbalance
The most important right for the revolutionaries was the right to choose
government
The American revolutionaries were concerned with a distant uncontrolled
government
The Articles of Confederation:
More an alliance than a government
i) The national government had limited powers
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