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lecture notes

Political Science
Course Code
Ryan Hurl

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Lecture 1: POL203Y1- 2
-Compromise is inherent in the American Political culture. Americans want to see
practical pursuits, not ideological ones.
-It is impossible to get anything done without compromise, which is necessary for
meeting challenges of the debate.
-Inaction is not a realistic option on a lot of issues. Compromise is built into the
American Political system and it is rational.
-E.g. the American Political System is like a car, which has 3 pedals, three steering
wheels, 3 breaks, thus, if one member doesn’t agree and pushes the break the car
will stop moving. Furthermore, the car cannot move without support from all 3
-Compromise in the same way is built into the system. It is built into the 3
branches of govt. (the executive, the legislature and the judiciary) that maintain a
system of checks and balances. Furthermore, compromise is also inherent within
each branch and within each party as well.
-The reason the framers wanted a system like that was to mitigate passion from
politics. They wanted to force the passionate to have to work with others,
persuade others and compromise with others.
-The Framers wanted ideology but as a guide and a red line, people must have
-If we are going to get reasonable action we have to also force them to
compromise and cooperate with others and this was inherent in the design of the
American Constitution.
-The paradox here is that, even though compromise is rational and built into the
system so is partisanship- party politics.
-American political parties have been polarized more than anything in history.
-Today America is polarized more than it has been in a very long time, Congress is
polarized and Congress has a lot of incentive to be polarized. They need to prove
themselves because they need to get reelected, a lot on Congress members just in
2 years.
-Paradox- strong forces pushing the American system towards compromise as well
as polarization at the same time.
-Why is there this push for polarization and what forces push the system to
polarize itself and which forces push towards a compromise.
-Current myths that stand in the way of political compromise:
-1) The nation is polarized- there is a culture war going on in the U.S.
-Red states vs. blue states, college educated vs. non-college educated, secular vs.
religious, everybody has got an opinion that puts them somewhere on those
cleavages and we get a polarized America.
-In one of the assigned readings for this week the author argued that when we look
at the election results and polls, majority of Americans are pragmatic and want to
see compromise, but it is the political elites who do not. This article explains why
political elites have become more polarized. The problem here is that while voters
maybe centrist in their positions they are stuck with the choices that are presented
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