Chapter 1: What is Government?
Politics is about…
What is the State?
A specific type of political organization where official institutions and society interact
through the use of power.
1. Set of territorial boundaries
2. Monopolizes rule making
3. Controls the means of coercion
4. Internationally sovereign
US rely on Kurds heavily, but they are not a state because they do not have a set of territorial
boundaries. Each place they say they inhabit is inside of another state.
United States is a super state because we know where It begins and ends. The government
monopolizes rule making, and the executive branch controls the means of coercion. It is
Who is the state?
Government – Citizens – Public
Who are the citizens?
People within the state who seek an active role.
Who is the public?
People living in and subject to state policy but do not seek an active political role.
66% of the people cannot tell you what the 3 branches of government are. these people are
part of the mere public.
Interested and educated about political issues and roles.
What is the government?
Group of people empowered with the authority to act on behalf of the state … w/ the
legitimate use of force.
Citizenry empowers government by voting.
Who is the government?
Elected officials and bureaucrats. The nature of government…
All governments limit the individual choices and freedoms of its citizens. Its purpose has
never been to maximize personal freedoms.
Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan (1651)
Mythological mutant sea creature
Stick his arms in all matters of society
What is the nature of government? What is government designed to do? What is the
to control military order
to create new citizenry
to preserve order and stability
Richard Hofstadder: “American Political Tradition”
Single standards and equity take a backseat to the needs of power.
Power is a key motivator, don’t stop trying to get more power until death.
“Profit is the measure of that which is right”
“Life in a state of nature” Life before government.
Human beings are barbarians. Government is how to control the savage impulses.
John Locke (1632-1704)
2 Treatise on Government (1689)
First articulating the notion that there are “unalienable rights”
Rights that can’t be taken away.
Life, Liberty, and Property
People surrender some rights to a government so that the government will
protect other rights.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
“The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right (Du contrat social)”, 1762
Individuals have free will
God give individuals the right of self-determination… this implies consent must be given
to be governed.
Governments are created by people and are reliant on the people for the authority to
rule. People give permission to be governed but if they don’t like the way they are being
governed, they decide they don’t want to be governed by that government anymore
and they are going to make a new government.
The nature of government (Points from the Preamble)
The original dilemma – Freedom vs Order (See-Saw)
The modern dilemma – Freedom vs Equality (See-Saw)
Citizens have traditionally been willing to accept limitations on choice and freedom in
return for benefits – real or perceived.
Theories of Democracy:
1. The original dilemma – Freedom vs Order
2. The modern dilemma – Freedom vs Equality
3. Procedural view of democracy
War of 1812
Forced to leave White House because it was burned by the British.
The Federalist Papers
Argument to convince the states to ratify the Constitution.
We still read them so that we can further understand the Constitution.
Theory of Democratic Government
“The people” are assumed to be ignorant and emotional… there would be chaos if the
people were allowed to “rule”
True/Direct popular rule would slow down the decision-making process.
The powerful would loosen control and would have to share control and ultimately
Madison Federalist No 10
The wealthy are considerate citizens while the poor are not virtuous
Faction – a group join based on economic standing/wealth
Faction is against citizens/individuals and