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AP United States Government
and Politics Exam Review
Review -- DAY ONE
Edwards Chapters 1, 2, & 3 (Units 1
and 2 from our course)
This corresponds to Chapter 5 in the
review book
Introducing Government in
Chapter 1
Government, Politics, and the
Policymaking System
• formal institutions, process, and procedures w/in
public policies
• policy making system brings together the
interests and concerns of the people, linkage
institutions, and policy making institutions to
create and monitor policy
• Democracy
– form of government in which policymaking reflects
will of the people
Government, Politics, and the
Policymaking System
• US not direct democracy
• American system is based on representation
– (citizens) elect representatives to make political
decisions for them
• Remember -- Founders were loathe to put too
much power into the hands of the people
• The evolution of the American system has granted
more direct power to the people
Democracy: Traditional
Democratic Theory
• Right to vote
– The public has the right to vote for government
• Opportunities for political participation
– Citizens must have equal opportunities to express their
political views by such means as voting or joining
political groups such as political parties
• Political awareness
– The public should be informed about various political
and social issues to formulate judgments and make
informed decisions
Democracy: Traditional
Democratic Theory
• Influence over the political agenda
– The issues taken up by the government should reflect
the needs of the people
• Citizenship
– All people subject to the laws of a nation must have the
opportunity to become citizens and to possess all the
rights of citizenship
Democracy: Traditional
Democratic Theory
• Majority rule
– Decisions are made by a vote of the majority to reflect
the will of the largest percentage of citizens
• Minority rights
– American political system protects some rights of the
minority against the majority
– (Freedom of speech and of petition, -- express opinion
against the majority)
Three Contemporary Theories of
American Democracy
• Pluralist Theory
– political system is composed of groups representing
competing interests
– existence of such groups indicates that the government
allows sufficient access to policymaking
– interests of the public may be more widely represented
in government
– power is decentralized so that no one body or group
has too much influence over policymaking
Democracy: Traditional
Democratic Theory
• Elite and Class Theory
– Government favors only a narrow percentage of public,
primarily wealthy
– Wealth is directly proportional to political influence
– Many political groups may exist, but the distribution of
government resources among them is not equal
– The more wealth and influence a group has, the more it
benefits from the government
– Big business plays a prominent role in politics because
corporations that have money have power
Democracy: Traditional
Democratic Theory
• Hyperpluralism
– proliferation of groups has weakened government
– many interests vying for political influence and so
many points of access in government, power is
decentralized, ultimately policies become muddled and
therefore less effective
American Political Culture and
• Unifying political culture
– common set of political values
– (liberty, equal opportunity, political equality,
individualism, belief in free markets and
• Polarization could jeopardize the nation's
Challenges to Democracy
• Increased Technical Expertise
– increase in the knowledge base makes it difficult for
average citizens to make informed decisions
• Limited Participation in Government
– Citizens do not take full advantage of participation
opportunities, as demonstrated by poor voter turnout
Challenges to Democracy
• Escalating Campaign Costs
– increase in the costs of running for office makes
candidates increasingly dependent on PACs and further
removed from democratic theory
• Diverse Political Interests
– Diversity of population can lead to weak coalitions,
which may result in policy gridlock
Scope of Government in America
• Gov -- includes economic, military and domestic
– (However) individualism in America makes the scope
of the United States government comparatively small in
relation to other democracies
• Review -- make a chart that shows the important
characteristics of pluralist theory, elite / class
theory, and hyperpluralism
Chapter 2
• Originally contained seven articles that laid out
basic structure of the government
• Established the US as a federal republic
composed of three branches
– legislative, executive, and judicial
• Over time, Constitution has been amended to
account for the growth of the nation and changes
to the political system
The Origins of the Constitution
• Declaration of Independence
– List of grievances against the king of England
– Justifies revolution
– the idea of natural rights
• Philosophy of John Locke
– Rights that are derived from people's basic moral sense
supersede the authority of a government
– Consent of the governed
• A government is legitimate only if the people approve of it
(social contract)
– Limited Government
• Natural rights are superior to a government, government
should have limited power
– Government should protect people's property
• American Revolution ends in 1783
Articles of Confederation
• Established first government of the US
(enacted in 1781)
• Designed to preserve the independence of
the states
• A national government without any
centralized power proves to be ineffectual
National Government under the
Unicameral national legislature
No executive or judicial institutions
Most power rests with state legislatures
No power to tax
No regulation of foreign or interstate trade
No national currency
No national defense
Weakness of the Articles
• without power to collect taxes, national
government had few financial resources with
which to repay its war debts
• development of a national economy was inhibited
also by the government's inability to establish and
regulate trade
• Articles prevented the formation of a unified
nation out of a collection of states with different
political, economic, and social concerns
Consequences of the Weakness
of the Articles
• Shay's Rebellion was not easily quelled, because
the government had no power to raise a militia
– incident provided the final proof that the Articles were
not a sufficient plan of government
• Annapolis Convention
– (1786) attempted to suggest reforms of the Articles
– determined to ask Congress to schedule a convention
for 1787
Making a Constitution: The
Philadelphia Convention
• Framers faces the momentous task of defining the
nature of government
• Basic principles
– Government should check the self-interest of the
people yet protect their individual liberties and
advance natural rights such as equality
– Factions should not be allowed to create political
conflict and thereby undermine the government
– No one faction should have the opportunity to prevail
upon the others
Philosophical Differences among
the Founders
• 55 founders at the Constitutional
Convention were almost all wealthy and
well-educated, they had divergent views
about major issues, including:
Human Nature
Political conflict and nature of factions
Purposes of government
Nature of government
The Agenda in Philadelphia
• Two plans proposed to ensure equal
representation of the people in the legislature
– Virginia Plan
• representation should be determined by population of each
– New Jersey Plan
• Each state should be allowed the same number of
representatives in the national Congress
• Connecticut Compromise (Great Compromise)
• established a bicameral legislature
• Senate would include two representative from each state (per
New Jersey Plan)
• representation in the House based on population (per Virginia
The Agenda in Philadelphia
• Three Fifth's Compromise
– mandated only three-fifths of slaves be counted in determining
state representation (Repealed by the 14th Amendment)
• Economics Issues
– interstate tariffs, worthless paper money, economic recession
led Founders to create stronger economic powers
• Individual Rights
– writ of habeas corpus (unlawful imprisonment) can not be
– Bills of attainder (punish people without trial), cannot be
– Ex post facto laws (retroactive criminal laws) are prohibited
– Religious qualifications cannot be used as a prerequisite for
public office
– All citizens are entitled to a trial by jury
The Madisonian Model
• James Madison warned that both the majority (poorer less
educated Americans and minority (the wealthy elite)
factions could pose a threat to the stability of a government
• To protect government from the will of the majority, the
president would be chosen by the Electoral College and
until the 17th Amendment senators would be chosen by
states’ legislatures not directly by the people
• Checks and balances would ensure that no branch could be
come more powerful than the others
– the majority or the minority might be able to take
control of any one branch but not necessarily the whole
political system
• Establishing a federal system of government allowed
power to the be shared between the national and state
levels of government
Checks and Balances in the
• Legislative Branch
– House and Senate can veto a bill of the other house
– Senate approves presidential nominations for judges and other
– Can impeach the president
– Controls the budget
– Can pass laws over a president's veto with 2/3 majority
• Executive Branch
– Can veto bill passed by Congress
– Nominates judges, ambassadors and other government officials
• Judicial Branch
– Can declare laws passed by Congress to be unconstitutional
– Can declare acts of the president to the unconstitutional
– Supreme Court asserted its authority to declare laws
unconstitutional with Marbury v. Madison
Ratifying the Constitution
• Republican Form of Government
– Established that the government would be one of
elected representatives
• Ratifying the Constitution (9 states needed)
• Anti-Federalists
– Feared the Constitution favored an elite majority
– Believed that the Constitution failed to protect many
individual freedoms
– Believed that a strong central government would limit
the power of the states
– Published scathing articles and political cartoons
denouncing the Constitution as a tool of the aristocracy
Ratifying the Constitution
• Federalists
– Published a series of articles called the Federalist
– Asserted that the Constitution would benefit the
growing middle class of tradesmen as well as wealthy
plantation owners
– Promised to add a bill of rights to guarantee individual
• Constitution ratified in 1787, largely because the
authors promised to add a bill of rights
– established the United State as a federal republic in
which power would be divided among levels of
Ratifying the Constitution
• Formal amendment process
– Proposal
• Congress 2/3 vote in each House
• National Convention 2/3 states
– Ratification
• 3/4 of state legislatures
• by Convention 3/4 of the states
• Informal Amendment Process
– judicial interpretation (Marbury v. Madison)
– changing political practice, technology,
increased demand on policy makers
Chapter 3
• Government divided between the national and
sub-national levels
• Each level of power has its own responsibilities,
but often their spheres overlap
• Multi-form of government is not the most
common form of government in the world
• Federalism provided the basis of compromise at
the Philadelphia Convention between supporters
of a strong national government and those
delegates who favored retaining state traditions
and local power
Defining Federalism
• Government is divided into more than one level
– Different bodies share power over the same group of
– Every citizen in the US must obey both federal laws
and laws of his or her state
– Citizens may also vote for representatives in both state
and federal elections
• (Germany, Canada, and India have federal systems)
• Unitary government
– Only one central government has authority over a
– There are no levels of government that share power
• Japan, France Great Britain all operate under a unitary
• most countries today have either a federal or unitary system
Defining Federalism
• Confederation
– An association of states with some authority delegated
to national government
– The states in such a system retain most of the power,
but the national government is authorized to carry out
some functions, such as diplomatic relations
• Although rare today, Russian Federation is an example
Decentralized Government
• Opportunities for political participation at all
– Citizens can run for numerous government positions or
take part in campaigns at different levels
• Public involvement
– Citizens can elect local, state, and federal
• Access
– A greater number of interests can be represented across
levels, ensuring that the government will be more
responsive to public concerns
Decentralized Government
• Decisions
– Can be made at lower levels, thereby allowing the federal
government to concentrate more fully on fewer issues
• Parties also function at two levels:
– The loss of any one election does not pose as serious a setback and
it is less likely that one party will dominate the whole political
• Intergovernmental relations
– become especially important in a federal system because of the
elaborate communication necessary to share power
Decentralized Policy
• Policy is shared between levels
– Often states act as innovators by trying out new laws
before they are adopted nationally.
• Policies can be made separately
– For example family and other social issues are usually
addressed by state laws
• Policies may be discussed at both levels
– For example, issues of the economy, environment, and
equality are addressed by both federal and state laws
• Debate often arises over which level of
government should have the authority on an issue
– A major consequence of this is the development of the
court system, for it is a court's ruling that determines
whether a state of federal law is constitutional
Powers Reserved for the Federal
• Coin Money
• Regulate the economy and foreign and
interstate commerce
• Declare war
• Manage national military
• Direct foreign relations
Powers Reserved for State
Create local level of government
Regulate intrastate commerce
Hold elections
Ratify amendments
Conduct social policymaking
Powers Shared by the Federal
and State Governments
Make and enforce laws
Collect taxes
Maintain courts
Allocate money for public needs
propose amendments
The Constitutional Basis of
• Supremacy Clause
• located in Article VI
– Asserts the authority of the national government over
the states:
• The Constitution, national laws, and treaties made by the
national government should be held as the supreme law of the
United States
– In cases of discrepancy, federal laws usually supersede
state laws
• Enumerated Powers
• Located in Article I, section 8 of the Constitution
– Powers granted to the national government, and
specifically to Congress
The Constitutional Basis of
• 10th Amendment
• Located in the Bill of Rights
– Grants all powers not specifically reserved for the national
government to the states
– Often cited in arguments in favor of states' rights
• Implied Powers
– Courts established McCulloch v. Maryland as necessary and proper
– Court under Chief John Marshall ruled against states, thereby
reinforcing supremacy of the national government
– Necessary and Proper also known as the Elastic Clause
• Located in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution
– Gives Congress the authority to pass any laws necessary to carry
out its duties as enumerated in the Constitution
– Gibbons v. Ogden expanded Congressional power to regulate
The Constitutional Basis of
• Full Faith and Credit Clause
• Located in Article IV, Section I
– Requires each state to formally recognize the documents and
judgments handed down by courts in other states
– Helps coalesce the state laws under a national umbrella
• Extradition
• Located in Article IV, Section 2
– Requires the return (extradition) of fugitive criminals arrested in
one state to the state in which the crime was committed for
prosecution, although it has developed as a discretionary decision
• Privileges and Immunities Clause
• Located Article IV, Section 2
– Assures that all citizens are treated equally when they travel from
state to state
Intergovernmental Relations
• Dual Federalism
– Each level of government has distinct responsibilities
that do no overlap (layer cake)
• Cooperative Federalism
– Levels of government share responsibilities (marble
• Shared costs
– To receive federal aid, state must pay for part of the
• Federal guidelines
– To receive funding, state programs must follow rules
and deregulations
Intergovernmental Relations
• Shared administration
– Though programs must adhere to basic federal guidelines, they are
administered according to the state's directives
• Fiscal federalism
– The system of distributing federal money to state governments
– About 1/4 of states' fiscal spending is derived from federal aid
• Money is distributed through relatively restrictive
categorical grants and block grants which allow
states more spending discretion
• Mandates
– create economic hardships for states when Congress creates
financial obligations for the states without providing funding for
those obligations
Federalism and Democracy
• Federalism contributes to democracy by
increasing access to the government at all
• Federalism creates disadvantages due to
difference in the resources of individual
– These differences can lead to inequities among
the states in areas such as education