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Section 1: Government and the State
I. What is Government?
A. Government- the institution through which a society
makes and enforces its public policies
B. Public Policies - those things a government decides
to do
C. Three kinds of power
1. legislative power - the power to make laws and to
frame public policies
2. executive power - the power to execute, enforce,
and administer law
3. judicial power - the power to interpret laws, to
determine their meaning and to settle disputes
D.Constitution - the body of fundamental laws setting out the
principles, structures and processes of a government
1. the purpose of our government can be found in the
Preamble to the US Constitution
E. Politics- the process by which a society decides how
power and resources will be distributed within that
We the People of the United States, in
Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defense, promote
the general Welfare, and secure the
Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our
Posterity, do ordain and establish this
Constitution for the United States of
II. The State
A. Population
1. a state must have people
2. least populated state?
- Vatican - less than a 1,000 people
3. World's most populous state?
- China - 1.3 billion people
4. United States is third most populous state - 305
million people
5. people may or may not be homogenous
1. recognized boundaries
2. Smallest state?
- Vatican - less than a quarter of a square mile
3. World's largest state?
- Russia - 6.6 million square miles
4. United States has 3,787,425 square miles (third
largest in the world)
C. Sovereignty
1. has supreme and absolute power within its own
territory and can decide its own foreign and
domestic policies
2. the only characteristic that distinguishes a state
from a lesser political unit
• Colonies, American States, Provinces
D. Government
1. necessary to avoid chaos and confusion
2. can be a republic, democracy, dictatorship,
monarchy, parliment
In groups of 2/3/4, use the 4 pieces of
criteria to make a state.
› Make sure you have a name for your state.
› Have answers to the 4 criteria for a state.
› Does your state have any laws that would
make it unique
› Also, discuss various aspects about a state
such as gender make-up, location, ect.
› Country must have a flag and a motto
III. Origins of the State – 4 theories
A. Force Theory – when a person or group of people
claim control of an area and force the people
in that area to their rule
B. Evolutionary Theory – developed naturally out of
the family
III. Origins of the State – 4 theories
C. Divine Right Theory – the right to rule came
directly from God's consent
D. Social Contract Theory – people give up rights to
the government for certain services; a voluntary
act of free people
1. Thomas Hobbes
a. claimed without authority
there is chaos
b. people do not* have the
right to break the agreement
c. believed the best form of
government was monarchy
2. John Locke
a. people are born
with natural rights
b. the people have*
the right to overthrow
an unjust government
Section 2: Forms of Government
I.Who Can Participate?
A. Democracy - 2 Types
1. the people hold the sovereign power
2. direct democracy
a. will of the people is made into public
policy directly by the people themselves in
mass meetings
b. can only work in small communities
3. indirect democracy (representative)
a. the people elect representatives and give
them the power to conduct the daily activities
of government and make laws
b. representatives are responsible to the people
and are held accountable for their conduct at
periodic elections
4. republic – the people hold sovereign power
What is the United States?
B. Dictatorship
1. those who rule are not held responsible to the
will of the people - authoritarian
2. autocracy - rule by one
a. only a few in existence today - Libya, Saudi
3. oligarchy- power is held by a small, usually self-
appointed elite
4. most dictatorial regimes are militaristic
5. some dictatorships will hold elections that are
closely monitored with candidates from only
one political party
6. an elected legislature may exist, but it is
controlled by the dictator
Worlds Worst Dictators (2009)
1. Muammar Qaddafi – Libya – 2010
2. Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe – 1980
3. Omar al-Bashir – Sudan – 1989
4. Kim Jong-ll – North Korea – 1994
5. Thon Shwe – Burma – 1992
II. What is the Geographic Distribution of Power?
A. Unitary Government
1. all power rests with the national government
(most governments in the world)
2. could be a democracy - like Great Britain
3. local governments may exist, but the national
government could dismiss them at any time
B. Federal Government
1.power is divided between the national and local levels
a. cannot be changed by the local or national
governments acting alone
2. there are only about 25-30 states with this type of
a. United States, Canada and Mexico* are examples
b. the US National Government is centered in
Washington D.C., but each of the 50 states has their
own government that cannot be dismissed at the
national level
C. Confederate Government
1. an alliance of states in which the confederate
government handles issues that the member
states assigns it
2. allows different states to cooperate yet maintain their
own identities
3. the European Union is the closest example of a
confederacy today
III. What is the Relationship Between Legislative and
Executive Branches?
A. Presidential Government
1.the legislative and executive branches are independent
and coequal to one another
a. voters choose who is in the legislative branch
b. voters choose who is in the executive branch and the
chief executive
2. the two branches have powers that can block each
3. the U.S. is the leading example
B. Parliamentary Government
1.the chief executive (prime minister or premier) and his
cabinet are part of the legislative branch
a. voters choose the legislative branch (parliament)
b. parliament chooses the chief executive and his
cabinet (often called "the government" and are from
the majority party)
2. if the parliament defeats the prime minister and his
cabinet on an important issue, the government may
receive a "vote of no confidence"
a. usually all seats in parliament go before the voters
in general election
3. avoids deadlock between the executive and legislative,
but there is no system of checks and balances
4. majority of governments in the world are parliamentary
a. Britain, Canada, Japan
A. Worth of the Individual
1. often we are required to do things we don't want to for
the good of the many
2. but the many are the individuals that make up a society
B. Equality of All Persons
1. "all men are created equal"
2. equality of opportunity
3. equality before the law
4. no person should be held back because of race, color,
religion, or gender
C. Majority Rule, Minority Rights
1.democracy argues that a majority of the people will be
right more often than they'll be wrong
a. they don't always come up with the "best" or "right"
answers, but will at least come up with
a satisfactory answer
2. a majority can crush its opposition, so it is restrained
by the minority's rights
a. there are certain rights that can never be taken away
3. the majority needs to recognize the right of any
minority to become the new majority
D. Necessity of Compromise
1.democracy insists that everyone is equal
a. with a society that is made up of many
different opinions and interests, how can the
people make public decisions without
2. most public questions can be answered
several different ways
E. Individual Freedom
1.cannot have absolute freedoms
2. need to find a balance between freedoms of
the individual and the rights of society
II. Democracy and the Free Enterprise System
A.How the System Works enterprise - characterized by the private ownership
of capital goods, investments made by private decision,
and success or failure determined by competition in the
market place
2. law of supply and demand – if the people demand
something, the manufacturers will produce it
B. Government and the Free Enterprise System
1.mixed economy - an economy in which private enterprise
exists in combination with a considerable amount of
government regulation and promotion
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