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Articles of Confederation
- The United States' first constitution.
- The government formed by this lasted from 1781 (the year before the Revolutionary War) to 1789.
- It proved inadequate because it did not have the power to collect taxes from the states, nor could it regulate foreign trade to generate revenue from import/export tariffs.
- A 6-month rebellion in which more than 1,000 armed farmers attacked a federal arsenal to protest the foreclosure of farms in west Massachusetts.
- This event exposed the weakness of the Articles of Confederation.
New Jersey Plan
A plan at the Constitutional Convention where each state would be represented equally in government, not based on population.
A plan at the Constitutional Convention that had a strong government with each state represented proportionally to its population, thus, giving large states an advantage over small states.
Great (Connecticut) Compromise
- A settlement reached at the Constitutional Convention between small and large states.
- It called for 2 legislative houses: one based on state population (the House of Representatives) and one where each state receives equal representation (the Senate).
- An agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention between North and South states.
- Three-fifths (3/5) of a state's slave population would be counted toward both congressional apportionment and taxation.
- A system under which the national government and local governments share powers.
- Examples: US, Canada, Switzerland, and Australia.
- A form of U.S. federalism during the nation's early history when the federal and state governments remained separate and independent.
- What little contact Americans had with government occured at the state level, as the national government concerned itself primarily with international trade, construction of roads, harbors, and raiways, and the distribution of public land in the West.
- People who opposed the creation of a strong national government, arguing that a constitution would threaten citizens' personal liberties and effectively make the president a king.
- They recommended the addition of a Bill of Rights.
The Federalist Papers
- A series of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to defend the Constitution and persuade Americans that it should be ratified.
- These documents presented the concerns and issues the framers faced as they created a blueprint for the new government.
The Bill of Rights
- The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
- It guarantees personal liberties and limits the power of government.
The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and executive actions unconstitutional.
A form of government under which citizens vote for delegates who in turn represent citizens' interests within the government.
Constitutional powers granted solely to the federal government.
- Constitutional powers that belong solely to the states.
- According to the 10th Amendment, these powers include any that the Constitution does not either specifically grant the national government nor deny the state governments.
Constitutional powers shared by the federal and state governments.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
A section of the Constitution that requires states to honor one another's licenses, marriages, and other acts of state courts.
Privileges and Immunities Clause
A section of the Constitution stating that a state may not refuse police protection or access to its courts to a US citizen because (s)he lives in a different state.
The process by which governments return fugitives to the jurisdiction from which they have fled.
- A section of the Constitution that requires conflicts between federal and state law to be resolved in favor of federal law.
- State Constitutions and laws that violate the US Constitution, federal laws, or international treaties can be invalidated throught this.
- Federal aid given to states with strings attached.
- To receive this money, the states must agree to adhere to federally mandated guidelines for spending it.
- Federal money given to states with only general guidelines for its use.
- The states have the authority to decide how the money will be spent.
Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances
The system that prevents any branch of government from becoming too powerful by dividing important tasks among the three branches.
- The power held by chief executives (the president, governor, etc.) to reject acts of the legislature.
- These can be overridden by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of both houses of Congress.
- The Constitutional power of Congress to supersede a president's veto by a two-third (2/3) majority in both houses.
- Such a vote is difficult to achieve, however, so these are fairly rare.
- An addition to the Constitution.
- They require approval by two-third (2/3) of both houses of Congress and three-fourths (3/4) of the states.
A section of the Constitution that prohibits the government from designating one faith as the official religion of the U.S.
The process by which the Supreme Court has selectively applied the 14th Amendment to State law.
The president's group of advisors made up of the heads of various executive departments of the government.
The leader of state executive branched whose duties are similar to the president's duties to the nation.
- A power held by some chief executives (the president, governor, etc.) to excise some portions of a spending bill without rejecting the entire bill.
- The purpose of this power is to allow some executives to eliminate frivolous appropriations.
- The president's claim to this power was denied by the Supreme Court.
Pardons and Reprieves
- The cancellation of criminal punishment.
- Presidents and governors have the power to grant these to those awaiting trial and to those convicted of crimes.
- Consisting of 2 legislative houses.
- The U.S. has one of these.
- Its 2 houses are the House of Representatives and the Senate.
An accomplishment of the Articles of Confederation, creating methods by which new states would enter the Union.
- A system in which many decisions are made by an external member-state legislation.
- Decisions on day-to-day matter are not taken by simple majority but by special majorities, consensus, or unanimity.
- Changes to the Constitution require unanimity.
- How important an issue is to a particular individual or group.
- For example, Social Security has high _______ among senior citizens but low ________ for younger voters.
- How strongly people feel about a particular issue.
- For example, the Nation Rifle Association (NRA) has a high _________ of opposition against gun control.
- How quickly public opinion can change.
- Democracy and Capitalism tend to have _________ in the U.S., but not President H.W. Bush's approval rating.
How people feel about anything ranging from television programs to commercial products to political issues.
- A method that allows pollsters to poll a representative cross-section of the public.
- By phone, they use a machine that dials numbers randomly.
A method where pollsters taget voting districts that collectively represent the voting public and randomly poll voters who are leaving the voting place.
A process through which individuals develop their political attitude.
- An ideology the believes that government should be used to remedy the social and economic injustices of the marketplace.
- It supports government regulation of the economy, affirmative action, separation of church and state, and opposes bans on abortion.
An ideology that stresses that individuals should be responsible for their own well-being and should not rely on government assistance and supports laissez-faire economics.
- News broadcasts on television, radio, and the Internet.
- New magazines (Time, Newsweek, etc.)
- Magazine broadcast programs (20/20, 60 Minutes, etc.)
- Newsmaker interview programs (Meet the Press, Larry King Live, etc.)
- Political talk radio.
- Websites, blogs, and online forums (Huffington Post, Politico, etc.)
The relative importance of issues and when they will be addressed.
- A group of people with common political goals which hopes to influence policy through the election process.
- These run candidates for office who represent the political agenda of party members.
- They therefore serve as an institutional link between the electorate and politicians.
Two-Party (Bipartisan) System
The party system the U.S. has, composed of the Democrats and Republicans.
- A form of election held by the majority of states, during which voters select the nominees for political parties.
- Winners of these appear on the ballot during the general election.
- Third parties that form to represent constituencies that feel disenfranchised from both of the major parties.
- These usually unite around a feeling that the major parties are not responding to the demands of some segment of the electorate.
- For example, the Reform Party, under whose banner Ross Perot ran for president in 1996, was one of these whose constituency was fed up with politics as usual.
- Third parties that form to represent an ideology considered too radical by the mainstream parties.
- These reject the prevailing attitudes and policies of the political system.
- The Socialist and Libertarian Parties are examples.
- Third parties that form to promote one principle.
- The American Independent Party, which sponsered the segregationist candidacy of George C. Wallace in 1968, is an example.
- Candidates who run without party affiliation.
- It is very difficult for them to overcome the money and organization of the two major parties.
- Eugene McCarthy, an anti-Vietnam War candidate in 1968, and John Anderson, a fiscal conservative and social liberal in 1980, are two examples.
- A statement of purpose and policy objectives drafted and approved by political parties at their national conventions.
- These rarely exert much influence on day-to-day politics.
- Occasion at which a political party officially announces its presidential nominee and reveals its party platform for the next four years.
- Today, these are merely media events; nominees have already been determined by primary election results.
- Political donations made to parties for the purpose of general party maintenance and support, such as get-out-the-vote campaigns, issue advocacy, and advertisements that promote the party (but not individual candidates).
- These contributions to political parties were banned in 2002 by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (also known as the McCain-Feingold Bill).
- Choosing candidates from different parties for offices listed on the same ballot.
- Voters have been more inclined to vote this way in recent decades.
- This trend has led to divided government.
- A recent trend in which voters act increasingly independent of a party affiliation.
- This is partially the result of television because candidates can appeal directly to the electorate without relying on their party.
- One consequence is split-ticket voting, which leads to a divided government in which neither party controls both the executive and legislative branches.
- Occurs when a party undergoes a major shift in its electoral base and political agenda.
- The groups of people composing the party coalition may split up, resulting in a vastly different party.
- These are rare and tend to be signaled by a critical election.
- The last one of these occured during the New Deal, when many working-class and ethnic groups joined together under the Democratic party.
- A government in which the presidency is controlled by one party and Congress is controlled by the other.
- This has become a common occurance in recent decades as voters have begun to act more independent of parties and increasingly vote split tickets.
- An election when a new party comes to dominate politics.
- These signal a party realignment.
- The last one of these took place in 1932, as a result of the Great Depression, when the Republican Party became the minority party and the Democratic Party became the majority party, with overwhelming numbers of Democrats being elected to every branch of government at every level.
- These occur over a period of time and show permanence.
- The New Deal coalition of the 1930s lasted for decades.
- A combination of groups of people who work together to achieve a political goal.
- The one that the Democratic Party rests on, for example, is made up of Northern urban dwellers, Jews, African Americans, and labor unions.
- These also form among legislators who work together to advance or defeat a particular bill.
Amicus Curiae Briefs
"Friend of the court" briefs that qualified individuals or organizations file in lawsuits to which they are not a party, so the judge may consider their advice in respect to matters of law that directly affect the cases in question.
Class Action Suits
- A lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people, and whose result affects that group of people as a whole.
- Interest groups such as the NAACP often use these as a means of asserting their influence over policy decisions.
- The practice of using personal friendships and inside information to get political advantage.
- For example, former legislators must wait one year before lobbying Congress directly.
- However, they may lobby the executive branch immediately after leaving office.
Federal Election Campaign Act (1974)
An act that allows corporations, unions, trade associations, interest groups, and legislators to form political action committees (PACs) as a means of raising campaign funds.
Political Action Committee (PACs)
A group formed by corporations, unions, trade associations, interest groups, and legislators to raise campaign funds.
- Named after the section of the tax code that allows them.
- A tax-exempt organization that promotes a political agenda, although they cannot expressively advocate for or against a specific candidate.