POL 261 PRINCIPLES OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT   

 

Semester:     Fall 2006

Professor:     Dr. John C. Domino

Office:     AB1, Room 315 E

Office Hours:     TTH: 9:00-11:00; or by appointment

Phone:       936/ 294-1463

E-mail:      pol_jcd@shsu.edu (best way to communicate with me)

 

Course Objectives:

The objectives of the course are to examine, think critically about, and understand the following:

  1. origins and development of the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.
  2. the structure and function of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. and Texas government.
  3. the nature of democracy, ideology, and citizenship and civil rights
  4. the political process: that is, how we elect/select public officials at the national and state levels; and how such actors as interest groups, parties, and the media impact this process.
  5. our rights and liberties as set forth in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.

In sum, the course is a comprehensive introduction to the political systems of the United States and Texas.

 

Required Book:

Patterson, American Democracy: Texas Edition

Note: It is the student's responsibility to obtain the course book at the beginning of the semester.

 

Course Requirements and Policies:

Exams :

There will be four major examinations – three “midterms” and a final. The exams are about 90 minutes long and may consist of multiple choice and short essay questions. Grades on exams will be based on percentage correct of total points. Make up exams are given at the professor's discretion. If you miss an exam and have a documented legitimate excuse (illness, family emergency, and university-related travel.) you may be able to take a make up exam (all essay); if you don't have a legitimate excuse, then a 0 will be averaged in with your other grades. "Work-related" excuses are usually not considered as legitimate.

 

Grades:

The final grade in the course will be based on the average of four exams. No extra credit or additional assignments or grading curves are used . No re-grading or dropping of grades for extenuating circumstances or hardships. The following scale will be applied:

A=90-100   B=80-89   C=70-79   D=60-69   F=0-59

For status of your grade during the semester please check Blackboard or email me at pol_jcd@shsu.edu

 

 

Americans with Disabilities Act

Student requests for accommodations must be initiated by the student. A student seeking accommodations should go to the Counseling Center and Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in a timely manner.

 

Religious Holidays

University policy states that a student who is absent from class for the observance

of a religious holy day shall be permitted to take an examination or complete an assignment

scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence. Not later than

the 15th calendar day after the first day of the semester, or the 7th calendar day

after the first day of a summer session, the student must notify the instructor of

each scheduled class that he/she would be absent for a religious holy day.

 

 

How to do well on exams in this course:

Keep up with reading assignments : Everything you need to know about the reading assignments is on the syllabus. I will rarely make day-to-day reading assignments, so simply use the syllabus to keep up with me in class. Unlike some of your past experiences, I will not cover every bit of information contained in the texts in class. A major requirement of this course is “reading.” So, it is not uncommon for me to take 60% of the exam items on a test from lectures and 40% from a particular chapter of a book. This strategy is to encourage students to read and think about their reading independently. Students who adjust to this fact will do very well on the exams. Use your study guides!

 

Taking Notes: Write down (or record) everything -- not just what I write on the board.

How to study: Reading is not studying. You would not sit through a class and not take notes on what the professor has said. Similarly, reading without taking notes is largely a waste of time. Critically interact with your book: Ask, “what is the author trying to say?” “What are the main points?” “If I were the professor, what kinds of exam questions would I ask?” use the quizzes in each chapter and the book's website. Of course, study guides will be crucial. Prepare detailed answers for each item on the study guide and then study those answers.

 

Attendance :

In accordance with University Policy regular attendance is required. However, no points will be awarded or subtracted based on your attendance.

 

Academic Dishonesty:

Copying answers from another student's exam, collaborating on projects, or using unauthorized notes, “cheat sheets,” or electronic devices during an exam constitutes academic dishonesty and will result in swift disciplinary action by the professor. This action will take the form of failing that exam or the entire course and a letter to the Dean of Students. If you know of someone cheating, quietly and confidentially inform the professor, since the cheater's success is unfair to you and gives that person a grade-point edge in the competitive job market that you will face upon graduation.

 

Disruptive Conduct:

Any rude behavior in the classroom that intentionally or unintentionally disrupts the learning process ( including ringing cell phones, IPODs, etc thus, impedes the mission of the university, will be reported to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action in accordance with written university policy.

 

Course Outline

 

 

I. Democracy and Politics/ Political Culture/ Public Opinion/Ideologies:

Patterson, chps. 1, 6; Halter (author of Texas section), chp. 1

 

II. The U.S. Constitution: Patterson, chp. 2.

III. The Texas Constitution: Halter, chap. 2.

 

FIRST EXAM: date to be announced no later than one week prior to exam (see study guide)

 

IV. The Legislative Branch

A. U.S. Congress: Patterson, chap. 11.

B. The Texas Legislature, Halter, chap. 7.

 

V. The Executive Branch

•  The Presidency: Patterson, chap. 12.

•  The Texas Governor: Halter, chap. 8.

 

SECOND EXAM: date to be announced no later than one week prior to exam

 

VI. The Judicial Branch

A. The Federal Judiciary: Patterson, chap. 14.

B. The Texas Judiciary: Halter, chap. 9.

 

VII. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

  1. Civil Liberties: Patterson, chap. 4.
  2. Civil Rights: Patterson, chap. 5

 

THIRD EXAM: date to be announced no later than one week prior to exam

 

VIII. The Political Process: The 2004 Presidential Election: A Case study

•  Political Parties, Candidates, and Elections: Patterson, chap. 8; Halter, chaps. 5 and 6.

•  Political Participation: Patterson, chap. 7; Halter, chap. 3.

•  Interest Groups: Patterson, chap. 9; Halter, chap. 4.

•  The Media's Impact on Politics: Patterson, chap. 10

 

FINAL EXAM: see university final exam schedule for the day and time

of your section's final.

 

POL 261 EXAM STUDY GUIDES

FALL 2006

Dr. Domino

 

The exams will consist of very specific multiple choice questions drawn from the lectures and reading. The four study guides below consist of a list of terms, concepts, questions, issues, etc. to help you focus your studying. They are not the exam questions, per se, but the exams will be based on the study guides. The best approach is to write out answers to the study guide items and then study from your prepared answers (trust me on this one). Note: please bring a scantron/mini bluebook to class.

 

Here are two samples of multiple choice questions:

 

Which of the following statements about the Declaration of Independence (DI) is not true

a. the DI is a statement of international law

b. the DI is a statement of the philosophy of natural rights

c. the DI is a list of grievances against the King

d. the DI established our first government

e. the DI did not abolish slavery

 

The Framers included the necessary and proper clause in Article so as to strengthen the power of .

a. II/the President

b. I/the President

c. II/ Congress

d. I/Congress

 

 

FIRST EXAM STUDY GUIDE

 

Describe the model of democracy discussed in class:

Fundamental principles

Concrete/practical elements

Factors hazardous to democracy

 

Political Culture:

Definition

Importance

Major elements in the United States

Description of Texas political culture

 

American Ideologies (including positions on role of government, and other issues)

Conservative

Libertarian

Social Conservative

Liberal

Socialist

Oligarchy

Pluralism

Authoritarianism

Totalitarianism

 

What factors explain political participation? Why is voting on the decline?

Who votes and who doesn't? Does it matter? Some say yes and others say no.

What are the purposes of the Declaration of Independence? According to the book, what theory of philosophy does it contain?

What were the underlying philosophy, structure, functions, and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation -- the nation's first constitution? How were its weaknesses addressed in the 1787 (present constitution)?

Define: federalism, confederalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, shared powers, bicameralism, and unenumerated powers. Provide examples of each.

In what ways do the U.S. and Texas constitutions differ? How would you characterize the Texas Constitution? What is the underlying philosophy of the TX Constitution? What did its framers intend?

ARTICLES I - VI of THE U.S. CONSTITUTION contain very important concepts, powers, clauses, and limits on power. Go through and read Articles I-VI and Amendments 1-10 and with the help of your book and notes, list these concepts, powers, etc. Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions on the various provisions in the Constitution.

 

For example, Art. I sets forth:

•  Legislative power     

•  Congress enumerated powers (tax, declare war, etc)

•  Commerce clause     

•  necessary & proper clause

•  President's veto       

•  impeachment

 

What impact has September 11 th had on the Constitution?


SECOND EXAM STUDY GUIDE

 

 

What are the powers of Congress?

Why bicameralism?

Significance of the 17 th Amendment.

How are members of Congress elected? What forms of election systems?

Arguments for and against term limits.

What are the roles of members of Congress (Different than powers)?

What is the dilemma of representation?

The committee system: purpose and organization.

Name several committees.

How does a bill become law?

Who are the leaders in Congress? Positions and names and parties.

Why is the Speaker important?

Sociological versus agency representation

Who runs for Congress?

Patronage

What impact has September 11 th had on Congress?

What is a coattail effect?

What is an off-year election?

How is the Texas legislature organized?

Who are its leaders?

Why does it meet every other year (biennial sessions)?

What are the greatest problems faced by the TX legislature?

What are the strategies used for addressing such problems?

What were the concerns/fears of the framers in creating the presidency?

What are the roles/powers of the president?

Which of these roles/power are enumerated, implied, and symbolic?

What responsibilities fall under each of the roles/powers?

Explain the impeachment process?

How many presidents have been impeached?

On what grounds can a president be impeached?

Name the presidents since FDR.

What does the Vice President do?

What is the significance of the 22 nd and 25 th Amendments?

What is the bully pulpit?

What is executive privilege?

Describe what it means to be in a honeymoon period or to be a lame duck.

Transition period

Honeymoon period

Dr. Domino's Theory of the Disposable President

Presidential cabinet

What are the roles and powers of the Texas governor?

What are the roles and powers of the Lt. Governor?

Who is more powerful? Why?

Why is the Texas governor considered a weak executive?

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

How many terms may he serve?

What must the Texas governor do to be successful?

What impact has September 11 th had on the president and governor?

Imperial presidency

 

THIRD EXAM STUDY GUIDE

 

Be able to draw a diagram of the federal judiciary showing the names of the courts, jurisdiction, kinds of cases, numbers of courts, and routes of appeal.

Be able to draw a diagram of the Texas judiciary showing the names of the courts, jurisdiction, numbers of courts, kinds of cases, and routes of appeal.

Name and describe the steps involved in U.S. Supreme Court decision making.

How are justices of the U.S. Supreme Court selected and confirmed. How does the process operate? Is it a political process? What role does the Senate play?

What is judicial independence? Why is it important?

How are judges in Texas selected? What are the problems associated with this method of selection?

Name the justices presently on the U.S. Supreme Court and the presidents that appointed them.

Certiorari

Stare decisis

Precedent

Docket

Oral argument

Lay-judges

Difference between civil and criminal law

Judicial review

What is the importance of Marbury v. Madison ?

Activism versus restraint

 

Know the rights and protections found in the Bill of Rights

Civil liberties

Substantive liberties

Procedural liberties

Habeas corpus

Nationalization of the Bill of Rights – what does this mean?

Due process of law

Schenck v. U.S.

Brandenburg v. OH

Cohen V. Ca

Texas v. Johnson

Near v. MN

New York Times v. U.S.

Miller v. CA

Reno v. ACLU

U.S. v. Playboy Entertainment

Engel v. Vitale

Everson v. Board of Education

Lemon v. Kurtzman

Edwards v. Aguillard

Chaplinsky v. NH

Mapp v. Oh

Miranda v. AZ

Gideon v. Wainwright

Lawrence v. TX

Roe v. Wade

Griswold v. CT

13 th , 14 th , 15 th Amendments

19 th Amendment

Civil Rights Acts

Legal “remedies” to segregation- Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Voting Rights Act

Reed v. Reed

Affirmative Action

Plessy v. Ferguson

Sweatt v. Painter

Brown v. Board of Education

 

FINAL EXAM STUDY GUIDE

What are the characteristics of a political party?

How is a party different than an interest group or a PAC?

What are the functions of a party?

Why do we have a two-party system in the U.S.?

What impact does the presidential election have on the maintenance of a two party System?

What impact does the method by which we elect members of Congress have on the two party system?

What is a party platform?

Who won the 2004 presidential election? What was the popular vote? What was the electoral vote?

GOP: Why do Republicans have the advantage in Texas? By what margins?

What is partisanship? why is it important?

Third Parties/Why do third parties have problems winning? How well did Perot do in 1992 and 96. What about Nader in 2000 and 2004?

What is Ticket splitting?

Divided government-

19th Amendment-

What are the kinds of primary elections?

Why don't college students vote?

Gender gap

Benefits/shortcomings of primary elections

Laws/actions that attempted to expand voting rights in the US

Literacy tests

poll tax

Voting Rights Act

Fifteenth Amendment

Who is responsible for regulating Campaign Financing at the federal and state levels?

Who votes and who doesn't? Why? What factors influence voting?

The Electoral College: How it worked in 1800 and how it works now. Criticisms?

Twenty-sixth Amendment

Purpose of the primary stage of a presidential election. What are the types of primaries?

Purpose of the nomination stage of a presidential election

Purpose of a party convention

On what basis do presidential candidates select their vice presidential running mates?

Differences between Democrats and Republicans

What is a “mandate”?

For many years Texas had a one-party system? Why? Why did it change?

"Party in government" refers to…

What is gerrymandering?

Who won the 2000 presidential election? By what margin?

What constitutes "the media?"

How does the media influence politics?

What is "the new media?"

What does the FCC do?

What is agenda setting? Who is affected?

According to the book, is the media biased? Explain.

The highest rated media events during a presidential campaign.

What does media political coverage emphasize?

Why is voter turnout so low in the U.S.? Does it matter?

Political mobilization

Who votes? Why? What factors predict who votes and who does not?

Responsible party government

Single member congressional district

Redistricting

The Electoral College: how does it work today?

Political party conventions

Sources of political campaign contributions

How does money harm democracy?

How do campaign contributions harm the Texas court system?

Interest groups

Name the kinds of interest groups

Why do people join interest groups?

How do IGs influence government?

What is an iron triangle?