American Government

Since the advent of civilization, humans have had an impulse to form governments. It is an experiment thousands of years in the making.

This course asks a lot of fundamental questions about the nature of government and society. Among them:

  • What is the purpose of government?
  • What types of governments are there? What is a democracy?
  • Where is the center of governmental power? Is it national or local?
  • Is America's government too big? Too small? Constantly shifting with the times?
  • What are the rights and responsibilities of each American citizen?

We do not answer these questions; that is up to you. Defining the role of government has been thousands of years in the making. Welcome to the laboratory of democracy.

  1. The Nature of Government
    1. The Purposes of Government
    2. Types of Government
    3. What Is a Democracy?
    4. Democratic Values — Liberty, Equality, Justice
  2. Foundations of American Government
    1. The Colonial Experience
    2. Independence and the Articles of Confederation
    3. Creating the Constitution
    4. The Bill of Rights
  3. Federalism
    1. The Founders and Federalism
    2. Tipping the Scales Toward National Power
    3. Federal-State Relations Today: Back to States' Rights?
  4. American Political Attitudes and Participation
    1. American Political Culture
    2. What Factors Shape Political Attitudes?
    3. Measuring Public Opinion
    4. Participating in Government
    5. Voting: A Forgotten Privilege?
  5. How Do Citizens Connect With Their Government?
    1. Political Parties
    2. Campaigns and Elections
    3. Interest Groups
    4. The Media
    5. The Internet in Politics
  6. Congress: The People's Branch?
    1. The Powers of Congress
    2. Leadership in Congress: It's a Party Matter
    3. The Importance of Committees
    4. Who Is in Congress?
    5. How a Bill Becomes a Law
  7. The Presidency: The Leadership Branch?
    1. The Evolution of the Presidency
    2. All the President's Men and Women
    3. Selection and Succession of the President
    4. The President's Job
    5. Presidential Character
  8. The Bureaucracy: The Real Government
    1. The Development of the Bureaucracy
    2. The Organization of the Bureaucracy
    3. Who Are the Bureaucrats?
    4. Reforming the Bureaucracy
  9. The Judicial Branch
    1. The Creation of the Federal Courts
    2. The Structure of the Federal Courts
    3. The Supreme Court: What Does It Do?
    4. How Judges and Justices Are Chosen
    5. The Power of the Federal Courts
  10. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
    1. Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens
    2. First Amendment Rights
    3. Crime and Due Process
    4. Citizenship Rights
  11. Policy Making: Political Interactions
    1. Foreign Policy: What Now?
    2. Defense Policy
    3. Economic Policy
    4. Social and Regulatory Policy
  12. State and Local Governments
    1. State and Local Governments: Democracy at Work?
    2. Financing State and Local Government
    3. Who Pays for Education?
  13. Comparative Political and Economic Systems
    1. Comparing Governments
    2. Comparing Economic Systems
    3. A Small, Small, World?
One textbook$40-$65
US textbooks, annually$3.4 billion
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