Essentials of American Politics

Overview

Essentials of American Politics—based on the acclaimed We the People, Third Edition—is the perfect alternative to larger, more expensive American government texts. Compelling and concise, Essentials of American Politics provides thorough coverage of core topics while underscoring the direct impact of government on students' lives and the vital importance of political engagement to a democratic society.

Outstanding Pedagogy

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Overview

Essentials of American Politics—based on the acclaimed We the People, Third Edition—is the perfect alternative to larger, more expensive American government texts. Compelling and concise, Essentials of American Politics provides thorough coverage of core topics while underscoring the direct impact of government on students' lives and the vital importance of political engagement to a democratic society.

Outstanding Pedagogy

"Main Message" and "Key Concepts" Boxes

Each chapter opens with a single-sentence "Main Message" that highlights the central concept on which the chapter is based. The following "Key Concepts" box outlines important ideas for students to keep in mind as they read.

Key Sentence Headings

In keeping with the book's emphasis on core concepts, topic headings within sections of each chapter are phrased as sentences that summarize the material that follows.

Balloon Captions

Throughout the text, figures and tables are accompanied by balloon captions that highlight crucial information or explain the flow of a diagram, making lengthy captions unnecessary.

End-of-Chapter Review Material

The text of each chapter is followed by a study outline, practice quiz,

critical thinking questions, and a list of key terms, providing ample opportunity for students to review what they have read.

Impressive Resources for Teachers and Students

Essentials of American Politics is accompanied by valuable tools for students and teachers. A Student Web Site includes practice quizzes and review materials that expand the scope of the text and encourage mastery of essential concepts. A Test-Item File for instructors—available in printed or electronic form—contains true/false and multiple-choice questions for each chapter of the text.

Attractive Price

At less than half the price of longer American government texts, Essentials of American
Politics
offers students exceptional content and value.

Author Biography: Robert J. Spitzeris professor of political science at The State University of New York at Cortland. Best known for his work on the presidency and gun control, Professor Spitzer is the author of The Politics of Gun Control. Benjamin Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Politics at The Johns Hopkins University and the author of numerous books and articles. Among his most widely assigned works are The Captive Public and Politics by Other Means. Theodore J. Lowi has been John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University since 1972. He was elected president of the American Political Science Association in 1990 and was cited as the political scientist who made the most significant contribution to the field during the 1970s. He is currently first vice-president of the International Political Science Association and a member of its research committee on world pluralism and minority representation. Author of many books, he is probably best known for The End of Liberalism (1969, Norton) and for his collaboration with Robert F. Kennedy on The Pursuit of Justice. Margaret Weir is professor of sociology and political science at the University of California, Berkeley. She has written widely on social policy in Europe and the United States. Her most recent book is Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States. She co-authored (with Ira Katnelson) Schooling for All: Class, Race, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal. Weir is the editor (with Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol) of The Politics of Social Policy in the United States.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393976076
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2001
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xix
1 Introduction: The Citizen and the Government 1
Citizenship Is Based on Knowledge of and Participation in Politics 5
Government Is Made Up of the Institutions and Procedures by Which People Are Ruled 6
America Is Built on the Ideas of Liberty, Equality, and Democracy 10
2 The Founding and the Constitution 17
Narrow Interests and Political Conflicts Shaped the First Founding 19
The Failure of the Articles Made the "Second Founding" Necessary 24
The Constitution Created Both Bold Powers and Sharp Limits on Power 29
Ratification of the Constitution Was Difficult 38
Constitutional Amendments Dramatically Changed the Relationship between Citizens and the Government 42
3 Federalism 53
Federalism Shapes American Politics 55
4 Civil Liberties and Civil Rights 79
The Origin of the Bill of Rights Lies in Those Who Opposed the Constitution 80
Dual Citizenship Was Defined by Barron v. Baltimore 82
The Fourteenth Amendment Created the Doctrine of Incorporation 84
The First Amendment Guarantees Freedom of Religion 86
The First Amendment and Freedom of Speech and the Press Assure Free Exchange of Ideas 88
The Second Amendment Protects the Right to Bear Arms in a Militia 94
Rights of the Criminally Accused Are Based on Due Process of Law 94
The Right to Privacy Is the Right to Be Left Alone 99
Civil Rights Are Protections by the Government 100
The Civil Rights Struggle Was Extended to Other Disadvantaged Groups 108
Affirmative Action Attempts to Right Past Wrongs 114
5 Public Opinion and the Media 123
Fundamental Values Shape Our Opinions 124
Measuring Public Opinion Is Crucial to Understanding What It Is 137
Public Opinion Must Matter in a Democracy 139
The Media Must Also Matter in a Democracy 140
News Coverage Matters Because People Rely on It 140
The Media Affect Power Relations in American Politics 143
Public Opinion, Media, and Democracy Are Closely Linked 149
6 Political Parties and Elections 155
Parties and Elections Have Been Vital to American Politics and Government 156
America Is One of the Few Nations with a Two-Party System 160
Voters Decide Based on Party, Issues, and Candidate 170
Elections Are Important to Democracy, but the System Can Seem Complicated 172
The 2000 Elections 178
Money Is the Mother's Milk of Politics 180
7 Interest Groups 191
Pluralist and Elitist Views Both Explain the Group Process 192
Interest Groups Represent Different Interests but Have Similar Organizations and Membership 194
The Number of Groups Has Increased in the Last Thirty Years 200
Interest Groups Use Different Strategies to Gain Influence 202
Interest Groups Both Help and Hurt Democracy 213
8 Congress 219
Congressional Power Is Rooted in the Constitution 221
Congress Represents the American People 222
The Organization of Congress Is Shaped by Party 230
Rules of Lawmaking Explain How a Bill Becomes a Law 237
There Are Several Influences on How Congress Decides 240
Much Congressional Energy Goes to Tasks Other Than Lawmaking 244
9 The Presidency 253
Presidential Power Is Rooted in the Constitution 255
Institutional Resources of Presidential Power Are Numerous 264
The President Has Numerous Political Resources 270
10 Bureaucracy 283
Bureaucracy Exists to Improve Efficiency 284
The Executive Branch Is Organized Hierarchically 291
Several Forces Control Bureaucracy 302
Democracy Can Control Bureaucracy 306
11 The Federal Courts 311
The Legal System Settles Disputes 313
The Federal Courts Hear a Small Percentage of All Cases 318
The Power of the Supreme Court Is Judicial Review 323
12 Domestic Policy 341
The Tools for Making Policy Are Techniques of Control 343
Social Policy and the Welfare State Buttress Equality 349
Social Policy Spending Benefits the Middle Class More Than the Poor 356
The Cycle of Poverty Can Be Broken by Education, Employment, Health, and Housing Policies 362
13 Foreign Policy 371
The Makers and Shapers of Foreign Policy Include the President, the Bureaucracy, and Congress 372
America Is Historically Suspicious of Foreign Entanglements 377
The Instruments of Modern American Foreign Policy Include Diplomacy, Money, and Military Force 380
Foreign Policy Values for America Today Emphasize Economic Relationships 389
Appendix A1
The Declaration of Independence A3
Articles of Confederation A7
The Constitution of the United States A13
Amendments to the Constitution A23
The Federalist Papers A33
Presidents and Vice Presidents A41
Glossary A45
Endnotes A59
Answer Key for Practice Quizzes A79
Index A81
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