Understanding American Politics and Government, 2012 Election Edition / Edition 3

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Solve real-world puzzles like a political scientist

Understanding American Politics and Government, 2012 Election Edition introduces students to the basic tools used by political scientists. It guides students through the fundamentals of government and helps them see why events really happen in politics. Consistently showing the difference between “causation” and “correlation,” this text presents American government as a field full of interesting questions and puzzles that all citizens must explore. The book draws heavily on real-world politics to help students think more critically about their political beliefs and actions.

This text features full integration with the New MyPoliSciLab. MyPoliSciLab includes a wide array of resources to encourage students to look at American politics like a political scientist and analyze current political issues. Political Explorer lets students play the role of a political scientist by investigating issues through interactive data. Core Concept videos discuss the big ideas in each chapter and apply them to key political issues. Simulations allow students to experience how political leaders make decisions.

A better teaching and learning experience

This program provides a better teaching and learning experience–for you and your students. Here’s how:

  • Personalize Learning–The New MyPoliSciLab delivers proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals. MyPoliSciLab is now compatible with BlackBoard!
  • Engage Students–The stunning visual design engages students in the text.
  • Improve Critical Thinking– Learning objectives in every chapter help students focus on important topics.
  • Analyze Current Events–Coverage of the 2012 elections keeps the study of politics relevant and shows how political scientists look at the development of the American political system.
  • Support Instructors– A full supplements package including the Class Preparation Tool in the New MyPoliSciLab is available.

Note: MyPoliSciLab does not come automatically packaged with this text. To purchase MyPoliSciLab, please visit: www.mypoliscilab.com or you can purchase a ValuePack of the text + MyPoliSciLab (at no additional cost): ValuePack ISBN-10: 0205950043 / ValuePack ISBN-13: 9780205950041.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Understanding American Politics and Government empowers students to think more analytically and provides them with a sharper understanding about politics. A superior approach to understanding the intellectual process of answering political questions, this book is superb in every way!”–Dave Adler, Idaho State University

Understanding American Politics and Government is distinct from other introductory American politics texts in that it introduces students to the work of political science—particularly how to establish causality—while refraining from advocating for a single theoretical approach.”–Stacey Pelika, College of William & Mary

“I like the way the authors are able to grab the reader’s attention at the very beginning of the chapter and keep it focused with excellent writing, explanations, examples, and current case studies.”–Wayne Ault, Southwestern Illinois College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205875207
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/2/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 744
  • Sales rank: 361,403
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John J. Coleman is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; he is the Lyons Family Faculty Fellow and has received a Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. John’s current research examines the effect of various campaign finance rules and regulations on electoral and policy outcomes in the states.

Kenneth M. Goldstein is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he won the Kellet Award for his career research accomplishments and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is also president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group as well as a consultant for the ABC News elections unit and a member of their election night decision team.

William G. Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago. He has written widely on separation of powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. Will’s recent research examines the relationships between war and presidential power.

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Table of Contents

1. Brief Table of Contents

2. Full Table of Contents

1. Brief Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Thinking About American Politics

Chapter 2: Political Culture

Chapter 3: The Constitution

Chapter 4: Federalism

Chapter 5: Civil Liberties

Chapter 6: Civil Rights

Chapter 7: Public Opinion

Chapter 8: Political Participation and Voting

Chapter 9: Elections and Campaigns

Chapter 10: Media and Politics

Chapter 11: Political Parties

Chapter 12: Interest Groups

Chapter 13: Congress

Chapter 14: The Presidency

Chapter 15: The Federal Court System

Chapter 16: The Bureaucracy

Chapter 17: Economic and Social Policy

Chapter 18: Foreign Policy

2. Full Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Thinking About American Politics

The Purpose of Government

Contexts for Studying American Government and Politics

Thinking about Politics

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Candidate for Congress

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: How Do You Measure Freedom?

Chapter 2: Political Culture

What Does It Mean to Be an American?

Unresolved Debate: Does Belief in the American Dream Lead Americans to Oppose Government Programs?

The Beliefs of the American Creed

Consequences and Implications of the American Creed

Challenges to the American Creed

How Do We Know? Why Was the Path to Universal Health Insurance So Difficult?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a City Council Member

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Can You Get Ahead in America?

Chapter 3: The Constitution

From Revolution to Constitution

Crafting the Constitution

Unresolved Debate: Does the Constitution Limit the Authority of the President in His Role as Commander in Chief?

The Battle for Ratification

How Do We Know? What Motivated the Framers of the Constitution?

Amending the Constitution

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Founder

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: How Long Did It Take to Ratify the Constitution?

Chapter 4: Federalism

The Nature of the Union

State and Local Governments

Dual Federalism

Cooperative Federalism

Unresolved Debate: Should Federal Grants be Allocated Based on Competitions Instead of Formulas?

How Do We Know? Are States Engaged In A Race To The Bottom?

Federalism in Flux

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Federal Judge

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Which States Win or Lose the Federal Aid Game?

Chapter 5: Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties in American Politics and the Constitution

Freedom of Speech

How Do We Know? Does War or Fear of War Lead to Public Support for Civil Liberties Restrictions?

Freedom of Religion

Rights of the Accused

Discovering New Rights That Are Protected by the Constitution

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Police Officer

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Should the Government Apply the Death Penalty?

Chapter 6: Civil Rights

Equality and Civil Rights

Equal Protection of the Laws Gains Meaning

How Do We Know? Is White Opposition to Affirmative Action Racist?

The Politics of Civil Rights

Extension of Equal Protection to Other Groups

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Mayor

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Are All Forms of Discrimination the Same?

Chapter 7: Public Opinion

The Nature of Public Opinion

How Do We Know? Can Surveys Accurately Gauge the Opinions of More Than 300 Million Americans?

Political Socialization

Public Opinion Formation

Unresolved Debate: Do American Citizens Have the Stable, Informed Opinions Necessary to Make Good Decisions about Politics?

Making Public Opinion Work in a Democracy

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Polling Consultant

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: What Do Young People Think about Politics Today?

Chapter 8: Political Participation and Voting

The Costs and Benefits of Political Participation

The Paradox of Political Participation

How Do We Know? Why Is It So Difficult to Determine How Many People Vote on Election Day?

Factors That Influence Participation

Comparative and Historical Puzzles of Voter Turnout

Unresolved Debate: Can Any One Factor Explain the Decline in Voter Participation in the United States?

Understanding Individual Vote Choice

Who Gets Heard? Does It Matter?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Voting Registration Volunteer

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: How Are People Involved in Politics?

Chapter 9: Elections and Campaigns

The Basic Rules Governing American Elections

How Do We Know? How Much Does Congressional Candidate Spending Affect Election Outcomes?

Understanding Presidential Election Outcomes

Conducting Campaigns

Unresolved Debate: Do Presidential Campaigns Matter?

Paying for Campaigns

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Campaign Strategist

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Is the Electoral College Democratic?

Chapter 10: Media and Politics

The Unique Role of the American Media

Constraints on American Media Freedom

Patterns of Media Use

Are the Media Biased?

Media Effects on Public Opinion

How Do We Know? Do people react to coverage of events or to the events themselves?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Newspaper Editor

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Where Do You Get Your Political News?

Chapter 11: Political Parties

What Political Parties Do

Unresolved Debate: Is Divided Government an Accident?

The Two-Party System

Party Organization

The Evolution of Party Competition and Party Coalitions

How Do We Know? Is America Polarized?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Voter

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Which Party Governs Better?

Chapter 12: Interest Groups

The Problem of Factions and the Pluralist Answer

Critics of Pluralism

How Do We Know? Is It Possible to Measure the Impact of an Issue’s Absence From the Policy Agenda?

Solving the Collective Action Problem: Group Formation and Maintenance What Groups Do, and Why They Do It

Do Groups Matter?

Unresolved Debate: Do interest Groups influence Legislative Decisions?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Lobbyist

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Can interest Groups Buy Public Policy?

Chapter 13: Congress

An Institution with Two Chambers and Shared Powers

How Do We Know: Has Congress Abdicated Its War-Making Authority?

Principles and Dilemmas of Representation

Unresolved Debate: Do Majority-Minority Districts Improve Minority Representation in Congress?

How Members Make Group Decisions

Imposing Structure on Congress


The Appropriations Process

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Consumer Advocate

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Can Congress Get Anything Done?

Chapter 14: The Presidency

Presidential Authority and Leadership

How Do We Know? What Makes a President a Successful Leader?

Powers of the President

Public, Electoral, and Contextual Resources for Presidential Leadership

Unresolved Debate: Do Presidential Public Appeals Work As a Political Strategy?

Institutional Resources for Presidential Leadership

Public Opinion of the President

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a First-Term President

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: What Influences the President’s Public Approval?

Chapter 15: The Federal Court System

The Constitutional Design of the Federal Judiciary

The Organization of the Federal Judiciary

The Number and Types of Cases That Courts Process

Making and Interpreting the Law

Unresolved Debate: Are Liberal Judges Really More Likely Than Conservative Judges to Be Activists?

How Do We Know? Was Bush v. Gore a Political Decision?

Judicial Appointments

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Supreme Court Clerk

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Who Are the Activist Judges?

Chapter 16: The Bureaucracy

What Bureaucrats Do

Growth and Organization of the Bureaucracy

Challenges of Bureaucracy

How Do We Know? Does the Federal Bureaucracy Deserve Credit for Preventing Another 9/11?

Controlling and Reforming the Bureaucracy

Unresolved Debate: Should Businesses Be Required to Privately Fund Public Services?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are Head of Fema

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: What Puts the ‘Big’ in Big Government?

Chapter 17: Economic and Social Policy

Enacting Economic and Social Policies

Economic Policy

Unresolved Debate: Did the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package Work?

Social Security



How Do We Know? Why Are U.S. Students Falling Behind?

Health Care

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a Federal Reserve Chair

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: Is Health Care a Public Good?

Chapter 18: Foreign Policy

A Brief History of U.S. Foreign Policy

The Role of the Foreign Policy Bureaucracy

How Do We Know? Do Economic Sanctions Work?

The Role of Congress

The Role of Interest Groups

Contemporary Foreign Policy Challenges

Unresolved Debate: Is There Such a Thing as the Democratic Peace?

> MyPoliSciLab Video Series

> MyPoliSciLab Simulation: You Are a President During a Foreign Policy Crisis

> MyPoliSciLab Explorer: How Much Does America Spend on Defense?

> MyPoliSciLab Document: The Declaration of Independence

> MyPoliSciLab Document: The Constitution of the United States

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Federalist No. 10

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Federalist No. 15

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Federalist No. 51

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Federalist No. 78

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Anti-Federalist No. 17

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Marbury v. Madison

> MyPoliSciLab Document: McCulloch v. Maryland

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Brown v. Board of Education

> MyPoliSciLab Document: The Gettysburg Address

> MyPoliSciLab Document: Washington’s Farewell Address

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