Chapter 1 The Study of American Government

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Transcript Chapter 1 The Study of American Government

Chapter 4 American Political Culture


1. Do Americans trust their government?

2. Why do we accept great differences in wealth and income?


1. Why does our government behave differently than governments in countries with similar constitutions?

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Political Culture

Political culture is a patterned and sustained way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America, a profound analysis of our political culture, p. 78. The Granger Collection Copyright © 2011 Cengage

Political Culture

   The Political System The Persistence of Conflict The Economic System Copyright © 2011 Cengage

In the 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was the inspiration for the world “McCarthyism” after his highly publicized attacks on alleged communists working in the federal government, p. 81 Topham/The Image Works At the height of immigration to this country, there was a striking emphasis on creating a shared political culture. Schoolchildren, whatever their national origin, were taught to salute this country’s flag. p. 79 Copyright © 2011 Cengage Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS

Source: Jack Citrin, et al., “Testing Huntington,” Perspectives on Politics, 5 (2007), 43. Data are from 2004 National Election Survey.

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Comparing America with Other Nations

   The Political System The Economic System The Civic Role of Religion The chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives leads a prayer, p. 85.

AP Photo/Ken Lambert Copyright © 2011 Cengage

The Sources of Political Culture

   Personal Liberty vs. Social Control Class Consciousness The Culture War • Orthodox – a belief that morality and religion ought to be of decisive importance.

Progressive – a belief that personal freedom and solving social problems are more important than religion.

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Protests and demonstrations are a common feature of American politics, as with this attack in Seattle on American membership in the World Trade Organization in November 2001.

Beth A. Keiser/AP Photo Yet, despite disagreements Americans are a patriotic people, as seen in this photo of baseball fans waving flags and singing “God Bless America,” taken a few days after 9/11.

John Sommers II/Reuters/Corbis Copyright © 2011 Cengage

Figure 4.2 Trust in the Federal Government, 1958-2004

Source: University of Michigan, The American National Election Studies.

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Source: Gallup Poll Copyright © 2011 Cengage

Mistrust of Government

Civil society is that collection of private, voluntary groups that – independent of the government and the commercial market – make human cooperation easier and provide ways of holding the government accountable for its actions.

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Figure 4.3 The American Civic Health Index, 1975-2002

Source: America’s Civic Health Index: Broken Engagement (Washington, D.C.: National Citizenship Conference and Saguaro Seminar, September 2006), p. 6. Reprinted by permission of the National Conference of Citizenship. p. 91 Copyright © 2011 Cengage

Political Tolerance

In order for democracy to work, citizens must have a political culture that allows the discussion of ideas and the selection of rulers in an atmosphere reasonably free of oppression.

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MEMORANDUM To: Representative Olivia Kuo From: J. P. Loria, chief of staff Subject: Charitable Choice Expansion Act

Section 104 of the 1996 federal welfare reform law encourages states to utilize “faith-based organizations” as providers of federal welfare services. Known as Charitable Choice, the law prohibits participating organizations from discriminating against beneficiaries on the basis of religion but permits them to control “the definition, development, practice, and expression” of their religious convictions. The proposed act would expand Charitable Choice to crime prevention and other areas.

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Arguments for:

1. Over 90 percent of Americans believe in God, and 80 percent favor government funding for faith-based social programs.

2. Local religious groups are the main nongovernmental providers of social services in poor urban neighborhoods. The primary beneficiaries of faith-based programs are needy neighborhood children who are not affiliated with any congregation.

3. So long as the religious organizations serve civic purposes and do not proselytize, the law is constitutional.

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Arguments against:

1. Americans are a richly religious people precisely because we have never mixed church and state in this way.

2. Community-serving religious groups succeed because over 97 percent of their funding is private and they can flexibly respond to people’s needs without government or other interference.

3. Constitutional or not, the law threatens to undermine both church and state: Children will have religion slid (if not jammed) down their throats, and religious leaders will be tempted to compromise their convictions.

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