Political Science

Note: this site is not giving legal advice, simply organizing information from various classes and texts. If you need legal advice consult your lawyer.

  1. What Should We Know About American Government?
  2. The Constitution
  3. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
  4. Federalism
  5. Public Opinion and the Media
  6. Political Parties and Interest Groups
  7. Campaigns and Elections
  8. Congress
  9. The Presidency
  10. The Bureaucracy
  11. The Judiciary
  12. Making Domestic Policy
  13. Making Foreign and Military Policy
  14. American Government: Continuity and Change

What this Is and What this Isn't

What this is: These notes were made by a student with a bad memory, in order to attempt to retain highlights of the lectures.

What this isn't: They are not a substitute for reading the text and taking a class.

August 31, 2006 class

  1. Why have government? The opposite is anarchy.
    1. Social contracts: You give up some liberties so that others also give up liberties for a smoother societies. e.g. Legislation in California on requiring car drivers using cell phones to listen on an earpiece.
    2. Tragedy of the commons: When no one has to pay for the cost of what they do, the commons are destroyed. Government makes choices and allocates resources long-term, and can save the commons.
    3. Power and money: Predictability and stability are vital for a free-market system.

  2. Forms of government.
    1. Authoritarian (like North Korea) or monarchy.
    2. Democracy:
      1. Parliamentarian: 'elected dictatorship' with government in one place.
      2. Direct: such as in a town in Switzerland and California ballot measures (referendum when legislature puts measures on the ballots and initiative when citizens get signatures (or special interests pay to have them gathered)); there are no US federal ballot measures.
      3. Representative.

  3. Levels of government in USA:
    1. Federal (includes regulatory bodies).
    2. State.
    3. Local. Decide local ordnances and how land is used.

  4. Does it work? In some ways yes, in others, no.

September 5, 2006 class

1. What Should We Know About American Government?

Main ideas:

2. The Constitution

Main ideas:

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