"The American Political System"
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Background The Declaration of Independence 1776 The War of Independence 1776-1783 The American Constitution 1789 Federal government and state govmts. Division of power Checks and balances
State and Federal System Historically state and local government came first. The states have their own legislative, executive and judicial institutions State and local government control important areas like: Highways State income tax Public schools and universities Police and fire departments Regulate business and supervise commercial affairs The Federal system of government controls: Foreign policy, defense and monetary policy Areas that cannot be regulated locally and statewise: interstate commerce, interstate crime, interstate environmental problems etc.
The Legislative Branch: Congress Passes legislation and appropriates money The House of Representatives 435 members –according to the size of the state 2-year term The Senate 100 members -two from each state 6-year term
The Executive Branch: The Presidency 4-year term - max two 4-year terms Protects the Constitution Proposes legislation Enforces the laws made by Congress Commander in Chief of the armed forces Appoints judges to Supreme Court (with the consent of the Senate)
The Executive Branch: The Cabinet No mention of it in the Constitution Subordinate to the President Cabinet members recruited broadly, not necessarily party insiders
The Supreme Court 9 members Life term appointment Interprets and guards the Constitution Interprets the law Decisions of the Supreme Court are final In general it plays a conservative role, maintaining legal tradition
Checks and Balances Congress: Power of the purse Can override presidential veto (2/3 majority) Power of impeachment Senate approves treaties and the president’s appointments Supreme Court: Power to declare laws and presidential actions unconstitutional The President: Power to veto Issues executive orders Commander-in-chief Appoints Federal Judges Grants Pardons for offenses against the US
Elections and Political Parties Winner-take-all-election system The Electoral College Two party system- both appealing to the middle of the political spectrum Balancing the ticket (President and Vice president) Voting patterns: splitting the ticket Voting for individuals rather than party slate
The Electoral College Representatives of the people in presidential elections 534 electors, corresponding to the numbers of Representatives and Senators 270 electoral votes guarantee the Presidency Each state votes as a single block (minus Nebraska and Maine) winner takes all Importance of Swing States and the big states
Democrats and Republicans And Their Voters Democrats supported by majority of black voters (Clinton 83%) Urban ethnics Blue collar workers Catholics More women voters Northeast, upper midwest, northwest, Hawaii Protestant voters Business community White collar workers Religious fundamentalists
Democrats and Republicans and Their Policies Democrats Support welfare programs Keynesian economics and job creating programs Social security, Medicare and Medicaid Civil Rights legislation Women’s right to abortion Rebublicans Limiting federal regulation of business Reduction in welfare spending Anti-abortion