American Government

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Previous Lessons
Open Chapter Ch. 1: The Democratic Republic
Lesson #1 Politics and Government
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Lesson #2 Democracy and Other Forms of Government
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Lesson #3 What Kind of Democracy Do We Have?
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Lesson #4 Fundamental Values
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Lesson #5 Political Ideologies
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Open Chapter Ch. 2: Forging a New Government: The Constitution
Lesson #6 The Colonial Background
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Lesson #7 An Independent Confederation
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Lesson #8 The Constitutional Convention
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Lesson #9 The Difficult Road to Ratification
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Lesson #10 Altering the Constitution
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Open Chapter Ch. 3: Federalism
Lesson #11 Federalism and Its Alternatives
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Lesson #12 The Constitutional Basis for American Federalism
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Lesson #13 Defining Constitutional Powers -- The Early Years
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Lesson #14 The Continuing Dispute over the Division of Power
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Lesson #15 Federalism and Today’s Supreme Court
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Exam Exam 1
Open Chapter Ch. 4: Civil Liberties
Lesson #16 The Constitutional Bases of Our Liberties
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Lesson #17 Freedom of Religion
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Lesson #18 Freedom of Expression
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Lesson #19 The Right to Privacy
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Lesson #20 The Great Balancing Act: The Rights of the Accused versus the Rights of Society
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Open Chapter Ch. 5: Civil Rights
Lesson #21 The African American Experience and the Civil Rights Movement
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Lesson #22 Civil Rights and the Courts
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Lesson #23 Experiences of Other Minority Groups
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Lesson #24 Women’s Struggle for Equal Rights
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Lesson #25 The Rights and Status of Gay Males and Lesbians
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Open Chapter Ch. 6: Public Opinion, Political Socialization, and the Media
Lesson #26 Public Opinion and Political Socialization
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Lesson #27 The Influence of Demographic Factors
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Lesson #28 Measuring Public Opinion
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Lesson #29 Public Opinion and the Political Process
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Lesson #30 The Media in the United States
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Lesson #31 The Media and Political Campaigns
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Open Chapter Ch. 7: Interest Groups and Political Parties
Lesson #32 A Nation of Joiners
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Lesson #33 Types of Interest Groups
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Lesson #34 Interest Group Strategies
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Lesson #35 Political Parties in the United States
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Lesson #36 A History of Political Parties in the United States
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Lesson #37 Why Has the Two-Party System Endured?
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Exam Midterm Exam
Open Chapter Ch. 8: Campaigns and Elections
Lesson #38 The Twenty-First-Century Campaign
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Lesson #39 Financing the Campaign
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Lesson #40 Running for President: The Longest Campaign
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Lesson #41 How Are Elections Conducted?
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Lesson #42 How Do Voters Decide?
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Open Chapter Ch. 9: The Congress
Lesson #43 The Nature and Functions of Congress
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Lesson #44 House-Senate Differences and Congressional Perks
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Lesson #45 Congressional Elections and Apportionment
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Lesson #46 How Congress Is Organized
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Lesson #47 Law Making and Budgeting
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Open Chapter Ch. 10: The Presidency
Lesson #48 Who Can Become President?
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Lesson #49 The Many Roles of the President
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Lesson #50 Presidential Powers
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Lesson #51 The Executive Organization
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Lesson #52 The Vice Presidency
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Exam Exam 3
Open Chapter Ch. 11: The Bureaucracy
Lesson #53 The Nature and Scope of the Federal Bureaucracy
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Lesson #54 The Organization of the Federal Bureaucracy
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Lesson #55 Staffing the Bureaucracy
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Lesson #56 Modern Attempts at Bureaucratic Reform
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Lesson #57 Bureaucrats as Politicians and Policymakers
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Open Chapter Ch. 12: The Judiciary
Lesson #58 Sources of American Law
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Lesson #59 The Federal Court System
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Lesson #60 The Supreme Court at Work
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Lesson #61 The Selection of Federal Judges
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Lesson #62 Policymaking and the Courts
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Open Chapter Ch. 13: Domestic and Economic Policy
Lesson #63 The Policymaking Process: Health Care as an Example
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Lesson #64 Immigration
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Lesson #65 Energy and the Environment
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Lesson #66 The Politics of Economic Decision Making
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Lesson #67 The Politics of Taxation
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Open Chapter Ch. 14: Foreign Policy
Lesson #68 Facing the World: Foreign and Defense Policies
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Lesson #69 Terrorism and Warfare
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Lesson #70 U.S. Diplomatic Efforts
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Lesson #71 Who Makes Foreign Policy?
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Lesson #72 The Major Foreign Policy Themes
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Exam Final Exam

Assignments:

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Lesson Objectives:

- Political culture and political socialization
- Defining our basic values and liberties
- When values conflict
- Economic equality and the right to property
- Capitalism



What the framers of the U.S. Constitution put together was a government with political stability by the will of the people. But, Political Culture was going to be the glue that holds it all together.

Political Culture is the patterned set of ideas, values, and ways of thinking about government and politics that characterizes a people.

Even though there are disagreements, there is a general understanding about certain things such as the rights to liberty, equality, and property.



With a population that has the ability to change, how do we keep our understanding of basic values? Political Socialization accomplishes that.

Political Socialization is the process by which people acquire political beliefs and values.

Through family and our educational system, we can raise future generations, and we can instill immigrants with the values upon which this country is based.



When we discuss Civil Liberties, we are talking about such freedoms as religious freedom and freedom of speech. Civil liberties are those personal freedoms that are protected for all individuals in a society.

Our religious freedom means we can choose which religion to practice or we can choose to not practice any religion at all. Freedom of speech is probably one of our most important freedoms because without it, a democracy cannot even exist.



Our basic liberties are more than just freedom of religion and freedom of speech. There are quite a few of them actually.

They are called the Bill of Rights and they are the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

They include other rights such as the right to assemble peaceably, the right to bear arms, and the right to due process of law.



Not all Americans agree on all of our basic rights. There is a political struggle over these liberties because they do not have a general consensus.

A substantial number among us contend that certain liberties threaten order. The Right to Privacy is one such liberty. Of course, the Right to Privacy is implied in most other liberties that we have. But, some privacy is not guaranteed.



When Americans feel they need heightened security, that is when order takes priority over civil liberties. It has happened throughout history for the security of the nation.

During World War II after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were placed in camps throughout America for the duration of the war because they seemed to pose a threat.

Even more recently, though, order took priority over civil liberties when we were attacked on September 11, 2001. The government tightened security in airports, created a no-fly list, and gave the NSA some new directives.



"All men are created equal" is very clear stated in the Declaration of Independence. What exactly does that mean?

As a political value, Equality is the idea that all people are of equal worth.

But, that has not always been the case. Certain liberties have been denied to specific groups, like the right to vote for black men and the right to marry for same-sex couples.



Years ago, it might have been okay to deny someone equal treatment based on the color of their skin or sexual preference.

That is why promoting equality often requires limiting the right to treat people unequally.

When the right to treat people unequally is limited, liberty and equality seem to conflict. But when everyone in America is protected under the same laws, that is when liberty and equality compliment each other.



Economic equality is a controversial issue because it is not simply viewed as giving equal opportunity to underprivileged individuals.

Egalitarianism is a system in which wealth and power are redistributed more equally.

There is great opposition to the redistribution of wealth even though there is strong support for the reduction of economic inequality.



The Right to Property seems contrary to the right of economic equality. If property is anything that is subject to ownership, then reducing economic inequality seems to counter that, because property would be taken from one and given to another.



The issue is that all groups that make up America are interested in owning property. Taking from one group so that another can have more, runs counter to what most Americans want.

America has a capitalistic system. That means that we have an economic system characterized by the private ownership of wealth-creating assets, free markets, and freedom of contract.

That is the desire of most Americans. The supporters of a total egalitarian system have had great difficulty in finding the following they need.