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:

- Unitary and confederal systems
- Defining federalism
- Arguments for and against federalism



When talking about the kind of government we have in America, it makes sense to cover forms of governments for other independent nations first.

The Unitary System is one form of independent government with a centralized governmental system in which ultimate governmental authority rests in the hands of the national, or central, government.

In an independent nation like France or Britain, power flows from the national government to the states or regions.



Another independent form of government is the Confederal System.

A Confederal System consists of a league of independent states in which the central government created by the league has only limited powers over the states.

In other words, in a Confederal System, the power flows from the states to the national government. An example of this form of government was the first government formed by the Articles of Confederation.



When you put both the Unitary and the Confederal Systems together, you have a Federal System like we have in America.

Power flows from the national government to the states and from the states to the national government.



At the Constitutional Convention, a conflict existed between advocates for a strong national government and those who were opposed to it. A compromise had to be struck and that compromise was Federalism.

Federalism retained power to the states while granting more power to the national government that it needed to handle the issues it faced.



In the days of horse and buggy, communication was an issue because it took so long to travel.

Federalism offered a solution for a way to govern large, spread-out populations rather than leaving it solely in the hands of a faceless national government.



Federalism offers the United States some really great benefits. First of all, the system is a great training ground for future leaders. Most people who become president or members of Congress served at the local level first.

Another benefit is that it offers the national government a testing grounds for new laws. The legalization of marijuana started in Colorado and Washington. The Federal government can observe how successful it is in those states before it decides to act on a national level.



Political interests arise from various groups such as race, sex, wealth, education, and religion.

Federalism allows for voices of these varying interests to have an equal chance to influence government.



There are arguments against Federalism as well. One argument that is often true is that strong local politics can act to impede national progress.

Another argument is that local governments can easily be manipulated by a single political group. Minority groups can be denied rights by the majority.

Finally, when some feel that justice cannot be served in local politics, they call on the national government to solve the issue. This increases the power of the national government at the expense of the states.