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:

- The Government Policies and Supporting Positions book
- The Spoils System and the Merit System
- The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
- Federal Employees and Political Campaigns



The Plum Book, as it is called, is the Government Policy and Supporting Positions book that is published after each presidential election. It lists around 10,000 civil service support and leadership positions that are filled by noncompetitive appointment.

It is true aristocracy at work when the president fills these political appointments. Since they are often used to pay off political debts, these jobs are temporary positions that the person may not even have the background to do.

An attempt to fire a civil servant will get tied up in an appeal that could take months and even years. It could last longer than the appointee's time as head of the bureaucracy. This system is designed so that appointees really do not have the ability to make any sweeping changes in the little time they are there.



When Andrew Jackson entered office, he found all of the appointed officials hostile towards him and the Democratic party. Those officials had been appointed before he took office, so they were not loyal to him. His solution was to fire them all and that started the tradition of the Spoils System, the awarding of government jobs to political supporters and friends.

As the bureaucracy grew and the spoils system became more corrupt, calls for a new civil service system grew louder. The Merit System was adopted in 1883, and requires that the selection, retention, and promotion of government employees be on the basis of competitive examinations.

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, also known as the Pendleton Act, established the Merit System of federal government employment and created the Civil Service Commission to administer the personnel service.



The Civil Service Commission was abolished in 1978 by the Civil Service Reform Act. Two new federal agencies were formed: the Office of Personnel Management was put in place to recruit and hire qualified individuals to career positions, while the Merit Systems Protection Board was created to oversee promotions, employees' rights, and other matters of employment.



When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected, he put together the New Deal which brought with it many new government agencies that needed to be staffed. The civil servants put into these positions felt beholden to the Democratic party and as a result, heavily supported Democratic campaign efforts.

That is why the Hatch Act was put into place. It prohibited federal employees from participating in the management of campaigns. Also, federal authority was not allowed to be used to influence nominations, and federal employees could not be forced to make contributions.

The laws have eased up over the years. The Federal Employees Political Activities Act of 1993 modified the Hatch Act to allow federal employees to run for office and participate in registration drives as long as they are not on duty or on federal property. They can make contributions and participate in campaigns for candidates they support.