POLITICAL SCIENCE 150 (SECTION 04)
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
FALL, 2009

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Instructor: Dr. Harbour


Office: East Ruffner 228
Office telephone: 395-2219
Office hours:
MWF 11:00-12:00  TR 9:30 - 10:30
harbourwr@longwood.edu

Table of Contents
Course Description
Texts
Course Objectives
Class Schedule
Course Requirements
Grading
Attendance Policy
Honor Code
Class Discussion
Critical Thinking Writing Exercises
Taking Exams
Bibliography
 

Course Description:
An introduction to the American political system, with an emphasis upon the national political institutions, processes, groups, public behavior, and issues which shape contemporary society.

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Texts:

Edwards, Wattenberg, Lineberry.  Government in America 14th Edition.  New York: Person/Longwman, 2009.  Hardback

 

Students will also be required to purchase a discounted subscription to the New York Times from the Bookstore.  Being aware of current political developments is important to good citizenship.  Each exam will have at least one essay question requiring students to reflect on current political news.

Other Reading:
Students will also be required to purchase a discounted subscription to the New York Times from the Bookstore.  Being aware of current political developments is important to good citizenship.  Each exam will have at least one question requiring students to reflect on current political news and relate such developments to the material we are studying about the American political system. 

Students may also keep up with current political events and may follow the news through the following online sites:
http://www.nyt.com/
http://www.cnn.com/

Students may also read the Online editions of  CQ Weekly and The CQ Researcher published by Congressional Quarterly Inc.   These may be found by going to the CQ Library site at: http://library.cqpress.com/

There will be specific assignments from the above and other Web sources. 

Click HERE  for the Study Guide which contains questions for reading and thinking about the assignments, links to useful web sties containing materials on the topics being explored, and suggestions on developing your research for the critical thinking writing assignments.

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Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a capacity for critical and analytical thought about issues central to the American political system.

2. Demonstrate an ability to communicate in writing their knowledge and beliefs about the institutions and forces shaping the American political system.

3. Describe the essential features of the American political system.

4. Identify information regarding the American political system which is necessary for useful and responsible citizenship.

5. Discuss important philosophical and ethical issues associated with the practice of politics and the challenges facing this nation's system of government.

6. Describe the major ways in which political scientists have tried to understand American politics.

7. Discuss how American government and politics have shaped and been shaped by the dynamic social forces of the last hundred years.

8. Demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of persuasions and interests within American society.

9. Discuss elements of both continuity and change within the American political system.

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Class Schedule:
Click HERE  for the Study Guide which contains questions for reading and thinking about the assignments, links to useful web sites containing materials on the topics being explored, and suggestions on developing your research for the critical thinking writing assignments.

Week 1 (Aug. 24-28) Introduction to the Study of American Politics; The Constitutional System
Read: Edwards, Chpts, 1, 2
The Constitution
The Federalist, No. 51
Special Topics:
What is politics all about?  How do political scientists try to understand politics?
What are the most important features of the American constitutional system?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 1
First read The Federalist, No. 10 and No. 51 and then carefully study the Constitution.  Then write a three page essay on what you believe to be the core principles of Madison's political theory and what he hoped the system of checks and balances in the constitutional system would both prevent and achieve. Explain how the design of the Constitution reflects Madison's basic objectives.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Week 2 (Aug. 31 - Sept. 4) The Constitutional System; Federalism 
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 2, 3
The Constitution
Special Topics:
How have the rules governing American institutions and politics been changed by amendments added to the Constitution?
What are the essential attributes of American federalism?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 2
This assignment is based upon your reading the Supreme Court decision: McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819. You can read this decision online by using the Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe at: http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/
There you will find a summary and outline of the case, the arguments presented to the Court by both sides, and the opinion handed down by the Court. In your three page essay you should explain why this case was so important to the evolution of the federal system.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Sept.3.

Week 3 (Sept. 7-11)  (No classes on Monday, September 7, Labor Day)
                                   Constitutional Liberties; Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Read: Constitutional Amendments
Edwards, Chpts. 4, 5
Special Topics:
What are the most important rights protected by the Bill of Rights?
What are the most important equal rights issues facing this country?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 3
This assignment is based upon your reading the Supreme Court decision: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954. You can read this decision online by using the Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe at: http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/
There you will find a summary and outline of the case, the arguments presented to the Court by both sides, and the opinion handed down by the Court. In your three page essay you should explain the constitutional and public policy issues at stake in this case as well as the arguments used by Chief Justice Earl Warren in overturning the doctrine used by the defenders of government mandated segregation in education. In this essay you should also explain how knowledge from different academic disciplines played a role in how one could look at the practice of state mandated segregation in education.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Week 4 (Sept. 14-18) American Political Culture
 (No classes on Monday, September 1, Labor Day)
Read: Declaration of Independence
        
Edwards, Chpt. 1
Special Topics:
What are the most important features of American political culture?
First test
NOTE: You will have your first test on Thursday, Sept. 17. This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.

Week 5 (Sept. 21-25) Public Opinion; Political Ideology; Political Participation
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 6
There are important think tanks on both the left and right and each produce informative research on contemporary political issues.
           You may read studies representing contemporary liberalism by going to the online site of the Center for American Progress at:
           http://www.americanprogress.org/    and Brookings at: http://www.brookings.edu/
           There are important political magazines found on both the left and right that feature stories and editorials on contemporary political issues.
           You may read articles representing different contemporary liberal views by going to the online version of The New Republic at:
            http://www.tnr.com/
           You may read studies representing contemporary conservatism by going to the online site of The Heritage Foundation at:
            http://www.heritage.org/    and the American Enterprise Institute For Public Policy Research at:  http://www.aei.org/
           You may read articles representing different contemporary conservative views by going to the online version of The National Review at:
           http://www.nationalreview.com/#

Special Topics:
What are some of the most important observations which can be made about public opinion in American politics? What are the most important observations one can make about citizen participation in American politics?
What role does ideology play in American politics?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 4
After reading the text material on political ideologies, do some web-based research on the views advanced by these different ideologies.  Then write a three page essay in which you explain the most important differences between contemporary liberalism and conservatism in American politics.  What really sets these two schools of thought apart?
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Sept. 24.

Week 6 (Sept. 28 – Oct. 2) Voters, Elections, and Campaigns
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 9, 10
Presidential Election Results, 1789-2004
Special Topics:
What are the most important observations one can make about voting behavior in the United States?
How has research and knowledge about voting behavior developed by political scientists influenced how political consultants plan campaigns?  How are election campaigns driven by the empirical knowledge developed by the social sciences?
What are the principal aspects of the presidential selection process?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 5
Write a three page essay explaining why and how Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Oct 1.

Week 7 (Oct. 5-9) Political Parties; Interest Groups
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 8, 11
The Federalist, No. 10 and No. 51
Special Topics:
What are the most important of characteristics of American political parties?
What is the role played by interest groups in American politics?
Do interest groups advance or diminish democracy in America?  Do Interest groups advance or diminish the common good?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 6
Write a three page essay on the role of interest groups in the current debate over national health care reform.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Oct. 8.

FALL BREAK  OCTOBER 12-13

Week 8 (Oct. 14-16) Mass Media Politics
Read:  Edwards, Chpt. 7
Special Topics:
Fall Break (No classes on Monday and Tuesday of this week.)
How has the media influenced politics in the United States?
What does content analysis (a method used by social scientists to analyze communication) employed by political scientists tell us about important changes taking place in American politics? How has the study of the media's impact on American politics modified our overall understanding of the political system?

Week 9 (Oct. 19-23) Second Test and The Congress
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 12
Special Topics:
Second Test
The Congress
NOTE: You will have your second test on Tuesday, Oct. 20.  This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.
What is the role of Congress in the American political system? Who has power in Congress?
What is the role of political parties in Congress?

Week 10 (Oct. 26-30) The Congress
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 12
Special Topics:
What is the role played by committees in Congress?
What processes must a bill go through in order to become a law?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 7
Write a three page essay in which you explain why presidents often have trouble getting Congress to pass their legislative proposals. Why do presidents have trouble getting Congress to do what they want done?  Pay close attention to the legislative process and Congressional politics.  This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Week 11 (Nov. 2-6) The Presidency
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 13, 14
Special
Topics:
What functions are performed by the presidency in the American political system?  What are the key elements of presidential power?
What institutional forces shape the modern presidency? How important is presidential personality to the office?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 8.
What factors account for the success or failure of presidents as they attempt to lead the country?
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Week 12 (Nov. 9-13) The Bureaucracy; The Judiciary
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 15, 16
The Federalist, No. 78
Special Topics:
What are the most important characteristics of the federal bureaucracy?
What role does the judiciary play in the American Political System?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 9
Write a three page essay in which you explain why presidents have trouble dealing with the federal bureaucracy.  Then explain what tools they have at their disposal in trying to lead the bureaucracy.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, Nov. 12.                                                                    

Week 13 (Nov. 16-20) Third Test;  Domestic Policy Making; Economic and Budget Policies
Read:  Edwards, Chpt. 14
NOTE: You will have your third test on Tuesday, Nov. 17.  
This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.
Special Topics:
What are the most important political characteristics of domestic policy making?
What are the major steps in the policy making process?
What are the principal forces shaping economic and budget policies?

Week 14 (Nov. 23-24) Social Welfare Policies, Health Care
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 14, 17, 18, 19
Understand some of the challenges to Social Security and Medicare posed by the aging of the population and the impending retirement of the "Baby Boom" generation.  You may also want to understand this issue in a broader global context.
You must start by going to the Congressional Quarterly Library online at: http://library.cqpress.com/
Go to the link on the Congressional Researcher (CQ Researcher Online).  Look for the October 19, 2007 article by Alan Greenblatt, "Aging Baby Boomers."
http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2007101900  Also read the Nov. 21, 2008 article by Sarah Glazer, "Declining Birthrates." http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2008112100
Special Topics:
What are the most important features of American social welfare policies? 
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 10
Write a three page essay in which you examine the main issues involved in the current debate over national health care reform.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Thanksgiving Vacation   November 25-29

Week 15 (Nov. 30 - Dec. 4) The Environment; Foreign and Defense Policies; Review
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 19, 20
Special
Topics:
What are some of the most important environmental issues facing the country?
What forces have shaped the making of American foreign policies and defense policies since World War II?
How is American foreign policy evolving?  

Classes end Dec. 4
Reading Day:  Dec. 5
Exam Period:  Dec. 7-11
Final Exam: The final exam for section04 will be on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 8:00 A.M. - 10:30 A.M. The final exam will be worth 1/5 of your semester grade.

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Course Requirements:
Ten critical thinking writing assignments
Three tests
Final comprehensive examination
Daily reading of the New York Times

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Grading:
Your semester grade will be based on your combined score for 10 critical thinking writing assignments, three tests given during the course of the semester, and a final examination. Each of these will count for 1/5 of your semester grade for the class.

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Attendance Policy:
The attendance policy for this course is the college policy found in the College Catalog and Student Handbook.

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Honor Code:
Students are expected to live by the Longwood College Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating.

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Class Discussion:
Your instructor values class participation. Those students who make consistent contributions to class discussion will discover that if their semester average is on the borderline between two grades that they will receive the higher of the two grades. Students are encouraged to ask questions and to express their knowledge and beliefs about the material and issues being dealt with in class.  Be prepared to relate what we are studying to current political events.

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Critical Thinking Writing Exercises:
There will be 10 critical thinking writing exercises. These assignments will be three pages in length. They will be done in Microsoft Word with a Font size 12 and double spaced. Any documentation for these exercises will be done according to the Turabian format for a research paper. A shorter version of that style manual can be found on the History style manual at the following web address: <http://www.longwood.edu/history/HDPTSTS2.htm>  All of these essays will also be turned in to <turnitin.com> 
Your essays also must demonstrate reading beyond what is required for class assignments and must reflect knowledge of current political events.

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Taking Exams:
All tests and exams must be taken on time.
You are expected to provide proof for any legitimate reason (illness, participation in a college sponsored activity, or recognizable emergency) you have for missing a test or exam. Quizzes, critical thinking worksheets, and papers handed in past the time they are due will lose points.  You must be prepared in all the exams to relate the material being studied to current political events.

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Bibliography:
Required Reading:
The Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry and Serow & Ladd texts required for the course
Online CQ Library publications
Students will also be required to purchase a discounted subscription to the New York Times from the Bookstore.  Being aware of current political developments is important to good citizenship.  Each exam will have at least one question requiring the student to reflect on current political news and relate such developments to the material we are studying about the American political system. 
Current online news sites
Any special assignments of web based materials posted on Blackboard

Suggested Reading or Reference:
James David Barber. The Presidential Character. 4th Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
    Prentice-Hall, 1992.
Colin Campbell & Bert A. Rockman.  Editors. The Clinton Legacy.  New York: Chatham House Publishers, 2000.
Thomas E. Cronin & Michael A. Genovese. The Paradoxes of the American Presidency. New
    York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Byron W. Daynes & Glen Sussman.  The American Presidency and the Social Agenda.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
    Prentice-Hall, Inc., 2001.
Byron W. Daynes, Raymond Tatalovich, Denis L. Soden. To Govern a Nation: Presidential Power
    and Politics. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
Robert E. DiClericoThe American President.  Fifth Edition.  Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.
Robert E. DiClericoPolitical Parties, Campaigns, and Elections. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.
George C. Edwards III & Philip John Davies.  New Challenges for the American Presidency.  New York: Longman, 2004.
E.J. Dionne. Why Americans Hate Politics. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.
James M. Fallows. Breaking the News: How the MediaUndermine American Democracy. New York: Pantheon, 1996.
Steven W. Hook and John Spanier.  American Foreign Policy Since World War II.  Eighteenth Edition.  CQ Press: Washington, D.C., 2009. 
Abraham J. Henry and Barbara Perry. Freedom and the Court. 5th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
John S. Jackson III & William Crotty.  The Politics of Presidential Selection. Second Edition.  New York:  Longman, 2001.
Bruce W. JentlesonEditor.  Perspectives on American Foreign Policy. New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 2000.
Lance T. LeLoup & Steven A. Shull. Congress and the The President: The Policy Connection.
    Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993.
James P. Pfiffner & Roger H. Davidson.  Editors.  Understanding the Presidency.  Second Edition. New York:  Addison
   Wesley Longman, Inc., 2000.
Nelson W. Polsby and Aaron Wildavsky. Presidential Elections.  10th Edtion. New York: Chatham House Publishers, 2000.
Gerald M. Pomper  et. al. The Election of 2000.  New York: Chatham House Publishers, 2001.
Larry SabatoEditor.  Overtime: The 2000 Election Thriller.  New York: Longman, 2002.
Larry Sabato.  The Year of Obama: How Barack Obama Won the White House.  New York: Longman. 2010.
John Spanier and Eric Uslaner. American Foreign Policy and the Democratic Dilemmas. Sixth Edition. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1994.
Sidney Verba, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry Brady. Voiceand Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
    American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Shirley Anne Warshaw. The Domestic Presidency: Policy Making in the White House. Boston:
    Allyn and Bacon, 1997.
Martin P. Wattenburg. The Decline of American Political Parties, 1952-1992. Cambridge, Mass.:
    Harvard University Press, 1994.
Stephen P. Wayne. The Road to the White House 1996: The Politics of Presidential Elections. New
    York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

Academic Journals:
American Political Science Review
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Journal of Politics

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