POLITICAL SCIENCE 150 (SECTION 01)
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
SPRING, 2010

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 Instructor: Dr. Harbour
Office: Ruffner 228
Office telephone: 395-2219
Office hours:
MWF 10:00-11:00  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:
 
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/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
http://www.foxnews.com/index.html
http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=5

A useful site for checking on the facts presented in public forums:
http://www.factcheck.org/
Many thoughtful students sometimes wonder how much they can trust information about politics they encounter when viewing political ads and reading political editorials. They also worry about the objectivity of media news reports. Both conservatives and liberals complain about the distortion of facts found in the political ads run by the other side and various websites sponsored by opposition ideological groups. Distorting the views and positions of the opposition to make them look as bad as possible is an all too typical campaign technique. As a citizen and a student you not only should consider examining many different perspectives and sources of information but also make use of above site sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The experts at this site checks out the factual accuracy of many political speeches, ads, and news releases. They take on both the left and the right, finding errors put out by democrats and republicans. This site is especially useful when elections approach in examining current political debates over public policy.

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/

Students can also make use of Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports and Issue Briefs found online at:
http://www.opencrs.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 20th century.

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.

This course satisfies Goal 8 of the new General Education requirements adopted by the University for students entering Longwood beginning in 2002-2003 as well as Goal 8 of the general education system existing for current students already in attendance prior to that time.

GOAL 8: An understanding of the forces shaping contemporary society as revealed in the social sciences (three
credits).

     Outcomes: Students will

          Understand the major methods of social science inquiry
          Recognize and explain major contributions of social science to our cultural heritage
          Understand how social science has been used to address significant contemporary issues

General Education courses will have at least nine characteristics in common, reflected in the nine General Education course
criteria. Together, they define what a General Education course is at Longwood.  Courses satisfying all goals except Goals 12
and 15 will:

1. teach a disciplinary mode of inquiry (e.g., literary analysis, statistical analysis, historical interpretation, philosophical
reasoning, aesthetic judgment, the scientific method) and provide students with practice in applying their disciplinary mode of
inquiry, critical thinking, or problem solving strategies.

2. provide examples of how disciplinary knowledge changes through creative applications of the chosen mode of inquiry.

3. consider questions of ethical values.

4. explore past, current, and future implications (e.g., social, political, economic, psychological or philosophical) of disciplinary
knowledge.

5. encourage consideration of course content from diverse perspectives.

6. provide opportunities for students to increase information literacy through contemporary techniques of gathering,
manipulating, and analyzing information and data.

7. require at least one substantive written paper, oral report, or course journal and also require students to articulate information
or ideas in their own words on tests and exams.

8. foster awareness of the common elements among disciplines and the interconnectedness of disciplines.

9. provide a rationale as to why knowledge of this discipline is important to the development of an educated citizen.
 

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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 sties containing materials on the topics being explored, and suggestions on developing your research for the critical thinking writing assignments.

Week 1 (Jan. 11-15) Introduction to the Study of American Politics; The Constitutional System
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 1, 2
The Constitution
The Federalist, No. 10 and 51
Special Topics:
T: What is politics all about?  How do political scientists try to understand politics?
R: 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, Jan. 14

Week 2 (Jan. 18-22) The Constitutional System; Federalism
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 2, 3
The Constitution
Special Topics:
T: How have the rules governing American institutions and politics been changed by amendments added to the Constitution?
R: 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, Jan. 21.

Week 3 (Jan. 25-29) Constitutional Liberties; Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Read: Constitutional Amendments
Edwards, Chpts. 4, 5
Special Topics:
T: What are the most important rights protected by the Bill of Rights?
R: 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, Jan. 28.

Week 4 (Feb. 1-5) American Political Culture
Read: Declaration of Independence, Federalist 10 and 51
        
Edwards: Chpt. 1
You may encounter  debates involving some important aspects of our political culture by going to the Congressional Quarterly Library online at: http://library.cqpress.com/
Go to the link on the Congressional Researcher (CQ Researcher Online).  Then go to the link to the article “Conspiracy Theories: Do they threaten democracy?” by Peter Katel in the October, 23, 2009 Volume 19, Issue 37at: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2009102300
Also go to the link on the article “Government and Religion: Was the United States founded as a “Christian nation?” by Thomas J. Billiteri in the January 15, 2010 Volume 20, Issue 2 at: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2010011500
 Special Topics:
T: What are the most important features of American political culture?
R: First test
NOTE: You will have your first test on Thursday, Feb. 4. This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.

Week 5 (Feb. 8-12) Public Opinion; Political Ideology; Political Participation
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 6
Special Topics:
There are excellent sites that do good reports on public opinion.
You may access Gallup Opinion Polls at: http://www.gallup.com/home.aspx
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:
T: 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?
R: 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, Feb. 11.

Week 6 (Feb. 15-19) Voters, Elections, and Campaigns
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 9, 10
Presidential Election Results, 1789-2004 (Edward text appendix)
Study the exit polls from 2004 at:  http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html
Study the exit polls and results from 2008 at:  http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/president/
                                                               and:  http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#USP00p1
Study the electoral vote map for 2008 (and access maps from earlier elections) at:  http://www.270towin.com/
Study the electoral vote maps for 2008 and 2004 by state and county at:  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/
Special Topics:
T: 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? 
R: 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, Feb. 18. 

Week 7 (Feb. 22-26) Political Parties; Interest Groups
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 8, 11
The Federalist, No. 10 and No. 51
For information on the Democratic Party go to the website of the National Democratic Committee at: http://www.democrats.org/
For information on the Republic party go to the website of the National Republic Committee at: http://www.gop.com/
Special Topics:
T: What are the most important of characteristics of American political parties?
R: 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, Feb. 25.

Week 8 (March 1-5) Mass Media Politics
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 7
Read a debate about the media regarding its coverage of sex scandals by going to the Congressional Quarterly Library online at: http://library.cqpress.com/
Go to the link on the Congressional Researcher (CQ Researcher Online).  Then go to the article “Sex Scandals: Do the media pay too much attention to adultery?” by Alan Greenblatt in the January 22, 2010 Volume 20, Issue 3 at:
 http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2010012200
For balanced information on the role of the media in American politics and useful public opinion polls, go to the PEW Research Center for the People & the Press at: http://people-press.org/
There are popular websites on the left and right that carry links to stories advancing left-wing and right-wing political agendas.
A popular site on the left is the Huffington Post found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
A popular site on the right is the Drudge Report found at: http://www.drudgereport.com/
Special Topics:
T: How has the media influenced politics in the United States?    
R:  Second Test
NOTE: You will have your second test on Thursday, March 4. This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.

SPRING BREAK       March 6-14

Week 9 (March 15-19) The Congress
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 12
Special Topics:
T: 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?
R: What is the role played by committees in Congress?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 7
Imagine that you have been asked to give a speech to a group of foreign students or to lecture to your old high school civics class on the most important steps in the legislative process in Congress, with special emphasis on the key steps in the the House of Representatives.  This assignment requires that you write a three page essay that would serve as the basis for such a speech.  In order to become thoroughly familiar with how bills make their way through the House of Representatives, you must read the following:  "HOW OUR LAWS ARE MADE"  Revised and Updated by Charles W. Johnson, Parliamentarian, United States House of Representatives,  June 30, 2003.  This manual may be found online by going to the Thomas website at:  http://thomas.loc.gov/and going to:  http://thomas.loc.gov/home/lawsmade.toc.html
In developing this essay you need to reflect critically on the House procedures and write about what you regard as the most crucial steps in the legislative process.  Do not try to copy the manual; rather, develop an essay that would allow you to explain the most important aspects of the process.
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, March 18.

Week 10 (March 22-26) The Congress; The Presidency
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 12, 13
Congress has important agencies helping it to analyze public policy issues and serve as a watchdog on the Executive Branch:
You may go to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) site at:  http://www.cbo.gov/
You may go to the Government Accountability Office (GA0) site at: http://www.gao.gov/
You may go to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) site at:  http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/aboutcrs.html
You may access many of the CRS reports at the following site:   http://www.opencrs.com/
Special Topics:
T: What processes must a bill go through in order to become a law?
R: What functions are performed by the presidency in the American political system?  What are the key elements of
presidential power?
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, March 25.

Week 11 (March 29 - April 2) The Presidency; The Bureaucracy
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 12, 14, 15
Special Topics:
T: What institutional forces shape the modern presidency? How important is presidential personality to the office?
R: What are the most important characteristics of the federal bureaucracy?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 9
This assignment deals with the problems presidents face in dealing with the bureaucracy.  Read this week's assignment on the bureaucracy and reflect back on the material studied earlier regarding Congress and Interest groups.  You are to write a three page essay in which you explain why presidents find dealing with the bureaucracy so frustrating.  What institutional tools are available to presidents in dealing with the bureaucracy?
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, April 1.

Week 12 (April 5-9) The Judiciary
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 16
Federalist, No. 78
Special Topics
T: What role does the judiciary play in the American Political System?
R: Third Test
NOTE: You will have your third test on Thursday, April 8.
This test will count for 1/5 of your semester grade.

Week 13 (April 12-16) Domestic Policy Making; Economic and Budget Policies; Social Welfare Policies
Read: Edwards, Chpt. 17, 18
Special
Topics:
T: What are the major steps in the policy making process?
R: What are the principal forces shaping economic and budget policies?
     What are the competing values at stake in debates over social welfare policies?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 10
Write a three page essay in which you examine the problems facing entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare because of the aging of the population.
In addition to all you have been reading in the news this semester about this issue, you should also go 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
This assignment is due by 4:00 on Thursday, April 15.

Week 14 (April 20-24) Policymaking for Health Care and the Environment; Foreign and Defense Policies
Read: Edwards, Chpts. 19, 20
Examine the following article on malpractice reform and health care costs at: http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/malpractice-savings-reconsidered/
Also examine the following article on the impact of cap and trade legislation on jobs at: http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/cap-and-trade-green-jobs-or-job-killer/
Special Topics:
T: What are some of the most important health care and environmental issues facing the country?
R: What forces have shaped the making of American foreign policies and defense policies since World War II?

Classes end April 23
Reading Day:  April 24 

Final Exam Period:  April 26-30
The final exam will be worth 1/5 of your semester grade.

Commencement: May 8

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Course Requirements:
Ten critical thinking writing assignments
Three tests
Final comprehensive examination

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Grading:
Your semester grade will be based on the combined score for all your weekly essays, 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 University Catalog and Student Handbook.

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Honor Code:
Students are expected to live by the Longwood University 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.

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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 University 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.

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Bibliography:
Required Reading:
The Edwards text
Online assignments 
Current online news sites

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.
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.
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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