The central technique in politics is determining the will of the people and advancing it. Politics are conflictual in nature and this means that people involved must compromise at some point. The process is essential because they present an avenue through which disagreements amongst the larger American population can be resolved.
The Importance of Government
The government is accountable for the implementation of decisions that are made in the political process. It promotes the general welfare of the people and offers with issues that each individual would no longer solve on their own.
Sources of conflict in American Politics
The relevance of cultural values and economic pastimes as sources of conflict in American Politics
The relevance of cultural values and economic interests as sources of conflict in American politics has diminished since there have been significant gains towards forming an inclusive society and achieving equality. Differences are usually ignited by politicians. For instance, comments by President Trump against Mexican immigrants have seen many people of Hispanic origin express their dissatisfaction with his leadership (Velasco, 2017).
Chapter 2: The Constitution and the Founding
The Historical context of the Constitution
There is a general feeling by the conservatives in the US that the founding principles within the constitution are being undermined. These changes have been continuous since the era of Teddy Roosevelt. Some of the key milestones that are viewed as part of these changes include the explosive Civil Society groups of the 1960s and the healthcare reforms instituted by President Barrack Obama (Bianco, 2017). There have been many additional legislations and policies aimed at overcoming the issues facing the contemporary society. It is the role of the court to determine whether laws are constitutional or not. Therefore, the individuals opposed to these changes can seek legal reprieve through the courts. However, the new policies and laws are justified since they are aimed at solving issues than never existed when the original constitutional provisions were being drafted.
The Constitutional Framework for Government
The constitution has undergone various changes to ensure that the government belongs to all Americans. The system of separation of powers, checks and balances has given Americans an opportunity to prevent tyranny and maintain a flexible government. According to Bianco (2017), the fact that the American constitution helped the people avoid the grave effects of events such as the Civil War, the Great Depression and the two world wars is an indicator that there are many positives in the manner in which the constitution has structured the American government. The congress has greater powers that are more specific than what the president has at his/her disposal. Most of the decisions made by the president are usually approved by the legislature. However, there are instances when the president can veto what the legislature enacts. The judiciary also plays a key role in checks and balances by interpreting the laws passed by the congress and the actions of the executive arm of the government. The American system of governance has experienced tremendous success due to effective separation of powers, checks and balances put in place by the constitution (McKay, 2017).
The Constitution as a “living” Document
The constitution is a living document because it has remained relevant for almost two and a half centuries since its inception. The flexibility of the constitution has seen it survive through all the generations. The document is often interpreted differently in order to suit the prevailing conditions. Therefore, the original principles by the framers of the constitution have remained relevant despite the changing norms and values of the American people.
Chapter 3: Federalism
Power Between the State or The Federal Government
America was created through the merging of separate territories to form a national government. The framers of the constitution believed that despite the need for a strong centralized national government, it was important to preserve some of the state powers and autonomy. Both the levels of government have their own unique powers that are instrumental in upholding the wellbeing of the people. However, a general look at governance in the US will reveal that the constitution tends to give more power to the national government. In case state law conflicts with national law, the latter overrides the former. A good example is the squashing of state laws that contradicted the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court (Bianco, 2017).
Federalism refers to the system of government formed after various territories decide to forego their independent sovereignty through political mergers. The system tries to balance between the need for a powerful central government and autonomy of the combined territories. The foregone sovereign power is vested on the national government which becomes stronger than the individual states. This power is then shared back to the states through intergovernmental relations. The relations may also result in conflicts and mechanisms have to be placed at the federal level to resolve the conflicts (Bianco, 2017). Therefore, federalism matters due to the increased power that the territories possess collectively and the sharing of this powers to the benefit of the constituents.
Balancing National and State Power in the Constitution
The American constitution seems to vest more power on the national government. However, there was need to still leave the state governments with some powers. The constitution avoids conflict between these two by regarding the collective will of the American people as superior. Therefore, federal power overrides state power where conflicts exist.
Chapter 4: Civil Liberties
America is a free country. Individuals have the liberty to act according to their personal, cultural or religious principles, so long as they do not contravene the liberties of other people. However, there are instances where individuals are denied this freedom by others. The victims can obtain legal reprieve if they have reasons to believe that their freedom has been taken away.
The Origins of Civil Liberties
The bill of rights was contentious issue during the initial years of the constitution. The proponents of civil liberties believed that the federal government was likely to take advantage of its powers to oppress the people. The bill of rights has therefore been successful in playing its role of protecting the people.
Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion exists in the United States. There are no laws that require an individual to subscribe to a certain religion. Issues that have been raised in regard to this freedom include public prayers in schools and use of resources by religious organizations. Preventing these two phenomena may be contravening the constitution because the people have to choose what religion to belong to. Schools conduct prayers depending on the faith of the students (Cordes, 2015). Public resources belong to the people who can choose how to use them, including for religious activities.
Freedom of Speech, Assembly, And The Press
The efforts to balance civil liberties are comprised of granting people their interests while at the same time drawing lines to ensure that they do not contravene other people’s liberties. The freedom of speech, assembly and the press are well preserved in the US. However, the government intervenes when individuals use these freedoms to curtail those of others. This often leads to uproar and criticism.
Chapter 5: Civil Rights
Civil rights are there to ensure that each individual have right of protection by the law. However, the rights cannot stop one from discriminating another. They only provide a basis for legal reprieve in case this happens.
The Racial Divide Today
There are substantive complains by the minority groups in the US on discrimination. Though inequalities still exist in economic, social and political perspectives, there are noticeable efforts by stakeholders to prevent such cases and remedy those affected. The reason why the courts are handling many cases of discrimination today than before is that at least there are remedies and victims are willing to come out and complain.
Key Players in The Conflict Over Civil Rights
Government institutions such as congress, presidency and the courts have existed since independence. Despite their efforts to ensure that civil rights are upheld, minority groups continued to face discrimination. It took the efforts of social movements in the second half of the 20th century to achieve reasonable reforms towards realization of civil rights.
Civil Rights Issues Today
Unlike before the massive civil society movement action that peaked in the 1960s, todays civil rights issues can easily be solved by the courts and the congress (Bianco, 2017). Most Americans appreciate the need to ensure that all people are granted their rights. Historical injustices against minority groups have been successfully addressed through affirmative action. However, many Americans still face obstacles fitting in the rest of the society due to differences in cultural background. For instance, the education system and operations of state funded agencies use English even in non-English-speaking communities.
Chapter 6: Public Opinion
Why Politicians Should Listen to People
The question on whether politicians listen to people or not has different answers depending on the political atmosphere. A politician who is about to get into power is more likely to be attentive to people’s opinion, especially around election time. However, in this era of information, politicians have better access to public opinion (Hershey, 2017). should pay attention to what people say since it impacts their legacy and party’s success in future.
Public opinion is what people think about governance. It consists of their expectations, judgements about the current status, and the beliefs that underlie their thinking (Bianco, 2017).
What Americans Think About Politics
Highly educated or informed Americans think about politics from the perspective of liberalism or conservativism. Others of Americans think about politics as an avenue of choosing leaders who can impact the society through formulation of appropriate policies. For many years, Americans have been divided into two major groups on the basis of political parties (Hershey, 2017). Therefore, many people will prefer certain policies from these two broad perspectives.
Chapter 7: The Media
Why The Media Makes Us More Informed
The citizenry relies on the media for information. Many people will consult multiple sources such as TV stations, radio and newspapers in order to understand certain issues. Each journalist is likely to report an issue from a varying perspective. When we combine all this information, we are more informed.
How Politicians Use the Media
Politicians use press conferences and advertisements to influence the public in their favor. In the US, the journalists understand that the people are likely to prefer certain information. Therefore, they will cover such information to ensure that they get many viewers or subscribers (Bianco, 2017). The Media has tried to remain neutral to ensure that they attract viewers from all political divides.
How The Media Shape Politics
The success or failure of a politician or an ideology depends on their ability to appeal to the public. In the contemporary society, the media forms the link between politicians and the people (Hershey, 2017). Journalists determine the accessibility and comprehensiveness of news items. They can also choose to avail or sanction certain information with the aim of influencing the public. Currently, the media also tries to influence politicians towards taking stands that resonate with the people.
Bianco, W. T. (2017). American Politics Today (Core Fifth Edition). WW Norton & Company.
Cordes, M. W. (2015). Schools, worship, and the First Amendment.
Hershey, M. R. (2017). Party politics in America. Taylor & Francis.
McKay, D. (2017). American politics and society. John Wiley & Sons.
Velasco, J. (2017). Unsurprisingly, Mexicans held a much more favourable view towards the United States before Trump. USApp-American Politics and Policy Blog.