COURSE OUTLINE                                                                               Dr. Theodore R. Mosch

US Government and Politics                                                     Office: Business 225

Political Science 210                                                                 Phone: 901/587-7481

                                                                                                e-mail: tmosch@utm.edu

                                                                                                Office Hours:

 

 

 

            According to the FY97 Budget, 43 cents of every national government dollar comes from individual income taxes and 35 cents from social insurance taxes.  Whether one is interested in government or not, everyone is affected by public policies and will contribute in regard to personal resources. The deductions for income and social security taxes confirm this.

 

            This introductory course in American national Government focuses on four major themes:

 

THE CONSTITUTION

 

            Our Basic Law has been termed by many as a model for all time; it is brief and also provides much flexibility.  The course will look at the origins of the United States Constitution. The debates surrounding the adoption of the Constitution continue today; some believe the national government is too strong and has undermined the role of the individual states.  Others believe the government centered in Washington D.C. should have more power. The document has stood the test of time and is flexible through interpretation by the courts (judicial review) and also through amendments.  Actually, few amendments have been passed.  Only sixteen, if one considers the first ten (the Bill of Rights as part of the basic document); the last one, the 27th, concerns congressional salaries.  It is unique since it had been forgotten for many years.  The United States has a federal system of government; powers are shared between two levels—the national and the states.  This has also resulted in numerous debates over the years.

 

CIVIL LIBERTIES

 

            Individual freedoms by citizens determine whether a country is a true democracy.  Of course, a country may list many freedoms but fail to implement them.  This course will look at the basic rights under the First Amendment, including the right to worship, free speech, and freedom of the press. The courts have continuously been involved in deciding how far certain rights can go. For example, does a smoker have a right even if passive smoke could cause physical harm to a neighbor?  Should an individual be curtailed in political activity if such activity is directed at the overthrow of a government?  Does Satanic worship receive protection under the First Amendment?  What denominations should be represented in the Chaplain Corps of the United States Armed Forces?  Is pornographic literature protected by the Bill of Rights?  These are some of the many questions involving civil liberties.  A focus will also be made on the civil rights struggle in the nation, including the issue of affirmative action.  A section will also be devoted to the rights of citizenship and the procedures to acquire citizenship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE IN POLITICS

 

            To affect any change, people must organize and pressure for change.  Interest groups are key factors in affecting change.  Various movements occur from time to time to bring change.  The civil rights of African-Americans, women, and native Americans will be reviewed.  The role of political parties will also be discussed.  Public opinion, including the important role of the media in developing beliefs, will also be reviewed.  Finally, focus will be on elections themselves with focus on the Congress and the Presidency.  Many claim it is getting too expensive to even contemplate running for office.  Does the media play too much of a role in elections?  What reforms should be made for the electoral process?

 

POLICY MAKERS

 

            Finally, there will be focus on the key players in the public policy process.  A review of the daily news will note the continuous conflict between the Presidency and Congress, especially over foreign policy.  Aid to the Contras in Central America is a good example of this conflict.  The legislative branch will be covered in 210.  The presidency, the judicial branch, and the bureaucracy will be covered in Political Science 220.

 

           

OBJECTIVE:  The goal of Political Science 210 is to present a framework of the United States  Government, noting in particular, the essentials and the means to bring about change.  In sum, the course will deal with two questions.

 

            What is the system of government in this country?

 

            How can one effectively influence governmental policies in this country?

 

IMPORTANCE OF INVOLVEMENT:  America’s youth now have more reason than ever to become involved in the political process.  The voting age has been lowered to 18.  In addition,  a few votes can determine elections. 

 

TEXT

 

            James MacGregor Burns, J.W. Peltason, Thomas E. Cronin, and David B. Magleby. GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE, NATIONAL, STATE, AND LOCAL VERSION. 17TH Edition.  ISBN:  0-13-287178-5.  Englewood cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1997.  This is one of the leading American Government textbooks in the country.  It is well-illustrated and well-documented.  This publication gives various sides to important issues.  It also contains a glossary of lay terms and sources for future research.

 

READER

 

            George McKenna, Stanley Feingold.  TAKING SIDES; CLASHING VIEWS ON CONTROVERSIAL POLITICAL ISSUES.  10TH Edition.  Paperback. ISBN: 0-697-35718-X.  Guilford, CT: Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc., 1997.  This paperback looks at opposing viewpoints on twenty-two issues. Eleven will be covered in Political Science 210.  This reader will  also be used by this professor and at least one other  professor in Political Science 220.

 

 

            Political Science is constantly changing. Thus, there is a continuous pressure to up-date books, but this can result in a financial burden on students.  Publishers seek to sell new books and urge constant changes. The majority of students want to keep books for longer periods to assist them financially. This instructor understands this and sides with students.  He plans to keep these required books for Political Science 210 and 220 for four years. Changes will occur after each Presidential election.  Up-dates in the interim can be gained through newspapers and magazines. With this in mind, a new basic text and reader for Political Science 210 and 220 are programmed for the fall of 2001.

 

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Reading Assignments

 

Date            Assignment                         Text (Burns)                                  Reader(McKenna)

Due

 

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                           1                   Ch. 1 Constitutional Democracy ,    Intro. pp. XIV-XXII

                                             Declaration of Independence,          Issue 1: Has the American

                                             Federalist No. 10, 51, 78.                  Political System Succeeded?

                                                                                                    Yes. Irving Kristol

                                                                                                    No. Daniel Lazare, pp. 2-18.

 

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2                    Ch. 2. The Living Constitution,

United States Constitution

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3                    Ch. 3 American  Federalism

 

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                        4                   Ch. 4. First Amendment Rights    Issue 17: Do We Need  A

                                                                                                 Constitutional Amendment

                                                                                                   Permitting Prayer in Public

                                                                                                Schools?  Yes. Wm J. Murray

                                                                                                 No Stephen L. Carter, pp.

                                                                                                 278-292.

 

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                        5                   Ch. 5. Equal Rights Under             Issue 13:  Should “Hate

                                            the Law                                            Speech” Be Punished? 

                                                                                                 Yes. Charles R. Lawrence

                                                                                                 III, No. Jonathan Rauch,

                                                                                                 pp. 206-221.

 

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First Examination (35%)   (Assignments 1 – 5)

 

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                        6                 Ch. 6. Rights to Life,                       Issue 12:  Is Affirmative Action

                                          Liberty, and Property                   Reverse Discrimination?  Yes.

                                                                                              Shelby Steel, No Clarence Page,

                                                                                               pp. 190-205.

 

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                        7                Ch. 7. Political Culture                   Issue 18: Should Gay Marriage

                                          and Ideology                                   Be Legalized?  Yes. Andrew

                                                                                               Sullivan. No James Q. Wilson,

                                                                                               pp. 294-307.

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                        8                Ch. 8. The American                      Issue 3:  Do Political Action

                                         Political Landscape                        Committees Undermine

                                                                                               Democracy? Yes. Fred

                                                                                               Wertheimer. No. Herbert

                                                                                                E. Alexander, pp. 42-52.

 

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9                    Ch. 9.  Interest Groups:

                                            The Politics of Influence

 

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10            Ch. 10. Political Parties--                  Issue  2:  Do Political Campaigns

                                     Essential to Democracy                     Inform Voters?  Yes. Samuel L.

                                                                                             Popkin, No. Gil Troy, pp. 20-41.

 

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Second Examination (35%)   (Assignments 6  -10)

 

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                                11            Ch. 11. Public Opinion,                   Issue 16: Should Abortion Be

                                     Participation, and Voting                  Restricted?  Yes. Ann Coulter,

                                                                                             No, Mary Gordon, pp. 260-277.

 

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                               12            Ch. 12.  Campaigns and                Issue 11:  Do We Need Tougher

                                     Elections:  Democracy in                    Gun Control Laws?  Yes. Carl

                                     Action                                                    T. Bogus. No Daniel D. Polsby,

                                                                                               pp. 170-189.

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                              13            Ch. 13. The Media and                            Issue 4:  Is the Level of Political

                                     American Politics                        Discussion in the Media Deteriorating 

Yes. Carl Bernstein.  No. Jon Katz,   pp. 54-67.

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                              14                 Ch. 14. Congress: the                        Issue 5:  Should there be Term

                                     People’s Branch                                Limits for Members of Congress?

        Yes. George F. Will, No.  Victor

         Kamber, pp. 70-81.

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Third Examination (30%)   (Assignments 11 –14)

 

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Grade Determination

 

            1. First Examination (Assignments 1 –5)                  35 percent

            2. Second Examination (Assignments 6-10)              35 percent

            3. Third Examination (Assignments 11-14)              30 percent

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Extra Credit:  Oral Presentation

 

            This is optional.  The university has emphasized communications skills. Students can give an oral report for additional points. A maximum of 3 points will be given. Students must decide on whether to take advantage of this opportunity within the first two weeks of class.  Students are to give a presentation on an issue covered in Political Science 210.  The text and reader will provide ideas for a topic.  Students are to plan on 15-25 minutes, including discussion.  Those signing up for a report and canceling a class period before or the same day will have 3 points deducted from their course average. Each student should have a different topic.  If two students want to focus on different aspects of an issue, this is encouraged.  No written items are to be submitted in connection with the oral report.

 

Evaluation Criteria for the Oral Report

 

60 pts     1. Did the speaker focus on a public issue?

a.       Good background information.

b.       Visual Aids

20 pts      2. Was there personal commentary?

20 pts      3. Was there discussion?

 

·         Current Events: Students are to read a newspaper or magazine on a weekly basis to obtain an up-date on current events.  There are many available in the library.  These include: TIME, NEWSWEEK, US. NEWS & WORLD REPORT.  There are an array of national newspapers, including: THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, THE WASHINGTON POST, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES.  Local and state papers will, of course, also include items that are of special interest to their subscribers.  Part of the weekly schedules will be a discussion of current events and how they relate to the course study.  Students should be prepared to discussion such events.  Some may wish to give an oral report concerning these events – international, national, state, or local.

·         Public television and public radio are also excellent sources for keeping up on current events.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Class discussion.  This is encouraged.  Class discussion will be taken into  consideration when students are between two letter grdes. The discussion will merit the higher grade.

 

Examinations

 

            Students must take examinations with their sections.

 

            Those missing major examinations for legitimate reasons will be allowed to take a make-up examination.  These will be given at the end of the semester.  The make-up examination will be given at the end of the semester in room 204 Humanities between 6 – 8 a.m. on ________________________.  Bring blue books.  The examinations will be essay. There will be only one opportunity for taking make-up exams.

 

Course Grading Scale

 

95-100 A

84-94     B

75-84     C

65-74     D

0-64      F

 

Results of major tests, except the final, will be posted by the last four numbers of the Social Security Number.   Final grades will not be posted.

 

Class Attendance Policy

 

            Class attendance is critical in obtaining the maximum from courses.  Excessive cuts will lower the final grade.  Attendance will be taken.

 

Tuesday/Thursday Classes:  Three cuts are automatically excused. After that each cut will result in a 1.5 point reduction from the final course grade average.

 

Monday/Wednesday, Friday Classes:  Five cuts are automatically  excused. After that each cut will result in a 1 point reduction from the final course average.

 

            Any additional cuts that are excused will be handled on an individual basis.  The university’s primary function is an educational one. Thus, students need to keep that in mind. Excessive cuts will affect the final course grade!

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Any changes to this course outline will be announced the first day of class!