AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM
The changes and problems confronting the
United States as the 20th century draws to a close raise a number
of interesting and troubling questions about the American
political system: who exactly will make the momentous decisions
that have to be made in the next four years? the people?
interest groups? large corporations? the president? the
Congress? a combination of these groups and institutions? Does
the nation have the political will, capacity, and unity to meet
the challenges it faces? What values and interests will guide
These sorts of issues constitute the core of this section of POSC
105. Consequently, I am not offering an introduction to or
survey of political institutions such as Congress or the
bureaucracy. The topics are (I hope) more provocative, interest-
ing, exciting, and informative. Examples:
- Theories -- Progressive, socialist, liberal and conservative
-- of who really governs the United States.
- Why the failure of the Clinton presidency seems inevitable.
- Social class and race in American politics.
- Budget deficits and national debt: how bad are they.
- How should America solve its problems such as health care and
crime: with more or less government.
- Why many Americans don't vote.
- Why the democracy would be better served if Congress and the
presidency were joined in one body and the Supreme Court
Method and Requirements:
Each participant will be asked to learn the "nuts and bolts" of
the political system independently by reading a standard text-
book. We will devote class time to discussing the topics listed
above. Requirements include two examinations, two or three quiz-
zes, a New York Times clipping file. There is no final
examination. Attendance is always required, and each person is
expected to learn to use E-mail.
- Squire, Dynamics of Democracy (text to be read
- R. Heilbroner and P. Bernstein, The Debt and Deficit
- A. Koltowitz, There Are No Children Here
- Daily subscription to the New York Times