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Political Science American Government and Civic Engagement Essay

Political Science American Government and Civic Engagement Essay


Essay Response:

Defining Democracy and Theories of Democracy in the United States: Democracy is a form of government where power resides with the people, either directly or through elected representatives, and decisions are made based on majority rule while respecting minority rights. In the United States, several theories of democracy have influenced its development. These include Majoritarianism, Elite theory, and Pluralism. Majoritarianism posits that policies should reflect the preferences of the majority, Elite theory suggests that a small, wealthy elite largely controls political decisions, and Pluralism emphasizes the competition and cooperation among various interest groups and individuals.

Three Key Factors Advancing Democracy in the United States:

  1. Civil Rights and Equal Protection: The evolution of civil rights has played a pivotal role in advancing democracy in the United States. The Civil War amendments (13th, 14th, 15th) abolished slavery, granted citizenship and equal protection under the law, and ensured voting rights for all citizens regardless of race. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 further dismantled institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination. The struggle for civil rights, epitomized by cases like Brown v. Board of Education, helped broaden democratic participation and ensure equal rights for all citizens.
  2. Political Socialization and Public Opinion: Political socialization, the process through which individuals acquire their political beliefs and values, significantly contributes to a vibrant democracy. Agents of political socialization, such as family, education, media, and peer groups, help individuals become informed citizens and active participants in the democratic process. The role of public opinion in shaping policies and elections underscores the importance of informed citizenry in holding elected officials accountable. An example is the shift in public opinion regarding LGBTQ+ rights, which influenced policy changes such as the legalization of same-sex marriage.
  3. Interest Groups and Advocacy: Interest groups and social movements have become essential components of advancing democracy by providing platforms for diverse voices to be heard. Interest groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have played a significant role in protecting civil liberties and individual rights. They engage in advocacy, litigation, and public education to challenge policies that threaten democratic values. The influence of these groups in shaping policies related to civil rights, privacy, and free expression demonstrates the impact of organized citizen participation on democratic decision-making.

Factor Hindering Advancement of Democracy:

The practice of Gerrymandering has hindered the advancement of democracy in the United States. Gerrymandering refers to the manipulation of electoral district boundaries to favor a particular political party or group. This practice undermines fair representation and dilutes the impact of individual votes, distorting the principle of equal representation. For example, when districts are redrawn to create safe seats for a specific party, it can lead to uncompetitive elections, reduced accountability, and less responsiveness to the needs of constituents.

My Role in Ensuring an Effective Democracy:

To ensure an effective democracy, I intend to undertake the following actions:

  1. Promoting Civic Education: I will actively engage in promoting civic education within my community and among peers. By encouraging informed discussions about political issues, sharing reliable information, and participating in initiatives that educate others about their rights and responsibilities, I can contribute to a more informed citizenry that engages meaningfully in the democratic process.
  2. Supporting Transparent and Accountable Governance: I will advocate for transparency and accountability in government. This involves monitoring the actions of elected officials, demanding open access to government information, and holding representatives accountable for their promises and decisions. By actively participating in town halls, community meetings, and online platforms, I can foster an environment where government operates with integrity.
  3. Engaging with Advocacy Groups: I will collaborate with advocacy groups like the ACLU and others that align with my values. By participating in campaigns, supporting legal challenges, and contributing to policy discussions, I can amplify the voices of marginalized communities and promote policies that uphold democratic principles and protect civil liberties.

In conclusion, the advancement of democracy in the United States is influenced by various factors such as civil rights, political socialization, and active citizen participation through interest groups. However, challenges like gerrymandering can hinder democratic progress. As a responsible citizen, my role includes promoting civic education, advocating for transparent governance, and engaging with advocacy groups to ensure a robust and effective democratic system that represents the diverse voices and values of the American people.

Political Science American Government and Civic Engagement Essay



Final Exam Essay Question

Through this course, we have discussed the role of politics in our lives and the importance of understanding why politics exist. In preparation for the final exam please look through your class notes, PowerPoint, and articles provided to prepare to answer the question below.

Keep in mind that your answers should express your ideas and you are to use the book as a resource to support your answer. If you use some of the direct quotes or ideas from the book, make sure that you indicate in your response the page number and chapter of where this idea appeared in your book.


According to the authors, more than 15,000 job skills are represented in the federal government, and its workers are perhaps the best trained and most skilled and efficient in the world” (Ch. 8, pg.281)

Friendly reminder, you are to use the information provided in this class through your chapter readings, lectures, class notes, and articles provided in this course.

Using your textbook/PowerPoint, briefly define democracy and share what theory of democracy exist in the United States. Evaluate in detail THREE of the items from the list below that you feel has the greatest impact on advancing democracy in the United States. (Provide examples to support your answer)

Chapter 1 Democracy, Direct democracy, initiative, referendum, recall, Government, Political Ideology, conservative, Liberal, Socialism, Libertarianism, Theories of democracy: Majoritarianism, Elite theory, Pluralism
Chapter 2 Articles of Confederation, Anti federalist, Federalist, Representative assembly, Mayflower compact, Thomas Paine “Common Sense”, Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, Virginia and New Jersey plan, checks and balances.
Chapter 3 Three systems of government: Unitary, Confederal, Federal, Arguments in favor and against Federalism, Enumerated Powers, Necessary Powers, Inherent Powers, Tenth Amendment, Reserved Powers, Police Powers, Concurrent Powers, Prohibited Powers, Supremacy clause, Categorical grants, Block grants, Federal mandates.
Chapter 4 Fourteenth amendment, Incorporation theory, Establishment clause, Lemon v. Kurtzman 1971, Free exercise clause, no prior restraint, Symbolic speech, Tinker v. Des Moines 1969, Clear and Present Danger, Miller v. California 1973, Osborne v. Ohio 1990, Child Protection Act of 1894, Slander, Libel, New York v Sullivan 1964, Gag Order, Right to Assemble and Petition, Griswold v. Connecticut 1965, Roe v. Wade 1973, Dobbs v Jackson women’s health organization 2022, Right to die, Rights of the accused: 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendment, Exclusionary rule; Mapp v. Ohio 1961, Miranda v Arizona 1966, Gideon v. Wainwright 1963,
Chapter 5 Civil Rights, Civil War amendments (13th, 14th, 15th) , Civil Rights Act of 1866, Enforcement act of 1870, Civil rights act of 1872, Second Civil Rights Act of 1875, Plessy v. Ferguson 1896, Separate but equal doctrine, White primary, Grandfather clause, Poll taxes and literacy tests, Brown v. Board of Education 1954, Dejure segregation, Defacto Segregation, Civil Rights Act 1964, Voting rights act of 1965, Civil Rights act o 1968, 19th amendment, Feminism, Equal Rights Amendment, Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment, Strict scrutiny, Affirmative action
Chapter 6 Public opinion, consensus, divided opinion, political socialization, agents of political socialization, peer groups, opinion leaders, generational effect, gender gap,
Chapter 9 & 10 Interest group, lobbyist , social movement, labor movement, public interest, direct technique, indirect technique, political parties, independent, faction
Chapter 11 Bicameral, lawmaking, logrolling, trustee, instructed delegate, politico, oversight, twelfth amendment, filibuster, reapportionment, redistricting, gerrymandering, house rules committee, Speaker of the House, President Pro tempore, 1974 Budget Impoundment Control Act, authorization, appropriation, government shutdown, incumbent, differences between House of Representatives and Senate, Office and management Budget.
Chapter 12 Constitutional requirement to become president, term of president, 22nd Amendment, head of state, chief executive, commander in chief, executive agreement, state of the union, patronage, going public, constitutional powers, statutory powers, expressed powers, executive order, executive privilege, impeachment, cabinet, chief of staff, vice president, 25th amendment, Succession Act of 1947
Chapter 13

(Open stax pages 514-515)

Marbury v. Madison 1803, Judicial review, Brief, Civil law, Common law, Criminal law concurring opinion, dissenting opinion, judicial activism, Judicial restraint, majority opinion, oral argument, original jurisdiction rule of four,

From the list above, select ONE item that you feel has hindered the advancement of democracy? Provide examples to support your response. In your conclusion, considering your answer to the first question, explain your role in ensuring an effective democracy? Elaborate your response by describing three things you plan to do to ensure democracy.



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