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Glossary of American Political Processes

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Libertarian
one who favors minimal government and maximum individual freedom.
Political efficacy
the ability to influence government and politics.
Citizenship
informed and active membership in a political community.
Autocracy
a form of government in which a single individual - a king, queen, or dictator - rules
Oligarchy
a form of government in which a small group landowners, military officers, or wealthy merchants controls most of the governing decisions.
Democracy
a system of rule that permits citizens to play a significant part in the governmental process, usually through the election of key public officials.
Constitutional government
a system of rule in which formal and effective limits are placed on the powers of the government.
Authoritarian government
a system of rule in which the government recognizes no formal limits but may nevertheless be restrained by the power of other social institutions.
Totalitarian government
a system of rule in which the government recognizes no formal limits on its power and seeks to absorb or eliminate other social institutions that might challenge it.
Politics
conflict over the leadership, structure and policies of governments.
Power
influence over a government’s leadership, organization or policies.
Representative democracy/republic
a system of government in which the populace selects representatives, who play a significant role in governmental decision making.
Direct democracy
a system of rule that permits citizens to vote directly on laws and policies.
Pluralism
theory that all interests are and should be free to compete for influence in the government. The outcome of this competition is compromise and moderation.
Direct action politics
a form of politics, such as civil disobedience or revolutionary action, that takes place outside formal channels.

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