Glossary of American political culture from Chapter 1 of Ginsberg
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- What is a libertarian?
- one who favors minimal government and maximum individual freedom
- What are three key American political values?
- liberty, equality, and democracy
- What is political efficacy?
- the ability to influence government and politics; the belief that citizens can affect what government does
- What is citizenship?
- informed and active membership in a political community
- Can we have democratic government without knowledgeable and aware citizens?
- No; for citizens in a democracy to participate intelligently in politics and act on their interests, they need political knowledge.
- What is government?
- institutions and procedures through which a territory and its people are ruled
- What is an autocracy?
- form of government in which a single individual rules
- What is oligarchy?
- a form of government in which a small group controls most of governing decisions
- What is democracy?
- system of rule that allows citizens to play a significant part in the governmental process usually through election of key public officials.
- What is a constitutional government?
- system of rule in which formal and effective limits are placed on the powers of government
- What is authoritarian government?
- a system of rule in which the government recognizes no format limits but may nevertheless be restrained by the power of other social institutions
- What is 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
- What is politics?
- conflict over the leadership, structure, and policies of governments
- What is power?
- influence over a government's leadership, organization, or policies
- What is representative democracy/republic?
- a system of government in which the populace selects representatives, who play a significant role in governmental decision making (e.g. America at national level)
- What is a direct democracy?
- a system of rule that permits citizens to vote directly on laws and policies (e.g. California recall of governor)
- What is pluralism?
- group politics or the theory that all interests are and should be free to compete for influence in the government.
- What is direct action politics?
- a form of politics, e.g. civil disobedience or protest, that takes place outside formal channels, which attempt to shock rulers into behaving more responsibly
- What is political culture?
- shared values, beliefs, and attitudes about how the government should function. (e.g. American political culture emphasizes liberty, equality, democracy)
- What is liberty?
- freedom from governmental control
- What is limited government?
- a government whose powers are defined and limited by a constitution
- What is laissez-faire capitalism?
- "leave alone" - economic system in which means of production and distribution are privately owned and operated for profit with little or no government interference
- What is equality of opportunity?
- American ideal that each person should be given a fair chance to go as far as his or her talents can go to reach their potential
- What is political equality?
- right to participate in politics equally, based on principle of "one person, one vote"
- What is popular sovereignty?
- a principle of democracy - the idea of placing power in the hands of the people
- What is majority rule/minority rights?
- the wishes of the majority determine what government does but also protects interests of the minority
- What's an example of when civil liberties have been restricted to help people?
- Americans have accepted restrictions on liberty (e.g. arresting people without evidence) to fight terrorism after 9/11.
- Should America export democracy?
- A democratic world might be better for humanity, more stable, and more peaceful; but democracy may not succeed if there is not a civil society and stable economy; also the process of democratization can be dangerous.
- What can you do to become politically involved?
- read or watch the news and find out what issues seem important to you, start a discussion with family members or friends about an issue that interests you, write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, call in to a radio talk show
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