This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

AP Government Study Guide: Extra Credit Test


undefined, object
copy deck
who gets what when and how in the political process
policy agenda
those issues that are receiving the serious attention of policymakers
policymaking institutions:
those institutions (Congress, the President, the courts, and the bureaucracy) that are responsible for making public policy in the American political system.
linkage institutions
those institutions (political parties, elections, special interest groups and the news media) that link (connect) people and government; assist the people in getting their concerns (issues/problems) on the policy agenda; the channels through which people’s concerns become political issues on the government’s policy agenda.
public policy
a choice that government makes in response to a political issue (a course of action or inaction); includes: congressional statutes, bureaucratic rules and regulations, executive orders, court decisions, presidential decisions
50 percent + 1 (one more than half)
the MOST votes but not necessarily a majority
pluralist theory
belief that many groups competing for power express the public will; a theory of group competition that emphasizes multiple access points and a positive view of group competition.
elite/class theory
a theory of government and politics that contends that society is divided along class lines and a wealthy or upper class elite will rule regardless of the government structure; belief that big business, the wealthy, or even technical experts have the greatest influence in American government.
a group theory of politics that contends that groups are so strong that government is weakened; an extreme, exaggerated, or perverted form of pluralism; pluralism gone bad --- too many groups create gridlock and contradictory policies.
term used by Founding Fathers to refer to self-interested groups arising from the unequal distribution of property; they feared factions would create instability in government; today’s interest groups and political parties are examples of what Madison and others had in mind; in The Federalist #10, Madison explained that majority factions would control minority factions, but a large republic was needed to control majority factions
Shays’ Rebellion
a series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Daniel Shays in 1786; was a catalyst for the Constitutional Convention; the Founding Fathers viewed it as evidence of the need for a much stronger national government.
Connecticut Compromise
the major compromise made at the Constitutional Convention that combined the Virginia (representation based on population) and the New Jersey (equal representation of the states) plans to create a bicameral Congress consisting of a Senate with two Senators per state and a House of Representatives based on population.
Madisonian Model
plan for government designed by Madison to keep as much power as possible out of the hands of the people (to prevent majority factions from taking over government) by a system of separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial branches) and checks and balances; the only part of the government directly elected by the people in the original plan was the House of Representatives.
Federalist Papers
a collection of 85 articles written by Hamilton, Madison and Jay in support of ratification of the U.S. Constitution; the articles explain the intent of the Founding Fathers in writing the Constitution.
separation of powers
principle of the Constitution that calls for three separate branches (legislative, executive, and judicial) of government, each with separate but overlapping or shared powers.
checks and balances
a principle of the Constitution that seeks a balance of power between the various branches of government by giving each branch the ability to check the powers of the other branches.
judicial review
the power of the courts to determine the constitutionality of government actions (declare laws or presidential actions unconstitutional in cases before them); resulted from the Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison, 1803.
supremacy clause
Article VI of the Constitution establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and treaties the supreme law of the land; establishes national supremacy in areas where the national government has legitimate power; the linchpin of our federal system of government.
necessary and proper clause
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to do what is necessary and proper to carry out its stated powers; stretches the power of the national government beyond what is specifically stated in the Constitution; also called the ELASTIC CLAUSE.
reserved powers
state powers; those powers not delegated to the national government nor denied to the states; authorized by the 10th Amendment.
enumerated powers
powers of the national government specifically stated in the Constitution; also called expressed powers.
implied powers
powers of the national government not specifically stated in the Constitution but reasonably derived from those that are; based on the necessary and proper clause; can expand the powers of the national government at the expense of the states.
full faith and credit clause
a clause in Article IV of the Constitution that requires states to give full faith and credit to the civil acts, records and judicial proceedings of other states; allows the use of a Texas drivers license while temporarily driving in other states (also usually applies to marriage certificates; adoption records, wills and deeds).
dual federalism
the division of powers between the national and state governments is distinct and clear – like a layer cake; each level of government is relatively supreme within its own sphere of power; requires a narrow interpretation of the national government’s powers.
cooperative federalism
a type of federalism in which powers and policy assignments are shared between the levels of government; like a “marble cake” in that national and state powers are mingled and the distinction between the two is blurred; typically entails a broad interpretation of national government power; examples include the interstate highway system; typical characteristics include: shared costs, shared administration and federal guidelines.
fiscal federalism
the pattern of spending, taxing and providing grants in the federal system; it is the main way in which the national government exerts its authority over traditional areas of state authority by providing the money or a portion of the money for projects and programs; the issue of “who pays?”.
block grant
federal grant to the state or local communities to support broad programs or areas at state discretion; fewer strings attached than categorical grants and more options for spending by state and local governments
categorical grant
federal grant that can be used only for specific purposes, or “categories,” of state and local spending; come with strings attached – federal guidelines for the use of the money and typically shared costs and administration.
a trend toward returning power to the state and local communities by reducing national authority and reinstating state and local authority in certain programs and policy areas; typically involves greater fiscal responsibility for the states and local communities.
selective incorporation
the process of the Supreme Court applying selected rights/freedoms in the Bill of Rights to the states through the due process clause of the 14th Amendment on a case by case basis. Via incorporation, states, as well as the national government, are limited by selected provisions of the Bill of Rights.
establishment clause
clause in the First Amendment that states that Congress can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion” – strictly interpreted it was intended to restrict Congress from establishing a national religion. Has been interpreted to mean there should be a separation between church and state.
free exercise clause
clause in the First Amendment that prevents Congress from passing laws that restrict the “free exercise of religion;” it was intended to guarantee freedom of religion.
exclusionary rule
illegally obtained (police not following established rules) evidence cannot be used in court against a criminal defendant; interpretation of the 4th Amendment’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures that protects against illegal searches.
plea bargain
practice within the criminal justice system to offer criminal defendants a reduced sentence if they plead guilty to a lesser crime and avoid a lengthy trial; most criminal cases are decided through plea bargains.
affirmative action
policy designed to give special attention to or compensatory treatment of members of some previously disadvantaged group to make up for past discrimination; typically applies to minorities and women in hiring and admissions policies.
due process clause
life, liberty or property cannot be taken away by the national (5th Amendment) or state (14th Amendment) government without due process of law --- government must act fairly and the law itself must be fair; established rules of procedure (lawyer, informed of rights, fair trial, etc.) that government must follow to deprive someone of life, liberty or property.
minority majority
a demographic trend in which the sum of all minority groups will be the majority in the population, replacing whites as the majority group;
political culture
an overall set of values widely shared within a society (American political culture includes a strong emphasis on individualism, limited government, political and social freedom and equality; does not typically include economic equality).
the practice of drawing congressional district lines to favor the party of group in power; may result in odd-shaped districts.
political socialization
the process of acquiring one’s political beliefs and behaviors; passing on our political values to the next generation; key agents of political socialization are the family, school and media.
political ideology (political belief system) that typically favors (preference for) freedom over order and equality over economic freedom
political ideology (political belief system) that typically favors (preference for) order over freedom and economic freedom (laissez-faire) over equality.
gender gap
a trend of the last few decades in which women have a greater tendency to vote Democratic than men who have a greater tendency to vote Republican than women;
media event
a staged political event to obtain free media coverage or to provide a positive image to the public via the media.
horse race journalism
the focus in the news media on who is ahead or who is behind in a campaign (expectation’s game) rather than the substance of the issues; emphasis no reporting of poll results or outcomes of primaries.
sound bites
the short (15 seconds or less) time given in the media (TV/radio) to candidate’s talking rather than their actual speeches; usually results in candidate’s creating short phrases to communicate their messages – “compassionate conservative” – “read my lips, no more taxes”
political party
a team of men and women seeking to control government through the winning of elections; American political parties are very fragmented and decentralized thus the team part of the definition is somewhat misleading as party members do not always agree on the issues.
ticket splitting
voting for candidates of different parties on the same ballot; opposite of straight ticket voting in which a voter votes only for members of one party; the trend in American politics is toward increased ticket splitting – voting for a President of one party and a congressman or Senator of another party.
closed primary
a party nominating election in which voters may decide on election day which party’s election they will participate in to select the party’s nominees for office. In presidential primaries, the election is used as part of the process to determine pledged delegates to the party’s national convention.
open primary
a party nominating election in which only registered party members may participate in the voting; encourages party loyalty; In presidential primaries, the election is used as part of the process to determine pledged delegates to the party’s national convention.
party caucus
a party meeting used for the purpose of nominating the party’s candidates for office; in presidential elections, the process is used to determine a state’s delegates to the national convention.
national convention:
convention held by the major political parties every four years for the official purpose of nominating the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates and establishing the party platform; in recent years, the nominees are typically determined in advance in the primaries and caucuses that precede the convention, and the event is a staged media event to make the nomination official.
critical election:
a presidential election that ushers in a new party era (era of dominance by one major party) due to a relatively permanent (long term) realignment of the electorate; usually associated with a major event or crisis; relatively rare in American history.
party realignment:
a change in voter coalitions (groups of voters that support a party) that results in a change in a party’s base of voters --- usually associated with a critical election
New Deal Coalition
the Democratic party coalition that formed in the critical election of 1932 and included white southerners, laborers (unions), urban intellectuals, and minorities.
party dealignment:
a movement away from parties and toward increased independence that has been a frequent election trend since the 1960s. Instead of voter groups switching allegiance from one party to another (realignment); voter groups have become more independent resulting in more split-ticket voting and contributing to divided government.
divided government:
one party controls the Presidency and the other party controls the Congress; a frequent election pattern since the 1960s.
winner-take-all system:
system in which the candidate who gets the most votes wins the election; typically applies to the method in 48 states of the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote gets all of his party’s electors elected; through party loyalty that typically ensures that he will receive all the state’s electoral votes
candidate-centered campaigns:
a campaign trend since the 1960s in which the focus is on the candidate rather than the party; candidates raise their own funds, hire their own campaign consultants, and run their own campaigns; this is a change from the past when political parties raised the funds and ran the campaigns; candidate-centered campaigns decreases party loyalty of officeholders.
McGovern-Fraser Commission:
a commission formed in 1968 in response to demands for reform in the delegate selection process of the Democratic party; the commission reforms of the party convention resulted in equal numbers of men and women selected as delegates and greater representation for minorities.
the current trend of states moving their presidential primary or caucus to the beginning of the campaign season to ensure a say in the nomination process; this has resulted in the presidential nomination becoming a “done deal” typically by the first week in March due to a candidate earning a majority of “pledged” delegates earlier in the season than in the past.
soft money:
unregulated (not subject to contribution limits) money donated to political parties to support party building efforts (voter registration drives, get out the vote drives, generic party advertising, etc., ) at the local (grassroots) level; became a loophole for large sums of money to be donated to the parties that directly or indirectly supported the party’s presidential candidate, thus skirting the existing campaign laws; banned by McCain-Feingold bill in 2003.
hard money:
regulated money given to federal candidates and parties by individuals and groups subject to disclosure laws and contribution limits under the FECA of 1974.
political action committees:
political action committees; the financial arms of special interest groups formed to raise and channel campaign funds to favored candidates in federal elections.
political efficacy:
the belief that one’s vote counts – makes a difference in the political process; people with a high sense of political efficacy are more likely to vote; low sense of political efficacy – less likely to vote
individuals selected by a state (usually winner-take-all) to cast a state’s electoral votes for president in December after then popular vote in November; members of the electoral college who cast the votes that actually elect the president
interest group:
an organization of people with shared policy goals (like-minded) entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals; focus of interest groups is to obtain public policies favorable to their specified interests.
iron triangles:
subgovernment or network consisting of a special interest group, committee of Congress handling the policy interest, and a bureaucratic agency that administers the policy; all work together to achieve policies favorable to their shared interest; in the past, these subgovernments were able to exert great influence in their policy area.
communication, by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decisionmaker with the hope of influencing the decision; efforts exerted by special interest groups such as testifying at committee hearings, contacting government officials, etc., to influence policy decisionmaking.
filing a lawsuit; used by special interest groups to seek to obtain court decisions favorable to their policy interest.
amicus curiae briefs:
written arguments submitted to the court by groups or individuals other than the parties to a case; a means by which special interest groups seek to influence court decisions favorable to their policy interests.
means two houses – the House of Representatives and the Senate.
assistance to an individual constituent by a Congressman (or more likely his staff) in dealing with a problem the individual has with a bureaucratic agency or some part of government; typically enhances the reelection chances of incumbents.
pork barrel legislation
laws that provide funding for projects (highways, public buildings, research grants, etc.) in states and local areas; typically enhances an incumbent congressman or senator’s chances of reelection for “bringing home the bacon” to his state or district; also called earmarks – money set aside in an appropriation bill for the state or local district.
franking privilege:
free use of the mail by members of Congress for official business at taxpayers’ expense; sometimes used to send credit-claiming newsletters to constituents.
the current or existing officeholder; incumbents in Congress usually win reelection.
presidential coattails
occurs when voters cast their ballots for congressional candidates of the President’s party because they support the president; trend: short.
House Rules Committee:
committee in the House of Representatives that sets the rules of debate and determines the legislative calendar; powerful committee in the House only where debate is limited by these rules.
‘talking a bill to death” – occurs only in the Senate and is used by a minority to stall a vote to kill a bill; usually successful at the end of a session.
a procedural vote in the Senate to end a debate (a filibuster) and proceed with a vote; requires a supermajority of 60 senators (3/5ths).
standing committee:
permanent subject matter committees of the House and the Senate that deal with legislation related to their subject; where most of the work of Congress takes place.
conference committee:
a temporary committee of members of both the House and Senate created to iron out (reconcile) differences between House and Senate versions of a bill.
legislative oversight:
a legislative check on the executive branch/bureaucracy; involves congressional committees seeking information and testimony at hearings to determine if the executive branch agencies, etc., are enforcing the law (programs and policies) and spending funds as intended by Congress;
Ways and Means Committee:
tax committee in the House of Representatives; because all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House, this is a powerful committee in the House.
to accuse; the power to impeach a president or federal judge is held by the House of Representatives. It does not mean to remove from office which can only occur if the Senate tries the official on the impeachment charges and votes to remove them by a 2/3rds vote.
imperial presidency viewpoint:
view that presidential power has increased too much relative to other branches and is subject to too few checks; view of the 1960s and 1970s of presidential abuse of power during Vietnam and Watergate.
imperial Congress viewpoint:
view that congressional attempts to reassert its authority placed too many limits on presidential power and upset the balance of power; typically associated with the 1970s and 1980s.
informal advisory body to presidents consisting of the heads of the cabinet departments and others the president chooses; has less influence today than in the past due to centralization of authority in the White House staff and divided loyalties of cabinet members.
white house staff:
the president’s closest aides and advisors; the most loyal group to the president in the executive branch; area of great influence due to centralization of power in recent years.
War Powers Resolution:
1973 act in which Congress attempted to reassert its authority in war-making by limiting the president’s ability to deploy troops to 60-90 days (unless Congress approves otherwise) and requiring that Congress be informed of a troop deployment within 48 hours.
rally event:
an emergency or crisis event that causes a sudden, but usually temporary, spike in presidential approval ratings as the nation gives its support initially to the President in dealing with the crisis.
occurs when the president refuses to sign a bill and returns it to Congress (starting with the house where it originated) with his stated objections.
pocket veto:
occurs when the President refuses to sign a bill and Congress adjourns within 10 working days of sending the bill to the President; the bill dies.
line item veto:
the power to veto parts of a bill and sign the remainder into law; presidents DO NOT have this power that most state governor’s do have.
when government revenues (taxes) fall short of government expenditures (spending) in a given year; since the 1930s, with few exceptions after the 1960s, the national government typically runs a deficit in its budget.
federal debt:
the accumulated deficits of the national government over time; all the money borrowed by the federal government over the years and still outstanding.
mandatory spending; policies for which Congress has obligated itself to provide benefits to certain individuals because they meet the qualifications of the law; ex. Social Security, Medicare, veteran’s benefits, etc.; spending that is considered uncontrollable because the obligation is to anyone who meets the qualifications.
mandatory/nondiscretionary expenditures:
spending that Congress is obligated to make (has no choice due to previous commitments) including interest on the national debt and entitlement programs
presidential refusal to expend funds appropriated by Congress.
continuing resolutions
Congressional resolutions that allow agencies to continue to spend at the level of the previous year when Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills to fund the government; prevents a shutdown of government operations.
political appointees:
bureaucrats who head the various agencies, departments and commissions of the executive branch (bureaucracy) who are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate; typically transient as they come and go with the Presidents who appointed them.
career civil servants:
the bureaucrats who get their jobs based on merit (civil service exam); typically the mid to lower level bureaucrats who actually carry out the programs and policies of government.
executive order:
rule or regulation issued by the President (or executive branch) that has the force of law.
executive privilege:
claim of presidents that they have the power to withhold information from the Congress or the Courts on the basis of separation of powers; in U.S. v. Nixon, the Supreme Court stated that presidents do not have an “unqualified” claim to executive privilege.
case or controversy rule:
practice of the courts not issuing an opinion unless there is an actual case or controversy before them; the Supreme Court, therefore, does not issue advisory opinions or opinions in hypothetical cases. Limits the influence of the Court to only cases it actually hears.
original jurisdiction:
the right of a court to hear a case for the first time – before any other court. The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is set by the Constitution.
appellate jurisdiction:
the right of a court to hear a case on appeal (on review) from a lower court. The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be changed by Congress, but it is rarely done.
judicial activism:
when judges use their ability to interpret the law to override legislation or decisions of the other policy-making branches and, thus, make policy through their decisions.
judicial self-restraint:
when judges seek to avoid overturning decisions made by the other branches of government unless the Constitution directly forbids the action; therefore, reducing the policymaking role of the judges.
rule of four:
requirement that four justices must agree before the Supreme Court will accept a case for review.
senatorial courtesy
an unwritten tradition whereby nominations for state-level federal judicial posts are not confirmed if they are opposed by a senator from the state in which the nominee will serve
writ of certiorari
a document that expresses a decision by the Supreme Court to call up a case for review from a lower court; the typical means by which a case reaches the Supreme Court on appeal from a lower court
stare decisis:
the practice of judges following precedent in a case

Deck Info