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AP Government Wilson & DiIulio Vocabulary


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Acid rain
Precipitation in the form of rain, snow, or dust particles, the increased acidity of which is caused by environmental factors such as pollutants released into the atmosphere. (Ch. 21)
Activist approach
The view that judges should discern the general principles underlying the Constitution and its often vague language and assess how best to apply them in contemporary circumstances, in some cases with the guidance of moral or economic philosophy. (Ch. 14)
Individuals, usually outside of government, who actively promote a political party, philosophy, or issue they care about. (Ch. 6)
Ad hoc structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which several task forces, committees, and informal groups of friends and advisers deal directly with the president. (Ch. 12)
Adversarial press
A national press that is suspicious of officialdom and eager to break an embarrassing story about a public official. (Ch. 10)
Affirmative action
The requirement, imposed by law or administrative regulation, that an organization (business firm, government agency, labor union, school, or college) take positive steps to increase the number or proportion of women, African Americans, or other minorities in its membership. (Ch. 19)
Changes in, or additions to, the U.S. Constitution. Amendments are proposed by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or by a convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state legislatures and ratified by approval of three-fourths of the states. (Ch. 2)
Amicus curiae
A Latin term meaning "a friend of the court." Refers to interested groups or individuals, not directly involved in a suit, who may file legal briefs or make oral arguments in support of one side. (Ch. 14)
Opponents of a strong central government who campaigned against ratification of the Constitution in favor of a confederation of largely independent states. Antifederalists successfully marshaled public support for a federal bill of rights. After ratification, they formed a political party to support states' rights. See also Federalists (Ch. 2)
A legislative grant of money to finance a government program. See also Authorization legislation (Ch. 13)
Articles of Confederation
A constitution drafted by the newly independent states in 1777 and ratified in 1781. It created a weak national government that could not levy taxes or regulate commerce. In 1789 it was replaced by our current Constitution in order to create a stronger national government. (Ch. 2)
Assistance program
A government program financed by general income taxes that provides benefits to poor citizens without requiring contributions from them. (Ch. 17)
Australian ballot
A government-printed ballot of uniform size and shape to be cast in secret that was adopted by many states around 1890 in order to reduce the voting fraud associated with party-printed ballots cast in public. (Ch. 6)
The right to use power. (Ch. 1)
Authorization legislation
Legislative permission to begin or continue a government program or agency. An authorization bill may grant permission to spend a certain sum of money, but that money does not ordinarily become available unless it is also appropriated. Authorizations may be annual, multiyear, or permanent. See also Appropriation (Ch. 13)
Background story (news)
A public official's explanation of current policy provided to the press on the condition that the source remain anonymous. (Ch. 10)
Any satisfaction, monetary or nonmonetary, that people believe they will enjoy if a policy is adopted. See also Cost (Ch. 15)
Bicameral legislature
A lawmaking body made up of two chambers or parts. The U.S. Congress is a bicameral legislature composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Ch. 11)
Bill of attainder
A law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime. The state legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such acts by Article I of the Constitution. (Ch. 2)
Bill of rights
A list of individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. (Ch. 2)
Blanket primary
A primary election that permits all voters, regardless of party, to choose candidates. A Democratic voter, for example, can vote in a blanket primary for both Democratic and Republican candidates for nomination. (Ch. 8)
Block grants
Grants of money from the federal government to states for programs in certain general areas rather than for specific kinds of programs. See also Grants-in-aid; Categorical grants (Ch. 3)
A concerted effort to get people to stop buying goods and services from a company or person in order to punish that company or to coerce its owner into changing policies. (Ch. 15)
A legal document prepared by an attorney representing a party before a court. The document sets forth the facts of the case, summarizes the law, gives the arguments for its side, and discusses other relevant cases. (Ch. 14)
Bubble standard
The total amount of air pollution that can come from a given factory. A company is free to decide which specific sources within that factory must be reduced and how to meet the bubble standard. (Ch. 21)
A document that announces how much the government will collect in taxes and spend in revenues and how those expenditures will be allocated among various programs. (Ch. 16)
Budget deficit
A situation in which the government spends more money than it takes in from taxes and fees. (Ch. 16)
Budget resolution
A proposal submitted by the House and Senate budget committees to their respective chambers recommending a total budget ceiling and a ceiling for each of several spending areas (such as health or defense) for the current fiscal year. These budget resolutions are intended to guide the work of each legislative committee as it decides what to spend in its area. (Ch. 16)
Budget surplus
A situation in which the government takes in more money than it spends. (Ch. 16)
A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials. The department and agencies of the U.S. government make up the federal bureaucracy. (Ch. 13)
The appointed officials who operate government agencies from day to day. (Ch. 1)
By custom, the cabinet includes the heads of the fourteen major executive departments. (Ch. 12)
Categorical grants
Federal grants for specific purposes defined by federal law: to build an airport, for example, or to make welfare payments to low-income mothers. Such grants usually require that the state or locality put up money to "match" some part of the federal grants, though the amount of matching funds can be quite small. See also Grants-in-aid; Block grants (Ch. 3)
Caucus (congressional)
An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology or a regional, ethnic, or economic interest. (Ch. 7, 11)
Checks and balances
The power of the legislature, executive, and judicial branches of government to block some acts by the other two branches. See also Separation of powers (Ch. 2)
Circular structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which several presidential assistants report directly to the president. (Ch. 12)
A municipal corporation or municipality that has been chartered by a state to exercise certain defined powers and provide certain specific services. (Ch. 3)
Civic competence
A belief that one can affect government policies. (Ch. 4)
Civic duty
A belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs. (Ch. 4)
Civil law
The body of rules defining relationships among private citizens. It consists of both statutes and the accumulated customary law embodied in judicial decisions (the "common law"). See also Criminal law (Ch. 14)
Civil rights
The rights of citizens to vote, to receive equal treatment before the law, and to share equally with other citizens the benefits of public facilities (such as schools). (Ch. 19)
Class-action suit
A case brought into court by a person on behalf of not only himself or herself but all other persons in the country under similar circumstances. For example, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court decided that not only Linda Brown but all others similarly situated had the right to attend a local public school of their choice without regard to race. (Ch. 14)
Class consciousness
An awareness of belonging to a particular socioeconomic class whose interests are different from those of others. Usually used in reference to workers who view their interests as opposite those of managers and business owners. (Ch. 4)
Clear-and-present-danger test
A legal interpretation that reconciled two views of the First Amendment right of free speech, the first that Congress could not pass any law to restrict speech and the second that it could punish harms caused by speech. Proposed by Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1919, it held that Congress could punish only speech that created a "clear and present danger" of bringing about the actions that Congress is authorized to prevent. (Ch. 18)
Client politics
The politics of policy-making in which some small group receives the benefits of the policy and the public at large bears the costs. Only those who benefit have an incentive to organize and press their case. (Ch. 15, 17)
Closed primary
A primary election limited to registered party members. Prevents members of other parties from crossing over to influence the nomination of an opposing party's candidate. See also Open primary; Primary election (Ch. 8)
Closed rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that sets a time limit on debate and forbids a particular bill from being amended on the legislative floor. See also Open rule; Restrictive rule (Ch. 11)
Cloture rule
A rule used by the Senate to end or limit debate. Designed to prevent "talking a bill to death" by filibuster. For a bill to pass in the Senate, three-fifths of the entire Senate membership (or sixty senators) must vote for it. See also Filibuster (Ch. 11)
An alliance among different interest groups (factions) or parties to achieve some political goal. An example is the coalition sometimes formed between Republicans and conservative Democrats. (Ch. 2)
The tendency of lesser-known or weaker candidates to profit in an election by the presence on the ticket of a more popular candidate. (Ch. 8)
Cold war
Refers to the nonmilitary struggle between the United States (and its allies) and the former Soviet Union (and its allies) following World War II. (A cold war is distinguished from a hot or shooting war.) (Ch. 20)
Command-and-control strategy
A strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standards and rules. (Ch. 21)
Committee clearance
The ability of a congressional committee to review and approve certain agency decisions in advance and without passing a law. Such approval is not legally binding on the agency, but few agency heads will ignore the expressed wishes of committees. (Ch. 13)
Compensatory action
An action designed to help members of disadvantaged groups, especially minorities and women, catch up, usually by giving them extra education, training, or services. (Ch. 19)
Competitive service
The government offices to which people are appointed on the grounds of merit as ascertained by a written examination or by having met certain selection criteria (such as training, educational attainments, or prior experience). (Ch. 13)
Concurrent resolution
An expression of congressional opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of both the House and Senate but not of the president. Used to settle housekeeping and procedural matters that affect both houses. See also Simple resolution; Joint resolution (Ch. 11)
Concurring opinion
A Supreme Court opinion by one or more justices who agree with the majority's conclusion but for different reasons. See also Opinion of the Court; Dissenting opinion (Ch. 14)
Conditions of aid
Federal rules attached to the grants that states receive. States must agree to abide by these rules in order to receive the grants. (Ch. 3)
Confederation or confederal system
A political system in which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers that they expressly delegate to a central government. The United States was a confederation from 1776 to 1787 under the Articles of Confederation. See also Federalism; Unitary system (Ch. 3)
Congressional campaign committee
A party committee in Congress that provides funds to members who are running for reelection or to would-be members running for an open seat or challenging a candidate from the opposition party. (Ch. 7)
In general a person who favors more limited and local government, less government regulation of markets, more social conformity to traditional norms and values, and tougher policies toward criminals. See also Liberal (Ch. 5)
Conservative coalition
An alliance between Republicans and conservative Democrats. (Ch. 11)
Constitutional Convention
A meeting of delegates in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, which produced a totally new constitution still in use today. (Ch. 2)
Constitutional court
A federal court exercising the judicial powers found in Article III of the Constitution and whose judges are given constitutional protection: they may not be fired (they serve during "good behavior"), nor may their salaries be reduced while they are in office. The most important constitutional courts are the Supreme Court, the ninety-four district courts, and the courts of appeals (one in each of eleven regions plus one in the District of Columbia). See also District courts; Courts of appeals; Federal-question cases (Ch. 14)
Containment (or antiappeasment)
The view that the United States should contain aggressive nations (such as the former Soviet Union). See also Isolationism (Ch. 20)
Any burden, monetary or nonmonetary, that some people must bear, or think that they must bear, if a policy is adopted. See also Benefit (Ch. 15)
Cost overruns
Actual costs that are several times greater than estimated costs. These occur frequently among private contractors producing new weapons for the Pentagon. (Ch. 20)
The largest territorial unit between a city and a town. (Ch. 3)
Courts of appeals
The federal courts with authority to review decisions by federal district courts, regulatory commissions, and certain other federal courts. Such courts have no original jurisdiction; they can hear only appeals. There are a total of twelve courts of appeals in the United States and its territories. See also Constitutional court; District courts (Ch. 14)
Criminal law
The body of rules defining offenses that, though they harm an individual (such as murder, rape, and robbery), are considered to be offenses against society as a whole and as a consequence warrant punishment by and in the name of society. See also Civil law (Ch. 14)
Critical or realigning periods
Periods during which a sharp, lasting shift occurs in the popular coalition supporting one or both parties. The issues that separate the two parties change, and so the kinds of voters supporting each party change. (Ch. 7)
Cue (political)
A signal telling a congressional representative what values (e.g., liberal or conservative) are at stake in a vote--who is for, who against a proposal--and how that issue fits into his or her own set of political beliefs or party agenda. (Ch. 9)
De facto segregation
Racial segregation in schools that occurs not because of laws or administrative decisions, but as a result of patterns of residential settlement. To the extent that blacks and whites live in separate neighborhoods, neighborhood schools will often be segregated de facto. See also De jure segregation (Ch. 19)
De jure segregation
Racial segregation that occurs because of laws or administrative decisions by public agencies. When state laws, for example, required blacks and whites to attend separate schools or sit in separate sections of a bus, de jure segregation resulted. See also De facto segregation (Ch. 19)
Delegate model
The view that an elected representative should represent the opinions of his or her constituents. (Ch. 12)
A term used to describe a political system in which the people are said to rule, directly or indirectly. See also Direct or participatory democracy; Representative democracy (Ch. 1)
Descriptive representation
A correspondence between the demographic characteristics of representatives and those of their constituents. (Ch. 11)
The current effort to scale back the size and activities of the national government and to shift responsibility for a wide range of domestic programs from Washington to the states. In recent years these areas have included welfare, health care, and job training. (Ch. 3)
Dillon's rule
A legal principle that holds that the terms of city charters are to be interpreted narrowly. Under this rule (named after a lawyer who wrote a book on the subject in 1911) a municipal corporation can exercise only those powers expressly given it or those powers necessarily implied by, or essential to the accomplishment of, these stated powers. (Ch. 3)
Direct or participatory democracy
A political system in which all or most citizens participate directly by either holding office or making policy. The town meeting, in which citizens vote on major issues, is an example of participatory democracy. (Ch. 1, 12)
Discharge petition
A device by which any member of the House, after a committee has had a bill for thirty days, may petition to have it brought to the floor. If a majority of the members agree, the bill is discharged from the committee. The discharge petition was designed to prevent a committee from killing a bill by holding it for too long. (Ch. 11)
Discretionary authority
The extent to which appointed bureaucrats can choose courses of action and make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws. (Ch. 13)
A view that U.S. involvement in Vietnam had led to a military defeat and political disaster and that further similar involvements should be avoided. Also known as "new isolationism." See also Isolationism; Containment (Ch. 20)
Dissenting opinion
A Supreme Court opinion by one or more justices in the minority to explain the minority's disagreement with the Court's ruling. See also Opinion of the Court; Concurring opinion (Ch. 14)
District courts
The lowest federal courts where federal cases begin. They are the only federal courts where trials are held. There are a total of ninety-four district courts in the United States and its territories. See also Courts of appeals; Constitutional court; Federal-question cases (Ch. 14)
Diversity cases
Cases involving citizens of different states over which the federal courts have jurisdiction as described in the Constitution. See also Federal-question cases (Ch. 14)
Divided government
A government in which one party controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of Congress. See also Unified government (Ch. 12)
Division vote
A congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted. See also Voice vote; Teller vote; Roll-call vote (Ch. 11)
Domino theory
An influential theory first articulated by President Eisenhower holding that if an important nation were to fall into communist hands, other neighboring countries would follow suit. Eisenhower used the metaphor of a row of dominoes falling in sequence to illustrate his point. (Ch. 20)
A procedure to keep the Senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get on with other business. See also Filibuster; Cloture rule (Ch. 11)
Dual federalism
A constitutional theory that the national government and the state governments each have defined areas of authority, especially over commerce. (Ch. 3)
Due-process clause
Protection against arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty, or property as guaranteed in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Ch. 18)
Earned Income Tax Credit
A provision of a 1975 tax law that entitles working families with children to receive money from the government if their total income falls below a certain level. (Ch. 17)
Economic planning
An economic philosophy that assumes that the government should plan, in varying ways, some part of the country's economic activity. For instance, in times of high inflation, it suggests that the government regulate the maximum prices that can be charged and wages that can be paid, at least in the larger industries. Another form of planning, called industrial policy, would have the government planning or subsidizing investments in industries that need to recover or in new industries that could replace them. (Ch. 16)
An identifiable group of persons who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resource--such as money or political power. (Ch. 1)
A claim for government funds that cannot be abridged without violating the rights of the claimant; for example, Social Security benefits or payments on a contract. (Ch. 16)
Entrepreneurial politics
Policies benefiting society as a whole or some large part that impose a substantial cost on some small identifiable segment of society. See also Policy entrepreneurs (Ch. 15)
Environmental impact statement
A report required by federal law that assesses the possible effect of a project on the environment if the project is subsidized in whole or part by federal funds. (Ch. 21)
Equality of opportunity
A view that it is wrong to use race or sex either to discriminate against or give preferential treatment to minorities or women. See also Reverse discrimination (Ch. 19)
Equal time rule
A rule of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stating that if a broadcaster sells time to one candidate for office, he or she must be willing to sell equal time to opposing candidates. (Ch. 10)
Establishment clause
A clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of religion." (Ch. 18)
Exclusionary rule
A rule that holds that evidence gathered in violation of the Constitution cannot be used in a trial. The rule has been used to implement two provisions of the Bill of Rights--the right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures (Fourth Amendment) and the right not to be compelled to give evidence against oneself (Fifth Amendment). See also Good-faith exception (Ch. 18)
Ex post facto law
Ex post facto is a Latin term meaning "after the fact." A law that makes criminal an act that was legal when it was committed, that increases the penalty for a crime after it has been committed, or that changes the rules of evidence to make conviction easier; a retroactive criminal law. The state legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such laws by Article I of the Constitution. (Ch. 2)
According to James Madison, a group of people who seek to influence public policy in ways contrary to the public good. (Ch. 2)
Fairness doctrine
A former rule of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required broadcasters to give time to opposing views if they broadcast a program giving one side of a controversial issue. (Ch. 10)
Feature stories
Media reports about public events knowable to any reporter who cares to inquire, but involving acts and statements not routinely covered by a group of reporters. Thus a reporter must take the initiative and select a particular event as newsworthy, decide to write about it, and persuade an editor to run it. (Ch. 10)
A political system in which ultimate authority is shared between a central government and state or regional governments. See also Confederation; Unitary system (Ch. 2, 3)
Federalist papers
A series of eighty-five essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (all using the name "Publius") that were published in New York newspapers in 1787-1788 to convince New Yorkers to adopt the newly proposed Constitution. They are classics of American constitutional and political thought. (Ch. 2)
Supporters of a stronger central government who advocated ratification of the Constitution. After ratification they founded a political party supporting a strong executive and Alexander Hamilton's economic policies. See also Antifederalists (Ch. 2)
Federal-question cases
Cases concerning the Constitution, federal law, or treaties over which the federal courts have jurisdiction as described in the Constitution. See also Diversity cases (Ch. 14)
Federal regime
A political system in which local units of government have a specially protected existence and can make final decisions over some governmental activities. (Ch. 3)
Federal system
A system in which sovereignty is shared so that on some matters the national government is supreme and on others the state, regional, or provincial governments are supreme. (Ch. 3)
Fee shifting
A law or rule that allows the plaintiff (the party that initiates the lawsuit) to collect its legal costs from the defendant if the defendant loses. See also Plaintiff (Ch. 14)
An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from taking action on the bill. (Ch. 11)
Fiscal policy
An attempt to use taxes and expenditures to affect the economy. (Ch. 16)
Fiscal year (FY)
The period from October 1 to September 30 for which government appropriations are made and federal books are kept. A fiscal year is named after the year in which it ends--thus "fiscal 1995" (or "FY 95") refers to the twelve-month period ending September 30, 1995. (Ch. 16)
Franking privilege
The ability of members of Congress to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage. (Ch. 11)
Freedom of expression
The constitutional rights of Americans to "freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances" as outlined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. (Ch. 18)
Freedom of religion
The religious rights of Americans outlined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or abridging the free exercise thereof." (Ch. 18)
Free-exercise clause
A clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the "free exercise" of religion. (Ch. 18)
Gender gap
Differences in the political views and voting behavior of men and women. (Ch. 5)
General-act charter
A charter that applies to a number of cities that fall within a certain classification, usually based on city population. Thus in some states all cities with populations over 100,000 are governed on the basis of one charter, while all cities with populations between 50,000 and 99,999 are governed by a different one. See also Special-act charter (Ch. 3)
General election
An election used to fill an elective office. See also Primary election (Ch. 8)
Drawing the boundaries of political districts in bizarre or unusual shapes to make it easy for candidates of the party in power to win elections in those districts. (Ch. 8)
Gold plating
The tendency of Pentagon officials to ask weapons contractors to meet excessively high requirements. (Ch. 20)
Good-faith exception
Admission at a trial of evidence that is gathered in violation of the Constitution if the violation results from a technical or minor error. See also Exclusionary rule (Ch. 18)
Grandfather clause
A clause added to registration laws allowing people who did not meet registration requirements to vote if they or their ancestors had voted before 1867 (before African Americans were legally allowed to vote). This was to exempt poor and illiterate whites from registration requirements established to keep former slaves from voting. The Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in 1915. (Ch. 6)
Federal funds provided to states and localities. Grants-in-aid are typically provided for airports, highways, education, and major welfare services. See also Categorical grants; Block grants (Ch. 3)
Great Compromise
A compromise at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that reconciled the interests of small and large states by allowing the former to predominate in the Senate and the latter in the House. Under the agreement each state received two representatives in the Senate, regardless of size, but was allotted representatives on the basis of population in the House. (Ch. 2)
Home-rule charter
A charter that allows the city government to do anything that is not prohibited by the charter or by state law. (Ch. 3)
Human rights
In foreign policy, the view that our government should act to enhance the rights of people living in other countries. (Ch. 20)
Ideological interest groups
Political organizations that attract members by appealing to their political convictions with coherent sets of (usually) controversial principles. (Ch. 9)
Ideological party
A party that values principled stands on issues above all else, including winning. It claims to have a comprehensive view of American society and government radically different from that of the established parties. (Ch. 7)
A formal accusation against a public official by the lower house of a legislative body. Impeachment is merely an accusation and not a conviction. Only two presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, were ever impeached. They were not, however, convicted, for the Senate failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds vote required for conviction. (Ch. 12)
A valued benefit obtained by joining a political organization. (Ch. 9)
Income strategy
A policy of giving poor people money to help lift them out of poverty. (Ch. 17)
The person currently in office. (Ch. 8)
Independent Expenditure
Spending by political action committees on political matters that is done directly and not by giving money to a candidate or party. (Ch. 8)
In forma pauperis
A procedure whereby a poor person can file and be heard in court as a pauper, free of charge. (Ch. 14)
A procedure allowing voters to submit a proposed law to a popular vote by obtaining a required number of signatures. See also Referendum (Ch. 3)
Insider stories
Information not usually made public that becomes public because someone with inside knowledge tells a reporter. The reporter may have worked hard to learn these facts, in which case it is called "investigative reporting," or some official may have wanted a story to get out, in which case it is called a "leak." (Ch. 10)
Insurance program
A self-financing government program based on contributions that provide benefits to unemployed or retired persons. (Ch. 17)
Interest group
An organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy. (Ch. 9)
Interest group politics
The politics of policy-making in which one small group bears the costs of the policy and another small group receives the benefits. Each group has an incentive to organize and to press its interest. See also Majoritarian politics; Client politics (Ch. 15)
Iron curtain
A metaphor first used by Winston Churchill to describe a military and political barrier maintained by the former Soviet Union to prevent free travel and communication between Eastern and Western Europe. (Ch. 20)
Iron triangle
A close relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group that often becomes a mutually advantageous alliance. See also Issue network; Client politics (Ch. 13)
The view that the United States should withdraw from world affairs, limit foreign aid, and avoid involvement in foreign wars. See also Containment (Ch. 20)
Issue network
A network of people in Washington-based interest groups, on congressional staffs, in universities and think tanks, and in the mass media who regularly discuss and advocate public policies--say, health care or auto safety. Such networks are split along political, ideological, and economic lines. (Ch. 13)
Jim Crow
A slang expression for African Americans that emerged in the 1820s and came to signify the laws and governmental practices designed to segregate blacks from whites, especially in the American South. (Ch. 19)
John Q. Public
Colloquial term for average citizens and what they want or believe. (Ch. 5)
Joint committees
Committees on which both representatives and senators serve. An especially important kind of joint committee is the conference committee, made up of representatives and senators appointed to resolve differences in the Senate and House versions of the same piece of legislation before final passage. See also Standing committees (Ch. 11)
Joint resolution
A formal expression of congressional opinion that must be approved by both houses of Congress and by the president. Joint resolutions proposing a constitutional amendment need not be signed by the president. See also Concurrent resolution; Simple resolution (Ch. 11)
Judicial review
The power of the courts to declare acts of the legislature and of the executive to be unconstitutional and hence null and void. (Ch. 2, 14)
An economic philosophy that assumes that the market will not automatically operate at a full-employment, low-inflation level. It suggests that the government should intervene to create the right level of demand by pumping more money into the economy (when demand is low) and taking it out (when demand is too great). (Ch. 16)
An economic theory that government should not regulate or interfere with commerce. (Ch. 13)
Lame duck
A politician who is still in office after having lost a reelection bid. (Ch. 12)
Legislative court
A court that is created by Congress for some specialized purpose and staffed with judges who do not enjoy the protection of Article III of the Constitution. Legislative courts include the Court of Military Appeals and the territorial courts. (Ch. 14)
Legislative veto
The rejection of a presidential or administrative-agency action by a vote of one or both houses of Congress without the consent of the president. In 1983 the Supreme Court declared the legislative veto to be unconstitutional. (Ch. 12, 13)
Political authority conferred by law, public opinion, or constitution. (Ch. 1)
A written statement that falsely injures the reputation of another person. (Ch. 18)
In general, a person who favors a more active federal government for regulating business, supporting social welfare, and protecting minority rights, but who prefers less regulation of private social conduct. See also Conservative (Ch. 5)
People who wish to maximize personal liberty on both economic and social issues. They prefer a small, weak government that has little control over either the economy or the personal lives of citizens. (Ch. 5)
Line-item veto
The power of an executive to veto some provisions in an appropriations bill while approving others. The president does not have the right to exercise a line-item veto and must approve or reject an entire appropriations bill. See also Pocket veto; Veto message (Ch. 2, 12)
Literacy test
A requirement that citizens pass a literacy test in order to register to vote. It was established by many states to prevent former slaves (most of whom were illiterate) from voting. Illiterate whites were allowed to vote by a "grandfather clause" added to the law saying that a person could vote, even though he did not meet the legal requirements, if he or his ancestors voted before 1867. (Ch. 6)
Litmus test
In chemistry a way of finding out whether a liquid is acid or alkaline. The term is used in politics to mean a test of ideological purity, a way of finding out whether a person is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal or conservative or what his or her views are on a controversial question. (Ch. 14)
Loaded language
Words that reflect a value judgment, used to persuade the listener without making an argument. For example, if someone likes a politician, he might call him "the esteemed Senator Smith"; if he doesn't like him, he might refer to him as "that right-wing or radical senator." (Ch. 10)
An interest group organized to influence government decisions, especially legislation. To lobby is to attempt to influence such decisions. A lobbyist is a person attempting to influence government decisions on behalf of the group. (Ch. 9)
Mutual aid among politicians, whereby one legislator supports another's pet project in return for the latter's support of his. The expression dates from the days when American pioneers needed help from neighbors in moving logs off of land to be farmed. (Ch. 15)
Majoritarian politics
The politics of policy-making in which almost everybody benefits from a policy and almost everybody pays for it. See also Interest group politics; Client politics (Ch. 15, 17)
Majority leader
The legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate. See also Minority leader (Ch. 11)
Majority-minority districts
Congressional districts designed to make it easier for citizens of a racial or ethnic minority to elect representatives. (Ch. 11)
Drawing the boundaries of political districts so that districts are very unequal in population. (Ch. 18)
Rules imposed by the federal government on the states as conditions for obtaining federal grants or requirements that the states pay the costs of certain nationally defined programs. (Ch. 3)
Marginal districts
Political districts in which candidates elected to the House of Representatives win in close elections, typically with less than 55 percent of the vote. (Ch. 11)
Market (television)
An area easily reached by a television signal. There are about two hundred such markets in the country. (Ch. 10)
People who believe that those who control the economic system also control the political one. (Ch. 1)
Material incentives
Benefits that have monetary value, including money, gifts, services, or discounts received as a result of one's membership in an organization. (Ch. 9)
Charges that unfairly or dishonestly tarnish the motives, attack the patriotism, or violate the rights of individuals, especially of political opponents. Refers to the numerous unsubstantiated accusations of communism made against public and private individuals by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. (Ch. 18)
Means test
An income qualification that determines whether one is eligible for benefits under government programs reserved for lower-income groups. (Ch. 17)
Middle America
A phrase coined by Joseph Kraft in a 1968 newspaper column to refer to Americans who have moved out of poverty but are not yet affluent and who cherish traditional middle-class values. (Ch. 5)
Military-industrial complex
An alleged alliance among key military, governmental, and corporate decision-makers involved in weapons procurement and military support systems. The phrase was coined by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who warned Americans about its dangers. (Ch. 20)
Minority leader
The legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate. See also Majority leader (Ch. 11)
An economic philosophy that assumes inflation occurs when there is too much money chasing too few goods. Monetarism suggests that the proper thing for government to do is to have a steady, predictable increase in the money supply at a rate about equal to the growth in the economy's productivity. (Ch. 16)
Monetary policy
An attempt to alter the amount of money in circulation and the price of money (Ch. the interest rate) to affect the economy. (Ch. 16)
Motor-voter law
A bill passed by Congress in 1993 to make it easier for Americans to register to vote. The law, which went into effect in 1995, requires states to allow voter registration by mail, when one applies for a driver's license, and at state offices that serve the disabled or poor. (Ch. 6)
A journalist who searches through the activities of public officials and organizations seeking to expose conduct contrary to the public interest. The term was first used by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to warn that antibusiness journalism, while valuable, could be excessively negative. (Ch. 10)
Mugwumps or progressives
The faction in the Republican party of the 1890s to the 1910s composed of reformers who opposed the use of patronage and party bosses and favored the leadership of experts. After 1910 they evolved into a nonpartisan "good government" movement that sought to open up the political system and curb the abuses of parties. See also Political machine (Ch. 7)
Multiple referral
A congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several committees that consider it simultaneously in whole or in part. For instance, the 1988 trade bill was considered by fourteen committees in the House and nine in the Senate simultaneously. (Ch. 11)
Municipal corporation or municipality
A legal term for a city. It is chartered by the state to exercise certain powers and provide certain services. See also Special-act charter; General-act charter (Ch. 3)
Name-request job
A job to be filled by a person whom a government agency has identified by name. (Ch. 13)
National chairman
A paid, full-time manager of a party's day-to-day work who is elected by the national committee. (Ch. 7)
National committee
A committee of delegates from each state and territory that runs party affairs between national conventions. (Ch. 7)
National convention
A meeting of party delegates elected in state primaries, caucuses, or conventions that is held every four years. Its primary purpose is to nominate presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to ratify a campaign platform. (Ch. 7)
"Necessary and proper" clause
The final paragraph of Article I, section 8, of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers. Sometimes called the "elastic clause" because of the flexibility that it provides to Congress. (Ch. 3)
Nonviolent civil disobedience
A philosophy of opposing a law one considers unjust by peacefully violating it and allowing oneself to be punished as a result. (Ch. 19)
A standard of right or proper conduct that helps determine the range of acceptable social behavior and policy options. (Ch. 5)
A theory first advanced by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that the states had the right to "nullify" (that is, declare null and void) a federal law that, in the states' opinion, violated the Constitution. The theory was revived by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina in opposition to federal efforts to restrict slavery. The North's victory in the Civil War determined once and for all that the federal Union is indissoluble and that states cannot declare acts of Congress unconstitutional, a view later confirmed by the Supreme Court. (Ch. 3)
Office-bloc ballot
A ballot listing all candidates for a given office under the name of that office; also called a "Massachusetts" ballot. See also Party-column ballot (Ch. 8)
An environmental rule that a company in an area with polluted air can offset its own pollution by reducing pollution from another source in the area. For instance, an older company that can't afford to pay for new antipollution technologies may buy pollution credits from a newer company that has reduced its source of pollution below the levels required by law. (Ch. 21)
Open primary
A primary election that permits voters to choose on election day the primary in which they wish to vote. They may vote for candidates of only one party. See also Blanket primary; Closed primary; Primary election (Ch. 8)
Open rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the legislative floor. See also Closed rule; Restrictive rule (Ch. 11)
Opinion of the Court
A Supreme Court opinion written by one or more justices in the majority to explain the decision in a case. See also Concurring opinion; Dissenting opinion (Ch. 14)
A law passed and enforced by a city government. (Ch. 3)
People who believe that moral rules are derived from the commands of God or the laws of nature; these commands and laws are relatively clear, unchanging, and independent of individual moral preferences. They are likely to believe that traditional morality is more important than individual liberty and should be enforced by government and communal norms. See also Progressive (Ch. 4)
Party-column ballot
A ballot listing all candidates of a given party together under the name of that party; also called an "Indiana" ballot. See also Office-bloc ballot (Ch. 8)
Party polarization
A vote in which a majority of Democratic legislators oppose a majority of Republican legislators. (Ch. 11)
Per curiam opinion
A brief, unsigned opinion issued by the Supreme Court to explain its ruling. See also Opinion of the Court (Ch. 14)
A short form of perquisites, meaning "fringe benefits of office." Among the perks of political office for high-ranking officials are limousines, expense accounts, free air travel, fancy offices, and staff assistants. (Ch. 12)
Personal following
The political support provided to a candidate on the basis of personal popularity and networks. (Ch. 7)
The party that initiates a lawsuit to obtain a remedy for an injury to his or her rights. (Ch. 14)
A theory that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy. (Ch. 1)
Plurality system
An electoral system, used in almost all American elections, in which the winner is the person who gets the most votes, even if he or she does not receive a majority of the votes. (Ch. 7)
Pocket veto
One of two ways for a president to disapprove a bill sent to him by Congress. If the president does not sign the bill within ten days of his receiving it and Congress has adjourned within that time, the bill does not become a law. See also Veto message; Line-item veto (Ch. 12)
Police power
The power of a state to promote health, safety, and morals. (Ch. 3)
Policy entrepreneurs
Those in and out of government who find ways of pulling together a legislative majority on behalf of unorganized interests. See also Entrepreneurial politics (Ch. 15)
Political action committee (PAC)
A committee set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or special-interest group that raises and spends campaign contributions on behalf of one or more candidates or causes. (Ch. 8)
Political agenda
A set of issues thought by the public or those in power to merit action by the government. (Ch. 15)
Political culture
A broadly shared way of thinking about political and economic life that reflects fundamental assumptions about how government should operate. It is distinct from political ideology, which refers to a more or less consistent set of views about the policies government ought to follow. Up to a point people sharing a common political culture can disagree about ideology. See also Political ideology (Ch. 4)
Political editorializing rule
A rule of the Federal Communica-tions Commission that if a broadcaster endorses a candidate, the opposing candidate has a right to reply. (Ch. 10)
Political efficacy
A citizen's belief that he or she can understand and influence political affairs. This sense is divided into two parts--internal efficacy (confidence in a citizen's own abilities to understand and take part in political affairs) and external efficacy (a belief that the system will respond to a citizen's demands). (Ch. 4)
Political ideology
A more or less consistent set of views as to the policies government ought to pursue. See also Political culture (Ch. 4, 5)
Political machine
A party organization that recruits its members by dispensing patronage--tangible incentives such as money, political jobs, or an opportunity to get favors from government--and that is characterized by a high degree of leadership control over member activity. (Ch. 7)
Political party
A group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label--a "party identification"--by which they are known to the electorate. (Ch. 7)
Political question
An issue that the Supreme Court refuses to consider because it believes the Constitution has left it entirely to another branch to decide. Its view of such issues may change over time, however. For example, until the 1960s the Court refused to hear cases about the size of congressional districts, no matter how unequal their populations. In 1962, however, it decided that it was authorized to review the constitutional implications of this issue. (Ch. 14)
Political subculture
Fundamental assumptions about how the political process should operate that distinguish citizens by region, religion, or other characteristics. (Ch. 4)
A survey of public opinion. See also Random sample (Ch. 5)
Poll tax
A requirement that citizens pay a tax in order to register to vote. It was adopted by many states to prevent former slaves (most of whom were poor) from voting. It is now unconstitutional. See also Grandfather clause; Literacy test (Ch. 6)
Pollution allowances (or banks)
A reduction in pollution below that required by law that can be used to cover a future plant expansion or sold to another company whose pollution emissions are above the legal requirements. (Ch. 21)
People who hold liberal views on economic matters and conservative ones on social matters. They prefer a strong government that will reduce economic inequality, regulate businesses, and impose stricter social and criminal sanctions. The name and views have their origins in an agriculturally based social movement and party of the 1880s and 1890s that sought to curb the power of influential economic interests. (Ch. 5)
Pork-barrel legislation
Legislation that gives tangible benefits (Ch. highways, dams, post offices) to constituents in several districts or states in the hope of winning their votes in return. (Ch. 11)
Position issue
An issue dividing the electorate on which rival parties adopt different policy positions to attract voters. See also Valence issue (Ch. 8)
The ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person's intentions. (Ch. 1)
Primary election
An election prior to the general election in which voters select the candidates who will run on each party's ticket. Before presidential elections, a presidential primary is held to select delegates to the presidential nominating conventions of the major parties. See also Closed primary; Open primary (Ch. 8)
Prior restraint
The traditional view of the press's free speech rights as expressed by William Blackstone, the great English jurist. According to this view the press is guaranteed freedom from censorship--that is, rules telling it in advance what it can publish. After publication, however, the government can punish the press for material that is judged libelous or obscene. (Ch. 18)
Private bill
A legislative bill that deals only with specific, private, personal, or local matters rather than with general legislative affairs. The main kinds include immigration and naturalization bills (Ch. referring to particular individuals) and personal-claim bills. See also Public bill (Ch. 11)
Process regulation
Rules regulating manufacturing or industrial processes, usually aimed at improving consumer or worker safety and reducing environmental damage. (Ch. 15)
A person who believes that moral rules are derived in part from an individual's beliefs and the circumstances of modern life. Progressives are likely to favor government tolerance and protection of individual choice. (Ch. 4)
Prospective voting
Voting for a candidate because one favors his or her ideas for addressing issues after the election. (Ch. Prospective means "forward-looking.") See also Retrospective voting (Ch. 8)
Public bill
A legislative bill that deals with matters of general concern. A bill involving defense expenditures is a public bill; a bill pertaining to an individual's becoming a naturalized citizen is not. See also Private bill (Ch. 11)
Public-interest lobby
A political organization the stated goals of which will principally benefit nonmembers. (Ch. 9)
Purposive incentive
The benefit that comes from serving a cause or principle from which one does not personally benefit. (Ch. 9)
Pyramid structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which most presidential assistants report through a hierarchy to the president's chief of staff. (Ch. 12)
The minimum number of members who must be present for business to be conducted in Congress. (Ch. 11)
Quorum call
A calling of the roll in either house of Congress to see whether the number of representatives in attendance meets the minimum number required to conduct official business. (Ch. 11)
Random sample
A sample selected in such a way that any member of the population being surveyed (Ch. e.g., all adults or voters) has an equal chance of being interviewed. (Ch. 5)
An assessment of a representative's voting record on issues important to an interest group. Such ratings are designed to generate public support for or opposition to a legislator. (Ch. 9)
The federal economic policies of the Reagan administration, elected in 1981. These policies combined a monetarist fiscal policy, supply-side tax cuts, and domestic budget cutting. Their goal was to reduce the size of the federal government and stimulate economic growth. See also Supply-side theory; Monetarism (Ch. 16)
A procedure, in effect in over twenty states, whereby the voters can vote to remove an elected official from office. (Ch. 3)
Red tape
Complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done. (Ch. 13)
The practice of submitting a law to a popular vote at election time. The law may be proposed by a voter's initiative or by the legislature. See also Initiative (Ch. 3)

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