AP Gov Chapter 1: The Study of American Government

Power (political power)
the ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person’s intentions
(get someone to do something that influences policy)

the right to use power

source of authority, political authority given by laws or by a state or national constitution

the rule of the many

Direct (participatory) democracy
government in which all or most citizens participate directly

Representative democracy
government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for the popular vote
People vote for leaders, not on individual issue

one group that holds a disproportionate amount of power

Marxist view
view that government is dominated by capitalists and government is created to manage the bourgeoisie (upper class)
created by Karl Marx

Power elite view
view that government is dominated by a few top leaders, many are outside of the government
military- corporations- political
media- corporations- political, etc.

Bureaucratic view
view that the government is dominated by appointed officials
created by Max Weber

Pluralist view
belief that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy
no one has complete power and this struggle leads to balance
created by James Madison in the U.S. Constitution with the idea of checks and balances

Two major questions
Who governs? To what ends?

Ultimate source of legitimacy in U.S.
The U.S. Constitution

Democratic centralism
Members take part in policy discussions and elections at all levels but must follow decisions made at higher levels
Example: China

Examples of struggles for legitimacy
Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists
Civil War

Disadvantages of direct democracy
creates mob-ocracy and didn’t want people to just vote based on public opinion at the time
most citizens don’t have expertise to make decisions on every issue

Examples of direct democracy
Ancient Greece
New England town meetings

a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision

Advantages of bureaucratic view
doesn’t follow the will of the majority so it prevents sweeping changes at the hands of the mob-rule that could be very harmful

Disadvantages of bureaucratic view
proceeds slowly

Majoritarian Politics
elected officials act exactly how the majority of the people would act if the matter were put to a direct vote. (officials do exactly what the majority wants)

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