Chapter 1 Outline
Government Affects Our Lives Every Day
1. Americans have been reluctant to grant government too much power, and they have often been suspicious of politicians. But Americans have also turned to government for assistance in times of need, and they have strongly supported the government in periods of war. 2. One important reason for citizens to pay attention to their government in good times is to make sure that the government does not make decisions that might result in unjustified wars, riots, or an economic downturn. 3. The key to understanding American government is to understand the relationship between the citizen and the government. Politics takes on a different character according to the extent to which people are informed and involved. Citizenship Is Based on Political Knowledge and Participation 1. Citizenship is defined as informed and active membership in a political community. 2. Although today we consider voting the building block of citizenship, Americans can participate in their government in other ways—such as serving on a jury, lobbying, writing a letter to the editor, or engaging in a public rally or protest. 3. Numerous studies and surveys show that many Americans have significant gaps in their political knowledge. Greater political knowledge increases the ability of people to influence their government. Government Is Made Up of the Institutions and Procedures by Which People Are Ruled 1. “Government” is the term that describes the formal institutions and procedures through which a territory and its people are ruled. Governments vary in their structure, in their size, and in the way they operate. 2. A democracy is a political system where popular wishes and preferences regularly and systematically shape who controls the government and what the government does. Under such a system, the norm is constitutional government, in which governmental power is described and limited by a governing constitution....
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