Sample Essay Questions
1. In our discussion of representation in the United States, we discussed the various amendments to the U.S. Constitution that increased citizen representation. Name three amendments to the U.S. Constitution that increased citizen representation in our government, and explain specifically, how each either expanded our electorate or made the government more representatives of its citizens.
- Amendment XV - African American Suffrage - African Americans receive the right to vote. - Amendment XIX- Women's Suffrage -Gives women the power to vote - Amendment XXVI- Suffrage for 18-Year-Olds- Voting age moved to 18
2. Drawing upon your understanding of the essential functions of legislatures, as well as the basic characteristics of California’s State legislature, as presented in Matthew Jarvis’s chapter on the California State legislature in California Government in National Perspective, explain the most important similarities and differences between the U.S. Congress and the California State legislature.
• Both are bicameral.
• Both have the Senate as the upper house.
• Both the Assembly and the US House are led by a Speaker.
3. Define agenda setting in general terms & demonstrate how congressional leaders set Congress's agenda as well as how the mass communications media set the public agenda.
4. Do interest groups allow greater representation for citizens or do they inevitably allow small well organized groups to prosper at the expense of everyone who pays taxes?
- They allow greater representation for particular causes, not for citizens. And yes, they do often work with politicians to win favors at the expense of taxpayers.
5. Name two sources of interest group power and explain how an interest group lobbyist could use those powers to gain influence over government policymakers?
- Two of the biggest things that can sway a vote is money and power. Professional lobbyists represent companies and corporations that control a great deal of both. Senators and representatives always have pet projects that require a great deal of money and constantly need the power to get the votes needed to initiate and fund these projects. Our people in Congress are keenly aware they must be constantly vigilant in order to obtain funding and backing so as to make a good showing for the citizens in their voting districts.
6. Explain how & why presidents “go public”, giving at least one example of a president going public in pursuit of enacting their policy agenda.
- Most importantly, presidents have the ability to "go public" in the words of to appeal to the public for support over the heads of other politicians. The rise of the electronic media, first radio and then television, has enabled presidents to establish a direct, almost personal relationship with voters that skilled presidents It is probably advisable for presidents to use this tactic on a limited number of important issues lest it lose its impact. If used wisely, it can be decisive. George Bush before he invaded Iraq.
Sample Short-Answer Questions/Suggestions
1. Be able to define a congressional committee and explain what they do and why they're important in allowing Congress to complete its work.
- is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress that handles a specific duty (rather than the general duties of Congress). Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction. As "little legislatures," committees monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to their parent body.
2. Memorize the summaries of the important U.S. Supreme Court decisions listed on your handout.
3. Be sure that you understand what civil liberties are (specifically...
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