The United States 1953-73, Unit 1
1) How was the US constitution and its electoral system devised?
The first ten amendments (the Bill of Rights) of the US constitution was devised by the "55 Founding Fathers" to set the the rights entitled to all individuals collectively in the US. These founding fathers deliberately created a system for a balance of power to be exemplified fairly between the three branches of federal government to specifically contrast that of a monarchical system of absolute power in 18th-century Britain. The electoral system was established in Article II of the constitution and amended by the 12th Amendment in 1804. ."Electoral college representation is based on congressional representation" allows for states with more people to get more electoral college votes. It was devised as a definitive entity that concluded based upon the number of representatives for each state in the House of Representatives a majority of vote- 270 votes of the 538 electors- required to win.
2) What role did political parties play in government and opposition?
Political parties specifically the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (or the Grand Old Party) play huge roles in the government as it determines based upon the victor of the presidential election how the government will be ran. On one hand the Democrats power base was of "organized labor, urban voters and immigrants. During the 1950s and 1960s they took on "big government positions" where they sided with federal intervention in regulating business and also associated itself as an advocate for civil rights movements. However, Republicans advocated for the white-collar middle-class, and pro-business which was seen as "middle America". This party was very against the Vietnam War, and during this time were very opposed to civil rights legislation. So depending on each parties ideologies, whether it may be due to geographical factors, religion or other social issues base how their point of action on certain situations would come about. Political parties outside of the government were influenced by geography where people living in the north and the east(Republicans) would identify more with “progressive values” due to a rapid of increase of technology whereas those living in the south(Democrats) generally was poorer and less industrialized. The divisions made between the two parties could also be taken account for issues regarding religion where national candidates would have to fully state their religious beliefs. This attribute emphasizes the significance the people put on the personalities of individual candidates instead of the overall party which can be concluded that outside of the government, political parties may or may not have power over an individual depending on the individual's environment and values.
3) How significant were pressure groups?
Pressure groups, (better known as lobby or interest groups) were eminent power yielding sources that "influence legislature by mobilising public opinion" on a national scale. The presence of these pressure groups are backed by the 1st amendment, the right for individuals to petition the government allowed political power to be heavily wielded by these groups. Pressure groups played significant roles in the US especially large industrial corporations whose power and political influence greatly opposed that of the government. Attempts throughout history with pressure groups in relation to their influences in government policies had a major advantage that many political figures needed especially during the presidential campaign, money. In the forefront for many of the social changes that were happening throughout the 1950s and 1960s specific pressure groups such as the National Women's Political Caucus and the National Organization for Women that appealed to their own group's interests such as rights for women over their bodies, and equal rights amendments by all states. Although, pressure groups did have benefits to its prominent role in political and social changes throughout this time period, President Eisenhower farewell speech through his "military-industrial complex" expressed the dangers of these groups having too much power that could potentially compromise the balance of power.
END OF UNIT ACTIVITIES
Checks of the Executive
Balances of the Executive
Forms of opposition or pressure on the Executive
President can pass laws and run the country, but only with Congressional approval.
Congress can block laws proposed by the president if a majority votes against them.
Example: Martin Luther King’s campaign of “passive resistance” with his lobbying of President Kennedy and Johnson for the passing of 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
President appoints Supreme Court and other federal judges
President can veto any legislation from Congress deemed unacceptable.
Example: Between 1960 and 1975 large industrial companies such as General Motors have huge claims and permanent representation in Washington with federal contracts often at stake.
Can recommend legislation and can appeal to the people concerning legislation and more
The Judiciary branch ensures that neither Congress nor the president exceeds their power and have the final word whether or not the actions of politicians are just and lawful.
Example: In the 1950s and 1960s began the women’s movement for legality over voting rights and equality. Lobby groups began to take interest as frontrunners.