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258 Cards in this Set

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Activist Approach
The view that judges should discern the general principles underlying the COnstitution and its often vague language and asses how best to apply them in contemporary circumstances, in some cases with the guidance of moral or economic philosophy
Individuals, usually outside of government, who actively promote a political party, philosophy, or issue they care about
Ad Hoc Structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which se vereal task forces, committees, and informal groups of friends and advisors deal directly with the president
Adversarial Press
A national press that is suspicious of officialdom and eager to break an embarrassing story about a public official
Affirmative Action
The requirement, imposed by law or administrative regulation, that an organization (business firm, government agancy, labor union, school, or college) take positive steps to increase the number or proportion of women, African Americans, or other minorites in its membership
Changes in, or additions to, the U.S. Constitution. Amendments are proposed by a wo-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.
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.
A legislative grant of money to finance a government program
Articles of Confederation
A constitution drafted by the newly independent staes in 17777 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
Assistance Program
A government program fincaned by general income taxes that provides benefits to poor citizens without requiring contributions from them
Australian Ballot
A governmet-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 publc
Authorization Legislation
Legislative permission to begin or continue a government program or agency. An authoriztion bill may gant permission to spend a certain sum of money, but that money does not ordinarily become available unless it is also appropriated. Aurthorizations may be annual, multiyear, or permanent
Background Story (News)
A public official's explanaton of current policy provided to the press on the condition that the source remain anonymous
Any satisfaction, monetary, or nonmonetary, that people believe they will enjoy if a policy is adopted
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.
Bill of Attainder
A law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime. The stae legislatures and Congress are forbidden to pass such acts by Article I of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
A list of individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
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
Block Grants
Grants of money from the federal government to states for programs in certain general areas rather than for specific kinds of programs
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
Budget deficit
A situation in which the government spends more money than it takes in from taxes and fees
Budget resolution
A proposal submitted by the HOuse and Senate Budget committees to heir 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 inteded to guide the work of each legislative committe as it decides what to spend in its area
Budget surplus
A situation in which the government takes in more money than it spends
A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials. The department and agencies of the U.S. government make up the federal bureaucracy
The appointed officials who operate government agencies forom day to day
By custom, the cabinet includes the headds of the fourteen major executive departments.
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 agrants 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
Caucus (Congressional)
An association of members of Congress created to advocate a political ideology or a reagional, ethnic, or economic interest.
Checks and Balances
The power of the legislature, executive, and judicial branches of governemnt to block some actis by the other two branches
Circular structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which several presidential assistants report directly to the president
Civic Competience
A belief that one can affect government policies
Civic Duty
A belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs.
Civic Law
The obdy of rules defining relationshiops among private citizens. It consists of both statutes and the accumulated customary law embodied in judicial decisions (the "coommon law")
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 facilites (such as schools).
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 Brwn v. Board of Education of Topeka, Knsaes, 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.
Class Conscioussness
An awareness of belonging to a particular socioeconmic class whose interests are different forom those of others. Usually used in reference to works who view their interests as opposite those of managers and business owners.
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. Propsed by Supreme Court justice Oliver Wedell 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.
Client Politics
The politics of policy-making in which some small group receives the benfits of the policy and the public at large bears the costs. Only those who benefit have an incentive to organize and press their case.
Closed Primary
A primary election limited to registered party members. Prevents members of other parites from crossing over to influence the nomination of an opposing party's candidate
Closed Rule
A rule used by the Senate to end or limit debate. Designed to prevvent "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
Cloture 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
An alliance among different interest groups (factions) or parties to achive some political goal. An example is the coalition sometimes formed between Republicnas and conservative Democrats
The tendency of lesser-known or weaker candidates to profit in an election by the presence on the ticket of a more popular candidate
Cold War
Refers to the nonmilitary struggle between the United States (and its allies) and the former Soviet Union (and its alilies) following World War II
Command-and-Control Strategy
A strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standars and rules
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 agancy, but few agancy head will ignore the expressed wishes of committees
Compensatroy Action
An action designed to help members of disadvantages groups, especially minorities and women, catch up, usually by giving them extra education, training, or services
Competititve Service
The government offices to which people are appointed on the grounds of merit as ascertained by a written examination of by having met certain selection criteria (such as training, educational attainments, or prior experience)
Concurrent Resolution
An expression of congressional opinion without the force of law that requires the approveal of both the House and Senate but not of the president. used to settle housekeeping and precoduaral matters that affect both houses
Concurring Opinion
A Supreme Court opinion by one or more justices who agree with the majority's conclusion but for different reasons
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
Confederation or Confederal System
A political system in which staes or regional governments retain ultimate authority except ofor those powers that they expressly delegate to a central government. The United States was a confederation from 1776 to 1787 under the Articls of Confederation
Conference Committee
Made up of representatives and senators appointed to resolve differences in the Senate and House versions of the same piece of legisltion before final passage
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.
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
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.
Conservative coalition
An alliance between Republicans and conservative Democrats.
Constitutional Convention
A meeting of delegates in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation, which produced a totally new consititution still in use today.
Constitutional court
A federal court exercising the judicial powers found in Article III of the Consitution 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)
Containment (or antiappeasment)
The view that the United States should contain aggressive nations (such as the former Soviet Union)
Courts of appeals
The federal courts with authority to review decidsions 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 US and its territories
Criminal law
The body of rules defining offenses that, though they harm an idividual (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
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
Cue (political)
A signal telling a congressional representative what values (e.g., liveral 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
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.
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 segragation resulted.
Delegate model
The view that an elected representative should represent the opinions of his or her constituents.
A term used to describe a political system in which the people are siad to rule, directly or indirectly
Descriptive representation
A correspondence between the demographic characteristics of representatives and those of their constituents
The current effort to scale back the size and activites of the national government and to shift respnsibility for a wide range of domestic programs from Washington to the states. In recent years, these aresas have included welfare, health care, and job training
Dillion's rule
A legal principle that holds that the terms of city charters are to be interpreted narrowly. Udner this rule (named after a lawyer whoh wrote a book on the suject in 1911) a municipal corporation can exercise only those powers expressively given it or those powers necessarily implied by, or essential to the accomplishment of, these stated powers
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
Discharge petition
A device by which any member of the HOuse, after a committe 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.
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
Dissenting opinion
A Supreme Court opinion by one or more justices in the minorrity to explain the minority's desagreement with the Court's ruling
District courts
The lowest federal courts where federal cases begin. The are the only federal courts where trials are held. there are a total of ninety-four district courts in the US and its territories
Divided Government
A government in which one party controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of Congress
Division vote
A congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted
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 businesses
Dual federalism
A constitutional theory that the national government and the state governments each have defined areeas of authority, especially over commerce
Due-process clause
Protection against arbitrary deprivation of life, liberty, or property as guaranteed in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
An identifiable group of persons who possesss a disproportionate share of some valued resource--such as money or political power
Equality of opportunity
A view that it is wrong to use race or sex either to discriminate against or give preferential treatment to minorites or women
Equal time rule
A rule of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stating that if a bradcaster sells time to one candidate for offic, he or she must be willing to seel equal time to opposing candidates.
Establishment clause
A clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of religion."
Exclusionary rule
A rule that holds that eveidence gathered in violation of the Constitution cannot be used in 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)
Ex post facto law
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 forbiddeen to pass such laws by Article I of the Constitution
External efficacy
A belief that the system will respnd to a citizen's demands
According to James Madison, a group of people who seek to influence public policy in ways contrary to the public good
Fairness doctrine
A former rule of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required broadcasters to give time to oppoosing views if they broadcast a program giving one side of a controversial issue
Feature stories
Media reports about public events knowable to any reporter who cares to inquired, 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
A political system in which ultimate authority is shared between a central government and state or regional governments
Federalist papers
a series of eighty-five essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Nd 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 propsed Constitution. THey are classics of American constitutional and political thought
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
Federal-question cases
Cases concerneing the Constitution, federal law, or treaties over which the federal courts have jurisdiction as described in the Constitution
Federal regime
A political system in whcih local unites of government have a specially protected existence and can make final decisions over some governmental activites
Federal system
A system in which sovereignty is shared so that on some matters the national government is supreme and one otheres the stae, regional, or provincial governemnts are supreme
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
An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from taking action on the bill
Franking privilege
The ability of members of Congrss to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature (frank) for postage
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 petiton the government fo a redress of grievances" as outlined in the First Amendment to the Constitution
Freedom of religion
The religious rights of Americans outline 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."
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.
Gender gap
Differences in the political views and voting behavior of men and women
General election
An election used to fill an elective office
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
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
Grandfather clause
A clause added to registration alws allowing people who did not meet registration requirements to vote if they or their ancestors had voted before 1867. This was to exempt poor and illiterate whites from registration requirements established to keep former slaves from voting
fFederal funds provided to states and localities. Grants-in-aid are typically provided for airports, highways, education, and major welfare services
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
Ideological interest groups
Political organizations that attract members by appealing to their political convictions with coherent sets of (usually) controversial principles.
Ideological party
A party that values principled stand on issues above all else, including winning. It claims to have a comprehensive view of American society and government readically different from that of the established parties
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, and Bill Clinton, were ever impeached. They were not, however, convicted, for the Senate failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds vote required for conviction
A valued benefit obtained by joining a political organization
The person currently in office
Independent Expenditure
Spending by political action committees on political matters that is done directly and not by giving money to a candidate or party
In forma pauperis
A procedure whereby a poor person can file and be heard in court as a pauper, free of charge
A procedure allowing voters to submit a proposed law to a popular vote by obtaining a required number of signatures
Insider stories
Information not usually made public that becomes publci because someone with inside knowledge tells a reporter. The reporter may have worked hard to learn these facts, in which case we call it "investigative reporting," or some official may hbe wated a story to get out, in which case it is called a "leak."
Interest group
An organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy
Internal efficacy
Confidence in a citizen's own abilites to understand and take part in political affairs
Iron triangle
A close relationshiop between and agency, a congressional committe, and and interest group that often becomes a mutally advantageous alliance
Issue Network
A netweork of peopole in WQashington-based interest groups, on congressional staffs, in universities nad think tanks, and in the mass mdia who regularly discuss and advocate public policies--say, health care or auto safety. Such networks are split along political, ideological, and economic lines
Jim Crow
A slang expression for African Americans that emerged in the 1820s and came to signify the laws nad governmental practices designed to segregate blacks from whites, especially in the American South
John Q. Public
Colloquial term for average citizens and what they want or believe
Joint committes
Committees on which both representatives and senators serve. An especially important kidn of joint committee is the Conference Comittee
Joint resolution
A formal expression of congressional opinion that must be appraoved by both houses of Congress and by the president. Joint resolutions proposing a constitutional amendment need not be signed by the president
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
An economic theroy that government should not regualte or interfere with commerce
Lame duck
A politician who is still in office after having lost a reelection bid
Legislative court
A court tthat is created by Congress for some specialized purposed and staffed with judges who do not enjoy the protection of Aritcle III of the Constitution. Legislative courts include the Court of Military Appeals and the territorial courts
Legislative veto
The rejection of a presdidential or administrative aganecy action by a vot 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
Political authority conferred by law, public opinon, or sonstituion
A written statement that falsely injures the reputation of another person
In general, a person who favors a more active federal government for regulating business, supporting social welfare, and protecting minority rights, but hwho prefers less regulation of private social conduct
People who wish to maximize personal liberty on both economic and social issues. The yprefer a samll, weak government that has little control over either the economy or the personal lives of citizens
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
Literacy test
A requirement that citizens pass a literacy test in order to register to vote. it was established by many states to preventt former slaves from voting. Illiterate whites were allowed to vote by a "grandfather clause."
Litmus test
A test of ideological purity, a way of finding out whther a person is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal or conservative or what his or her views are on a controversial question
Loaded language
Words that reflect a value judgment, used to persuade the listener without making an argument.
An interest group organized to influence government decisions, especially legislation. To lobby is to attempt to influence such decisions.
A person attempting to influence governemnt decisions on behalf of the group
Mutual aid among politicians whereby one legislator supports another's pet project in return for the latter's rupport of his. the expression dates from the days when American pioneers needed help from neighbors in moving logs off of land to be farmed
Majoritarian politics
The politics of policy-making n whcih almost everybody benefits from a policy and almost everybody pays for it
Majority leader
THe legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate
Majority-minorty districts
Congressional districts designed to amke it easier for citizens of a racial or ethnic minority to elect representatives
drawing the boundaries of political districts so that districts are very unequal in population
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
Marginal districts
Political districts in which candidates elected to the House of Representatives win in close elections, typically with less than 55% of the vote
Market (television)
An area easily reached by a television signal. There are about two hundred such markets in the country
Pople who believe that those who control the economic system also control the political one
Material incentives
Benefits that have monetary value, including money, gifts, services, or discounts received as a result of one's memberhsip in an organization
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 publc and private individuals.
Middle America
A phrase referring to Americans who have moved out of poverty but are not yet affluent and hwo cherish traditional middle-class values
Majority leader
the legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House of Representatives or the Senate
Motor-voter law
A bill passed by Congress in 1993 to make it easier for Americans to register to vote. The law requiresstates to allow voter registration by mail, when one applies for a driver's license, and at state offices that serve the disabled or poor
A journalist who searches through the activites of public officials and organizations seeking to expose conduct contrary to the public interest.
Mugwumps or progressives
The faction in the Republicna part composed of reformers who opposed the use of patronage and party bosses and favored the leadership of experts
Mulitiple referral
A congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several committes that consider it simultaneously in whole or in part
Municipal corporation or minucipality
A legal term for a city. It is chartered by the state to exercise certain powers and provide certain services
Name-request job
A job to be filled by a person whom a government agancy has identified by name
National Chairman
A paid, full-time manager of a party's day-to-da work who is electe by the national committee
National Comittee
A committee of delegates from each state and territory that runs pary affairs between national conventions
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
"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. Cometimes called the "elastic clause" because of the flexibility that it provides to Congress
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
A standard of right or proper conduct that helps dtermine the range of acceptable social behavior and policy options
To declare null a viod a federal law that, in the stats' opinion, violated the Constitution
Office-bloc ballot
A ballot listing all candidates for a given office under the name of that office. Also called a "Massachusetts" ballot
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
Open rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the legislative floor
Opinion of the Court
A Supreme Court opinion written by one or more justices in the majority to explain the decision oin a case
A law passed and enforced by a city government
People who believe that moral ruels are dreived 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
Pary-column ballot
A ballot listing all candidates of a given party togetherunder the name of that party. Alos called an "Indiana" ballot
Party polarization
A vote in which a majority of Democratic legislators oppose a majority of Republican legislators
Per curiam opinon
A brief, unsigned opinion issued by the Supreme Court to explain its ruling
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
Personal following
The political support provided to a candidate on the basis of personal popularity and networks
The party that initiates a lawsuit to obtain a remedy for an injury to his or her rights
A theory that sompetition among all affected interests shapes public policy
Plurality system
An electoral system, used it 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
Pocket veto
One of thetwo ways for a presidnet 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
Police power
The power of a state to promote health, safty, and morals
Politcal action committees (PACs)
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
Political agenda
A set of issues thought by the public or those in power to merit actioni by the government
Political Culture
A broadly shared way of thinking about political and economic life that reflects fundamental assumptions about how government should operate
Political editorializing rule
A rule of the FCC that if a broadcaster endorses a candidate, the opposing candidate has a right to reply
Political efficacy
A citizen's belief that he or she can understand and influence political affairs
Political ideology
A more or less consistent set of views as to the policies government ought to pursue
Political machine
A party organization that recruits its members by dispensing patronage
Political party
A group that seeks to elect candidates to public office by supplying them with a label by which they are known to the electorate
Political Subculture
Fundamental assumptions about how the political process should operate that distinguish citizens by region, religion, or other characteristics
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 from voting
People who hold liberal views on economic matters and conservative ones on social matters. They prefer a strong government that will reduce economic inequality, regualte businesses, and impose stricter social and crimial sanctions
Pork-barrel legislation
Legislation that gives tangible benefits (highways, dams, post offices) to constituents in several districts or states in the hope of winning their votes in return
Position Issue
An issue dividing the electorate on which rival parties adpt different policy positions to attract voters
The ability of one person to get another person to act in accordance with the first person's intentions
Primary election
An election prior to the genearl 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 nominateing conventiones of the major parties
Prior restraint
The press is guaranteed freedom from censorhip (rules telling it in advance what it can pubish). After publication the government can punish the press for material that is judged libelous or obscene
A person who believes that moral rules are derived in part from an individual's beliefs and the cirncumstances of modern life. Progressives are likely to favor government tolerance and protection of individual choice
Prospective Voting
Voting for a candidate because one favors his/hers ideas for addressing issues after the election
Public-interest lobby
A political organiztion the stated goals of which will principally benefit nonmembers
Purposive incentive
The benefit that comes from serving a cause or principle from which one does not personally benefit
Pyramid Structure
A method of organizing a president's staff in which moost presidential assistants report through a hierarchy to the president's chief of staff
Random Sample
A sample selected in such a way that any nonmember of the population being surveyedhas an equal chance of being interviewed
An assessment of a representative's voting record on issues important to an interest group. Such ratings are designed to generate public support fo or opposition to a legislator
A preocedure, in effect in over twenty states, whereby the voters can vote to remove an elected official from office
Red tape
Complex bureaucratic rules nad procedures that must be followed to get something done
The practice of submitting a law to a popular vote at eletcion time. The law may be propsed by a voter's initiative or by the legislature
Registered voters
People awho are registered to vote. While almost all adult American citizens are theoretically eligible to vote, only those hwo have completed a registration form by the required date may do so
Religious Tradition
The moral teachings of religious institutions on religious, social, and economic issues
Representative democracy
A political system in which leaders and representatives acquire political power by means of a competitive struggle for the peoples vote. This is the form of governemnt used by nations that are called democratic
A form of democracy in which power is vested in representatives selected by means of popular competitive elections
Retrospective voting
Voting for or against the candidate or party in office because one likes or dislikes how things have gone in the recent past
Revenue sharing
A law providing for the distribution of a fixed amount or share of federal tax revenues to the states for spending on almost any government purpose. Distribution was inteded to send more money to poorer, heavily taxed states and less to richer, lightly taxed ones
Reverse discrimination
Using race or sex to give preferential treatment to some people
Rider (Christmas Tree)
An amendment on a matter unrealated to a bill that is added to the bill so that it will "ride" to passage through Congress
Right-of-Reply rule
A rule of the FCC that if a person is attacked on a broadcast that person has the right to reply over that same station
Roll-call vote
A congressional voting procedure tha consists of membes answering "yea" or "nay" to their names.
Routine stories
Media reports about public events that are regularly covered by reporters and that involve simple, easily described acts or statements. For example, the president takes a trip or Congress passes a bill
Runoff primary
A second primary election held in some states when no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the first primary; the runoff is between the two candidates with the most votes
Safe districts
Districts in which incumbents win by margins of 55 percent or more
Sampling error
The difference between the results of two surveys or samples. For example, if one random sample shows that 60% of all Americans like cats and another random sample taken at the same time shows that 65 percent do, the sampling error is 5%
Search Warrant
An order from a judge authorizing the search of a place; the order must describe what is to be searched and seized, and the judge can issue it only if he or she is persuaded by the police that good reason (probable cause) exists that a crime has been committed and that the evidencebearing on the crime wll be found at a certain location
Second-order devolution
The flow of power and responsibility from states to local governments
Select committees
Congressional committees appointed for a limited time and purpose
Selective attention
Paying attention only to those parts of a newspaper or broadcast story with which one agrees. Studies suggest taht his is how people view political ads on television
Separate-but-equal doctrine
The doctine established in Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a state could provide "separate but equal" facilities for African Americans
Separatoin of powers
A principle of American Government whereby constitutional authority is shared by three separate branches of government--the legislative, the executive, and the judicial
Shays's Rebellion
A rebellion which highlighted the weaknesses of the Confederation and bolstered support for a stronger national government
Soft Money
Funds solicited from individuals, corporations, and unions that are spent on party activities, such as voter-registration campaigns and voting drives, rather than on behalf of a specific candidate. These funds need not be reported to the FCC
Solidary incentives
The social rewards that lead people to join local or state politial organizations. People who find politics fun and want to meet others who share their interests are said to respond to these
Sophomore surge
An increase in the votes that congressional candidates usually get when they first run for reelection
Sound bite
A brief statement no longer than a few seconds used on a radio or televisioin news broadcast
Sovereign immunity
a doctrine that a citizen cannot sue the government without its consent. By statute Congress has given its consent for the government to be sued in many cases involving a dispute oer a contract or damge done as a reult of negligence
Supreme or ultimate political authority; a sovereign government is one that is legally and politically independent of any other government
Split ticket
Voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election. For example, voting for a Republcian for Senator and a Democrat for president
Spoils system
Another phrase for political patrongae--that is the practicce of giving the fruits of a party's victory, such as jobs and contracts, to the loyal members of that party
A legal concept establishing who is entitled to bring a lawsuit to court. For example, an individual must ordinarily show personal harm in order to acquire standing and be heard in a court
Standing Committees
Permanently established legislative committees that consider and are responsible for legislation within a certain subject area. Examples are the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee
Stare decisis
A latin term meaning "let the decision stand." The practice of basing judicial decisions on precedents established in similar cases decided in the past
Straight ticket
Voting for candidates who are all of the same party
Strict-constructionist approach
The view that judges should decide cases on the basis of the language of the Constitution
Strict scrutiny
The standard by which the Supreme Court judges classifications based on race. To be accepted sucha a classification must be closely related to a "compelling" public purpose
Suspect Classificatiosn
Classifications of people on the basis of their race and ethnicity. The courts have ruled that laws classifying people on these ground will be subject to "strict scrutiny"
Symbolic speech
An act taht conweys a political message, such as burning a draft card to protest the draft
Third-order devolution
The use of nongovernmental organizations to implement public policy
Trial balloon
Inforamtion provided to the media by an anonymous public official as a way of testing the public reaction to a possible policy or appointment
Trustee aaproach
The view that an elected representative should act on his or her own best judgment of what public policy requires
Two-party system
An electoral sysem with two dominant parties that compete in state or national elections. Third parties have little chance of winning
Unified government
A government in which the same party controls both the White House and both houses of Congress
Unitary system
A system in which sovereignty is wholly in the hands of the national government so that subnational political units are dependent on its will
Veto Message
One of two ways for a president to disapprove a bill sent to him by Congress. The veto message must be sent to Congress within ten days after the president receives the bill
Wall-of-separation principle
A Supreme Court interpretation of the establishment clause in the First Amendment that prevents government involvement with religion, even on the non-preferential basis
A senator or representative who helps the party leader stay informed about what party members are thinking, rounds up members when importatn votes are to be taken, and attempts to keep a nose count on how the voting on controversial issues is likely to go
Writ of certiorari
A Latin term meaning "made more certain." An order issued by a higher court to a lower court to send up the record of a case for review. Most cases reach the Supreme Court through this when at least four of the nine justices feel that the case should be reviewed
Writ of habeas corpus
A Latin term meaning "you shall have the body." A court order directing a police officer, sheriff, or warden who has a person in custody to bring the prisoner before a judge and show sufficient cause for his or her detention. designed to prevent illegal arrests and imprisonment