Do policies adopted by the government actually reflect the will of the people? Do political parties and elected officials truly represent the public? How do the institutions that comprise the US government work- or not work? These and others are questions this course will answer by examining the relationships among political institutions (Congress, the Presidency, and the Court System), linking mechanisms (parties, interest groups, and the media), and the mass public (social movements, public opinion, and political participation).
The first part of this course will discuss the implications of the American Founding, explore the American founders’ rationale for governing institutions, and how those institutions have changed over time. The second part of the class will explore various linking mechanisms, how they operate, and the role they play in governance and policymaking. Next, we will discuss the affects the people have on politics as well as the various debates surrounding individual and group rights that persist today. Finally, we will use the ideas learned throughout this course to evaluate and understand our current political system after the 2016 presidential election.
A hybrid of lectures and class discussions will highlight key historical changes and critical debates that persist today within American politics. Grades for this course will be based on four components, which are course participation, a midterm, a short paper, and a final exam. All readings will be available online or sent via email. Readings will include historical pieces, such as selections from the Federalist Papers, academic sources, such as journal articles, as well as current news articles.