A study of United States government and politics will involve exploration of political theories and everyday practices that direct the daily operation of the U.S. government and its public policies. Students will learn to analyze how the U.S. government functions, and develop a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system, as well as the rights and responsibilities of each U.S. citizen.
By the time a student is finished with a college course in U.S. government and politics, the following should have been covered thoroughly: overview of important facts, concepts and theories pertaining to the government and the political system, typical patterns of political processes, principles of various government structures and procedures, and analysis of data, theories, and concepts relevant to the government and its political operations.
A college course in U.S. government and politics will be based on the following broad areas:
º Constitutional Underpinnings of United States Government:
The kind of government established by the Constitution, paying particular attention to federalism, the separation of powers, and checks and balances
The formation, evolution, and transmission of beliefs that U.S. citizens have about their government, its leaders, and the U.S. political system. Taken together, these beliefs form the foundation of U.S. political culture
The mechanisms that allow citizens to organize and communicate their interests and concerns, including political parties, elections, political action committees (PACs), interest groups, and the media
The organization and power, both formal and informal, of the major political institutions in the United States: the Congress, the presidency, and the federal courts. A study of the conflicting interests and powers of the president and Congress may help explain repeated struggles to adopt a national budget
The result of interactions and dynamics between citizens, interest groups, lobbyists, and government institutions in the formation of public policies and policy agendas
The study of the development of individual rights and liberties, with particular focus on the impact of Supreme Court decisions on individual citizens
A good course in U.S. government and politics should leave students with an appreciation of the relationships among various political systems, the ability to recognize, accept, and appreciate the various ways in which people express their political beliefs and opinions, an awareness of the role politics plays in every area of human life, and the need to build bipartisan relationships.
Students interested in U.S. government and politics should thoroughly explore the website of the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, Supreme Court, and White House. An additional place to visit would be the website of The American Political Science Association.