HGov Chapter 1 Summary: American Political Culture

American Principles Values
The United States is a nation that was formed on a set of ideals. Liberty, equality, and self-government are foremost among these ideals. Which also include the principles of individualism, diversity, and unity. These ideals became Americans’ common bond and today are the basis of their political culture. Although they are mythic, inexact, and conflicting, these ideals have had a powerful effect on what generation after generation of Americans has tried to achieve politically for themselves and others.

Politics in the United States plays out through rules of the game that include democracy, constitutionalism, and capitalism. Democracy is rule by the people, which in practice refers to a representative system of government in which the people rule through their elected officials. Constitutionalism refers to rules that limit the rightful power of government over citizens. Capitalism is an economic system based on a free-market principle that allows the government only a limited role in determining how economic costs and benefits will be allowed.

Politics is the process by which it is determined whose values will prevail in society. The basis of politics is conflict over scarce resources and competing values. Those who have power win out in this conflict and are able to control governing authority and policy choices. In the United States, no one faction controls all power and policy. Majorities govern on some issues, while groups, elites, and bureaucrats each govern on other issues.

Summer Assignment
Read and take Cornell notes:
1.1 Political Culture: The Core Principles of American Government (read pp.5-18)
1.2 Politics: Resolution of Conflict (read pp.18-25)
1.3 Political Power: The Control of Policy (read pp.25-33)



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