US Government Exam Terms (2022)

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Semester terms from US Government class

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Kingdom of the Sword
The "power over" kingdom--where force and coercion are used to ensure compliance. *ALL governments operate under this kingdom rule.
Kingdom of the Cross
The "power under" kingdom where sacrifice and service unto others is the driving ethic.
Articles of Confederation
1st Constitution of the U.S. 1781-1788 (weaknesses-no executive, no judicial, no power to tax, no power to regulate trade)
The Virginia Plan
Virginia delegate James Madison's plan of government, in which states got a number of representatives in Congress based on their population
The New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention by William Patterson that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
The Great Compromise (aka the Connecticut compromise)
Compromise made by Constitutional Convention in which states would have equal representation in one house of the legislature (Senate) and representation based on population in the other house (House of Representatives)
The 3/5ths compromise
An agreement worked​out at the Constitutional Convention stating that only three-fifths of the slaves in a state would count when determining its population for representation in the lower house of Congress.
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption. They were made up of mostly wealthy land owners who thought a large central government would be powerful enough to force states to pay pack Rev. War debts.
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption. They were composed of more rural people who were not as rich and feared a large government would take away their rights.
Separation of Powers
Constitutional division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law
Checks and Balances
A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power.
Federalist Paper \#51
One of the essays written by Madison which discusses importance of checks and balances and the separation of powers in the constitution
Federalist Paper \#10
Written by James Madison to argue that factions were inevitable but were best controlled by a large republic that employed a Federalist structure. Argued that competition among factions would limit their negative impacts.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the constitution they ensure protections from a potentially tyrannical government.
civil liberties
areas of personal freedom constitutionally protected from government intervention
establishment clause
the first amendment clause that prevents the state from making any religion the official religion of the country.
free exercise clause
the first amendment clause that allows citizens to practice whatever religion he chooses.
prior restraint
when the government attempts to block publication of material it deems harmful-this is almost always forbidden.
a written statement that is made with "reckless disregard of the truth" that is damaging to the victim
an oral statement that is made with "reckless disregard of the truth" that is damaging to the victim
due process of law
the right of every individual against arbitrary action by state or federal governments
exclusionary rule
the ability of courts to exclude evidence obtained in violation of the fourth amendment
4th amendment
the right against illegal search and seizure
political parties
organized groups that attempt to influence the government by winning elections
resources available to higher officials, usually to make partisan appointments, confer grants, or special favors
electoral realignment
the point in history when a new party supplants the ruling party becoming the dominant political force (every 30 years)
third parties (minor parties)
parties that organized to compete against the two major political parties
Duverger's law
single-member districts tend to favor a two-party system
the sharing of governmental power between state and federal governments
people whose political ideology supports a robust military, smaller government, family values, less taxes
people whose political ideology supports a smaller military, more regulation, support for "choice", more taxes
Political party that advocates less government in EVERY area (smaller government = more freedom)-differ from Republicans as they want a smaller military too.
the primary cherished political value for liberals
the primary cherished political value for conservatives
political socialization
The process by which we develop our political attitudes, values, and beliefs.
Biggest political socialization influence (70% follow mom and dad's beliefs)
Social Groups
Gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation (the multiple "tribes" to which any individual belongs)
Political socialization factor that tends to make people more liberal (on social issues) the more they get
public opinion
citizens attitudes about political leaders, issues, institutions and events
Public Opinion Polling
a poll taken by sampling a cross section of the public in an effort to predict election results or to estimate public attitudes on issues.
social desirability effect
the effect that results when respondents in a survey report what they believe the interviewer wishes to hear (rather than what they believe--eg: when white people tell African American pollsters they are in favor of Affirmative Action)
push poll
a polling technique that shapes the questions to bias the respondent reply. (eg: Knowing that candidate X has lied to Congress multiple times, how much do YOU trust him?)
selection bias
polling error that results from a same not being big enough, or from overrepresenting or underrepresenting segments of the population.
bandwagon effect
a shift in electoral support to the candidate or issue whom public opinion polls report as the front-runner
interest group
An organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy.
Pluralist Theory

a theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies. The pluralist theory suggests that groups exist with equal power.

Elite Theory

a theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization. The Elite Theory suggests that government is run by the rich.

Hyperpluralist Theory

theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened. The Hyperpluralist Theory suggests that government becomes less effective by groups.

Collective Good

something of value that cannot be withheld from a group member. Collective good is also referred to as the common good.

Free-Rider Problem
the problem faced by unions and other groups when people do no join because they can benefit from the group's activities without officially joining. The bigger the group, the more serious the problem.
Olson's Law of Groups

advanced by Mancur Olson, a principle stating that "the larger the group, the further it will fall short of providing an optimal amount of collective good." The larger the group, the less effectiveness.

Selective Benefits

goods that a group can restrict to those who pay their annual dues. Selective benefits only go to members of the actual group.


communication, by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decision maker with the hope of influencing his decision." Lobbying hopes to change the minds of politicians.

Material Incentives
A reason or motive for supporting or participating in the activities of a group based on economic benefits or opportunities
Purposive Incentives
A reason for supporting or participating in the activities of a group based on agreement with the goals of the group
Solidary Incentives
A reason for supporting or participating in the activities of a group based on the social connections made within it.
Informational incentives
A reason for supporting or participating in the activities of a group based on the sharing of knowledge.
Economic interest groups
interest groups that advocate for the financial benefit of their members--usually businesses. (US Chamber of commerce)
Labor interest groups
interest groups that advocate for the economic interests of workers and trade organizations. (Teamsters =truck drivers union, UAW=United Automobile Workers, AFL-CIO-American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations)
Professional interest groups
interest groups that represent the economic interests for members of various professions including doctors, engineers, and lawyers. (AMA=American Medical Assoc., ABA=American Bar Assoc.)
Ideological interest groups
interest groups that unite on issues, with their work driven by deeply held beliefs (NOW-National Organization of Women, NAACP=National Assoc. for the Advancement of Colored People, NTU (National Taxpayers Union)
Public Interest Groups

Organizations that seek a collective good, the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership or activities of the organization. Examples: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), League of Women Voters--which promotes simplified voting procedures and an informed electorate, Common Cause, which backs more effective government is a strong critic of excessive campaign contributions, and it lobbies for campaign finance reform.

E.E. Schattshneider's quote (on Interest groups)
"The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent."
A complete enumeration of a population.
to manipulate voting districts in order to favor a particular political part
Standing Committee
a permanent committee in Congress that oversees bills that deal with certain kinds of issues
Select Committee
a temporary committee formed to study one specific issue and report its findings to the House or Senate (usually investigations)
Expressed Powers
powers directly stated in the constitution
Implied Powers
powers the government requires to carry out its expressed Constitutional duties
reserved powers
Powers derived from the 10th amendment to the Constitution that are not specifically granted to the national government or denied to the states
concurrent powers
Authority possessed by both state and national government (eg: taxation)
new federalism
Begun under Richard Nixon and known as the new federalism, this approach stressed the downsizing of the federal government and more reliance on revenue sharing and grants
categorical grants
Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes. These grants have strings attached. (Compared to block grants)
block grants
These are broad state grants to states for prescribed activities—welfare, child care, education, social services, preventive health care, and health services—with only a few strings attached. States have greater flexibility in deciding how to spend block grant dollars, but when the federal funds for any fiscal year are gone, there are no more matching federal dollars.
Project grants
Federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications
formula grants
Grants-in-aid in which a formula is used to determine the amount of federal funds a state or local government will receive
An effort to shirft responsibility of domestic programs to the states in order to decrease the size &activites of the fed. govt; some states have attempted to shift responsibilities further to local govts
dual federalism
\[1789-1937]A system of government in which both the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies. States were the enforcers (imposing criminal laws and licensing, while the federal government provided infrastructure and development) also nick-named "layer cake" federalism.
cooperative federalism
The type of federalism that existed in the New Deal era in which grants-in-aid were used to encourage states to pursue nationally defined goals. (Also known as "marble cake federalism")
Regulated federalism
The type of federalism that emerged after the New Deal in which Congress imposes legislation on states requiring them to meet national standards
New Federalism
The type of federalism that emerged in the 1980's under Presidents Nixon and Reagan to return power back to the states with block grants.
Unfunded mandates
Those regulations passed by Congress or issued by regulatory agencies to the states without federal funds to support them
A doctrine under which certain federal laws preempt, or take precedence over, conflicting state or local laws.
grants in aid
Money given by the national government to the states
redistributive programs
Economic policies designed to control the economy through taxing and spending with the goal of helping the poor.
the use of any unreasonable or unjust criterion of exclusion
civil rights
obligation imposed on the government to take positive action to protect citizens from illegal action of government or private citizens.
equal protection clause
provision under the 14th amendment that guarantees citizens the same rights under the laws of the US.
Thirteenth Amendment
The constitutional amendment ratified after the Civil War that forbade slavery and involuntary servitude.
15th amendment
one of the three civil war amendments that granted voting rights for African American men
The National Association for the Advancement of colored People. Founded in 1909 it pushed for equality in the 20th century for minorities (& still does today)
agenda setting
the power of the media to bring public attention to particular issues and problems
selection bias (news)
the tendency of media to focus coverage on only one aspect of an event or issue.
the power of the media to influence how events and issues are interpreted (committees to advise patients about end of life issues became "death panels"
the process of preparing the public to bring specific criteria to mind when evaluating a politician or issue
socioeconomic status
status in society based on level of education, income, and occupational prestige
gender gap
trend that demonstrates women tend to be more Democratic than Republican in their voting behavior
spatial issues
voter concerns that tend to be divisive and partisan. These policy options can be placed on a spatial dimension (left to right, liberal to conservative)
valance issues
issues on which most voters and candidates share the same position (tax cuts)
delegate theory
philosophy that the House of Representatives was designed to represent the people because of direct election and 2 year terms.
trustee theory
philosophy that the Senate was designed to be statesmen--more removed from popular opinion because of indirect election and 6 year terms
Commander in Chief
The commander of the armed forces
Chief legislator
Main architect of the national public policies
Chief of Party
The acknowledged leader of the political party that controls the executive branch
Chief Citizen
The representative of all of the people of the US
executive orders
a rule or regulation issued by the president that has the effect and formal status of legislation (but can be removed by the next president)
war powers resolution (1973)
a resolution of congress to attempt to curtail the war powers of the president--troops must be sent home after 60 days if there is no specific congressional authority
Electoral College
The group of electors that formally select the President and Vice President
Proportional Representation
Whatever percent of the preference vote the candidate wins is the percentage of delegates they get
A party's formal statement of principles and stands
the complex structure of offices, tasks, rules and principles of organization that are employed by an institution to coordinate their personnel
The use of government authority to control or changes practices in the private sector
The Cabinet Departments

Major Department of the Executive Branch (Each headed by a secretary appointed by the President) Examples: Department of Defense, Department of Labor, Department of Treasury

a formerly public service that is now provided by a for-profit company but paid for by the federal government
the effort by Congress (through investigative hearings) to exercise control over bureaucratic agencies.
judicial activism
theory that judges should make bolder policy decisions to alleviate pressing needs, especially for those who are weak politically
judicial restraint
theory that judges should play minimal role in policy making and leave policy decisions to the legislature
judicial review
the power of the courts to hold acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, in violation of the Constitution