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3 -- Part 1: POLITICS OF THE AMERICAN FOUNDING
You will be able to describe the role of each branch of government after you've read this chapter.
Explain why the three branches of government were structured the way they were.
Rules and interests keep relations between state and national governments tense.
The flexibility built into the Constitution has allowed it to change with the times.
What's at stake.
If you take marijuana on the road in your home state, you'll get arrested and face a hefty fine.
You can thank the founding fathers' invention of federalism for this, although it's doubtful that they had in mind what they designed it to be.
Everyone knows that smoking marijuana is against the law in the United States.
The U.S. Federal Substances Act says so.
Marijuana is a "schedule I drug" under that law, which is similar to heroin and LSD.
Although Vermont and D.C. won't let you buy it, it's just plain fun.
Marijuana use is still a federal offense in many states, even though laws regarding marijuana have changed.
Changing federal enforcement from one administration to the next makes for a confusing pot market.
Consider the case of B. J. Patel, a thirty-one-year-old man from Arizona, who was stopped by a police officer in Idaho because he failed to signal while traveling through the state.
When the officer saw the medical marijuana card in his wallet, he asked where the pot was and promptly arrested him.
No matter how law-abiding he was, he was breaking the law in Idaho when he bought the pot.
Idaho law provides for imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for under three ounces of pot and up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for more than three ounces.
Five brothers in Colorado sold an oil made from a strain of marijuana that doesn't get you high.
Cannabidiol is a substance that is used to treat seizures.
It's legal in Colorado, but there is a global demand for the oil, and the brothers want to expand to meet that demand.
The brothers got their product classified as industrial hemp, which is okay by Colorado, but not necessarily by the United States.
The Obama administration followed a policy under which the federal government wouldn't prosecute for marijuana use in the states where it was legal, as long as the sale of marijuana was regulated.
When the Trump administration's attorney general withdrew the policy in January of last year, it stayed in place.
Trump assured Colorado's pot smokers that they were safe from federal action.
The Department of Justice, led by Sessions, has not stood by that position.
When we have a better grasp of the complex relationships generated by American federalism, we will return to this question.
As you go along, you and your friends will make up the rules.
If you aren't following the official Monopoly rules, you aren't playing Monopoly at all.
Imagine if the United States became afflicted with a sort of collective amnesia so that all the provisions of the Constitution were forgotten.
Maybe the whole country gets fed up with politics in America and votes to replace the Constitution with the French one.
If we kept our old politicians, the White House and the Capitol, and the streets of Washington, they would no longer be recognizable as American politics.
The rules, the ideas, and the narratives that lie behind them give life and meaning to any political system.
One of the players is continually cheating while you are playing Monopoly.
All of you are playing by the rules.
Maybe one of you sees what he is doing and starts to cheat as well.
Those of you who value the game are angry.
The rest of you lose, as you might expect.
Although you found the rule book, not all of you committed to following it or to expelling a player who refused.
The official rules are important, but so is the commitment to play by them.
In Chapter 1 we talked about the power of norms and how they underlie the rule of law.
One hugely important norm is the commitment not to cheat by breaking, bending, or skirting the rules, and the obligation to report anyone who does.
Accepting the results of the rules even if you lose is an important norm.
The bad behavior becomes normal if we allow it to break the rules.
Rules work because most of us agree to follow them and penalize anyone who doesn't.
Rules are important in politics.
The institutions and procedures that make up the political system help determine who will win and who will lose in politics, as well as how resources will be distributed.
Political rules are the product of a political process.
Rules are written and ready to be implemented.
They are created by human beings who are determined to establish procedures that will help them, and people like them, get what they want from the system.
Changing the rules will change the people who will be advantaged and disadvantaged.
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