American Government and Politics
1999 Midterm Examination
& "Ideal" Answers
Here are the questions posed on the 1999 Midterm and a set of "ideal" answers for the questions, along with guidelines for scoring each item. The names of the TAs who contributed the questions are given in boldface after the question. For example, Jon Bay contributed all the identification items.
You can earn a maximum of 20 points on this examination. You must write on each of the three Parts. I suggest that you apportion your time to the three Parts as indicated.
Part I: Choose five concepts from the following list and briefly (in 2 or 3 sentences) explain the meaning of each and its relevance to American government and politics. (Each correct answer counts 2 points for a maximum of 10 points for this Part. Allow about 20 minutes to answer.) Bay1. Marbury v. Madison--landmark Supreme Court case under John Marshall establishing judicial review. Relevance: one of the most important of inter-institutional checks and balances is not found in the Constitution itself; increased the importance of the Supreme Court.
2. structuring principle--psychological phenomenon that what is learned first structures later learning. Relevance: along with the primacy principle, is a key component of political socialization. People learn political cues like party identification from their parents in this way.
3. modern dilemma of government--based on the writings of Marx, the modern dilemma deals with the proper role of government in creating social and economic equality. Relevance: combines with the original dilemma (of freedom vs. order) to produce the two dimensional ideological scale.
4. Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. U.S.--1964 case which saw the use of the interstate commerce clause to guarantee civil rights in public accommodations like restaurants and hotels. Relevance: enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring discrimination sparked re-interpretation of previous rulings on the Constitutionality of private acts of bigotry.
5. elastic clause--also called the necessary and proper clause, it is the section of the Constitution giving Congress implied powers to enact legislation necessary for carrying out the enumerated powers. Relevance: allows expansion of national government powers against 10th Amendment states' rights.
6. procedural democracy--representative governments are considered democratic as long as they obey four processes: (1) majority rule; (2) political equality; (3) universal participation; (4) responsiveness. Relevance: in contrast to substantive democratic theories, procedural democracy questions only the positive means, not the normative ends, of democratic government. A procedural democracy could produce tyranny of the majority.
7. elite theory--contends that the ruling minority is a small, distinct, durable, unified group with non majoritarian policy preferences. Relevance: pluralist empiricism suggests that an identifiable elite does not exist, nor does it regularly win on issues. "Minorities rule" rather than "minority rules".
8. normative theory--asks 'what ought to be', and is philosophical/ethical/moral in nature. Relevance: contrasts with positive empiricism (or behavioralism), which asks 'what is', and produces judgments concerning institutions and processes. Part II: Write on one of the following questions. (Maximum of 5 points for this Part. Allow about 15 minutes to answer.)
Part II: Write on one of the following questions. (Maximum of 5 points for this Part. Allow about 15 minutes to answer.)
1. Elizabeth Drew's Whatever It Takes describes and devotes separate chapters to several individuals and organizations dedicated to keeping the House of Representatives Republican. Identify three of the major players/groups highlighted in the assigned reading, describing their politics and resources. Discuss briefly how their ideological placement (in terms of the freedom / order equality model) facilitates / hinders cooperation among themselves. Superior answers must use specific examples to back up your points. Zack Cook
- Answer: there is no one "right" way to answer this question. Students need to select three of the below figures and ID them, and while I think they're pretty identifiable there should be some space for a compelling argument. Give 1 point for each person or organization properly identified and 2 points for their discussion of ideological placement and effect on political cooperation.Grover Norquist--he seems clearly to be a libertarian, being pro-choice and pro-immigrant and anti welfare and his choice of slogan, "Leave Us Alone" and his focus on lower taxes above any social agenda.
- The National Beer Wholesalers Association--also libertarian, mainly focused on lower taxes and pro-small business. Also on government intervention by the EPA and OSHA.
- Christian Coalition / Ralph Reed--here we move to a conservative organization, pro-life and concerned with a focus on social morality. Arguably there are communitarians mixed in here as well, the chapter isn't very specific.
- National Federation of Independent Business--again more libertarian in its lobbying focus and its small business agenda, a flatter tax system and no minimum wage.
- NRA--The constant emphasis here is freedom, and the figures here appear to be mostly libertarian.
- It is important to note that the details provided are necessarily incomplete, but, _based on what's offered_ this is where the evidence points. Discussing differences, it depends on who they choose. If they mention the Christian Coalition, then there are clearly some tensions, the text mentions for example the pro-life / pro-choice split and how some members of the CC are against easy access to alcohol.
2. In 1996, the House of Representative passed a law repealing the ban on assault weapons. Evaluate this act with respect to the majoritarian and pluralist versions of democratic theory. Do you think the House's actions was consistent with pluralist or with majoritarian theory? Describe and evaluate the theories in making your argument. Dukhong KimAnswer: Give 1 point each for adequate descriptions of basic elements in majoritarian and pluralist theory. Give 1 point for noting public support for more gun control and 1 point for linking the House's actions to pluralist theory. Give 1 point for integrating the ideas and writing quality.
3.Why did founding fathers convene at Philadelphia in 1787? Did they accomplish their goal? What are the major principles of the document they wrote?Dukhong Kim
- Answer: Give 1 point for noting that they met to revise the Articles of Confederation. Give 1 point for mentioning the weakness of the central government under in dealing with disorder. Give 1 point for noting any one of these features: the Articles did not give the national government the power to tax, made no provision for an independent leadership position to direct the government, did not allow the national government to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, required a vote of 9 of 13 members to take action, and could not be amended without the unanimous vote (p. 65). Give 1 point for noting that the 1787 convention produced a new form of government, and 1 point for noting any of these principles of the Constitution: republicanism, federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances. In general, limited government.
Part III: Write on one of the following questions. (Maximum of 5 points for this Part. Allow about 15 minutes.)
1. Flags are emotionally charged symbols. Flag burning is an offensive act meant to stir intense emotions. Does the Constitution address such acts? If so, in which part? Of what significance is flag burning to the debate over substantive v. procedural democracy? What role has the Supreme Court taken on this issue? If possible, cite a case or two to support your answer. Alyce Smith
- Answer: Give 1 point for mentioning the First Amendment and freedom of speech, and 1 point for noting that speech can amount to actions and actions can serve as speech. Give 1 point for citing any of these cases:
- Schenck v. US, 1919: a "clear and present danger" test for true threats vs. protected protected speech.
- Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 1942: "fighting words" are not protected.
- Arthur Terminiello case, 1949: even speech that angers people ("kill the Jews") is protected
- Brandenberg v. Ohio, 1969: Government must prove that the threatening speech incites lawless action.
- Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969: school must show that wearing black arm bands against the war provokes
- Cohen v. California, 1971: wearing "fuck the draft" jacket doesn't provoke lawless action
- US v. Eichman, 1990: court nullified federal flag-burning statute
- Jake Baker case (US v. Baker and Gonda, 1995): discussing desires on Internet is not equal to action
- Give 1 point for linking flag burning to majoritarian democracy, for the public favors banning flag-burning, and 1 point for linking the Court to substantive democratic theory embodying free speech. Give 1 point for a coherent discussion of Court's distinction between emotive and cognitive speech; or other insightful remarks. (Relevant pages: 488-94)
2. Our textbook discusses the meaning and importance of ideology and constructs a four-fold typology of political ideology. However, much of the mass media and the general public stubbornly cling to a one-dimensional "liberal to-conservative" continuum. What is an ideology? Why is it important (or is it) ? Where do conventional "conservative" and "liberal" ideologues come down on the two great value tradeoffs in politics? Phil LaurinAnswer:
- The Key point: Give 1 point for describing ideology as a consistent/coherent set of values & beliefs about the proper actions, purpose and scope of government.
- Why does it matter?: Give 1 point for describing its importance: providing a framework for formulating consistent policies that work together to advance a given political value, rather than piecemeal policies that may have contradictory or counterproductive elements. Give 1 point for overall integration of ideas.
Tradeoffs? (Give 1 point for each) F vs. O: 'Conservatives' favor Order, 'Liberals' favor Freedom
F vs. E: 'Conservatives' favor Freedom, 'Liberals' favor Equality
3. Chapter 6 discussed "conventional" and "unconventional" forms of political participation. It includes several examples of unconventional political behavior. What sorts of people (groups) typically employ unconventional forms of participation? Why do they use uncommon means rather than common? What sorts of goals might such people (groups) seek? How does unconventional political participation fit into the majoritarian and pluralistic conceptions of democracy? Phil LaurinAnswer:
- The Key Point: Give 2 points for correctly distinguishing between conventional and unconventional unconventional political participation. (Relatively uncommon behavior that challenges the government and requires significant personal initiative v. relatively routine expression within accepted institutional channels)
- Who Uses? Give 1 point for noting that unconventional acts are employed by outgroups (powerless and unconnected, with limited resources, often a minority) because they lack the influence to prevail in the electoral institutions (which are generally susceptible to conventional political participation)
- Goals? Give 1 point for noting that unconventional participation tends to challenge government authority, non hegemonic ideals, threats to status quo and/or challenges to majority opinions.
- Fit In? Give 1 point for relating uncommon forms of political participation/communication to a Pluralist conception of democracy, which sees such actions the result of passionate minorities employing the means most accessible to them to shift public opinion or to get a certain unit of government within their reach to respond to their concerns. The Majoritarian conception of democracy, on the other hand, sees such efforts as attempts by minorities to subvert the majority will, and therefore contrary to the responsiveness (to the majority) goal of government.