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AP American Government Course Outline

(2 Semester course)

I.

CONSTITUTIONAL UNDERPINNINGS OF THE US GOVERNMENT?


1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7

How does Madison envision the role of checks and balances to limit the power of interest groups?
What type of government was created at the Constitutional Convention?
What factors caused the framers to adopt the Constitution and drop the Articles of Confederation?
How do the Federalist papers help explain the principles of the Constitution and aid in its adoption?
What are the differences between Presidential and Parliamentary forms of government?
How does a federal system differ from a unitary system of government?
What political values did the framers incorporate from classical political thought? (individualism,
equality of opportunity, property rights, etc.)
1.8 How has the relationship between the national and state governments evolved from dual federalism
to cooperative federalism?
II.

POLITICAL BELIEFS AND BEHAVIORS OF INDIVIDUALS.


2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4

III.

What are the beliefs that US citizens hold about government and leaders? How are they acquired?
How does public opinion impact the American political system?
What influences the ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participating political life in the US.
What are the principle factors that cause political differences in a pluralistic society like America?

POLITICAL PARTIES, INTEREST GROUPS, MASS MEDIA, AND ELECTIONS.


3.1 What is the role of political parties in any political system?
3.2 What roles do American parties play in recruiting and training leaders, building coalitions, deciding
policy preferences and constituency representation?
3.3 What factors help explain the emergence of a two-party system and account for the lack of success
of third party candidates in the US?
3.4 What ideological and demographic differences characterize Democratic and Republican voters?
3.5 How has the development and growing influence of the media made a difference in how our
political parties function?
3.6 How are nominations made and modern political campaigns conducted in the US?
3.7 What are the most important influences on individual and group political behavior?
3.8 What factors explain the weakening of the American party system and what impact does this have
on the governing process?
3.9 What has been the impact of the weakening of the American party system?
3.10 Why have election reforms hastened the demise of the power of American political parties?

IV.

INSTITUTIONS OF NATIONAL GOVERNMENT & POLICY PROCESS.


The Congress
4.1 What is the demographic composition of Congress? Why doesnt it reflect the population?
4.2 What are the Constitutional Powers of Congress?
4.3 What are the factors which influence the legislative process? ( How a bill becomes a law,
interest groups, constituents, committees, the President.)
4.4 What effect did the 1975 Congressional Reforms have on the committee system and the
legislative process?
4.5 How does the organization of Congress contribute to the fragmentation of policy- making
and the lack of accountability?
4.6 What is the role of Congressional leadership on the operations of Congress?

4.7 How and why do members of Congress participate in the process of logrolling, consensus
building, and pork barreling?
4.8 How do members of Congress balance needs of constituents with and the national interest?
4.9 What is the impact of reapportionment and redistricting on the composition of Congress?
What is the role of the state legislature in this process?
The Presidency
4.10 What are the formal and informal powers of the president?
4.11 How have contemporary events shaped the role of the modern President?
4.12 What are the factors that contribute to the conflict between the President and Congress?
(Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances)
4.13 What are the characteristics and qualities that identify a great President?
4.14 What is the relationship between the President and the mass media?
4.15 To what extent is Presidential power the ability to persuade?
4.16 What is the role of the EOP and the cabinet in influencing Presidential decision making?
4.17 What are the roles and functions of the Vice President?
4.18 What accounts for the shifting power among the three branches of government?
The Bureaucracy
4.19 How is the Federal bureaucracy organized and what role does it play in making and
implementing public policy?
4.20 What impact do the executive and legislative branches have on the bureaucracy and how
do they interact?
4.21 What makes the President effective as an administrator?
4.22 In what ways does the bureaucracy exercise powers that are quasi-legislative, executive,
and judicial?
4.23 What are the competing influences on the budget making process?
4.24 What is the impact of the national debt?
4.25 How do the fiscal and monetary policies of the government influence the American
economy?
4.26 How do iron triangles and sub governments influence policy making in the bureaucracy?
4.27 How do regulatory agencies influence the political and economic systems?
The Courts
4.28 How is the national court system organized?
4.29 How do politics influence judicial selection and how does this effect judicial decision
making?
4.30 What is the impact of public opinion on judicial decisions?
4.31 How do the philosophies of judicial activism and judicial restraint effect courtdecisions?
4.32 How do national courts make government policy?
4.33 How do national courts referee the American Federal system?
V.

CIVIL RIGHTS & CIVIL LIBERTIES


5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5

To what extent are our civil liberties protected by the First Amendment?
What is the difference between substantive and procedural due process of law?
How have the courts chosen to interpret fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution?
What is the modern meaning of the concept of equality before law?
To what extent has the doctrine of incorporation nationalized the Bill of Rights?