Theory of Modern Government






            Institutions that create public policy

                                    Executive, Judicial, Legislative



Conflict and resolution, compromise, and interrelationship of individuals and groups



Government + Politics = Public Policy

            Success of the government = extent that public policy is achieved.




Preamble Principles to the Constitution:

            Establishment of a more perfect union.   Insurance of domestic tranquility

            Establishment of Justice                         Promotion of General Welfare

            Security of Individual Liberty



Who and How They Get Involved

            Incumbency: Reelected become entrenched in the system.

                                  More difficult for newcomers

            Electorate: tests voter’s perceptions of the candidate and party



Interest Groups

U.S. political system evolved from various interest groups vying to implement policy agenda

                        Example: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists

                                         ŕ led to the party system.


Linkage Institutions

Means by which individuals can express preference regarding the development of public policy.

                                    Preferences are voiced ŕ public policy

                                                Example: Democrat platform. Must assess the electorate



Policy making institutions

            Formal institutions:

                                    President                      Congress                      Courts

                                                4th branch: development and growth of bureaucracies






Evolution of Representative Democracy

                        U.S. representative democracy evolved from other forms.

                                    Influences: Ancient Greece, Montesquieu, Locke


            “The basic concepts of our democracy today rely on the worth and dignity of the individual, respect for equality, majority rule with minority rights, compromise, and the guarantee of individual freedom.”



Importance of Control

            Theories of Control

1.      Pluralism: different groups all vying for control of the policy agenda.

No single group emerges; they are forced to compromise

            ŕ BARGAINING

                        2.  Elite and class theory: society controlling the policy agenda.

Upperclass controls linkage institutions of government

3.      Hyperpluralism: extension of pluralism run amuck. Too many interest          groups cause gridlock. Dictated by which group most successfully influences government officials




Modern government changes as a result of who can best serve public interest.


AP U.S. Government and Politics: Chapter 1


Key Terms:


Conservative                                         A more strict and uptight way of interpreting the Constitution (Republican).

Direct democracy                                The type of government characterized by citizens attending a town meeting  and voting on issues raised, with the majority prevailing.

Elite and class theory                         A group theory that revolves around an economic stratum of society controlling the policy agenda.

Government                                          Those institutions that create public policy.

Hyperpluralism                                   A group theory characterized by many interest groups vying for control resulting in a government that is tied up in grid lock.

Liberal                                                   A more lose and simple way of interpreting the Constitution (Democrats).

Linkage institution                             The means by which individuals can express preferences regarding the development of public policy.

Loose construction                             A liberal interpretation of the Constitution.

Pluralism                                              A group theory that involves different groups all vying for control of the policy agenda. No single group emerges, forcing the groups to compromise.

Policy agenda                                       Agenda that results from interaction of linkage institutions.

Political parties                                    A group of people joined together by common philosophies and common approaches to government.  This groups is often responsible for getting candidates elected and implementing public policy.

Politics                                                  Who gets what, when , how and why.

Public policy                                         The final actions taken by government in promotional, regulatory, and distributive form.

Representative Democracy                form of Government that relies on the consent of the people and is often called a republican government.

Strict constructionalists                   A conservative interpretation of the Constitution

Unitary system of Government         Type of government that centralizes all the powers of government into one central authority.



Chapter Summary


The Meaning of Politics – We have politics for the people and quite literally by the people.

  • Needs, values, and attitudes ban together to form parties.
  • Incumbents, candidates previously elected, seem to have an upper hand because most voters are already comfortable with their needs, values and attitudes.

Interest Groups – The United States political system evolved from various interest groups vying to implement a policy agenda.

  • Based from the Federalist Papers, two distinct groups grappled with the Constitution.
  • Alexander Hamilton was the leader of the Federalists, an upper class type group focused on a strong National Government and a policy agenda focused on healing the economy.
  • Thomas Jefferson the leader of the Democratic – Republicans, also known as the “common man’s party” feared a large, central, insensitive Government and wanted a conservative view of the Constitution, favoring the majority of U.S. population being farmers and merchants.



Linkage Institutions – Public policy is affected by the linkage institutions of political parties, elections, interest groups and the media. (Informal Institutions)

  • Venues that are generally primary feeds to the public not only to hear policy, but voice their opinion on it.
  • Media plays a huge role with sound bites and photo ops, often “oversimplifying policy.”

Policy – Making Institutions – The formal institution created by the Constitution including the presidency, Congress, and the courts and bureaucracies are a significant and major policy- making institution. ( Formal Institutions).

  • Congress and the President propose, committee, signed and veto numerous policies through out the Administration.
  • The Supreme Court then has direct impact with these policies by means of interpreting them.
  • Government growth also plays a role ( FDA, EPA)

Evolution of Representative Democracy – The evolution of a representative democracy evolved from other forms of democracies.

  • Roots of representative democracy go all the way back to ancient Greece: Consent of the People.
  • The certain unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence came from Enlightenment thinkers in Greece.
  • Respect for equality, majority rule with respect for the minority and individual freedom make up the representative Democracy we see today.

The Importance of Control – Modern political theory revolves around who controls the agenda.

  • Pluralism theory– a form of agenda control teaches that no single group emerges, but many compromise.
  • Elite and Class theory - control with wealth; most linkage institutions are control by the upper class.
  • Hyperplurism theory – Over exaggerated pluralism.  Nothing gets done, and the finish policy is so hacked up that it hardly resembles the original proposal.
  • The United States has hands in the pockets of all three.



Setting goals and accomplishing them should be the main service of a politician to its public.  Modern Government changes as a result of who can best serve the public interest.