Political Science 1100
Introduction to American Politics
- Spring 2013 -
Click here for a printable version of the syllabus
Professor Dave Robertson
Office 801 Tower; Phone 314-516-5855
Class Meets Monday & Wednesday, 9:30-10:20 am, Clark Hall 100
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday, 10:30-11:30; Thursday 9:00-12:00; & I can easily arrange other times to fit your schedule.
Click here to learn more about the topics in this course covered in Political Science at UM-St. Louis
Cory Freivogel, email@example.com Office: 910 Tower / Office Hours: Tuesday, noon-2 / Phone: 314-516-5539
A03, 11:00-11:50, BH B242; A06, 2:00-2:50, SSB 201
Charlie Herrick, firstname.lastname@example.org Office: 906 Tower / Office Hours: Tuesday, noon-2 / Phone: 314-516-6487
A01, 11:00-11:50, SSB 201; A02, 12:30-1:20, Clark 214
James Peterson, email@example.com Office: 802 Tower / Office Hours: Monday, 10:45-12:45 / Phone: 314-516-7006
A04, 11:00-11:50, Clark 208; A05,12:30-1:20, Clark 315
Americans expect a lot out of their government -- we expect it to protect us from terrorists and the effects of natural disasters, to keep the economy running smoothly, to ensure that people are treated fairly, and to make certain that we have quality education, a clean environment, and good roads, among many other things. We also expect government officials to listen to us and care about our complaints. But we disagree with each other about what problems government should help solve, and how government should help solve them.
This course provides a fair-minded and thoughtful description of the way this American government deals with our expectations, the reasons that it works the way it does, and the challenge of governing America today. We will examine the Constitution, rights and liberties; participation in politics; elections, political parties, interest groups and the media; Congress, the presidency, and the courts; and the ways that government had addressed problems ranging from the financial crisis and unemployment to war and terrorism. This semester we will have plenty to discuss, including the 113th Congress, the start of President Obama's second term, struggles over spending, taxes, and the deficit, and the difficulties of keeping the nation prosperous and secure in a world that is always unpredictable and sometimes dangerous.
Our Contract. By enrolling in this course, you and I have made a contract with each other. l'll work hard to be prepared, enthusiastic, fair and respectful of every student and their opinions. I'll be accessible and try my best to return graded materials after no more than a week. By enrolling in the class, you've agreed to (1) attend every class, (2) to participate by asking questions and joining in class discussions, and (3) reading the assigned material and completing written assignments on time. Of all the consumer purchases you make, don't let your University of Missouri education be the one expensive purchase where you expect less for your money.
2. WHAT TEXTS ARE REQUIRED?
These are the books that are required for this class. They are available at the UM-St. Louis bookstore.
January 28 (Monday): What Were the Founders Thinking?
January 30 (Wednesday): Federalism: What Government Should Tackle Public Problems?
February 4 (Monday): Civil Rights: When Should Government Protect Freedom and Fairness?
February 6 (Wednesday): Civil Liberties and Tolerance: Who Should Government Protect?
February 11 (Monday): Public Opinion: How do Americans View Government and Politics?
February 13 (Wednesday): --- EXAM 1 --- / Study Guide for Exam 1
February 18 (Monday): How do Americans Participate in Politics and Government?
February 20 (Wednesday): How do Americans Vote and Why?
February 25 (Monday): Do Political Parties Still Matter?
February 27 (Wednesday): Presidential Election 2012
March 4 (Monday): How Do Interest Groups Affect American Politics?
March 6 (Wednesday): How does the Media Affect American Politics?
March 11 (Monday): --- EXAM 2 --- / Study Guide for Exam 2
March 13 (Wednesday): What do Members of Congress Do, and Why?
March 18 (Monday): How Does Congress Work?
March 20 (Wednesday): What is it Like to be President?
March 25 and March 27: Spring Break - Class does not meet
April 1 (Monday): How does the Presidency Work?
April 3 (Wednesday): How Powerful is Bureaucracy, and How does it Work?
April 8 (Monday): What does Watergate tell us about the Way American Politics Works?
April 10 (Wednesday): --- EXAM 3 --- / Study Guide for Exam 3
April 15 (Monday): Why are American Courts So Powerful?
April 17 (Wednesday): How does the Government Try to Manage American Prosperity?
April 22 (Monday): The Recession and the Budget Battle
April 24 (Wednesday): Social Welfare: How Does the Government Protect Economic Security?
Jillson, pages 478-484
Annual Editions, Numbers 51, pages 202-207
Jillson, pages 505-538
Annual Editions, Number 52, pages 208-210
May 1 (Wednesday): Foreign Policy and Globalization I
May 6 (Monday): Foreign Policy and Globalization II
READ: Annual Editions, Numbers 10, 54 pages 39-41, 215-217
READ: Annual Editions, Numbers 5, pages 21-25
May 15 (Wednesday): --- FINAL EXAM --- / 8:00 am - 9:45 am Study Guide for Exam 4
The exam consists of three sections: 50 modified true/false statements, 15 multiple choice questions, and 1 short answer question.
Section 1: This section consists of 50 true/false questions. Mark the answer to each question on your machine readable answer sheet. For each question, there are only two possible answers. If the answer is true, darken in the space under A on the answer sheet. If the answer is false, darken in the B on the answer sheet. The remaining letters (C,D,E) are irrelevant for this section of the test. Try to spend no more than 20 minutes on this section. Each correct answer is worth 1 point.
Before the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the United States was experiencing a number of serious problems. Which of the following are true?
1. The states were interfering with each others’ trade, and some were taxing imports from other states.
2. Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no U.S. Supreme Court.
3. Under the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. had a king with the power of a dictator.
machine-readable answer sheet, you would answer "A" (true) for
statement 1, "A" (true) for statement 2, and "B" (false) for
Section 2: This section consists of 15 multiple choice questions. For each answer, there is only one correct answer. Select the letter, A, B, C, or D, that best answers the question and mark that answer on your machine readable answer sheet. Try to spend no more than 10 minutes on this section. Each correct answer is worth 2 points.
According to Jillson, which of these political theorists is most associated with
the idea of the separation of powers?
a. John Stuart Mill.
d. King George III of England.
machine-readable answer sheet, you would fill in "B" as the answer
for number 51..
Section 3. This section consists of a short answer in
response to one of the following questions. The best answers will be clear,
concise, and they will use specific examples. Only one question will appear on
the exam. This section is worth a maximum of 20 points.
Describe the four important
compromises at the Constitutional Convention, according to lecture. What was the
each compromise? Be specific.
You would write the answer in the space provided on the exam.
(Topic paragraph due March 4; Memo due April 24; late memos lose 1 point a day, for each day that ends with the letter "y")
- (for two samples of a similar assignment, click here and here. Note that this is an older paper written for an assignment that differed somewhat from the one required this semester. Be sure to follow the requirements listed below).
You work for a company that gives advice to political candidates of both parties. Your firm has a contract with the strictly nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to provide a number of five-page memos to help members of Congress from both parties make decisions about critical policy issues. Your firm wants you to choose one specific policy decision that is critical for the United States in the next several years. The legislators need to know (1) why the issue is so important, (2) how the issue has developed over time, (3) what the alternative choices are, (4) who supports and opposes each alternative, and (5) what are the benefits and costs of each alternative. NOTE: You must write memos that are completely fair and speak objectively about all sides of the issue.
First, choose a question about a national public policy decision. Turn in a 2-4 sentence paragraph about the issue, why it is critically important, and describe the chief alternatives. Include 4 specific references. Turn this paragraph in on March 4. We have to approve your topic. We will return your topic statement to you with comments. The topic paragraph is worth 5 points.
I urge you to consult the “CQ Researcher” on the UMSL library site under “Electronic Databases.” Many students who have gotten excellent grades on memos like this have used the CQ Researcher to choose a topic and to do basic research on it. See also Public Agenda at http://www.publicagenda.org/ or The Almanac of Policy Issues at http://www.policyalmanac.org/ ]
Then, write a five-page policy decision memo. The memo should explain:
Some of the topics you might choose include, but are not limited to: [Original topics not on this list are very strongly encouraged; consult with your TA]
- Should the U.S.
government impose a tax on carbon emissions to reduce climate change?
- Should the U.S. force the largest banks to break up into smaller banks?
- Should the U.S. government do more to increase home ownership?
- Should the U.S. government allow undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. a way to become citizens?
- Should Congress eliminate the ceiling on the national debt?
- Should the U.S. government legalize gay marriage nationally?
- Should the U.S. government ban genetically modified food?
- Should the Electoral College be eliminated?
- Should citizens be allowed to decide how to invest their Social Security funds?
- Should the Affordable Care Act of 2010 ("Obamacare") be repealed?
- Should there be a national identity card?
- Should the Social Security retirement age be raised?
- Should a national law tightly regulate access to handguns?
- Should tax breaks for the oil industry be eliminated?
- Should the U.S. provide more subsidies for wind-powered energy?
- Should medical marijuana be legalized nationally?
- Should the national government set high penalties for racial profiling?
- Should the U.S. government limit tuition increases at colleges and universities?
- Should the No Child Left Behind Act be repealed?
- Should the U.S. use military force against Iran?
- Should the U.S. allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
- Should offshore oil drilling near U.S. coasts be banned?
- Should the U.S. ban stem cell research?
- Should the U.S. dramatically increase funding to combat AIDs in Africa?
- Should there be a Constitutional amendment banning the death penalty?
ALL PAPERS SHOULD USE NO LESS THAN 6 REFERENCES. Do not use Wikipedia or other online encyclopedia.
Sources must be indicated in the body of the paper -- for example, (Jillson, 2013: 56) -- and then fully listed in a bibliography at the end.
Here is the appropriate citation style for these bibliographies:
In the text of the memo, if you want to cite a book or article, cite it in parentheses, with author, date, and page number (Patterson, 2008: 123). Then add a bibliography at the end.
The bibliography should list each book, alphabetical by author, with the authors, date of publication, title, place of publication, and publisher listed. Here are examples of a book, an article and a website. You should arrange the items in the bibliography in alphabetical order.
Jillson, Cal. 2013. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change, 7th edition. New York: Routledge .
Steinhauer, Jennifer. 2012. "Enduring Drought, Farmers Draw the Line at Congress. New York Times, August 12. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/us/politics/drought-driven-voters-vent-anger-over-farm-bill.html?pagewanted=all>, accessed August 12, 2012.
Penalty for late memos – 1 point per day (weekends included), no exceptions
The Memo Assignment is worth 75 points of the 500 total points for the course.
(The memo topic paragraph is worth 5 points of the 75)
Must be turned in by the time of the final exam.
Here are the Criteria for grading the memos:
Thought & Effort (20%)
o It is obvious that you put time, effort, and thought into this assignment?
o It this memo useful to the candidate?
your tone fair-minded, serious, and logical? Have you been fair to both
your information up-to-date?
o Did you answer all the questions clearly and specifically?
o Do you use clear evidence to support your assertions?
o Do you have a clear train of thought?
Structure & Style (20%)
o Did you cite your evidence? Is your bibliography appropriate?
you have an introductory paragraph that states what your paper is about and
does, and a conclusion?
(The introduction is the last part of the paper you should write)
o Did you use appropriate grammar and correct spelling and punctuation?
Criteria not used for grading:
The political content of the
concluding paragraph of the memos - these can be liberal, conservative, independent, partisan,
non-partisan, or your own unique perspective. The political views expressed in the paper
have no effect on the grade.
Plagiarism means taking the written ideas of someone else and presenting them in your writing as if they were your ideas, without giving the author credit. Plagiarism (a word which comes from the Latin word for kidnapping) is deceitful and dishonest. Violations that have occurred frequently in the past include not using quotation marks for direct quotes and not giving citations when using someone else's ideas; using long strings of quotations, even when properly attributed, does not constitute a paper of your own.
Plagiarism in written work for this class is unacceptable. The University's Student Conduct Code classifies plagiarism as a form of academic dishonesty. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, punishment can include receiving no credit for the assignment, failing the course and referral for university disciplinary action.
Last Updated January 10, 2013