AP US Government & politics Course Outline
United States (US) course aims to give an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. The following course will involves both the study of basic concepts of U. S. Politics and specific case studies analysis and interpretation. Familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute USA political reality is also very much required.
The course will focus on the topics given below:
Constitutional Underpinnings of US Government (5%-15%)
Modern politics study in the US focuses on students to examine the kind of government established by the Constitution, paying proper attention to federalism as well as separation of powers. Understanding the developments that requires both knowledge of the historical situation at the time of the Constitutional Convention as well as awareness of the ideological and philosophical traditions on which the framers drew. Such understanding addresses various particular concerns of the framers, for example, Why did Madison fear factions? What were the reasons for the swift adoption of the Bill of Rights? The Supreme Court's interpretation of prime provisions of the Constitution will aid student understanding of theoretical and practical characteristics of federalism and the separation of powers. Students should be familiar with different theoretical perspectives relating to the Constitution like democratic theory and theories of republican government, pluralism, and elitism.
Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
Separation of powers
Theories of democratic government
Political Beliefs and Behaviors (10%-20%)
The Individual citizens hold different types of beliefs about their government, leaders, and the U. S. Political system in general; taken together, the following beliefs will then form the foundation of U. S. Political culture. It is vital for students to understand how these beliefs are came into existance, how they evolve, and the processes by which they are communicated. Students need to understand why U. S. Citizens hold certain beliefs about politics, and how families, schools, and the media act to perpetuate or change these beliefs. Evaluating the ways in which political culture affects and informs political participation is critical. For example, students should know that individuals sometimes indulge in various forms of political participation, including voting, protest and mass movements. Students should understand both why individuals indulge in the different forms of political participation and how that participation will affects the political system.
It is crucial that students understand why citizens differ from one another in their political beliefs and behaviors, and the political consequences of these differences. To understand these differences, students should focus on the various different viewpoints that people commonly hold of the political process as well as the demographic features of the American population the belief and behavior systems held by specific ethnic, minority, and other groups.
Beliefs that citizens hold about their government.
Processes by which citizens learn politics.
Nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion.
The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life.
Influencing factors in the citizens to differ from one another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors
Political Parties, Interest Groups, as well as Mass Media (10%-20%)
To understand the mechanism that allow citizens to organize and communicate their interests and concerns is important for the students. Among these are political parties, elections, political action committees (PACs), interest groups, and the mass media. Students needs to evaluate the historical evolution of the U. S. Party system, the functions as well as the structures of political parties, and the inflencing effects they have on the political process. Party issues reform and their examination and of important strategies and financing in the electronic age provides students with vital perspectives. A systematic study of elections, election laws, and election systems on the national and state levels will help students understand both party and individual voting behavior as well as their nature. The development and role of PACs in elections and demographic differences between the two or three major parties, form a crucial segment of this material.
The Students must also focus on the political roles played by a wide variety of lobbying plus interest groups. Various Important features of the following section of the course may comprise of the explanation like why some interests are represented by organized groups while others are not, and the circumstances of the differences. Students should also study what exactly the interest groups do, how they do it, and how this has an effect on i.e.the political process and public policy. Why certain segments of the population, such as farmers able to exert pressure on political institutions and actors in order to obtain favorable policies? all such related questions.
In U. S. Politics, media has become the common force. Students are expected and they need to understand the importance of media in the political system. Along with, the impact of media on public opinion, voter perceptions, campaign strategies, electoral outcomes, agenda development and the images of officials and candidates should be understood by students. Media is also important in Understanding the symbiotic and frequently conflictual, relationship between candidates, elected officials.
Political parties and elections.
Interest groups like political action committees (PACs).
Institutions of National Government: The Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy and the Federal Courts (35%-45%)
Students must have the idea of the organization and its powers i.e.formal and informal, of the major political institutions in the US-the Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy and federal courts. These institutions perform and do not perform, as well as the powers that they do and do not possess are important. It is essential to understand that power balances and relationships between these institutions may evolve gradually or change dramatically as a result of crises by the students. And they are also expected to understand ties between the different branches of national government, political parties, interest groups, the media, and state and local governments. Take an example, To adopt a national budget, study of the conflicting interests and powers of the President and Congress may help in explaining the recent as well as repeated struggles.
Major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power.
Relationships among these 4 institutions and varying balances of power.
Connection between institutions and the following:
Public opinion and voters
Public Policy (5%-15%)
Public policy came into existance because of interaction among actors, interests, institution and processes.
The formation of policy agendas, the enactment of public policies by Congress and the President and the implementation and interpretation of policies by the bureaucracy and the courts are all stages in the policy process with which students should be familiar. Students should also try to analyse policy networks, iron triangles and various different forms of policy sub governments i.e.in domestic and foreign policy areas. The following study will provide students a clear understanding of the impact of federalism, interest groups, parties, and elections on policy processes and policy making in the federal context.
Policy making in a federal system.
Formation of policy agendas.
Role of institutions in the enactment of policy.
Role of the bureaucracy and courts in policy implementation and interpretation.
Connection between policy processes and the following:
Political institutions and federalism
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (5%-15%)
An understanding of US politics consist the study of the development of individual rights and liberties and their scope of impact on different citizens.
The following study is an understanding of the workings of the Supreme Court and an understanding of its most crucial decisions.
Students should judge the judicial interpretations. Different civil rights and liberties like freedom of speech, assembly, and expression; the rights of the accused; and the rights of minority groups and women. Take an example, students needs to understand the legal, social, and political evolution following the Supreme Court's decisions regarding racism. Finally, it is vital that students should be able to access the strengths and weaknesses of Supreme Court decisions as tools of social change.
Development of civil liberties and rights by judicial interpretation.
Understanding of substantive rights and liberties.
Impact of the 14th Amendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties.