GOV 101 – Section 01A
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS – ONLINE
This is a TAKE-HOME UNTIMED EXAM. Please try to answer the question asked, and go over your exam to make sure you have said everything you want to say in the way you want to say it. You may talk to other people about the exam, but please do NOT write the exam with anybody else or cite material without attribution. Since the question asks you for your point of view, you should define your position and try to argue it as cogently as possible. This means that the way you arrive at your answer – your logical reasoning and power of analysis – is as important as the answer itself. To answer the question properly, you need to refer to the chart “Models of Power and Authority” found under Unit 1. Exams should be at least 3-4 typed pages, or the equivalent, i.e., around 1000-1200 words.
Of the three models of power and authority discussed in this class – pluralism, power elite, and governing class – which do you think is most adequate to account for the way the U.S. is actually run, and why? (The pluralist model is most similar to the way the U.S. is supposed to be run, while the other two models are more skeptical as to how democratic our political system actually is.) Even if you add one or two features from a different model, pick ONE model that most closely approximates the actual political situation as you understand it. You should also discuss how the Trump campaign and Presidency fit in with the model you have chosen.
Do not simply give a recapitulation or summary of the chart! Your essay should focus on the most important features in the chart, as you see it, and incorporate relevant examples to prove your point. If you are arguing in defense of the power elite or governing class model, you might discuss the corporate media and the standards used to decide what news is fit to print (the New York Times’ slogan is “All the News That’s Fit to Print”) or broadcast; the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, which sharply limited government regulation of campaign contributions; and the way in which Presidents can initiate hostilities without the declaration of war required by the Constitution. This is obviously related to statements by President Trump at the U.N. threatening the total annihilation of North Korea, a country of some 25,000,000 people, which is a manifestation of the Imperial Presidency previously seen in the Vietnam and Korean wars. If you are arguing in defense of the pluralist model, you could talk about First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, press, and association, as well as the choices offered between, say, Fox “fair and balanced” news and the more critical 60 Minutes approach. You could also cite the way in which opposition from the Congress and the American public was crucial in getting the Obama administration not to attack Syria over the issue of chemical weapons. And for the pluralist or the governing class model – but not the power elite model – you could talk about the changes brought about by the civil rights movement or the antiwar movement of the 1960s. (See the film Selma for more on this.) On the other hand, in terms of Thermonuclear Monarchy, the pluralist model doesn’t work very well, since discussions of nuclear abolition almost never surface in the media or attract public attention. This issue fits better with the other two models.
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