Conservapedia:American Government Fall 2012
The first lecture is available at American Government Lecture One.
The second lecture is available at American Government Lecture Two.
The third lecture is being developed at American Government Lecture Three.
A full set of lectures is available at American Government Lectures.
Key terms for the course are being listed and explained at American Government Key Terms
Debate topics are being developed at American Government Debate Topics.
Enroll by inserting your user name into this file: click "Edit this page" below, then position your cursor in the Enrollment section below, and then click 10th tab from the left above.
"American Government Fall 2010" is a 14-week course that teaches the basics of government, both federal and state. It covers the political process and operation of the U.S. government, and may be the most important course you will ever take. It includes review of the U.S. Constitution, including concepts like the separation of powers among the branches of government.
Unlike other courses, this class will tie closely to current events and the lectures will be revised online and tailored to the most up-to-date available information.
Students in this class will make predictions at three different points about the outcome of the midterm elections on November 2nd: as the first homework assignment, after learning a month's worth of material, and just prior to the election.
Students seeking to earn college credit can take the CLEP or AP exams upon successful completion of this course.
This course begins September 2nd and already several dozen students have enrolled. Please add your user id. (as explained above) if you would like to participate in this course in any way, either as a student or as a teacher on this site.
The instructor is Andy Schlafly, who has taught over 15 courses, including one as an adjunct professor at a major law school.
--Andy Schlafly 10:39, 6 June 2010 (EDT) (instructor)
--Martin Amrowski 13:11, 6 June 2010 (EDT) (student)
--Davidkon 15:04, 6 June 2010 (EDT) (student)
--Beardude1963 15:00, 7 June 2010 (EDT) (student)
--Paul Narcisse 13:02, 8 June 2010 (EDT) (student)
--Florencia Miguez (Student)
--AJ4JQ 10:39, 10 June 2010 (EDT) (Student)
--Daniel Bruski 10:07, 7 July 2010 (EDT) (Student)
--James 08:30, 9 July 2010 (EDT) (Student)
--Israelgarza 22:31, 16 July 2010 (EDT)israel garza (student)
--RMallett 18:47, 8 August 2010 (EDT) (Student)
--jbeds (student)--Jbeds 21:35, 20 August 2010 (EDT)
--Smh 16:06, 22 August 2010 (EDT)
--running total of in-person enrollment: 59
--running overall total enrollment: 78
(add your id above)
This course will include many concepts not included in most run-of-the-mill government courses, such as:
- the difference between politics and history, and the similarity between politics and team sports; impediments to teamwork and communication
- political cycles
- political factions, such as Big Labor, anti-war, pro-life, Second Amendment, etc.; interest groups and their scorecards and endorsements, such as the NRA and Elena Kagan and the effect on Harry Reid
- Tea Party: the decentralized political party
- declining role of newspapers, and increasing role of the internet
- the effect of low voter turnout, discuss in the context of initiatives; effect of initiatives on candidates on the ballot
- free speech and campaign finance
- pending court cases concerning the structure of government
- media bullying (e.g., post-election interviews for Rand Paul), media bias, double standards in reporting news, effect of the bias in misleading the public
- famous expressions and special vocabulary (as in sports): "all politics is local," "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!" "coattails", "political capital," "midterm elections," "filibuster", "voice vote," (add more)
- election process: various signature requirements to qualify for the ballot, use of convention rather than public elections in some areas, primary election, general election, concept of endorsements, term and qualifications for various offices
- correlations of voting patterns by "voting blocs"; "single issue" voters
- initiatives and referenda: how different states handle this differently, track record of various issues, effect on others on the ballot
- polling, pollsters, and their impact (e.g., Scott Brown upset)
- contrast the two-party system in America with multiple-party systems in other nations, how the power of political parties ebbs and flows with changes in campaign finance and the strength of interest groups like the NRA
- elements of a political campaign, including who gets involved and why and how
- the role of the Courts: the "least dangerous branch," or now the most powerful branch of government?
- the U.S. Supreme Court, and how it accepts cases for review and its October through June annual Terms
- administrative law, federal and state agencies, and the most cited U.S. Supreme Court decision: Chevron
- "strict scrutiny," "intermediate scrutiny," and "rational basis" as three levels for judicial review in civil rights
- consumer confidence and the effect of the economy on elections
- think tanks and their influence; example of Robert Rector's analysis of proposed immigration changes
- the political benefit to a side from promoting a particular policy
- the concept of "political capital"
- commenting on proposed regulations
- line-item veto at state level, not at federal level
- office of county commissioner, or freeholder
- political asylum and example of homeschooling family that fled Germany to the U.S.
- pundits, talking heads, talk radio, editorials, endorsements
- Biblical basis for our three branches of government: Isaiah 33:22 ("The LORD is our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the LORD our king ....").
- role of internet news sources and bloggers; example: Shirley Sherrod firing.
- swing state
- trial balloon
- plurality vote, majority vote, cloture, and two-thirds vote (supermajority)
- The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, and the liberals' response with the DISCLOSE Act
- Presidential candidates, 2012 and the political and social undercurrents associated with that contest
(add to list)
- Are politicians leaders or followers of the direction of the nation? Does your answer vary depending on the political position?
- Why is this a famous saying: "All politics is local." Do you agree?
- "Politics is like icebergs: 90% is below the surface." Explain.
- Why should it matter what the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution was?
- Should legislative history be relevant to interpreting a statute?
- Define conservative and liberal. Do you think our nation is becoming more conservative, or more liberal? Are the political cycles oscillating above and below a line that has positive or negative conservative slope?
- Teaching more people how to read: that benefit one political side more than the other? The oil spill in the Gulf: on which side that does that confer greater political benefit? (add more examples)
- Was Jesus pro-life?
Order of presentation of topics
American Government is typically taught in an historical manner. This is disadvantageous for several reasons. First, it's more tedious and less interesting with that approach. Second, politics is not history.
Suggested order of presentation:
- The midterm elections; what it affects, and what it does not affect: American Government Lecture One