Review for Government 2301 - Exam I
This review will follows the chapters in Unit I.
Note: This review hits the main points. Use the study questions in your newsletter also.
Chapter 1 of Tannahill, "The People, Economy, and Political Culture of Texas:"
You should be familiar with the demographic changes in Texas and the political implications of these changes. Also, you should know about the effects on public policy of the changes in the Texas economy.
Political Culture, as defined by Professor Daniel Elazar, is discussed in Chapter 1 - be aware of the differences between traditional, moralistic, and individualistic political cultures. According to Professor Elazar, the political culture in Texas is a combination of individualistic cultures?
Chapter 2 of Tannahill, "The Texas Constitution:"
Be prepared to compare and contrast state constitutions, in general, with the U.S. Constitution. Be able to describe the Texas constitution in comparison to the U.S. Constitution in terms of length, number of amendments, longevity, form of government created, and method of amending. You should be able to explain how constitutional amendments to the Texas constitution are proposed and ratified. Additionally, be sure that you are somewhat familiar with the informal methods of changing the document.
You do not need to know the dates that each Texas constitution was adopted, but you should be aware of the political changes that paralleled each new constitution. (The new constitutions were created to reflect changes in the political status of the state)
Be able to discuss the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875. Be sure that you know who the Grangers were and how they influenced the final document.
Chapter 3, Tannahill, "The National Context of Texas Government:"
This chapter covers the issue of federalism, the division of political power between a national government and other, lower, levels of government. (Canada also has a federal system - they have a national government and several provincial governments)
Be sure that you can explain what is meant by a federal system. You should have knowledge of the types of powers that are national and which are reserved to the states or to the local governments.
On the issue of federal grants (political scientists call this fiscal federalism - when the federal government sends money to the lower levels of government), know the different types of grants and be able to differentiate them. Also, be familiar with the dependence of Texas on federal money for such projects as highway repair, agricultural development, AFDC, and food stamps.
You should also know the difference between authorization and appropriations - I have found that students often become confused about these terms.
Chapter 1, Schmidt, "American Government & Politics: Stability and Change:"
Be sure to know the meaning of the following concepts: direct democracy and representative democracy. You should be able to explain why direct democracy may be dangerous and why it might be impractical for our society.
Elite theory (elitism) and Pluralist theory (pluralism) are two other important concepts. Elitism is a theory of power in which all power is held by the few who own the most of whatever is valuable in a society (in ours, that would likely be money, but sometimes other groups are referred to as elite). Pluralism is a society in which small groups of elites compete for power in the society.
Other important concepts in this chapter: conflict resolution, universal suffrage, and majority rule.
Political culture is discussed in this chapter, as it is in one of the chapters in your Texas Government textbook. It is a good idea to use this explanation to reinforce your knowledge.
Political ideology is also discussed in this chapter, be sure that you do not confuse the actual differences between conservatism and liberalism with what you may have read in the popular press. Be able to explain differences in the two ideologies in the following areas: the economy, social welfare (programs that redistribute income), moral issues. Do not make the mistake of describing one ideology as favoring more government and the other favoring less government. While this is a popular belief, it is inaccurate - both conservatives and liberals favor government action in different social and political areas. Learn these.
Chapter 2, Schmidt, "The Constitution:"
Be familiar with the history of government from colonization and independence and from independence to the Constitution of 1787.
Describe the Articles of Confederation and what led to its adoption. Be able to explain the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the details of our government under the Articles.
Be sure that you are familiar with the major issues at the Constitutional Convention of 1787: The Great Compromise (The Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan) and the 3/5 Compromise. Be able to explain the issues surrounding these compromises.
Another srea where I have found that students are sometimes confused is in the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances. These are related concepts, but they are not the same. Separation refers to the action division of political power between several units (often called branches of government). In the U.S., these are the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Checks and balances refers to the ways in which each branch of government keeps the other two branches from becoming over powerful. An example is the presidential veto which allows the president to control the legislature and the Senate's ability to check the president in their role as confirming (or refusing to confirm his appointments).
The Federalizes and the Anti-Federalists were the two groups that were very vocal about ratification of the constitution. Know which group favored ratification and which did not.
As with the Texas Constitution, I expect you to be able to explain exactly how the U.S. Constitution may be amended. You should also know how it is changed informally.
Chapter 3, Schmidt, "Federalism:"
The three forms of government under which this nation has existed are described in this chapter. Be familiar with each (unitary, confederal, and federal systems). You need not know the years that we operated under each system, but you need to be able to explain which system existed under which part of our history. In other words - what else was going on in the nation?
Be able to explain the difference between enumerated, concurrent, and reserved powers. You should also be familiar with the necessary and proper clause which allows the national government to expand its power through implied powers.
You should be able to identify examples of the following provisions for relations between states: extradition )if you have watched any police shows on television, you should be familiar with this concept, full faith and credit - this means that each state will recognize the actions of the other states as legitimate, and privileges and immunities - this means that every citizen who visits a state where she does not live is subject to the same rules and the same protections as the citizens of that state. (so, if I go to California, I am protected by their police, but I must also obey their laws).
Read carefully the case of McCullough v. Maryland. Know the details as far as they are explained in the text.
You should know the difference between cooperative federalism, dual federalism, and New Federalism. Also, know the difference between the different types of federal grants (these are also covered in Tannahill, Chapter 3).
And, last, but, certainly not least, be able to explain what a federal mandate is and why it is important.