The key to understanding American government is to understand the relationship teen the citizen and the government. Politics takes on a different character according to the extent to which people are informed and involved. Citizenship Is Based on Political Knowledge and Participation 1 . Citizenship is defined as informed and active membership in a political community. 2. Although today we consider voting the building block of citizenship, Americans can participate In their government In other ways-??such as serving on a Jury, lobbying, writing a letter to the editor, or engaging In a public rally or protest. . Numerous studies and surveys how that many Americans have significant gaps In their political knowledge. Greater political knowledge Increases the ability of people to Influence their government. Government Is Made up of the Institutions and Procedures by Which People Are Ruled 1. “Government” is the term that describes the formal institutions and procedures through which a territory and its people are ruled. Governments vary in their structure, in their size, and in the way they operate. 2.
A democracy is a political system where popular wishes and preferences regularly and systematically heap who controls the government and what the government does. Under such a system, the norm is constitutional government, in which governmental power is described and limited by a governing constitution. 3. Beginning in the seventeenth century, two Important changes began to take place In the governance of some Western nations: governments began to acknowledge formal limits on their power, and governments began to give citizens a formal voice In politics through the vote. 4. “Politics” refers to conflicts over the leadership, structure. ND policies of governments. The goal of politics is to have a share or a say in the composition of the government’s leadership, how the government is organized, or what its policies are going to be. Having a share is called power (influence over a government’s leadership, organization, or policies) or influence. 5. A system of government that gives citizens a regular opportunity to elect government officials is usually called a representative democracy or republic. A system that permits citizens to vote directly on laws and policies is often called a direct democracy. The Identity of Americans Has Changed over Time 1.
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The principle of democracy in which political authority rests ultimately in the hands of the people is known as popular sovereignty. 6. At times in American history there have been large gaps between the ideals embodied in Americans’ core values and the practice of American government. 7. Many of the important dilemmas of American politics revolve around conflicts over fundamental political values. One such conflict involves the ideals of liberty and democracy. Over time, democracy promotes stronger, more active government, which may threaten liberty.