California Politics

Write essays of at least one page each on four of the following questions.

1. California’s People, Economy and Politics. What do you find most interesting about the history of California politics, as described in Chapter 1 of the small book? Tell me what you learned in that chapter that might help us understand our state today.

2. California’s Democracy. How does democracy work in our state? Consider key points you pick up from Chapters 2, 3 or 4 in the small book. Comment on various factors such as political parties, direct democracy, campaigning, and the role of interest groups. Do you think we have an effective political system, or do you think it needs some reform?

3. The Legislature. What do the authors mean by “the perils of policymaking”? Why do you think our legislature has trouble tackling major issues? What would you propose to make our legislature more effective?

4. The Executive Branch. Why does the Governor have such an important job? Can you tell why recent governors found the job extremely difficult? Why do we have so many statewide elected offices? Do we need them all? (Note: These offices are up for election in 2018!)

5. The State Courts. What key aspects of the legal system in California do you understand better from reading Chapter 6 in the small book? Do you see the courts as separate from politics, or are they inevitably connected? What challenges do you see the courts facing in the near future?

6. The State Budget. Why does our state often have budget difficulties? Do you think our tax system could be part of the problem? Based on your reading, what would you propose we do to achieve a more stable budget that meets our needs?

7. Local Government. What do the authors mean by “Politics at the Grassroots”? How do local governments get funding to do the projects they are supposed to do? From your reading, do you think the local governments have too much power, not enough, or is it a good balance?

8. State-Federal. Why is the relationship between our state and the federal governments so complicated? Discuss key policy issues the authors bring up in regard to state-federal relations.



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