American Politics

POSC 10

Introduction to American Politics
Paper Assignment
From the following list, selected one to write a paper, which should be
five (5)
pages, double

spaced, wit
h one inch margins all around.
You should use 12 pt.
Times New Roman font and use an acc
epted formatting style (e.
g., APSA, MLA,
Chicago, etc.).
Please note that footnotes,
endnotes
, references, and title pages
do not contribute to your total page count nor does excessive white
space.
Your
TA may have further requirements that they will specify in clas
s.
Avoid
unnecessary and block quoting at all costs.
DO NOT P
LAGIARIZE!!
1. Most Americans believe in personal liberty

that we should be able to do what
we want to do without government intervention. At the same time, most
Americans endorse federal policies like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights
Act des
igned to bring about
greater protection for minorities. Di
scuss the
evolution of civil rights

broadly

and
how federal laws affect civil liberties. Can
civil rights and civil liberties co

exist? Or does one come at the expense of the
other?
2.
Americans are generally uninformed about current events, policy debates, and
the politics of Capitol Hill, yet social scientists and politicians ask their opinions
on many political and social phenomena. Can we trust public opinio
n results?
Why or why not? In answering, be sure to examine the features of public opinion
polling that may make it more (or less) reliable and support your thesis with
specific evidence.
3
. Describe the differences between pluralist and elite views of
democracy.
Which theoretical form of democracy better explains the role of interest groups in
American politics? Is the pluralist framework normatively appealing, why or why
not? What are potential problems and/or implications with pluralist views of
Ameri
can democracy?
4
. George Washington famously abhorred political parties
, stating that “they are
likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which
cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of
th
e people” (Washington Farewell Address, 1796). Yet political parties have
since played a central role in American politics. Do you think political parties are
a good thing for American politics? Why or why not? In your answer, consider the
faults with poli
tical parties,
but also consider the centrality of parties as key
organizing units both within institutions (i.e., Congress) but also among the mass
public.

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