Chapter 1 The Study of American Government

Report
Chapter 4
American
Political
Culture

WHO GOVERNS?
1. Do Americans trust their government?
2. Why do we accept great differences in
wealth and income?

TO WHAT ENDS?
1. Why does our government behave
differently than governments in
countries with similar constitutions?
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Political Culture
Political culture is a patterned and
sustained way of thinking about how
political and economic life ought to
be carried out.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote
Democracy in America, a
profound analysis of our
political culture, p. 78.
The Granger Collection
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Political Culture



The Political System
The Persistence of
Conflict
The Economic System
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In the 1950s Senator Joseph
McCarthy of Wisconsin was the
inspiration for the world
“McCarthyism” after his highly
publicized attacks on alleged
communists working in the
federal government, p. 81
Topham/The Image Works
At the height of
immigration to this country,
there was a striking
emphasis on creating a
shared political culture.
Schoolchildren, whatever
their national origin, were
taught to salute this
country’s flag. p. 79
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Underwood &
Underwood/CORBIS
Source: Jack Citrin, et al., “Testing Huntington,” Perspectives on Politics, 5 (2007),
43. Data are from 2004 National Election Survey.
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Comparing America with Other
Nations



The Political System
The Economic System
The Civic Role of Religion
The chaplain of the
U. S. House of
Representatives
leads a prayer, p. 85.
AP Photo/Ken Lambert
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The Sources of Political Culture



Personal Liberty vs. Social Control
Class Consciousness
The Culture War
• Orthodox – a belief that morality and
religion ought to be of decisive
importance.
• Progressive – a belief that personal
freedom and solving social problems are
more important than religion.
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Protests and demonstrations
are a common feature of
American politics, as with this
attack in Seattle on American
membership in the World
Trade Organization in
November 2001.
Beth A. Keiser/AP Photo
Yet, despite
disagreements Americans
are a patriotic people, as
seen in this photo of
baseball fans waving flags
and singing “God Bless
America,” taken a few
days after 9/11.
John Sommers II/Reuters/Corbis
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Figure 4.2 Trust in the Federal
Government, 1958-2004
Source: University of Michigan, The American National
Election Studies.
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p. 90
Source: Gallup Poll
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Mistrust of Government
Civil society is that collection of
private, voluntary groups that –
independent of the government and
the commercial market – make
human cooperation easier and
provide ways of holding the
government accountable for its
actions.
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Figure 4.3 The American Civic
Health Index, 1975-2002
Source: America’s Civic Health Index: Broken Engagement (Washington, D.C.: National
Citizenship Conference and Saguaro Seminar, September 2006), p. 6. Reprinted by
permission of the National Conference of Citizenship. p. 91
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Political Tolerance
In order for democracy to work,
citizens must have a political culture
that allows the discussion of ideas
and the selection of rulers in an
atmosphere reasonably free of
oppression.
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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
MEMORANDUM
To: Representative Olivia Kuo
From: J. P. Loria, chief of staff
Subject: Charitable Choice Expansion Act
Section 104 of the 1996 federal welfare reform law
encourages states to utilize “faith-based organizations” as
providers of federal welfare services. Known as Charitable
Choice, the law prohibits participating organizations from
discriminating against beneficiaries on the basis of religion but
permits them to control “the definition, development, practice,
and expression” of their religious convictions. The proposed
act would expand Charitable Choice to crime prevention and
other areas.
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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Arguments for:
1. Over 90 percent of Americans believe in God, and 80
percent favor government funding for faith-based social
programs.
2. Local religious groups are the main nongovernmental
providers of social services in poor urban neighborhoods.
The primary beneficiaries of faith-based programs are
needy neighborhood children who are not affiliated with any
congregation.
3. So long as the religious organizations serve civic purposes
and do not proselytize, the law is constitutional.
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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Arguments against:
1. Americans are a richly religious people precisely because
we have never mixed church and state in this way.
2. Community-serving religious groups succeed because over
97 percent of their funding is private and they can flexibly
respond to people’s needs without government or other
interference.
3. Constitutional or not, the law threatens to undermine both
church and state: Children will have religion slid (if not
jammed) down their throats, and religious leaders will be
tempted to compromise their convictions.
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WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Your decision:
Favor expansion?
Oppose expansion?
Copyright © 2011 Cengage

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