• Introduction
  • 1.1 What is Government?
  • 1.2 Who Governs? Elitism, Pluralism, and Tradeoffs
  • 1.3 Engagement in a Democracy
  • Review Questions
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Suggestions for Further Study
  • 2.1 The Pre-Revolutionary Period and the Roots of the American Political Tradition
  • 2.2 The Articles of Confederation
  • 2.3 The Development of the Constitution
  • 2.4 The Ratification of the Constitution
  • 2.5 Constitutional Change
  • 3.1 The Division of Powers
  • 3.2 The Evolution of American Federalism
  • 3.3 Intergovernmental Relationships
  • 3.4 Competitive Federalism Today
  • 3.5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism
  • 4.1 What Are Civil Liberties?
  • 4.2 Securing Basic Freedoms
  • 4.3 The Rights of Suspects
  • 4.4 Interpreting the Bill of Rights
  • 5.1 What Are Civil Rights and How Do We Identify Them?
  • 5.2 The African American Struggle for Equality
  • 5.3 The Fight for Women’s Rights
  • 5.4 Civil Rights for Indigenous Groups: Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians
  • 5.5 Equal Protection for Other Groups
  • 6.1 The Nature of Public Opinion
  • 6.2 How Is Public Opinion Measured?
  • 6.3 What Does the Public Think?
  • 6.4 The Effects of Public Opinion
  • 7.1 Voter Registration
  • 7.2 Voter Turnout
  • 7.3 Elections
  • 7.4 Campaigns and Voting
  • 7.5 Direct Democracy
  • 8.1 What Is the Media?
  • 8.2 The Evolution of the Media
  • 8.3 Regulating the Media
  • 8.4 The Impact of the Media
  • 9.1 What Are Parties and How Did They Form?
  • 9.2 The Two-Party System
  • 9.3 The Shape of Modern Political Parties
  • 9.4 Divided Government and Partisan Polarization
  • 10.1 Interest Groups Defined
  • 10.2 Collective Action and Interest Group Formation
  • 10.3 Interest Groups as Political Participation
  • 10.4 Pathways of Interest Group Influence
  • 10.5 Free Speech and the Regulation of Interest Groups
  • 11.1 The Institutional Design of Congress
  • 11.2 Congressional Elections
  • 11.3 Congressional Representation
  • 11.4 House and Senate Organizations
  • 11.5 The Legislative Process
  • 12.1 The Design and Evolution of the Presidency
  • 12.2 The Presidential Election Process
  • 12.3 Organizing to Govern
  • 12.4 The Public Presidency
  • 12.5 Presidential Governance: Direct Presidential Action
  • 13.1 Guardians of the Constitution and Individual Rights
  • 13.2 The Dual Court System
  • 13.3 The Federal Court System
  • 13.4 The Supreme Court
  • 13.5 Judicial Decision-Making and Implementation by the Supreme Court
  • 14.1 State Power and Delegation
  • 14.2 State Political Culture
  • 14.3 Governors and State Legislatures
  • 14.4 State Legislative Term Limits
  • 14.5 County and City Government
  • 15.1 Bureaucracy and the Evolution of Public Administration
  • 15.2 Toward a Merit-Based Civil Service
  • 15.3 Understanding Bureaucracies and their Types
  • 15.4 Controlling the Bureaucracy
  • 16.1 What Is Public Policy?
  • 16.2 Categorizing Public Policy
  • 16.3 Policy Arenas
  • 16.4 Policymakers
  • 16.5 Budgeting and Tax Policy
  • 17.1 Defining Foreign Policy
  • 17.2 Foreign Policy Instruments
  • 17.3 Institutional Relations in Foreign Policy
  • 17.4 Approaches to Foreign Policy
  • A | Declaration of Independence
  • B | The Constitution of the United States
  • C | Federalist Papers #10 and #51
  • D | Electoral College Map
  • E | Selected Supreme Court Cases

An image of a poster that reads “This is America where you vote as you please, where the privileges of democracy belong to all people equally, where your government is your servant, not your master. This is your America…Keep it Free!”

Chapter Outline

Since its founding, the United States has relied on citizen participation to govern at the local, state, and national levels. This civic engagement ensures that representative democracy will continue to flourish and that people will continue to influence government. The right of citizens to participate in government is an important feature of democracy, and over the centuries many have fought to acquire and defend this right. During the American Revolution (1775–1783), British colonists fought for the right to govern themselves. In the early nineteenth century, agitated citizens called for the removal of property requirements for voting so poor White men could participate in government just as wealthy men could. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women, African Americans, Native Americans, and many other groups fought for the right to vote and hold office.

The poster shown above ( Figure 1.1 ), created during World War II, depicts voting as an important part of the fight to keep the United States free. The purpose of voting and other forms of political engagement is to ensure that government serves the people, and not the other way around. But what does government do to serve the people? What different forms of government exist? How do they differ? How can citizens best engage with and participate in the crucial process of governing the nation? This chapter seeks to answer these questions.

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