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The government and Constitution

1) Overview of our voting rights.
Expanding Franchise
poll tax
turnout/voter participation
American political community
requirements to vote
26 amendment

2. History overview of the Democratic party from 1852 all the way to the present.

3) Explain the electoral college in detail.

4) Explain the various type of interest groups:
Lobbing congress
Lobbing the president

5) What are pac's & what do they do?

6) Describe the constitutional design of the congress:
Incremental change
Speaker-responsibility
Senate
i.e
Standing committees
House appropriation bill
Select committee
Joint committee
Conference committee
Seniority
Staffs

7) How does a bill become law from start to finish?

8) Describe the constitutional bases of the presidency.
9) Describe the express powers of the presidency.
10) Describe the executive office of the president.

Solution Preview

The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1971, prohibits the federal government and the state governments from disenfranchising anyone 18 years or older. States were required to lower the legal voting age to 18. It took mere months after being reintroduced (it was originally introduced by President Johnson in 1968), to be ratified, the fastest ratification of an amendment. The amendment only applies to voting. It was another in a line of amendments dealing with voting rights. The 15th amendment gave the right to vote to all males, regardless of race, the 19th amendment gave the same rights regardless of gender. The 24th amendment prohibited the poll tax. Poll taxes were used as a condition in some states and polling place to vote. The taxes were put in place in eleven Southern States, though at the time of the amendment only five (Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas) still had a poll tax, after Reconstruction to prevent voting by poor blacks and whites. It was ratified in 1964.

During the history of the United States, there have been taxes, literacy tests, and violence to prevent voters from going to the polls. In the beginning of the country's history, only white male landowners could vote. After the Civil War, all males, regardless of race or ethnicity were allowed to vote, though violence and intimidation still prevented many from going to the polls. Literacy tests were used in many areas to keep people from voting, by proving them illiterate and therefore unable to be properly informed. In reality, it was just a ploy to keep those judged as undesirable from voting. The Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1965 firmed the voting rights of all citizens.

In recent years, voter turnout has been reported to be lower. Democratic committees blame recent elections on the inability to elect Democrats to office. Recent midterm elections were better. The overall voter turnout was 60.3% of registered voters for the 2004 presidential elections (http://elections.gmu.edu/voter_turnout.htm). The 2004 primary elections voter turnout was as low as 5.7% in Connecticut to 31% in California. The 2000 primaries found voter turnout at 6.2% in the District of Columbia to 40% in California. (http://elections.gmu.edu/Voter_Turnout_2004_Primaries.htm)

Various other elections: (http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout%201980-2006.xls) November elections

1980 - 52.61%
1982 - 40.73%
1984 - 53.25%
1988 - 50.34%
1990 - 45.94%
1992 - 54.73
1996 - 48.13%

Mid term elections are usually lower in voter turnout as shown by the 1982 and 1990, though the midterm elections this year were certainly higher than normal. Voters have become complacent about voting. Voters have to be citizens of the United States, registered in their districts, appear on the proper day or have their votes reach the voter registration office on time, be 18 years of age, and cannot be convicted of a felony with their rights not yet restored. Some states are changing voting rights for inmates (California has approved voting rights for inmates serving less than one year) and some rights for probationers have also been restored by states. The political environment of the country is two party, though in recent years independent parties have made strides in elections of Congress and the Presidency, dividing votes between Democrats and Independents. In the most recent two decades, Republicans have gained and held Congress and the Presidency, along with many state offices. The latest election showed displeasure with the party and its policies, but it is early to call it a political shift.

2. While the party was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1792, it did not hold its first convention until the 1830's. In 1848 the party formed the Democratic National Party. As a party who recognized immigrants and workers as viable voting citizens, it maintained its program of working for the American family, disenfranchised, and poor. As the new century (20th) began Democrats built their base in those poor hardworking families and with immigrants and agricultural workers, supported suffrage and progressive income taxes. Finally they supported the direct election of Senators. (http://www.democrats.org/a/party/history.html)

Woodrow Wilson supported the League of Nations, established the Federal Reserve Board. Wilson, elected in 1912 was the first Democrat elected President in the 20th century. In keeping with the Democratic ideals he also worked in passing child and labor laws. Franklin Roosevelt, elected during the Great Depression, brought the country out of the depression under the New Deal which established work programs for citizens such as the Tennessee Valley Authority which brought electricity to the Appalachian region, and a like program that brought water to the California Central Valley. Other programs that aided the country by providing work for people including the Civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA. He also established Social Security for the elderly.

Harry Truman worked on civil rights programs, integrated the military, and helped in the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and The Marshall Plan. "John F. Kennedy Kennedy proclaimed a New Frontier and dared Americans to put a man on the moon, created ...

Solution Summary

A brief summary of various parts of the United States government including Congress and the committees, the Presidency, the electoral college, bills, Amendments, PAC's and power issues within the government.

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