American Government

Discuss John Locke’s contribution to American politics. Be sure to include supporting details, references, examples, and sources. Our current system of government owes a debt of gratitude to British philosopher John Locke. Locke is widely recognized as being one of the key influences on such notables as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who was known to refer to Locke’s theories on a regular basis. Jefferson modeled the Declaration of Independence on Locke’s ideas of government, which relied on the social contract theory.

In Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, “…[he] argued that sovereignty resides in individuals, not rulers A political state…emerged from a social contract among the people, who consent to government in order to preserve their lives, liberties and property. ”(Liebman). The emphasis is on consent –Locke firmly believed that people had the inherent right to choose their own representatives and take part in the structure of their own government. Acknowledging that people change and societal needs change over time, Locke also felt it imperative that governments be able to reinterpret themselves to accommodate such changes.

He also believed –unlike Hobbes-- that if a law is for the common good, then that is the only way it is legal. Locke firmly believed in the separation of church and state, which became one of the central tenets of our government today. Question 2 Discuss the views of the Federalists vs. the Anti-Federalists. Be sure to include supporting details, references, examples, and sources. Federalist view is in a much larger scale literally. They are ‘pro’ for creating larger, all encompassing decisions that is thought of as for the betterment of the majority.

These are evident in the presence of social security, the patriot act and even the constitution. This also promotes the three major and equal branch of the federal government, legislative, executive and judiciary. Anti – Federalist, on the other hand, are those that would settle for different and scattered governance for each state. This also wants to ensure that the Constitution would include a bill of rights into it. The Anti- Tax and anti- regulation are just two of their more crucial views of anti- federalist.

Domestic decision- making is also more preferred. Another high vision is that in a federal government executive branch has a more power. However, the anti- federalist view is of minimal (if none at all) visibility in the present government. Question 3 Discuss the differences and similarities between political ideology and political culture. Be sure to include supporting details, references, examples, and sources. All healthy political systems try to maintain the tenuous balance of political ideology and political culture, two very different concepts.

Political ideology is a set of belief systems and experiences which determine the personal expectation one might have of government policies. Simply put, there is more than one side to a story, and many more interpretations of the same. Political culture, on the other hand, is a collective term for people’s opinions and attitudes towards certain issues. Culturally, there is a general acceptance that certain rights need to be maintained: we expect our government to protect us from crime, provide us with certain services, and support our basic Constitutional rights.

The two concepts clash when an ideology does not conform to the majority view. For example, the topic of legalized abortion can be considered a political ideology. While the liberal thought is that abortion should remain legal, a vast proportion of citizens vehemently disagrees. This gives rise to contentious debates. Liberals strongly believe that there should be no debate over the matter, while our culture as a whole either grudgingly accepts it as a personal right, or publicly fights it. Obviously, political culture does not always agree with political ideology.

However, some political ideology can serve as a guide for political culture, and inspire new demands, and thus laws. Question 4- Discuss the changing role of the media in American politics. Be sure to include supporting details, references, examples, and sources. The first televised presidential debate took place in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy wore a dark blue suit that made him stand out against the podium background, and makeup to accentuate his already tanned face. Nixon wore a gray suit that blended into the background, and his make-up free face looked ragged and worn out after a recent hospital stay.

After the debate, polls showed that voters listening on the radio strongly felt that Nixon had won, given the content of his answers. Television viewers, however, cheered Kennedy. The TV viewers were found to have focused more on appearances than on content, and were impressed by Kennedy’s good looks, style, and calm delivery. Ever since this first debate, media has become so influential on politics that it is often accused of directly determining the outcome of our elections. Gone are the days when TV was mainly a source of entertainment or when advertising was a way to sell goods.

Politicians quickly realized that the more exposure they get through political ads or talk show appearances, the greater their name recognition. Many voters, unfortunately, often choose their candidate on familiarity—the visual image of a candidate spooning out food at a soup kitchen, or with his arms around his family often makes a greater impact on the undecided voter than what his actual platform is. The campaign spots that run leading up to an election are not classified as “advertisements”, but that is exactly what they are. The candidates are trying to sell themselves to you.

These spots focus less on the candidate’s promises than they do on slandering his opponent. In our media saturated world, it is all too easy to believe what we hear if we hear it repeatedly, be it true or false. Political pundits on TV claim to be objective, but their leanings are mostly obvious. The Fox News channel, for instance, is widely recognized as being harshly conservative. TIME magazine recently came under fire for publishing a racist, inflammatory cartoon of then Senator Obama on it’s cover. The cartoon, portraying Obama as a fundamentalist Muslim, was taken by many as factual.

Although TIME released a statement claiming that the cartoon was not meant as such, it cemented the fear of the millions whom already believed the lie. Corporations that own television and print media along with their other holdings contribute massively to political campaigns. The Washington Post—the premiere of political newspapers—is tied to Coca-Cola and McDonalds, all-American advertising darlings. The group holding them all was the 26th largest contributor to the George W. Bush campaign. Their slogan may as well have been “Buy our products; help buy our president.

” As long as we allow our lives to be manipulated by the media, as long as we remain caught up in our MTV style of living that prevents us from slowing down and taking the time to research issues and make our own decisions, we will continue to let the media shape and manipulate our values and politics, and vote more often based on a sound-bite than on the facts. References Liebman, Jethro K. (2009) Constitution of the U. S. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 20,2009 from http://encarta. msn. com Messerli, J. (2008). Political Ideology Definitions.

Retrieved April 20, 2009 from http://www. balancedpolitics. org/ideology. htm. Osuji, O. T. (2008). 100 Men Whose Ideas Changed Our World. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from http://www. chatafrikarticles. com/articles/1315/1/John-Locke/Page1. html. Stern, A. & Chin J. (2008). Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Retrieved April 20, 2009 from http://library. thinkquest. org/11572/creation/framing/feds. html. The Media and American Politics. (2008). Government by the people (5th ed. ). Retrieved April 20, 2009 from http://wps. prenhall. com/hss_burns_govbrief_5/0,7874,770542-,00. html.