American Government and Politics Today: Essentials: Chapters 11-15

Chapter 11. The President

Functions Chief of state + chief executive.

Roles Head of state, chief executive, commander in chief, chief diplomat, chief legislator, party chief (requirements are outlined in the Constitution Article II, Section 1)

Recall Requires constitutional amendment. Impeachment of the House of Representatives

Requirements At least thirty-five years old

A resident of the United States for at least fourteen years

A natural-born citizen

Ceremonial head Decorating war heroes.

Receiving visiting heads of state at the White House.

Going on official state visits to other countries.

Representing the nation at times of national mourning

Chief Executive Signing power, appointment power, power to grant reprieves and pardons

Chief Legislator Lobbying, approving laws, recommending them to Congress, exercising veto power

Chief Diplomat Receives ambassadors, signs agreements, negotiates treaties, recognizes foreign governments

Commander Ultimate decision maker in military questions

in Chief

The President of the US combines the functions of the chief executive and the chief of the state. His roles are described in the Constitution Article II, Section 1. The President can be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Chapter 12. The Bureaucracy

Definition Division of labor and extensive procedural rules. Primary form of

Governmental organization. Appeared during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

Theories Weberian model bureaucracy is logical structure of organization. Acquisitive model: bureaucrats try to raise their authority and feel power.

Monopolistic model: inefficient way to organize government, expensive, does not participate in competition.

Federal bureaucracy Approximately 2.8 million employees (except army).

15 cabinet departments + government corporations, independent regulatory, independent executive agencies.

1978 The Civil Service Reform Act – changes in the administration of the civil service.

Reforms Attempt to increase effectiveness, protection for whistleblowers, privatization, sunshine and sunset laws.

It is difficult to imagine a state without bureaucratic system, which is a hierarchic model of organization. According to it, every item in the system has its restricted authorities and if the situation is beyond their jurisdiction, they send it to higher items of the system. There are doubts whether bureaucracy is effective or not.

Chapter 13. The Courts

Peculiarities Common law tradition as a basis. The court follows precedents previously established. The United States Supreme Court – the highest court in the land. Its precedents are a law for all lower courts across the country.

Sources of law US Constitution, state constitutions, statutes of legislative bodies, regulations of administrative agencies, case law.

Federal court system Three-tiered model 1) U.S. district courts, lower courts of limited jurisdiction; 2) U.S. courts of appeals; 3) the US Supreme Court.

Federal judges Nominated for lifelong period by the president, confirmed by the Senate.

Have power of judicial review – an important policymaking tool from 1803. “Activist” judges, and “restraintist” judges.

Functions Executive checks, legislative checks, public opinion, and judicial traditions and doctrines.

The court system in the US is based on the common law tradition. It has three levels that consist of district courts, courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. The decisions made by the Supreme Court are supreme to the decisions of other courts. It is one of the most important policemaking powers in the state.

Chapter 14. Domestic and Economic Policy

Consists of Laws, government planning, government actions that consider national problems.

Policymaking steps Agenda building, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation, policy evaluation.

Medicare Spends 17.6 percent of the U.S. economy on healthcare. 16 percent of Americans do not have health insurance. Healthcare reform – universal coverage.

Major problems Illegal immigration, violent crime, energy and environmental problems, budget deficits.

Important Federal Reserve System is in responsible for monetary policy.

Domestic and economic policy deals with the problems that arise in the country. Among the most important ones are the issues of crime, illegal immigration and healthcare. Domestic policy is a priority issue of the US government.

Chapter 15. Foreign Policy

Consists of External goals + techniques to achieve them.

National security Aspect of foreign policy, created to protect economic and political independence of the US. Major problem – terrorism. Conflicts in the Middle East. Nuclear activity of Iran and North Korea.

Diplomacy External relations, targets resolving conflicts without military interference. Humanitarian assistance on international level.

Main idea Fighting for democracy, preserving national integrity.

Foreign policy determines the position of the country on international level. It is a complicated system that deals with diplomacy and national security. The main functions of foreign policy is preserving US integrity, caring for US citizens abroad and resisting to terrorism.


Barbara A. Bardes, Mack C. Shelley, II, Steffen W. Schmidt. (2011 – 2012). American Government and Politics Today: Essentials

Ready to start?