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The Study Of American Government

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Administrative Power And Its Relationship With Democracy

Introduction: Crash Course U.S. Government and Politics

According to Wilson’s article, administrators must be given great power and discretion in order to perform their roles effectively and efficiently. For Wilson, this is an essential feature of administrative government, and preferable to a system that minimizes or divides and thus limits the power of administrators:

And let me say that large powers and unhampered discretion seem to me the indispensable conditions of responsibility. Public attention must be easily directed, in each case of good or bad administration, to just the man deserving of praise or blame. There is no danger in power, if only it be not irresponsible. If it be divided, dealt out in shares to many, it is obscured and if it be obscured, it is made irresponsible.

Wilson argues that public opinion and democracy have a place and a say in administrative government, but that this influence ought to be limited, and administrators need to be trusted with a great degree of discretion:

The Historical Transition To Administrative Government

Wilson’s article divides the history of government in Europe and the United States into three parts, the first based on absolute sovereign rulers, the second on democracy and constitutions, and the third on administrative government implemented and approved through democracy:

Judging by the constitutional histories of the chief nations of the modern world, there may be said to be three periods of growth through which government has passed in all the most highly developed of existing systems, and through which it promises to pass in all the rest. The first of these periods is that of absolute rulers, and of an administrative system adapted to absolute rule the second is that in which constitutions are framed to do away with absolute rulers and substitute popular control, and in which administration is neglected for these higher concerns and the third is that in which the sovereign people undertake to develop administration under this new constitution which has brought them into power.

According to Wilson, efficient and effective administration is neglected during the second, constitutional period of government. Wilson argues that, at the time the article was written, the United States had reached the third period of government but still needed to move beyond its constitutional mistrust of administration:

The Need For Administrative Government

Wilson’s article argues that the increasing complexity of society and corresponding issues of public policy require administrative methods of government to deal with. He argues that questions of administration are of more practical importance to the function of American government than constitutional questions:

The weightier debates of constitutional principle are even yet by no means concluded but they are no longer of more immediate practical moment than questions of administration. It is getting to be harder to run a constitution than to frame one. …

There is scarcely a single duty of government which was once simple which is not now complex government once had but a few masters it now has scores of masters. Majorities formerly only underwent government they now conduct government. Where government once might follow the whims of a court, it must now follow the views of a nation.

Wilson’s article contends that the application of administrative government to more areas of society is inevitable and desirable:

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Administrative And Political Government And The Constitution

Wilson’s article argues that administrative government is and ought to be separate from political government and that they are only connected when political officials set the tasks and broad goals for administrators to carry out and implement in detail:

Let me expand a little what I have said of the province of administration. Most important to be observed is the truth already so much and so fortunately insisted upon by our civil service reformers namely, that administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics. Administrative questions are not political questions. Although politics sets the tasks for administration, it should not be suffered to manipulate its offices.

Related to this distinction, Wilson’s article identifies a difference between constitutional and administrative questions, in which issues within the discretion of administration are separate from issues determined by constitutional principles:

There is another distinction which must be worked into all our conclusions, which, though but another side of that between administration and politics, is not quite so easy to keep sight of: I mean the distinction between constitutional and administrative questions, between those governmental adjustments which are essential to constitutional principle and those which are merely instrumental to the possibly changing purposes of a wisely adapting convenience.

Princeton University Study: Public Opinion Has Near

Study Guide for American National Government (2020

Professors Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page s study found that the number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.

One thing that does have an influence? Money.

While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a statistically non-significant impact, economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.

Nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip of corruption.

From taxation to national debt, education to the economy, America is struggling to address our most serious issues. Moneyed interests get what they want, and the rest of us pay the price.

They spend billions influencing Americas government. We give them trillions in return.

In the last 5 years alone, the 200 most politically active companies in the U.S. spent $5.8 billion influencing our government with lobbying and campaign contributions.Those same companies got $4.4 trillion in taxpayer support earning a return of 750 times their investment.

Its a vicious cycle of legalized corruption.

As the cost of winning elections explodes, politicians of both political parties become ever more dependent on the tiny slice of the population who can bankroll their campaigns.

In return for campaign donations, elected officials pass laws that are good for their mega-donors, and bad for the rest of us.

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What Are Four Reasons We Study Government

According to the University of Texas at Arlington, U.S. citizens study government to become informed voters, to understand their Constitutional rights, to know their responsibilities under the law and to think about how processes can be improved to benefit society. Students typically start learning about the government in elementary school.

In a democracy like the United States, all citizens have an equal right to participate in politics, and many do so by voting in elections. It is important for voters to be informed about the issues and candidates that affect their everyday lives. Learning about government provides a foundation for making informed choices in elections. Some forms of government dont give a voice to citizens. For instance, in a monarchy, power is held by one person. In an oligarchy, a small number of people govern.

The Study Of American Government

  • 1. Chapter 1Chapter 1The Study ofThe Study ofAmericanAmericanGovernmentGovernment
  • 2. Copyright © 2011 CengageCopyright © 2011 Cengage WHO GOVERNS?WHO GOVERNS?1. How is political power actually1. How is political power actuallydistributed in America?distributed in America?2. What explains major political change?2. What explains major political change? TO WHAT ENDS?TO WHAT ENDS?1. What value or values matter most in1. What value or values matter most inAmerican democracy?American democracy?2. Are trade-offs among political2. Are trade-offs among politicalpurposes inevitable?purposes inevitable?
  • 3. Copyright © 2011 CengageCopyright © 2011 CengageWhat Is Political Power?What Is Political Power? PowerPowerthe ability of one person tothe ability of one person toget another person to act inget another person to act inaccordance with the first personsaccordance with the first personsintentionsintentions AuthorityAuthoritythe right to use powerthe right to use power LegitimacyLegitimacypolitical authoritypolitical authorityconferred by law or by a state orconferred by law or by a state ornational constitutionnational constitution
  • 4. Copyright © 2011 CengageCopyright © 2011 Cengagep. 5
  • 7. Copyright © 2011 CengageCopyright © 2011 Cengage
  • 18. Your decision:Your decision:Favor ban?Favor ban?Oppose ban?Oppose ban?Copyright © 2011 CengageCopyright © 2011 CengageWHAT WOULD YOU DO?WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
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    Knowledge And Skills Required

    Questions on the American Government exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities in the approximate proportions indicated.

    • Knowledge of American government and politics
    • Understanding of typical patterns of political processes and behavior , and the principles used to explain or justify various governmental structures and procedures
    • Analysis and interpretation of simple data that are relevant to American government and politics

    The subject matter of the American Government exam is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

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    Why study US history, government, and civics? | US government and civics | Khan Academy

    As an academic field, American government encompasses not only the study of the systems, institutions, and policies of the United States government but also the political ideals and beliefs of the American people. The field falls within the broader discipline of political science, the study of government and power. Students and scholars of American government try to answer questions concerning the political culture, the distribution of power, decision-making processes, government policies, and laws, among other issues and behaviors. American government and political science often overlap with other social sciences, including economics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

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    Institutions And Policy Processes: Presidency Bureaucracy Congress And The Federal Courts

    • The major formal and informal institutional arrangements and powers
    • Structure, policy processes, and outputs
    • Relationships among these three institutions and links between them and political parties, interest groups, the media, and public opinion
    • Structure and processes of the judicial system, with emphasis on the role and influence of the Supreme Court

    The Study Of Administration By Woodrow Wilson

    Agency dynamics
    Click here for more coverage of the administrative state on Ballotpedia

    “The Study of Administration” is an article by American politician, academic, and university administrator Woodrow Wilson promoting the study of public administration in American universities and arguing for the implementation of administrative methods in American government. Wilson’s article examines the history and subject matter of the study of public administration and argues for a particular understanding of administrative government and particular methods for implementing it.


  • Political Science Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 2, June 1887
  • Abstract: In the introduction to his article, Wilson summarizes its purpose and contents, writing: “It is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy. … Before entering on that study, however, it is needful:
    I. To take some account of what others have done in the same line that is to say, of the history of the study.
    II. To ascertain just what is its subject-matter.
    III. To determine just what are the best methods by which to develop it, and the most clarifying political conceptions to carry with us into it.”
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    Improving Constitutional Democracy With Administrative Methods

    Wilson’s article argues that constitutional democracy must be improved by the implementation of administrative methods of government, and by the hiring of an educated, qualified civil service based on competitive examinations:

    If we are to put in new boilers and to mend the fires which drive our governmental machinery, we must not leave the old wheels and joints and valves and bands to creak and buzz and clatter on as best they may at bidding of the new force. We must put in new running parts wherever there is the least lack of strength or adjustment. It will be necessary to organize democracy by sending up to the competitive examinations for the civil service men definitely prepared for standing liberal tests as to technical knowledge. A technically schooled civil service will presently have become indispensable.

    Wilson’s article argues that the detailed study of public administration and the use of administrative methods are necessary for the government of a complex industrial society. He suggests that the United States study and apply administrative methods employed by other governments, including undemocratic ones:

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