UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Introduction to American Politics Political Science 130 Fall 2010
Instructor: Professor John DiIulio Course Administrator: Mr. Joshua Power
Mission: To help Penn undergraduates who actively participate in the course to learn considerably more than they already know about American politics and government; to encourage each student to become more analytical and discerning about the historical, constitutional, electoral, legislative, administrative, and other facets of the subject; and to try to stimulate within each student a life-long interest in how the U.S. political system works and how, if at all, it might be improved in ways that benefit Americans and the peoples of other nations.
Elections and Voting: In the fall semesters of 2004, 2006, and 2008, this course focused special attention on campaigns, elections, and voting behavior, featured guest speakers who discussed pre-election politics or post-election policymaking, and offered an extra credit option in conjunction with Penn Leads the Vote (PLTV). This fall’s installment will do the same
Required Purchases: Copies were ordered and should be available at the Penn Bookstore.
· The Federalist Papers, 1777-1778, by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay. Note: Any unabridged edition will do.
· James Q. Wilson et al, American Government: Institutions & Policies, 12th edition, Wadsworh-Cengage, 2011. Note: As a co-author of this book, the instructor donates all royalties earned on Penn student purchases to the Penn School of Arts and Sciences. All references to the “Wilson text” made in lecture, and all testing relating to the book, will be keyed to the 12th edition.
· Donald Green and Alan Gerber, Get Out the Vote: How to Increase Voter Turnout, 2nd Edition, Brookings, 2008. Note: All references to the “Green and Gerber book” made in lecture, and all testing related to the book, will be keyed to the 2nd edition.
· Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track, 2nd edition, Oxford, 2008. Note: All references to the “Mann and Ornstein book” made in lecture, and all testing related to the book, will be keyed to the 2nd edition.
· Alan Murray and Jeffrey Birnbaum, Showdown at Gucci Gulch: Lawyers, Lobbyists, and the Unlikely Triumph of Tax Reform, Vintage, 1988.
· Staff of The Washington Post, Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health-Care Law and What It Means for Us All, Public Affairs, 2010.
Grading: Final course grades are based on a curve set so that a B+ begins just below the median point total. The graded course components total 1,000 possible points:
· Recitation: Participation--220 points (11 recitations, 20 points per recitation) In addition, there are two Recitation Writing Assignments--80 points (see page 8 of this syllabus).
· In-class Midterm Examination: 150 points (half objective answer, half essay).
· Assigned Essay: 200 points (see page 6 of this syllabus).
· Final Examination: 350 points (cumulative; half objective answer, half essay). Note: The day and time of the final examination is determined by the registrar: students will not be excused except for documented (before or after the fact) medical emergencies or other documented reasons that constitute grounds for a make-up per the rules of the College.
· Extra Credit Options: All students in good standing (e.g., those with no unexcused absences from recitation) may opt to do an extra credit assignment. There are two types, and they are explained on pages 6 and 7 of this syllabus.
Klenias: Somehow or other, stranger, you are once again belittling our lawgivers.
Athenian: No! But if I am, I am not doing it intentionally…Let’s follow wherever the argument carries us, if you will.
--Plato, The Laws, Book II
· In this course, a recitation is intended to function mainly as a seminar-like learning environment in which students engage in a facilitated, informal but informed discussion concerning pre-assigned topics related to that week’s lecture and assigned readings (including any readings posted to Blackboard). In this course, recitations begin meeting during the second week of classes. A list of recitation topics and assignments appears on page 8 of this syllabus.
· Each student is required to register for one of over a dozen weekly recitations. Each recitation is led by a member of the course staff. Each staff member will take attendance at the start of each recitation. Students are required to attend the recitation to which they are registered, and recitation attendance is strictly required. Only documented (before or after the fact) medical emergencies or other documented reasons that constitute grounds for missing class per the rules of the College will be considered as meriting an excused absence: other courses or other course work, job interviews, extra-curricular activities, and sporting events are among the reasons that do not merit an excused absence.
· Any unexcused absence from recitation is automatically reported by the recitation leader to the instructor. The instructor emails the student on the day of the unexcused absence. If the student fails to respond by 6:00 p.m. on the day that the email from the instructor is sent, or if the student replies but offers an unsatisfactory explanation, the instructor sends a notice regarding the unexcused absence to the College Dean’s Office. Each unexcused absence results automatically in the loss of one-half of a letter grade charged against the student’s final course grade (e.g., with a single unexcused absence, a final course grade of A- becomes a final course grade of B+; with a second unexcused absence, the A- becomes a B; and so forth). Also, any unexcused absence that coincides with the due date of a recitation writing assignment results automatically in a zero for the assignment (i.e., there is no writing assignment make-up option).
· Lively discussion or debate among students is one hallmark of a good recitation. But “lively” gives no student license to be other than consistently courteous and civil in expressing whatever ideas, or debating whatever points, he or she wishes.
Electronic Gadgets in Lectures, Recitations, and Exams:
· Many students take lecture notes on PCs. That is fine. But the use of PCs during lectures should be limited to note-taking (not checking email, visiting whatever websites, playing games, or any other purpose), and the use of other electronic communications devices during lectures (whispering on cell phones, sending text messages, etc) is strictly prohibited.
· Recitations are settings where students need to actively listen to one another and take active part in a group discussion. No electronic devices of any type—cell phones, PCs, or other—may be used by students while in recitation.
· During exams, no electronic communications devices of any kind, with the exception of cell phones that have been turned off and remain turned off during the exam, are permitted in the room.
Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
· All Penn students are responsible for knowing and honoring the University’s published statements and policies regarding academic integrity and conduct. Although a mercifully rare occurrence, serious violations (including serious first and only violations) do occur. Once detected, disciplinary action, including action resulting in suspension or expulsion, could follow. For goodness sake, and for your own sake, please don’t cheat!
Topics and Assignments:
Note: Additional assignments and notice of guests will be posted on Blackboard.
**Denotes recitation writing assignment due in recitation (see page 8).
September 8/Week1: Course Overview and U.S. Constitutionalism
· Federalist, Nos. 1 and 10
· Wilson, chapters 1 and 2
September 15/Week 2: Federalists v. Anti-Federalists
· The U.S. Constitution and Amendments (in Wilson)
· Federalist, Nos. 1, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15, 21, 37, 38, 39, 44, 45, 46, 51, 84, and 85
· Wilson, chapter 3
September 22/Week 3**: Federalism and Proxy Government
· Federalist, Nos. 10, 39, 44, 45, and 46
· Wilson, chapter 15
September 29/Week 4: American Political Culture
· Federalist, Nos. 1, 10, and 51
· Wilson, chapter 4
October 6/Week 5: Non-Governmental Political Institutions
· Federalist, No. 10
· Wilson, chapter 7 , chapter 9, chapter 11, and chapter 12
October 13/Week 6: (Wednesday Recitations do not meet this week)
· In-Class Midterm Examination
October 20/Week 7**: Political Participation and Voting
· Wilson, chapter 8
· Green and Gerber, entire
October 27/Week 8: Campaigns and Elections: Who Will GOTV Next Tuesday?
· Wilson, chapter 10
November 3/Week 9: Post-Election Panel: The 112th Congress and You!
· Get started on reading for November 10 and November 17
November 10 and November 17/Weeks 10 and 11: Congress—First & “Broken” Branch?
· U.S. Constitution, Article I (in Wilson)
· Federalist, Nos. 10, 47 through 57, and 62 through 66
· Wilson, chapter 13
· Birnbaum and Murray, entire
· Mann and Ornstein, entire
November 24/Week 12: Presidents, the Presidency and the Policy Process
· U.S. Constitution, Article II (in Wilson)
· Federalist, Nos. 67 through 77
· Wilson, chapter 14, chapter 17, chapter 18, chapter 19, and chapter 20
· Staff of Washington Post, entire
December 1/Week 13: The Federal Judiciary
· U.S. Constitution, Article III (in Wilson)
· Federalist, Nos. 78 through 83
· Wilson, chapter 16
· Assigned Essay is Due in Lecture
December 8/Week 14: Constitutional Rights and Liberties: Madison on Bourbon Street!
· U.S. Constitution, Amendments (in Wilson)
· Federalist, No. 10
· Wilson, chapter 5, chapter 6, and chapter 22
In a lecture on Congress, the instructor outlined several “coalition strategies” that congressional leaders use to foster the conditions under which “general interest legislation” is produced. The twenty-four-year-old case of “The Tax Reform Bill of 1986” has been widely interpreted to be a case of such legislation. The recent case of “The Patient Care and Affordable Protection Act” is considered by some to be another case of such legislation. With Showdown at Gucci Gulch as your guide to the former case, and with Landmark as your guide to the latter case, what “coalition strategies” figured in each case? What role did the president play in each case? How, if at all, did other institutions—interest groups, the media, and the political parties—matter to the final legislative outcome in each case? Taken together, do the two cases bolster or undermine the main arguments about Congress to be found in The Broken Branch? Finally, with respect to “curing the mischiefs of faction” and the constitutional system’s capacity to “counteract ambition,” would a true believer in the arguments made in Federalist Papers No. 10 and Nos. 47 through 51 be more correct in celebrating the two cases or in lamenting them?
The essay is due in hard copy form to the instructor at the start of lecture on December 1. No extensions. The essay must be between 2,000 and 2,500 words. An accurate word count must be listed on the first page of the essay. In addition, the name of the student’s recitation leader, and the day and time of the student’s recitation, must appear below the word count. All pages must be numbered. Any essay that does not reflect these instructions will be reported by recitation leaders and penalized by an amount to be determined by the instructor. Recitation leaders are permitted, within limits, and during office hours (not during recitations), to entertain questions about the assignment, guide students in interpreting the relevant books, and comment on and correct partial drafts. But they may do so only within limits that stop far short of structuring, arguing, or writing the essay for the student.
Extra Credit Options:
There are two extra credit options for students in good standing (e.g., no unexcused absences from recitation).
Each option, if successfully completed, adds half of a letter grade to the student’s final grade for the course. Thus, for example, a student who completes the course with the median point total would receive a B+ (see page 2 above); but, if that same student successfully completed one or the other extra credit option, then he or she would receive a final course grade of A-.
No student may do both extra credit options.
1. Penn Leads the Vote (PLTV) 2010: Begun in 2004, PLTV is a nonpartisan undergraduate organization that has had a huge hand in registering Penn undergraduates to vote, tripling on-campus turnout in recent midterm elections, and driving turnout among registered Penn undergraduates to 89.6% in the 2008 election. PLTV was inspired by former Fox Program Fellow Jane Eisner’s book Take Back the Vote, and by the first edition of the Green and Gerber book Get Out the Vote (see page 1 above). The present PLTV leadership is a five-student committee. With support from the Fox Program, the President’s Office, the Office of Government and Community Affairs, and other Penn units, these student-leaders will be mobilizing and effecting training for about 30 poll workers, 30 poll watchers, and 10 other pre-election and Election Day workers. Students enrolled in Political Science 130 who wish to participate in this PLTV 2010 mini-service-learning opportunity will be invited to attend a meeting sponsored by the PLTV student committee. The date, time, and location of that meeting will be announced by the instructor during the first lecture. Students who wish to be considered must attend that PLTV meeting, no exceptions. Interested students who attend the PLTV meeting will there be given detailed information and forms to fill out. The maximum number of applicants that will be accepted is 75. If more than 75 students apply, PLTV, supervised for the purpose by the Executive Director of the Fox Program, will select the 75 students purely by lottery, giving each applicant an equal chance. A week after Election Day, the instructor will receive from the PLTV committee chairperson and the Executive Director of the Fox Program a list of all Political Science 130 students who they vouch for as having successfully completed all aspects of the PLTV work required of them. Governed strictly and solely by that notice, the instructor will give each student on the list extra credit, and all students on the list will be so notified by the instructor via email.
2. Extra Credit Essay: David J. Samuels and Matthew S. Shugart, Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers: How the Separation of Powers Affects Party Organization and Behavior (Cambridge, 2010). Write an essay that describes, analyzes, and evaluates what Samuels and Shugart argue in this book, drawing where appropriate on material from especially relevant lectures and readings. Students who wish to pursue this extra credit option must obtain a copy of the book (note: the course administrator has six copies that can be borrowed starting October 20 on a day-loan basis) and write the essay independently. Unlike with the assigned essay for the course (see page 6), neither the instructor nor the recitation leaders will entertain questions about the extra credit essay, nor assist students in interpreting the book, nor comment on or correct early drafts. The essay must be between 2,000 and 2,500 words. An accurate word count must be listed on the first page of the essay. All pages must be numbered. The essay is due in hard copy form to the recitation leader at the start of the final lecture on December 8. No extensions. If the essay is of A- or better quality, then the student will receive extra credit, and the instructor will so notify the student via email by or before December 15.
Recitation Focus Questions:
Week 1: Recitations in this course do not meet.
Week 2: Do you think Madison is right about human nature, and do you belong to “factions”?
Week 3: Is “proxy government” good for America, and, regardless, can it be eliminated?
Week 4: Do most Americans value “liberty” or “equality” most—and what about you?
Week 5: Rank “nongovernmental institutions” by your take on how much each contributes to producing “good government” in America today: which is your #1?
Week 6: In what, if any, respect is voting in a national election an “irrational” act—and why do you think people by the millions bother?
Week 7: Should social pressure be used to get people to vote—and would it work?
Week 8: A campaign finance reform curmudgeon once quipped that “the only way to rid national elections of big money is to rid Washington of big government—never happen!” Do you agree?
Week 9: How will we know if the 112th Congress has more or fewer “proper guardians of the public weal” than the 111th Congress did?
Week 10: Do you think Congress legislates too much, too little, or just enough?
Week 11: What “general interest legislation” would you most like to see become federal law, and what public agenda-setting or “coalition strategies” do you think could help make it happen?
Week 12: Love it, loathe it, or lukewarm toward it, would the “policy process” that produced the 2010 federal health reform make “Publius” proud , and why or why not?
Week 13: In your view, should federal judges “find law” or “make law,” and when, if ever, is “judicial activism” justified? (Decide before you get on the federal bench!)
Week 14: Recitations in this course do not meet.
Recitation Writing Assignments: Hard copy submitted in recitation to recitation leader.
Week 3 (30 points): 500-600 word essay in response to the question “Is proxy government good for America, and, regardless, can it be eliminated?”
Week 7 (50 points): 750-850 word essay in response to the question “Should social pressure be used to get people to vote—and would it work?”