Define power and discuss why you believe it is important in politics
One of the fundamental pillars of any society is the need for authority to ensure harmony and the respect for the law. This authority is usually contained in a constitution, written or unwritten, and the authority is vested upon certain institutions that exercise it. These institutions are run by individuals elected or appointed who exercise power as vested upon them and doing so within the confines of the law as mandated in the constitution. It is possible therefore to take power to imply the ability to influence the actions of others. Power in this case must not be taken to be only political since as the above definition shows, any body wielding influence over the lives of other have some degree of power. The importance of political power gains its vast importance from the basis that its influence impacts society at large and all other powers must be exercised within the framework and in subordination of political authority (Janoski et al, 2001).
The amount of political power ranges from one country to another depending on several factors. Such factors might be historical, economical or derived from the school of thought that influenced the future of those nations. In this regard it is to be said that democratic countries have more devolved power structures since leaders are elected by the people and the constitution of these countries reflects greatly on the wishes of the people. Communist countries on the other hand are characterized by a vast government influence over the lives of the people and the citizens wishes are not reflected in the power structures of their country. However, a last and dangerous form of governance is dictatorship whereby a group of people seize power by unlawful means and suspend the power of the populous constitution and subject such a country to tyranny, oppression and intimidation. In such a setting the people are forced to abide by the rules of the tyrant since failure to do leads to retribution since the mechanisms of state are converted to be tools of death as the dictator exerts his will over an entire population. Nonetheless, political influence of one country on others depends mainly on the economical and military might of that country as compared to the rest.
In democracies like The United States, political power is usually vested in three arms of government: the legislature, judiciary and the executive. The legislature is that organ of government charged with the responsibility of enacting legislations for the purpose of improving the country and the lives of the people (English, 2003).
The judiciary is that arm of government mandated with the responsibility of administering justice to the country. The executive has power to govern the country and this power is vested in a head of sate who is mandated by the constitution to provide services, offer leadership to the country and protect the country for attacks.
English, R. (2003). The United States Congress. Manchester University press.
Janoski et al. (2001). The Handbook Of Political Sociology, States, Civil Societies, And Globalization. Cambridge University Press.
Select a conflict theory and discuss why it is or is not germane to politics in the U.S. today.
There has always been the belief that all men are born equal yet that truth has proved to be elusive as one grows up and realizes that life is filled with inequalities.
Karl Marx believed that capitalism breeds inequality which leads to the emergence of two classes of people, those who own properties and those who do not. He therefore believed that so long as this continues then the property owners will always exploit the efforts of the other to enrich themselves while offering the workers disproportional wages. Max felt that this will lead in class struggles and that a violent revolution was necessary and imminent in order to correct the inequality. However, Marx’s conflict theory was too simplistic and this led Weber to add on it and in so developed his social stratification conflict theory. Weber felt that Marx’s claim that a revolution was inevitable as long as inequality between classes exist as fallacious, for he saw that the possibility existed if only a relation could be shown to exist between the cause of the inequality and the consequence of the same (Giddens & Griffiths, 2006).
Weber introduced a different element into the conflict theory and saw it fit to consider the impact of the difference in the consumption powers of individuals, an element he considered as status. S5taus groups according to Weber are based on the perception of being able to live in a certain lifestyles and the need to b accorder certain honors. This forms a certain social barrier limiting interactions with those perceived to be of inferior status. According to Weber owners of property and those without may belong in similar status since status might have been acquired by other means over a long period of time. Weber disagrees with Marx on the issue of power whereby Marx felt that those who were wealthy and of the upper class automatically assumed power and the lower class had to abide by the wishes of the wealthy. However, Weber feels that power is not always directly associated with wealth and gives examples of leaders of large companies who though just employees exercise immense power over their companies and society at large. He further felt that people do not always seek power to accumulate wealth but rather for the sake of wanting to empower and improve society. The American society therefore does not conform to Marx’s view since it gives a chance to those with a vision even if they not belong to a class perceived to be superior or wealthier than others (Woodward, 2004).
Giddens, A. & Griffiths, S. Sociology. Cambridge: Polity publishers.
Woodward, K. (2004). Questioning identity. New York: Routledge.
Define culture and then discuss at least three forms culture takes in society.
Another issue that is important in the interaction of individuals in society is culture. It might be taken to be a set of ideals or behavior that is taken to rep[rent a certain group. In this regard it is not specified what type of a group it is and this might be taken to mean that any group that has been recognized to offer some of contribution to society might have certain ideals that might be considered its culture. Usually, cultural beliefs and practices have been passed from generation to generation and have governed how society members behave and guidelines their interaction with each other. In this respect, while some issues may not be legally prohibited, people might shy from them since their culture frowns upon them (Storey, 2006). This includes immorality and respect for your elders. However, the United States is a blend of many cultures since the original natives of America were the red Indians and therefore the settlers brought with them their unique cultures. However, with time this cultures have blended and eroded traditional cultures leading to what might be considered an American culture.
There are various fronts that can be considered to have a unique American culture. Americans have developed a strong sports culture that enables Americans of all races to come together and represent their country and teams. Americans usually support their teams in large numbers raising huge revenues to their teams and allowing players to earn a lot of money. The country therefore has some of the competent players in all fields and the huge number of medals in they win in international events is a testament to these. The American populace also has a culture of literature that has seen several acclaimed writers in many fields. These means that the level of education in the nation is quite high translating to high book sales and encouraging writers to indulge in this art. Lastly, the music culture is important and has become a major industry in the country and artists have major influence over the lives of youngsters (McRobbie, 1994).
McRobbie, A. (1994). Postmodernism and popular culture. Routledge publisher.
Storey, J. (2006). Cultural theory and popular culture. University of Georgia Press.
Describe the patriarchal state and discuss whether you think the concept is correct or not.
A patriarchal state is the kind of state that seeks to undermine women and give men better chances for business and political leadership. In such society men are dominant over women not only under the family set up but also on all other areas of life. In some states, women are not only barred from holding top positions but are also barred from voting meaning they are taken to be second rate citizens. In developed and democratic countries like the U S women are accorded similar rights as their male counter parts. However, in developing countries women have failed to reach higher positions since their male counter parts do not accord them those chances (Palokangas & Lehmijoks, 2004).
This was not always so since such rights were attained after strong advocacy by feminist movements. However, there still remains a force that seeks to bar women from achieving strong positions in various organizations a condition that have called to be known as the glass ceiling. It is wrong for any one to treat women differently than their male counter parts since history has shown that they are able to do what men can do and effort must be made to break down such forces (Penny, 2009). Among women who have achieved higher positions include Margaret Thatcher, Glaser Matchel, Gloria Aroyo and Hilary Clinton. The former, a former first lady has had distinguished carrier in law and has contributed greatly to laws especially that empower women and children.
Palokangas, T. & Lehmijoks, U. (2004). Political Instability, Gender Discrimination and population growth in developing countries. http://22.214.171.124/searchq=cache:VXoWZmhCTPMJ:ethesis.helsinki.fi/julkaisut/val/kansa/disc/609/politica.pdf+female+discrimination+in+developing+couintries.&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ke&client=firefox
Penny, L. (2009). Liberal conspiracy:Men, feminism and the patriarchal contry. Retrieved May 30, 2009 from http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/04/18/men-feminism-and-the-patriarchal-con/.
Discuss the political construction of race, specifically in the form of census categories
The issue of race has always been important especially in a country with the most diverse population in the entire world. In this regard it is important to understand the racial structures of the country in a bid to understand what it implies to the nation. The country has a large white population compared to the rest of the population. The second largest population is African Americans followed by Latino’s and Asians. African Americans make up a significant proportion of the total population of the American society. The history of black American’s is full of struggle and suffering and their present status an indication of their determination to acquire equity and equality in the society they call home. However, while a significant number of African American’s
in the society enjoys relative success, historical injustices still hampers equitable acquisition of wealth by this minority group putting them at a disadvantage against their white counterparts. Therefore, African Americans are faced with immense challenges leading to unemployment, poverty, political under representation and lack of sufficient access to higher education.
The origin of African Americans in society can be traced to slavery of black Africans brought to work in colonial plantations by the British colonialists. However, poverty was brought to an end by Abraham Lincoln during the American civil war and these former slaves became free to live as free citizens in the American society. However, that freedom was just the beginning of a long battle for their individual and collective rights in order to be recognized as equals and to be accorded similar opportunities with their white counterparts (Shapiro, 2004). Black communities were discriminated upon which led to racial segregation, no voting rights and violence upon the black people. Such atrocities led to the civil protest by human rights activists that secured voting rights for them and the end of segregation in America. Other laws were also enacted to ensure that there was fair treatment in all opportunities regarding employment, education and political leadership. This has seen African Americans acquire wealth and secure employment and therefore live comfortable lives (Johnson, 2006).
In the political arena, we have the first black president and the republicans have a black head. However, black people still have a long way to go since there is high crime rates, drug abuse, unplanned pregnancies, low access to health care and high prevalence of HIV among others (Gilbert, 2008).The other minority races are immigrants or children born of immigrants and therefore face the same challenges. Black people and other minority groups usually vote together as a block, usually for democratic candidates since they want a government that will do more to improve their lives.
Gilbert, G. (2008). Rich and Poor in America. abc-clio publishers.
Shapiro, T. (2004). The Hidden Cost of Being African American. Oxford university press.
Johnson, H. (2006). The American Dream and the Power of Wealth. crc press.
Discuss the ties between money and voting. What do you think the impact is on voter participation?
Traditionally major political posts were reserved for those with deep pockets since campaigns are costly. The cost of staging a serious election campaign is no easy task and voter’s minds are usually influenced by several campaigns on certain issues. Buying advertisement space and t v coverage of certain issues is expensive especially in the light that you have other competitors. Furthermore if you can afford adequate coverage you are able to appeal to the masses to turn up and vote or you and thereby increase voter turn out increasing your chance of winning the election.
Furthermore, issues relating to monetary policies are sensitive with voters and the one’s stand on these issues might determine the amount of support one will get in the election. This will also include issues pertaining to funding of important projects that directly affect the lives of ordinary citizens (Symposium Series report., 2001). In this regard, various classes of people will vote depending on how the candidates policies affects their income and general quality of life.
Symposium Series report. (2001). UVA center for government studies:Voting process. Retrieved May 30, 2009 from http://www.centerforpolitics.org/reform/report_voting.htm.
Discuss the linkage between public opinion and policy and how does it play out in American politics today?
Policies are usually made by the executive or the legislator. Nonetheless, it is important for the government to consider public opinions while considering which path to take since going against popular feeling might lead to political consequences. Usually, politicians have exploited public feelings about a certain issue to push through decisions that would have otherwise being viewed as being unfavorable (Erikson et all, 1993). A good example is the war on terrorism that saw the Bush administration exploit public anger to seek more powers from congress in order to deal with the problem of terrorism. This has led to an abuse on the privacy law leading to unlawful; surveillance of American citizens.
Furthermore, the Bush administration went to war with huge public support but bad results saw the waning of such support and Obama promising to pull out the troops. In this regard it is clear that most policies must be passed by first winning public support for them. Furthermore the American government is bowing to public pressure to invest in renewable energy and cut back on gas emission and the Obama administration is investing greatly in the same. It is important therefore that people keep on adding pressure on the government to do more to safeguard their future (Obama, 2008).
Erikson, et al. (1993). Statehouse democracy. New york: Cambridge University press.
Obama, B. (2008). Renewable Energy’s Plan. Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://greennotmean.today.com/2008/11/11/president-elect-barack-obamas-renewable-energy-plans/.
Discuss nationalism in the world today and whether it is an aspect of terrorism today.
Nationalism is that ideology that focuses on the state much more than the people. It is a movement that seeks to reduce international interference on the domestic affairs of a country. There are many factors that limit the growth of nationalism .The most dominant however is globalization. It advocates for an end to isolation and such principles and therefore a reduction in various barriers to international trade. Probably the biggest cause of the reemergence of nationalism was colonialism that saw countries placed under colonial rule and their people put under foreign rule. This was a time whereby resources were used to enrich theses foreign powers while leaving the natives impoverished. With the end of colonialism, foreign powers continue to exert their influence over these countries through international institutions, diplomatic officials and multi national companies (Harper, 2008). Furthermore, the existence of international institutions that has some measure of influence over the affairs of individual state make it possible to wade of external influence.
These factors cause some people to feel as if the sovereign authority is under threat and usually result to various forms in a bid to reduce that influence. There are some who feel that since as a group they are oppressed and discriminated upon and therefore raise arms to fight for their independence form their country. These rebels commit murder and rape and kill innocent victims leading to mass murder and genocide. There are those who wage war on foreign nations and thereby the growth of terrorism (Nairn, 1997). However, it is my believe that these are criminals and their acts have nothing to with patriotism.
Harper, A. (2008). Developed Nations Exploit Caribbean Economies. Retrieved May 31, 2009 from http://www.da-academy.org/exploit.html.
Nairn, T. (1997). Faces of nationalism. Verso publishers.
Describe the effect of organized interest groups on politics
Over time, most legislation that has shaped the way society treats its members have been shaped by agitation from different interest groups. These groups continue to work as lobby groups continuously fighting for the formulation of laws to improve the lives of the people they represent (Baumgartner, Beth, 1998). The fight against racism and segregation was fight because of several human rights group that used demonstrations and civil disobedience to pass across their message. These groups led by Martin Luther in the 60’s were able to mobilize masses who in turn showed their defiance even while being persecuted and heralded a new era in the American society.
Women have acquired their rights due to several feminine movements that have worked tirelessly to bring equality to our society. There are many such interest groups depending on different professions or area of interest and their effort to improve their individual sectors is commendable. These groups offer leadership and together with law makers formulate regulations that benefit all and aid growth (Grossman, 2002). Interest groups are well organized and consist of experienced professionals and since most of them are respected members of society, their input on various fields is taken under consideration. Members of public can therefore have some of their ideas incorporated in the law making process by using interest groups to lobby for those changes.
Baumgartner F. & Leech, B. (1998). Basic interests. Princeton university press.
Grossman, G. & Helpman, E. (2002). Special Interest Politics. MIT publishers.
Discuss what you believe is the effect(s) of the media on politics in America
The media is a fundamental part of any free society. The media serves several purposes in society among the entertainment, advertisement and fore most availing news to the public about the happenings around them. The media serves as an important tool in the political process of any country. First, the media allows leaders in any society to communicate effectively with their constituents. They are able to explain the stand on different matters allowing people to formulate their opinions on the same. The media then allows the leaders to understand the response of their constituents to these issues by interviewing the public and airing these views. Unpopular thoughts are therefore shelved while the needs of the people are addressed accordingly by being given priority.
According to Kuypers (2002) the media has been accused of bias in the last election a tribute to the vast influence the media has over the outcome of elections. In that election they were accused of providing more air play to Obama while refusing to accord McCain that same treatment.. Therefore, the media can influence how people view a candidate by choosing to either build his personality or break it in regard to the positive or negative airplay accorded him. More coverage for a candidate can imply popularity influencing more people to vote for that candidate while les coverage could depict just the opposite.
The media, especially new media has also shaped the way candidates reach out to new voters and also how they raise their funds. The internet has become the most important avenue to register voters and interactive sites have helped candidates interact with their supporters using social networking sites like face book and twitters. This allows them to reach out to the young voters who make up the majority of the population by identifying their issues and engaging them in a bid to make them feel appreciated.. Moreover, the internet has provided a new and innovative tool to raise funds from small donors and due to the wide access of the internet, the candidate is able to raise immense campaign funds from these traditionally ignored groups (Axford & Huggins 2001).
Axford, B. & Huggins, R. (2001). New media and politics. Sage publisher.
Kuypers, J. (2002). Press bias and politics. Green wood publishing group.