Introduction to American Government
Assignment #1, Constitutional Scavenger Hunt
is intended to encourage you to read the Constitution very closely. Answer
all the questions, print out your answers, and bring them to class.Make sure
you cite the article and section of the Constitution where you found the answer.
Where must bills for raising revenue originate?
Of the enumerated powers granted to Congress in Article I, Section 8, how
many would you classify as economic/commercial (think designed to promote
or faciliate trade or business), political, military, or other?
The original Constitution explicitly mentions only 1 “Right”. What
What is the constitutional criteria for removing a president from office?
Does the Constitution give the Supreme Court the power of judicial review?
What do Article I, Section 10, Article VI and Amendment X state about the
relationship of the federal government and the states?
How is the president chosen? How are electors chosen?
The original Constitution addresses slavery in three specific sections,
how they count for purpose of representation, the importation of slaves,
and the return of escaped slaves. What did the Constitution say about each of these issues? What
are the exact words the Constitution uses to identify slaves in each of
these sections (This is trickier than it sounds since the words “slaves”
and “slavery” are not mentioned in the constitution.)
What does the Constitution or any of its amendments say about income taxes?
Can a person who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United
States be elected as a Senator or Representative in Congress or hold any
office in the federal or state government? How is such a disability removed? Any
ideas why Congress passed this amendment?
Which groups or individuals have gained the right to vote via an amendment
to the Constitution? Cite the specific group,
amendment, and year it passed.
- The Constitution establishes three supermajority requirements when a vote of more than a simple majority of Congress is required for a particular action to happen. What are they? Where in the Constitution is the Filibuster rule?
- What section of the Constitution states that “all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness?
In reading the Constitution, was there anything you came across that you
did not know about before?
Assignment #2, What Makes Us Americans?
Unlike many other countries, being American is a state of mind than of
genetic origins. Is it our common political beliefs or common political awareness
of our history? This assignment is designed to see if you can become an American
citizen. Here is the official
process by which individuals can become American citizens. Individuals
who wish to become American citizens have pass an oral test to demonstrate
their knowledge of United States History and the structure of our government
and an understanding of the English language.
Can you read the sentences
to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and take a couple versions of
their Sample Tests. You can either take the old test here
or the new test as of Oct 1, 2008 here.
Try to answer the questions without "cheating"- i.e. looking at
the answers below the questions.
How did you do?
2. Do you think these questions a good way to measure “American-ness”?
3. How would most citizens fare on these exams.
Assignment #3 Congress as a Representative Institution
Electoral Connection”, David Mayhew offers a pretty specific set of
guidelines to incumbent members of Congress on how to ensure their reelection
(advertising, credit claiming, and position taking).The question is, do representatives
actually do these things?
To find out, I want you to go to the House of Representatives web site http://www.house.gov/ and click on members’
office.This will list all the representatives by name. Clicking on a
name takes you to the representatives’ web page.Different representatives
will have very different web pages, but look around for instances of advertising,
credit claiming, and position taking. Good places to look are the press gallery
or press release section, constituents pages, photo gallery, constituent services.
I think you will find it pretty fun and interesting.
In your response paper,
1. Choose two representatives from different parties and different
parts of the country and compare their web pages.
2. Does each representative engage in advertising, credit claiming,
and position taking? Provide examples of each.
3. Can you tell what party the representative is from based on their
4. What is your impression of each representative from the web page?
What comes first, their district or public policy?
Web Assignment #4, The
President in Action
does the president’s presentation of self compare with the individual
members’ of Congress on their web pages. What
would Greenstein say about W's presentation of self?
- Next go to the press releases and briefings
in the briefing room, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/briefings/ What
issues is the president or his assistants talking about? What
does this page suggest about the importance of the media to the modern day
go the Your Government section, http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/,
and look at the Executive Office of the President section. Check out
the various offices, especially the Office of Management and Budget. The
two areas to examine within OMB are the:
- Statements of Administration Policy (on
lower right part of web page)
of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Regulatory Matters.
--what do these two pages suggestion
about the imperial presidency?
4. Email the Administration.
White House Web Mail