TVHS AP U.S. Gov and Politics

Constitutional Heat: A Proposal for the National Constitution Center (Philadelphia, PA)

DESIGN THINKING... task: prepare a proposal for the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.  This involves the creation of an interactive exhibit, perhaps 'real-time,' in which the subject of Constitutional Controversy or "heat" could be measured (historical-- measuring change over time).  It's your chance to think creatively and practically and create something that people would enjoy looking at

*** 10 Questions/Places of Contention & Measuring Constitutional Heat-- can we do it?  how?  (inquiry meets quantitative analysis!!)  -- what to measure?  where's the math...

--a proposal for the National Constitution Center...-- mail it (bonus). 

                                                                                                                  -- 35 points

(hand out:Federalism's Ups and Downs'-- what's the article missing?)

U.S. v Lopez (a case study...); reading (G. Will)-- poetry slam??

The Six Big Ideas...

The Six Big Ideas are:
  • limited government.
  • republicanism.
  • checks and balances.
  • federalism.
  • separation of powers.
  • popular sovereignty.
Your task is to take these six big ideas and DO SOMETHING with them.   Butcher Paper (6): dueling quotes; movies/TV/music/popular culture; cartoon, humor, meme; court case/case study; a change, proposal, question; art...
20 points-- final efforts will be hung by string in a random city park :) 

Week Two Debate (The Constitution: Was it a Mistake?; Brutus I and the Anti-Feds vs. the writers of the Federalist Papters) - 20 pts

Each side will offer an introduction and a conclusion (90-ish seconds in length)        

Each side will address the following six topics (plus three wild card topics): size and regional difference, state sovereignty, Congressional authority (Elastic Clause), Executive authority (predisposed to tyranny), the Amendment process (adequate safeguard?), and the Judiciary/Courts (too weak, concerns?)...

Each answer must reference the require documents-- Fed 10, 51, and 78 and Brutus I

The panel of three will decide a winner based on a 'Match Play' format (intro, each question, and conclusion-- (11 opportunities) 


2019-20 Syllabus

AP Government and Politics

Course Syllabus/Cover Sheet


        The game of politics-- do you love it, hate it?  Either way, we have the opportunity to be learning AP Government in the midst of one of the most unusual, remarkable (?) presidential elections in American history-- bring on the mid-terms. With the book closed on the highs and lows associated with the Obama and W. Bush years, our country is deeply divided by an intense partisan fault line.  The 2016 election between Clinton and Trump featured highest negatives for each candidate in history.  Trump's victory now serves as the back-drop for on-going policy fights (i.e. - health care, immigration and the like) and those eternal questions about the size and role of government.  Whichever 'team' you root for, vote for, it's been a decade of political volatility-- both parties enjoying inertia, advantage... then seeing it slip away. I've always loved competition (athletics, etc) and the dynamic nature of politics, and our current hyper-partisanship and dysfunction, is a by-product.  The age-old ideological tug-of-war should allow us to better connect with and understand structure and governmental institutions (as the College Board requires come May).  Yes, it's a fascinating time to be looking at and learning the realities of American politics.  With each unit, we will consider many questions and angles and, hopefully, become more analytic.  Government and politics is complex.  It can be messy.  But, by the end of the semester you should have a better sense of the operational aspects of government and politics in the United States.  If not, blame your instructor, better yet, blame yourselves.  And, oh, by the way, this is Year One of the "new course design..."

        The U.S. Constitution (structure: federalism/separation of power) will serve as the lens by which we consider many a question: Who can pray in a high school locker room?  Can government restrict the sale of handguns in any way?  Can police shift through someone’s garbage?  Can/should government track my phone calls, e-mail, and/or purchases?  Is the death penalty cruel and unusual?  (… and so on).  Obviously, the courts, states, and individual citizens may view things differently (see gay marriage or the abortion debate).  These questions are all outgrowths of the structure of our government, its many institutions, and, of course, history. Discussing these questions and exploring what scholars (and the pundit class) consider the strengths and weaknesses of our system should prove fun.

       The College Board does not care how you vote (it's a non-partisan curriculum and test), just that you understand the structure of our government and how the political process works.  The Course Description book is available on-line and you should skim-and-scan it.  The exam (the morning of ...) will consist of 55 multiple choice questions and four topical, free response questions.  All of what we do, will be focused in the direction of doing well on the test.  **Because this is a semester class, review sessions next spring will be a mustAlso, visit the Collegeboard's AP U.S. Government and Politics student page-- it will help.


        I assume all of you are familiar with the various do’s and don’ts of classroom behavior.  I’ll expect the same. Remember, it’s your ability to speak freely and listen to one another that will greatly determine the effectiveness of the class.  Ask good questions, have fun, help each other forward.  A few expectations:

* Be on time (tardies will eat your daily work and participation grade)-- “the cottage” is no excuse. 

* Be prepared (for class) and work hard (in and out of class)-- you will be required to have a notebook and 3-ring for this class.  The notebook will house notes and serve as a valuable review tool.  The notebook may be collected and checked sometime during the semester.

* Don’t talk when someone else has the floor—it’s rude!!  (listening is a skill, one that's evaporating...).  Phones are becoming an addiction.  We will you them at times, but don't let them distract.  I'll have mine put away.


*This is an AP course, so don’t make me quote one of my favorite high school social studies teachers, who was fond of saying, “Damn it, young people, you don’t read!”

We will travel fast, so pocket good habits and establish the necessary windows of time in which to study; make studying fun; and keep up—  (I recommend the Cornell Method for your notes-- summary, questions, 4 or 5 interactions...).

Discipline yourself and others won’t have to.”   -- John Wooden

How the Course will be Taught

        The course will include the following: class discussion/debate, lecture, video clips, individual readings, small and large project efforts, group work and analysis, a paper or two, some personalized learning, and another method or two-- by any means necessary, really.  Hopefully, it will provide enough of a blend that we can stay fresh, energized and crush the test come May.

Subject Matter and Outline

I. Theory, Underpinnings, and the Constitution/Federalism 

II. Political Behavior

III. Congress and Public Policy

IV. the Executive Branch and the Bureaucracy 

V. The Judiciary/the Courts (Civil Rights and Civil Liberties)


Your grade will be based on a percentage generated from the total number of points.

 Points will be allocated in the following manner:

Tests – You will be given a test in conjunction with each unit, and all tests will be cumulative. The format will mirror that of the AP exam and you will grade them using the AP grading technique (rubric/scoring guidelines). In addition, you will take a full practice exam for a final (55 MC, 4 FRQ).

     -- Test corrections (every unit)... you can back-fill some points.

Writing Assignments – You will be expected to write in conjunction with this class—welcome and enjoy it.  The emphasis will be on clarity and succinctness, just like on the AP exam.

Special Projects – You will be completing a few projects—individually, in groups, and perhaps as a class.  Hopefully, these things will be enjoyable and won’t cause too much pain.  In any case, they will be best explained when the time comes.

Daily Work - Anything that’s completed in class or for class will factor into this grade.  Don’t expect too much in the way of daily homework (you won’t be busy-worked).  Everything else, especially the reading, should keep you plenty busy.  (I reserve the right to check notebooks).

The Reader – You will be compiling a “Reader.”  The Reader will be a collection of articles (two to three per unit) that speak to/relate to our units and topics.  I have an example on hand (it will help reinforce themes).  

Participation – This is the purely subjective portion of your grade. Much of what we do will involve dialogue and discussion, and I would like to see you all involved. Your contributions, effort and involvement relative to your personality is what I will attempt to measure.

        LATE WORK/EXTRA CREDIT – No late work will be accepted, unless it’s an excused absence.  Also, no extra credit, which is simply a clever way of saying “instead of credit” and it doesn't happen with any regularity in the college classroom.

        ADDITIONAL INFO: It's important that you work to develop a "news habit."  Read newspapers and magazine publications [Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, on-line sources (Real Clear Politics, 538, etc.)], follow a political program or two ("This Week," "Washington Week," NPR/Fox News, "the Daily Show," and the like), and talk politics with people.  Having your radar up will allow topics we're discussing in class to have added relevance and meaning, and can be used as examples when you construct your free responses.

        **Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.  I’ll update grades weekly on Infinite Campus.

-- optional summer assignment will be due after Labor Day weekend (??).

Semester Project-- required.

 Rubric (150 total points):

Presentation piece (25 pts): relating your effort w/ quick Q & A to classmates-- have you made a strong 'governmental' connection-- where would the test development committee find interest in your project?

Appeal/ 'wow' factor (25 pts): how was your project received by classmates? 

Creativity/Interest (25 pts): does it engage/capture the imagination?  Is there a direct, tangible 'governmental' connection/purpose?

Clarity (25 pts): is it well-organized/easy to follow and understand?

Accuracy/Reliability (20 pts): is the information good/can it be trusted?  [(cite) your source(s)]

Quality of Written Synopsis (20 pts): is it included/does it 'bring everything together'?

Methodology (10 pts): have you explained how you've gone about things?

Unit I - Cornell Note practice (Political Roots)

Democracy in Athens –

Rome and its Law of Nations  -

The Magna Carta

The Edict of Nantes

17th Century England –

Thomas Hobbes –

John Locke –

Montesquieu’s France –

Salutary neglect –

Thomas Paine and public opinion –

TJ (and notions of gov’t/democracy) –

Adams & Franklin (role, attitude,  etc.)–

George Washington (importance; and ability to sidestep power) –

Articles of Confederation (the structure and its FAILURES)–

Danny Shay’s impact/legacy –

James Madison (and the Fed Papers) –

The Great Compromise (and on-going post-Census redistricting battles…) -

Federalism (the intent of the Founders and debate today??) –

Alexander Hamilton (worthy of his place on the $10?) –

                     Issues today (chosen by tables): Gun Control, Budget (deficit/debt), Immigration, the President (stepping on norms/convention), Voting (electoral security, etc), Abortion/Women's Health 

Tenative Lesson Plans...



I - A balance between governmental power and individual rights has been a hallmark of American Political development.

II - The writing and ratification of the Constitution emerged from the debate about the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation and the debate over granting the federal government greater power formerly reserved to the States.   


LT: I (we) will understand that power is at the heart of Lasswell's definition of politics.  What's your strongest political memory, etc?  reflection as a departure point...; talkin' politics (competition!! --the dynamic, non-static quality of politics)-to-Lasswell's definition; website look (syllabus, etc.)-- pitch Real Clear Politics, 538, and the Center for Politics... books.

LT: I (we) will be introduced to the idea of the 'social contract' and why it's important to know.  sources of info: the late John McLaughlin-to- our current pundit class... the question of misinformation/propaganda; visit the Course Description book; handout/discuss the 'social contract'/Locke assignment (D of I, Constitution)-- due Mon; political roots (discussion-- who/what have we encountered?  in what context? -- significance??-- five-to-seven words (in class; homework)...; pratice multiple choice in Course Description Book-- (HW)

LT: I (we) will understand how the Constitution serves as the blueprint/framework for our government and is open to amendment/change.  political roots-to-Sabato's Constitutional Re-Write: What do we think of his 23?  (group deliberation)/quantitative analysis... (yours vs the class'); read the Constitution!!!  ('What did the Founders Intend?'-- a reading...)

LT: We will compare the Articles of Confederation (and their weakness) to the Constitution. Haiku summation (D of I (4), A of C (6), the Constitution (8)... w/ eye to the test.  Choosing up sides for a Debate "Was it the right choice?' (ratifying the constitution)...

LT: We will try to win the day with our understanding and arguments...  DEBATE DAY!! expressed v implied power-- solidify; sovereignty/(state sovereignty principle...later-to-Federalism); "If Men were Angels,...": Deliberative Discussion of Federalist #51 and Brutus #1

LT: We will practice our listening for understanding w/ an absolute fountain of knowledge in author, Joseph Ellis.  Joseph Ellis (video clip from CSPAN Nov '07)... w/ questions.  -----

LT: We will re-acquaint ourselves with the Constitution and appreciate its structural and institutional elements (the contentious points, the collisions of power, etc).  Page of info-to-1/2-page of quick reference...

LT: We will tap into a valuable resource and tool to help with understanding the course and its curriculum.  W: Register w/ AP Classroom-- Constitution work

We will read Time's article on the Constitution and see how historical and contemporary debates and questions might be reflected on the AP Exam.  Read: 'Does It Still Matter?' (7/4/11); discuss and review (test next time...) ---

LT: Appreciate Federalism via grand metaphor-- Blue and Red Robots.  Do you have a favorite Founder-- yes, no?  (cue 'Hamilton') FEDERALISM-- look at case studies-- what to do???; vclip-- the Bill of Rights and Federalism; Rock ... rounds 1 and 2!!  -- off to the lab

LT: We will use our own research to serve and a window into controversy and understanding money's place in the federalism equation-- advantage federal government...  discuss case studies-- semi-finals; fiscal federalism!!

LT: We will come to appreciate the arch of history as it relates to federalism...  watch 'the Bill of Rights and Federalism'; handout Barron-to-Gitlow (the Incorporation Doctrine/selective incorporation).

LT: We will use design thinking and high interest to focus on the fault lines of controversy created by the Constitution...  story: our Visit to Independence Hall (smile-- Liberty Bell photo)-- the Constitution;*** 10 Questions & Measuring Constitutional Heat-- can we do it?  how?  (inquiry meets quantitative analysis!!) --a proposal for the National Constitution Center...-- mail it. (hand out: 'Federalism's Ups and Downs'-- what's the article missing?)

LT: We will use a ghost of a test to understand federalism, then use the back half of the class to brainstorm for our 'design thinking' effort.  Practice test (an expired one)-- a look...;

LT: We will share our proposals and vote on a winner-- having fun, enjoying the material. 

LT: We will be working questions in AP Classroom.  Make sure everyone is enrolled, has access and is enjoying the resource... 

LT: We will explore questions, craft follow-ups, and allow curiosity to drive our learning.  QUESTION DAY: Looking at the 'Essential Questions' from the course curriculum... with butcher paper and markers!!  Poetry Slam (4 Haiku) for Monday...

LT: We will watch a video on the Constitution and use the 'Six Big Ideas' as a guide.  Peter Sagal's 'Constitution USA'; Six Big Ideas in the Constitution (the National Archives)-- define, importance/today? (homework), THE CONSTITUTION-- essential reference points (how well did we build it?).

-- Constitutional crisis??; poetry slam??  (4 rounds to win!!!) 

 review :)

W/Th: Unit I test 2: Constitutional Democracy and Federalism (a set of FRQ... buffet style :))



the political superquiz-- yes, no, maybe (reasonable, changes...??-- reword/refresh) 

process exam/essays-- poll questions (for Fri); Coffeehouse questions...

LD: video (political literacy and focus groups); notes on public opinion...

Lab Effort: Messaging-- Creating a Presidential Candidate Brochure-- research and start (hand poll questions-- to be asked over the weekend; need 10)

Oct 17th: House 51 Candidates (Q and A campaigns, elections, policy, etc...) 

tally poll; notes (media/media objectivity, etc); plotting effort-- spectrum, etc...

political parties (notes) v interest groups ('T chart' and two questions...); 'Vote 4 Me...' vs. notes (interest groups); AARP, NRA, NOW, NAACP, Sierra Club, Business Roundtable, AMA, etc; third parties (video link)

LD: 'Journeys w/ George'-- the 'Living Room Candidate' (homework...)

'ADM' on 'Frontline' (video clips); graphic organizers for the weekend 

brochure share and 'debate scorecard' creation...

the campaign process (strategy w/ Atwater, Morris, Rove, Plough)-- handicapping Citizens United and how it might look w/ an FRQ 

LD: FRQ scrum-- looking at 25 years-worth of FRQs

notes (the media); agenda setting/horserace coverage; self-selection/consolidation and the FCC (fairness doctrine??)-- Moyers; review/take-home exam...


CONGRESS/public policy (Unit III):  

"Congress" -- Ken Burns documentary; kick-off the unit... 

Congress v its bad rap... (something new???); policy effort...

LD: process exam; measuring Congressional effectiveness assignment-- a qualitative effort; legislative envy: a look at 'Prime Minister's Questions'

writing/choosing a bill to submit to Congress... "Be it resolved that..." 

day in the life, etc... working for constituents, w/ lobbyists/interest groups, w/in party structurestate and local activity/initiatives-- a better place to focus energy in a climate of division and partisan anger???; ...finish "Congress"

clip "Thank You for Smoking" (the congressional hearing...); notes (Congress); Dirksen Congressional Center and IU's Center for Congress (w/ ipads);notes (public policy); video  Environmental issues, Welfare Reform, Education as public policy-- NCLB and Race to the Top, the Affordable Care Act, (the ADA, Gun Control; Gramm/Rudman, the "Shutdown", 'fiscal cliff,' and sequestration-- budget calculus, etc.)

LD: 'Sorting Hat' review effort... -- swimming bills through the RAPBABIE/Iron Triangle sequence(s)... discuss, consider costs/benefits, etc...; the presidency (... topics for papers - pick Fri)

test: (collective, via our entire chamber)/chapters read!;  the Presidency KBAT-- job description; intro questions ('drafting' topics); video clip...


THE PRESIDENCY/the bureaucracy, foreign policy (??), economic policy (Unit IV): 

Welcome to the West Wing (a walking tour... video clip/CSPAN); notes (organization/structure of staff)

the Bureaucracy-- scorecard and critique (growth of, etc)-- w/ notes; assign one-pager (due after Thanksgiving Break)...; yes, no, maybe questions (ask a parent, too).

LD: Foreign Policy-- "the Fog of War"... (guest lecture - Robert McNamara)

Paris attacks/response(s)??; foreign policy-- terms and case studies/examples 

budget/economic policy (monetary v fiscal)-- counter-cyclical responses/stability; talking 'Presidential Leadership' w/ Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (test topics, etc); Thanksgiving practice exams, etc...

review: Presidential Power (Neustadt thesis and the Imperial Presidency) and 'Presidential Greatness'-- do we agree?? as review tool...  Watson-like supercomputer w/ actor-- would that be an answer???...

Character and the Presidency CSPAN w/ Brooks and White 

test (part I); next KBAT (the Judiciary, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties); questions/preparing for the BCS rankings...

test (part II); the justices...  

*** 'Saving Democracy: Two Legal Scholars Argue that the Political System we Cherish is Unlikely to Collapse but could be Chipped Away' The University of Chicago Magazine pp 24-29 (w/ follow-up, off-shoot questions)

the JUDICIARY, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties (Unit V): 

LD: Civil Rights v Civil Liberties (define the difference); PBS's "The Supreme Court"-- Marbury v Madison!!; Landmark cases (+ prior exam exercise!!);

Stephen Breyer as guest lecturer... (organization and structure)-- Judiciary (notes)

Civil Liberties (the BCS rankings)-- the Bill of Rights baby!! (...revisiting selective incorporation)-- notes!

Civil Rights-- "Eyes on the Prize" (clips)-to-Eye on the Exam... (***14th Amendment; 24th Amendment)-- notes!-- MLK night presentation; 

LD: oral argument clip (Bush v Gore); judicial activism v judicial restraint (stare decisis)-- a couple of case studies (& Scalia v Breyer... via CSPAN); KBAT prep... and/or FRQ glances (judiciary, CR/CL, landmark cases-- which years?)


The Exam as the guidepost-- power reviewing with butcher paper

Final (an AP Government and Politics exam!)

REVIEW/open forum-- process exam; talk post-exam: friday lunches, review nights, on-line aids, etc --

2016 AP Gov and Politics Poll Questions...

1. If the election was held today, who would you be voting for?  a) Donald Trump  b) Hillary Clinton  c) third party/other

2. What is your opinion of Voter ID laws?  a) they are necessary and prevent fraud  b) they exist to prevent people from voting and are politically motivated (suppress the minority vote)  c) not sure/don't care

3.  Would you consider voting 3rd Party if that candidate has an equal chance of winning?  a) yes  b) no

If you answered yes, who would you vote for?  a) Jill Stein  b) Gary Johnson  c) other

4. The state of Colorado ranks last in higher education funding per student.  Would you support a TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) alteration that would allow half of money that is currently auto-rebated to citizens to be used/dedicated to higher ed. spending?

5. Because so many Coloradans (1/3) are unaffiliated with a political party, should unaffiliated voters be allowed to participate by replacing the caucus system with an open primary?  a) yes  b) no

6. Should the federal government tighten or loosen environmental regulations?  a) tighten  b) loosen  c) don't know or no change

7. Should the United States keep the Electoral College system, or abolish it in favor of the popular vote?  a) keep  b) replace 

8. Of the following issues, which do you think is the most important in deciding your vote in the upcoming presidential and Congressional elections?  a) immigration and/or race relations  b) the economy  c) foreign policy and/or security  d) Obamacare (preserving/repealing)  e) freedom and civil liberties (property rights/the 2nd Amendment)

9. Should the City of Loveland should use taxpayer money to support downtown, including things like the South Catalyst Project?  a) yes  b) no  c) don't care/don't know

10. Do you  think the federal government should establish a national minimum wage, or should it be left to the states?  a) yes  b) left to the states  c) don't know/don't care

11. Pundits are telling us these are the two most unpopular major party candidates in American history.  On a scale of 1-10, how unfavorable is your view of Hillary Clinton (10 being the most unfavorable)?  Donald Trump?

12. If a 100% rational candidate, a Dr. Spock or a politics/policy version of IBM's Watson computer, could run and base governmental decisions purely on data and previous outcomes, would you consider replacing a human president with a Vulcan or a machine?  a) yes  b) no  c) unsure


Try to interview no fewer than 3 Rs, 3 Ds, or 3 unaffiliateds.

Try to target 2-3 under 35s, 4-ish 35-to-65, and 3-4 over 65s.

Get an even male/female split.

And, try to include one representative of a target demographic... (match Loveland).

      -- due MONDAY

Political Foursquare: Behavior and Elections


Your task is to conduct a political interview.  This will involve coming up with six questions (one per chapter) about politics and asking someone what they think in response to those questions.  You need to write down that person's responses and type up your interview using a two-page format (type both questions and answers and include a short demographic bio for the person you interviewed).


You are going to produce memes and/or cartoons that speak to unit/chapter topics, so again the magic number is six.  For five of them, you are going to create tweets.  And for one, you are to write a good, high-level FRQ question. 


After reading the article on 'Keys to the White House' by Allan Lichtman, use the 13 keys to predict the outcome of the 2016 election.  Do they seem to work well in this case-- why or why not?  In addition, supply 2 more keys that could be used to analyze one's chances, and then include 3-to-5 factors that could be used to determine whether things would be favorable in terms of a third party or third-party candidate.  


Take a look at two close and/or interesting, significant races-- one in this election cycle and something else (it could be historical, it could be current, but in a different state).  Anyway, give the gist in terms of who, what, where, why, and how.  You could compare a Senate race to a Senate race, a House race to a House race, the Presidential race to a Congressional race, or any fun, meaningful combination.  You might even consider a race for the state House vs. at the national level.  Either way, get a feel for money, media, campaign schedule, structure/staff, and strategy.  We want some good comparison, some good insight.  

The Rubric (50 points) 

10 points - is it interesting, well-written/crafted, and/or clever/insightful?

10 points - is it accurate, factual; without errors/mistakes?

10 points - is it an adequate description of the unit/chapters (or key elements therein)?

10 points - is there an acknowledgement of sources (or the bio)?

10 points - overall feel and apparent effort-- is it pleasing-- aesthetically, intellectually? 

Second Semester (Review Lunches)

January - the Constitution and Federalism

February - Political Behavior

March - the Branches of Government 

April - Everything and Anything-- collective discussion, etc...

Review Nights!

Review nights:

Monday nights (7:30 pm-to-8:30/45 pm)

March I (time division/approach, resources, Units I and II - Constitutional Underpinnings/Federalism), March II (political behavior), March III (Congress and Public Policy); April I (Executive Branch and the Bureaucracy), April II (the Courts, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties), April III (Everything goes within the lenses of the Constitution...)

** it's time to begin incremental review-- AP Exam (5/10); (**pick up 'a practice test' the week of May 2nd)... (look at - U.S. portion-- and hit the College Board for free response questions and scoring guidelines)!!  A good series of 'windows of study' prior to the exam is necessary...

Unit I (Gov and Politics - the big picture!!) - week of 3/9 and week of 3/16

Unit II (the Constitution and Founding Era) - week of 3/23

Unit III - (Federalism) - week of 3/30

Unit IV - (Political Behavior) week of 4/6

Unit V - (Congress and Public Policy) week of 4/13

Unit VI - (Executive Branch and the Bureaucracy) week of 4/20

Unit VII - (the Courts, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties) week of 4/27

and, again, look at everything that last week with the Constitution as the 'driving force'-- 5/2...-to-test day!

Useful Links:

CSPAN AP Exam (conversation and cram)

Countable - Influence Congress in Minutes... 

HS teachers Conneen and Larsen talk AP Gov on CSPAN 

Center for Politics (U of VA) 

Annenberg Classroom - Civics 

Congressional Committees

The Constitution Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Constitution USA w/ Peter Sagal 

10 Constitutional Questions...

The Politics of the Constitution - npr


Federalism and the Court - C SPAN (Federalist Society discussion)

Real Clear Politics

Christian Science Monitor politics page...

McLaughlin Group

Washington Week PBS

This Week (ABC News)

Face the Nation (CBS News)

Meet the Press (NBC News)

The Daily Show

Fox & Friends

The O'Reilly Factor

Last Week Tonight

creating a campaign brochure...

NY Times 2016 election map-- amazing! 

interest groups 

Political Parties 


Koppel on media objectivity - npr

Chicken or Egg-- media pull w/ Nate Silver

Daily Show interview - Jim Lehrer 

Daily Show interview - Hari Sreenivasan

the media in politics 

Daily Show interview - Olympia Snowe 

Daily Show interview - Alan Simpson 

public opinion 

Fivethirtyeight - redistricting Atlas (gerrymandering)! 

National Public Radio

Rush Limbaugh's radio show

FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver)

new fivethirtyeight 


New York Times (psychology)

Psychology Today (archive) 


The Dirksen Congressional Center

University of Indiana's Center on Congress

The National Rifle Association


Living Room Candidate (Commercial Library...)

CSPAN bell-ringer: campaign finance

Measuring Presidential Greatness/Success

Doris Kearns Goodwin - Learning from Past Presidents

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Clinton and W. Bush talk presidential leadership CSPAN

npr - the federal budget

Inside the West Wing CSPANTen Toughest Presidential Decisions

the Real West Wing CSPAN

the bureaucracy's on-line image - npr

Oyez Project

15 Required Cases - Street Law summaries 

The Supreme Court C-SPAN 

the 'Notorious RBG'

Teacher Review site from Virginia


Know and Be Able To Sheets (KBATs)

 Unit I: Political Theory, the Constitution, and Federalism

Chapters 1 and 2 (O’Connor/Sabato)


Natural law (& the Greeks)           popular consent            social contract theory (Locke)

The Hobbseian view                    republic                        monarchy (“divine right”)

democracy (direct/indirect)        civil society                   oligarchy/aristocracy

demographics (transformation)     libertarianism               free market capitalism

Voltaire – free speech                 socialism                     the mercantile system

the “critical period” (& Shays)     apathy                        communism

the 3/5s Compromise                  cynicism                     totalitarianism

The “living” Constitution              federalism                  political ideology

strict v loose interpretation        confederation              popular sovereignty

majority rule                             conservative                personal liberty

satire (& freedom of the press)          liberal                         political culture

Articles of Confederation             politics                          Common Sense

Humanism (church v state)        separation of power          the Beard thesis

The Preamble (“We the People”)    checks & balances          Federalists v Anti-Feds

Elastic Clause (“necessary/proper”)  Full Faith & Credit        enumerated v implied power

Articles I – VII (Constitution)      ‘supremacy clause’       the Federalist Papers

Formal v informal amendment     the Bill of Rights          judicial review

Be Able To:

  • Explain how the principle of “consent of the governed” within the social contract was violated by the British and the role taxation played in bringing about the Declaration of Independence.
  • Describe how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation were addressed/remedied by the Constitution.
  • Detail the workings of the Great Compromise (and at least two other convention disputes).
  • Identify degrees of popular sovereignty, from direct (Perot’s ‘electronic town hall’)-to-indirect (representative) democracy.
  • Describe how judicial review (established with the Marbury ruling) empowered the Court.
  • Provide the gist of both Fed 10 and Fed 51 (with examples, an application and a quote from each).
  • Detail at least two different methods by which the Constitution can be formally amended (there are four).
  • Catalog the various protections of individual liberty found in the Bill or Rights.
  • Articulate the two or three strongest arguments, pro v con, offered by the Federalists and Anti-Federalists regarding the Constitution.
  • Identify three ways the Constitution limits power—  “the Madisonian system.”
                                                                    Chapter 3

Know -

McCulloch v Maryland (1819)                                    federalism                                 supremacy clause

Gibbons v Ogden (1824)                                             dual federalism                         elastic clause

Barron v Baltimore (1833)                                          Fed 51                                     commerce clause

Dred Scott v Sandford (1857)                                     enumerated power                    14TH AMENDMENT

Plessy v Ferguson (1896)                                            implied power               -- equal protection/due process clauses

Gitlow v New York (1925)                                          "court-packing"                      Contract w/ America

Webster v Reproductive Services (1989)                     federalism & slavery                    devolution        

Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992)                          16th Amendment                          preemption

Printz v U.S. (1997)                                                    17th Amendment                      gay marriage

U.S. v Morrison (2000)                                               devolution                                 NCLB (No Child...)    

irony of Bush v Gore (2000)                                        full faith & credit                       creative federalism

the NGA & one other "Big 7" entities                               grants-in-aid                             coercive federalism

cooperative federalism & the New Deal                        fiscal federalism                        permissive federalism

Reagan and "new federalism"                                       ex post facto law                      unitary gov't

categorical v block grants                                          interstate compacts                   confederation

**U.S. v Lopez (1995)!!                                               medical marijuana                     Taney Court

10th Amendment (reserved power!!)                             sovereign immunity                    Civil Rights Era

Garcia as apex of federal power                                  intergovernmental lobby            -- "Little Rock"

Rehnquist Court (inertia for the states)                       selective incorporation                   the Civil War

mandates: funded & unfunded...                    suffrage and the states                             -- a federalism fight!

Be Able To -


  • Explain the difference between unitary, federal, and confederate forms of government.
  • Discuss how the Elastic and Commerce Clauses were such useful vehicles for the expansion of federal power and the growth of the national government (and, McCulloch v Maryland's importance as a test case for the range and/or limits of the Elastic Clause).
  • Outline the evolutionary inertia of national v state power as interpreted by the Courts (w/ landmark cases reinforcing your chronology-- especially Barron, Gitlow, and Lopez).
  • State reasons why federal grants-in-aid to states have been politically popular (also cite pitfalls).  Distinguish between categorical and block grants.
  • Distinguish between mandates and conditions of aid w/ respect to federal grant programs to states and localities.  Discuss whether federal grants have created uniform national policies that are unitary in effect.
  • Describe what is meant by "selective incorporation," and how it goes about "federalizing" the Bill of Rights.
  • Evaluate the effect of devolution on contemporary American politics-- assess its implications for citizens as taxpayers and as clients of government programs.


KBAT: Political Behavior and Elections (Chapters 11-16) 


public opinion                         political parties (functions of)                       political socialization (factors)

Literary Digest poll                “governmental” piece (party)                         “organizational” piece (party)

party in the electorate            mainstream v electronic media                        party affiliation/political ideology

Washington’s warning          the “party machine”                                       religion, race/ethnicity, gender

direct primary                     liberal v conservative                                          age, regional notions, events

political knowledge &            single issue voting/politics                             civil service laws (& patronage)

      (participation levels)           political consultants                                             the “spoils system”

random sampling                     stratified sampling                               partisanship-- decreasing, increasing...      

coalition building                    push polling                                                       tracking polls

exit polls                                   margin of error                                                   unity (party)

linkage (and party, IGs, the M)          accountability (and party)                        electioneering function

National Committee                   - loyal opposition/watchdog                        National Party Platform

National Convention              Congressional party (discipline)                          coattail effect

   significance/evolution        PACs (Super PACs) and 527 groups                      “think tanks”

modern GOP v Plouff              declining party loyalty                            party identification v unaffiliated (CO = #1)

organizational prowess! - myth or reality?                                                       two-party system

one-partyism                            3rd partyism                                                    dualist theory

issue introduction                spoiler function (Nader, etc)                           proportional representation

instant run-off voting             ballot access                                                      states and voting law

voter registration                   electorate                                                             mandate

(retrospective voting     v      prospective voting)                                          closed v open (blanket) primary

crossover voting                     raiding J                                                            blanket primary

nonpartisan primary               runoff primary                                                    ballot initiative

referendum                               recall                                                           general election

primaries v caucuses              regional primary                                                    front-loading

superdelegates                        uncommitted delegates                                    abolition of the “unit rule”

electoral college                      electors                                                realignment and “critical” elections

   pros/cons                           Congressional District Plan                                 secular realignment

redistricting                            …the electoral college                                     scandal and spin efforts

gerrymandering                       incumbency                                                       incumbency advantage

midterm elections                    turnout (significance/meaning)                            electoral reform measures

McCain/Feingold                       who votes v who doesn’t                         campaign finance/contribution limits

Be able to:

-          1987/1990 Q1 (realigning elections); 1988 Q2 (differences between D and R parties/voting base); 1989 Q1, 1993 Q2 (power w/in public opinion and policy making); 1991 Q1 (voting and non-electoral participation—women, seniors, business, farmers; 1992 Q1 (voter characteristics: party affiliation, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, issue preferences); 1993Q4 (Newsweek poll and ?s); 1994 Q2 (women and political participation); 1994 Q4 (cartoon and ?s—primary coverage); 1995 Q2 (parties—and decline??); 1995 Q4 (Clinton’s ’92 coalition—election graphic, who and why); 1995 Q5 (reapportionment map and ?s); 1996 Q2, 1998 Q1 (changes in formal nomination procedures/conventions since ‘60); 1997 Q3 (popular v electoral vote and 3rd parties); 1998 Q4(elections and low turnout); 1999 Q1 (presidential election campaigns as “candidate centered”); 1999 Q2 (interest groups: AARP, AMA, NAACP, NAM); 2000 Q3 (map – regional voting patterns); 2000 Q4, 2005 Q4 (campaign finance reform); 2001 Q2 (incumbency advantage); 2002 Q4 (voter turnout- why an overall decline/mid-terms); 2003 Q2 (participation beyond voting); 2004 Q2, 2010 Q1 (interest groups and litigation, campaign contributions, grassroots lobbying/mass mobilization—Sierra Club, NRA); 2004 Q3 (cartoon and minor parties/ “wasted vote” idea); 2004 Q4 (decline in trust and confidence toward gov’t—why, cost of elections, etc.); 2006 Q1 (interest groups vs. political parties); 2008 Q1 (reapportionment and gerrymandering); 2009 Q2 (“linkage institutions,” and age, education and likelihood of voting); 2009 Q4 (table nightly news viewership); 2010 Q3 (composition of major parties w/ graph).


Reapportionment/Redistricting                      Gerrymandering                                 Term limits           

Franking privilege                                       …'Congressional Immunity'                  Leadership (structure, etc)

Caucus - Party caucus or conference           Speaker of the House vs.                  Senate Majority Leader

Whip(s)                                                     President pro tempore                      'seniority' (H v Sen) 

Committee system                                      Standing committee                          sub-committee

Select committee                                      Select/Joint committee                     Conference Committee

Oversight/Investigation                          Bills of attainder/ex post facto laws             Impeachment

Enumerated Powers (Article I)           Implied power (Elastic/Commerce Clauses)     Trial and Removal...

Constituency                                                       Appropriation bill                             Quorum

Filibuster                                                                   Cloture                                   Field reps

Efficacy                                                        Incumbency/'Safe Seats'               Closed vs. Open rule (House)

Senatorial courtesy                                                 Earmarks                                          ...riders

Delegate                                                                  Trustee                                        'Partisan'

Politico                                                    Senate (& Foreign Relations primacy...)                         Logrolling

“attentive” public                                                   Pocket veto                                      Override

Public policy: distributive vs. redistributive policy                 iron triangle                                issue network

fiscal v monetary policy                                     inflation/unemployment                        excise tax; tariff

deficit v debt                                                      progressive tax v flat                        mandates (funded?)

entitlements                                                           …means-testing                      public assistance/welfare

Social Security                                                     Medicare/Medicaid                          Policy = ‘RAPBABIE’

Congress/public opinion                                           Rules Committee                             Ways and Means

Be Able To

  • Discuss why incumbents have advantage over challengers.
  • Explain why the Supreme Court struck down majority-minority voting districts.
  • Explain why seniority is more important in the Senate than in the House and how the chambers function differently relative to the rules/procedures governing each.
  • Explain how partisanship and/or party discipline colors activity on Capitol Hill.
  • Discuss why we tend to hate Congress, but like our own members.
  • Discuss the imperfection and potholes that exist in the policy making process; have a case study (i.e. – health care) or two up your sleeve.
  • Explain why members of Congress would vote against campaign finance reform.
  • Explain why the House Rules and Ways and Means Committees are so important.
  • Discuss the role of politics in the nomination process for independent agencies and the judiciary.
  • Explain the controversies and considerations relative to Social Security and Medicare.
  • Discuss EICs as they relate to the EPA and the idea of regulation.

KBAT: The President, the Bureaucracy, and Foreign Policy

“royal governor”                                                State of the Union Address

22nd Amendment                                               Senate confirmation of appointments

Qualifications (formal)                                       treaty power

Impeachment (H of R)                                        presidential staff

Executive privilege                                            executive agreements

U.S. v Nixon                                                    veto power

Rules/line of succession                                     line item veto

25th Amendment                                                Clinton v NYC

Cabinet                                                           commander-in-chief

Appointment power                                           War Powers Act

Power to convene Congress                               pardon power

New Deal (& expansion)                                   inherent power

Executive Office of the Presidency                    (Taftian v stewardship-TR)

Leadership (& the Neustadt thesis)                    the West Wing (advisors, etc)

Executive order                                               legislation and BUDGET

the signing statement                                        OMB

Bureaucracy                                                     implementation (& discretion)

Spoils system and patronage                               iron triangles

Pendleton Act                                                   issue networks

Civil service system/ “merit”                              inter-agency councils

Independent regulatory commission                    administrative discretion

Cabinet departments                                          bureaucratic rule-making and regulations

Government corporations (2 or 3)                       administrative adjudication         

Independent executive agencies                         Title IX

            (w/ example)

Independent regulatory commissions                   Bureaucratic agencies & accountability

            (w/ examples)                                       Hatch Act/Federal Employees

 NGOs…                                                                 Activities Act

Isolationism                                                       tariffs (MFN status)                                         

Unilateralism                                                     the “American system” v free trade

Moralism                                                          Roosevelt Corollary

Pragmatism                                                       collective security

Embargo Act                                                    League of Nations

Monroe Doctrine                                               IGOs… (w/ example)

Manifest destiny                                                Bretton Woods & IMF/World Bank

The Marshall Plan                                             Truman Doctrine & containment

NATO                                                              Cuban Missle Crisis

Détente                                                          Reagan Doctrine (support for…)

Human rights (Carter)                                       Powell Doctrine                                   

Engagement                                                      enlargement

NAFTA/WTO                                                  terrorism & al-Qaeda

Bush Doctrine (pre-emption)                              WMDs

Dept. of State                                                   Dept. of Defense

CIA                                                                  Joint Chiefs of Staff

National Security Council                                   National Security Agency (NSA)

Dept. of Homeland Security                               9/11 Commission

Military industrial complex                                  news media and…

Be Able To


  • Presidential power – not the Constitution, but in politics and public opinion…
  •                         -- public approval; fluctuation and trends… honeymoon/lame-duck
  • President and Budget and Impoundment Control Act
  • President and War Powers Act
  • Budget – mandatory v discretionary spending…
  •             -- the budgetary process…   (as barrier to new policy initiatives…) 
  • Changes in roles and responsibilities of White House staff (greater accountability and effectiveness— yes, no, maybe?)
  • President and “divided government” – party polarization… (chief of party)
  • President and enumerated power to exert influence over domestic policy
  • President and advantage over Congress in conduct of foreign policy—Constitutional/formal v informal; necessity of EB hegemony post-WWII
  • Foreign Policy – balancing national interest v broader goals (humanitarianism, etc.)
  • Congress and policy-making discretion (to bureaucratic agencies) in executing federal law(s)                                                        
  • Foreign policy team and apparatus— accountability, flow, etc.
  • Bureaucratic Authority: rule-making, discretion; Oversight and Accountability: each branch's ability to keep things honest/efficient                                
  • Evolution of the Federal Bureaucracy: merit-based practices and the post-New Deal/WWII explosion (#s!)                -- perception, public opinion, etc.)                                                                                                     


                                                The Judicial Branch, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties 

Original jurisdiction                              Appellate jurisdiction                                   Senatorial courtesy

Judicial restraint                                   Judicial activism                                            Judicial review

Marbury v Madison                                 writ of certiorari                                     Federal District Courts

Circuit Court of Appeals                        'justiciable' (real/adverse)                           Standing; vested interest be “Borked”                                   Selective incorporation                              Fourteenth Amendment

Freedom of speech                                  Freedom of the press                       Freedom of assembly/petition

Freedom of religion                                      gun rights                                           slander v. libel

Obscenity                                        preferred position doctrine                                   Prior restraint

Rights of the accused                                  Double jeopardy                      Unreasonable search and seizure

Probable cause                                         Exclusionary rule                                    Objective good faith

Inevitable discovery rule                        Cruel and unusual punishment                     implied right to privacy

Due process                                                   Jim Crow laws                                           Poll tax

'Grandfather' clause                                     Civil Rights Act ‘64                                 De facto segregation

De jure segregation                                       Affirmative action                      'failed' Equal Rights Amendment

Abortion (law/policy)                          amicus curie and, traditional briefs                  'class action' suit

Concurring opinion                                       Dissenting opinion                                 Dred Scott ruling

In forma pauperis                                             “litmus test”                                   McCulloch v Maryland

Opinion of “the Court”                                     Solicitor general                                       stare decisis

Freedom riders                                                         MLK, Jr.                               Montgomery bus boycott

NAACP                                              Nonviolent civil disobedience                                       sit-ins

Plessey v Ferguson                                          “separate but equal”                        reasonableness standard

Strict scrutiny standard                          Swann v Charolette-Mecklenburg                    Voting Rights Act ‘65

Bill of Rights                                                   Barron v Baltimore             Clear-and-present danger principle

Commercial speech                                        Establishment clause                                Exclusionary rule

Free-exercise clause                                        Gitlow v New York                                     Mapp v Ohio

Miranda v Arizona                                                Patriot Act                                          symbolic speech 

Be Able To –

  • Explain how the federal courts have evolved into an institution that has significant impact on public policy.
  • Discuss how the selection of federal judges is a very “political” process.
  • Consider that it is a limited number of cases that are heard in federal courts, and an even more limited number reach the Supreme Court (what type of cases does the ‘High Court’ typically hear).
  • Explain how judicial activism is a philosophy in which judges make bold policy decisions.
  • Discuss how the other branches of government and the public have checks on the powers of the federal courts.

Civil Rights = protection by government; Civil Liberties = protection from government

    • Highlight the fact that progress for African Americans in receiving Civil Rights was slow.
    • Discuss how African Americans used the federal courts effectively to gain their civil rights.
    • Explain why civil rights legislation came as a result of public protest and a change in public opinion regarding the rights of African Americans.
    • Discuss how women’s rights are drawn from different standards than those used for race.
    • Cite that Affirmative action is a controversial program to remedy past and present discrimination (and will be dealt with by the Court this session).
  • Explain how civil liberties have created significant issues because there is often competition among groups and individuals for rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
  • Discuss how First Amendment rights have created several controversial and enduring issues.
  • Explain that several rights of the accused are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (and are wrapped in the federalism idea of ‘selective incorporation’).
  • Consider that the Patriot Act was created as a result of the 9/11 attacks and consider how some of its provisions test the notion of ‘civil liberties.’

Multiple Choice practice:

buy that review book!!

Paul C. Light "Government's Greatest Achievements" (Public Policy)

What do you make of Mr. Light's lists?  Do you agree?  Where might your opinion/view differ?  Bias here??

Of the past half-century--

1) Rebuilding Europe after WWII (the Marshall Plan)

2) Expanding the Right to Vote 

3) Promoting Equal Access to Public Accommodations 

4) Reducing Disease

5) Reducing workplace discrimination

6) Ensuring safe food and drinking water

7) strengthening the nation's highway system

8) increasing older Americans' access to health care

9) reducing the federal budget deficit (late '90s)

10) promoting financial security in retirement

11) improving water quality (pollution in lakes/rivers/aquifers)

12) supporting veterans' readjustment and training

13) promoting scientific and technological research

14) containing communism

15) improving air quality

16) enhancing workplace safety

17) strengthening the national defense

18) reducing hunger and improving nutrition

19) increasing access to post-secondary education

20) enhancing consumer protection

...the next half century:

1) increasing arms control and weapons proliferation (including terror networks)

2) increasing quality and access to health care

3) expanding the voter participation and preserving election integrity (free of the influence of money)

4) long-term solvency of entitlements (Social Security/Medicare)

5) reforming social safety net programs

6) protection of the environment and proper resource management

7) adequately dealing with growing demographic diversity

8) improving the nation's educational system

9) striking the appropriate balance between federal and state power

10) promoting governmental efficiency and streamlining bureaucracy

11) maintaining a military advantage/edge

12) building/re-working the nation's aging infrastructure

Questions from 'use/create' Thursday...

Unit I:

"All mankind... equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, and possessions." 

                                                                                                                                                     - John Locke 

Explain two ways expressed and implied power relate to natural rights and the social contract.  Identify and discuss one specific feature of the Constitution that allows flexibility and balance.

Unit II:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states."   -- the 10th Amendment

Explain what the Gibbons v Ogden (1824) ruling did in terms of federal power and the commerce clause.  Discuss the Rehnquist Court and its Lopez decision (1995) and what that meant in terms of power and/or states' rights. 

Unit III:

 Graph showing incumbency advantage in election results (nifty)

Using the graph shown above, 

a) Describe and explain one trend and how it relates to incumbency.

b) Explain two ways that Buckley v Valeo (1976) and PACs have influenced campaign finance reform and the incumbency advantage.

c) Identity one trend in voter demographics and how it affects the reelection of incumbents. (how to tweak to get tight rubric response?)

Unit IV: 

Prior to 9/11, the FBI and CIA may have had all the resources and means to prevent 9/11.  Identify which type of Congressional committee would consider this question/issue and what do we call that function or power within Congress.  Name the cabinet entity created in the wake of the 9/11 Commission and explain how coordination and cooperation relates to the term 'bureaucratic pathology?'

Unit V: 

"What did media ever do to you?"

"It destroyed the electoral process."

Hollywood's production "Wag the Dog" is a representation of how public approval of the cabinet and president is crucial. Identify two ways in which foreign policy affects approval ratings and discuss two historical or current situations that have greatly affected executive approval.  

Unit VI:

 Though the Supreme Court mainly uses the Constitution when deciding cases, many historians argue they also, in some measure, take into account the thoughts and views of the public.

 a. Explain one way the Court takes public opinion into consideration when establishing the law of the land and one way the Court is insulated from public opinion.

b. Identify the significance of Marbury v. Madison (1803) and the principle of judicial review, then consider Roe v. Wade (1973) and privacy. Discuss how each of these cases set a precedent for future rulings.  

"12 days of Gov review..." 

- 12 Fed Reserve districts

- 11 lobbyists lobbying

- 10 Amendments in the Bill of Rights

- 9 Supreme Court justices

- 8 battleground states

- 7 Articles in the Constitution

- 6 investigative subpoenas

- 5 White House staffers

- 4 budget briefings

- 3 branches of gov't

- 2 Houses of Congress

"- and a Constitution which blueprints it all..." 

Matthew Bell's insights/advice...

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