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Victoria Eng

AP Government A 2º
9/28/10
Chapter 5: The American Political Landscape
Essential Questions

1. Discuss how ethnocentrism, political socialization, and demographics play a role


in the American system of government.
• ethnocentrism: belief in the superiority of one’s nation or ethnic group
• political socialization: the process by which we develop our political attitudes, values,
and beliefs
• demographics: the study of the characteristics of populations

• “Most people are incapable of expressing opinions that differ much from prejudices of
their social upbringing,” (Albert Einstein).
• We base these on one’s background, attitudes, and biases.
• People assume that others share their economic opportunities, social attitudes, sense of
civic responsibility, and self-confidence.
• In addition to fostering group identities, political socialization also strongly influences
how individuals see politics and which political party they prefer.
• Where we live and who we are in terms of age, education, religion, and occupation
affect how we vote.
• Persons in certain demographic categories tend to vote alike and to share certain
political predispositions although there are often individual differences within
socioeconomic and demographic categories.

2. Analyze and evaluate how each of the following elements influences the creation
of public policy in America:

a. state and local identity


• Like most stereotypes, they reflect the fact that states have a sense of identity as
political units that goes beyond demographic characteristics and is supported by recent
empirical evidence.
• States have distinctive political cultures that affect public opinion and policies.
• Differences in state laws reinforce the relevance of state identity.
b. race and ethnicity
• race: a grouping of human beings with distinctive characteristics determined by genetic
inheritance.
• ethnicity: a social division based on national origin, religion, language, and often within
the same race, and includes a sense of attachment to that group.
- Native Americans: Some N.A. have experienced wealth and political influence
but also increases in violent crime.
- African Americans: Most Africans came against their will, as slaves. Most A.A.
are economically worse off than most white Americans. The combination of a
younger A.A. population, a lower level of education, and their concentration in
economically depressed urban areas has resulted in a much higher unemployment
rate for young A.A. Evidence of growing A.A. political power is the dramatic
increase in the number of A.A. state legislators.
- Hispanics (Latinos): While they share a common linguistic heritage in Spanish,
they often differ from one another depending on which country they or their
forebears emigrated from. A recent study found differences among Latinos of
Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent in partisanship, ideology, and rates of
political participation, but widespread support for a liberal domestic agenda,
including increased spending on health care, crime and drug control, education, the
environment, child services, and bilingual education.
- Asian Americans: Many Asian Amer. have done well economically and
educationally. Gary Locke, the first Chinese American governor of a state in the
continental United States.
• Except for N.A. and the descendants of slaves, all Americans have immigrant ancestors
who chose to come to the American continent.
• Immigrants are often a source of social conflict as they compete with more established
groups for jobs, rights, political power, and influence.
c. gender
• The right to vote was not extended nationally to women until 1920 with passage of the
Nineteenth Amendment.
• EMILY- Early Money Is Like Yeast, funds female pro-choice Democrats.
• A U.S. Census Bureau study shows that wage discrimination between the genders is 77
cents on every dollar.
d. religion
• The United States has not been immune from such hatred, despite its principle of
religious freedom.
• Our government is founded on the premise that religious liberty flourishes when there is
no predominant or official faith, which is why the framers of the Constitution did not
sanction a national church.
• The absence of an official American church does not mean that religion is unimportant
in American politics.
• Religion, like ethnicity, is a shared identity.
• The perception among many Catholics and Jews that the Democratic party is more open
to them helps explain the strength of their Democratic identification.
e. wealth and income
• The unequal distribution of wealth and income results in political divisions and
conflicts.
• Wealth (total value of possessions) is more concentrated than income (annual earnings).
• Education is in turn one of the most important means to achieve upward economic and
social mobility.
• The framers of the Constitution recognized the dangers of an unequal concentration of
wealth.
• Aside from race, income may be the single most important factor in explaining views
on issues, partisanship, and ideology.
• The poverty classification is intended to identify persons who cannot meet a minimum
standard in such basics as housing, food, and medical care.
f. occupation
• New technology, combined with abundant natural and human resources, meant that the
U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) rose, after adjusting for inflation.
• Governments are among the biggest employers in this country. Federal, state, and local
governments account for more than 18 percent of our gross domestic product.
g. social class
• Socioeconomic status (SES)—a division of the population based on occupation,
income, and education.
• Americans may define themselves as middle class because the American dream
involves upward mobility.
h. age
• Americans are living longer, increasing the demand for medical acre, retirement
benefits, and a host of other age-related services.
• Age is important to politics in two additional ways: life cycle and generational effects.
• Generational effects in politics arise when a particular generation has had experiences
that make it politically distinct.
i. education level
• Just over half of all Americans have not gone to college, though many college students
assume that almost everyone goes to college.
• Education is one of the most important variables in predicting political participation,
confidence in dealing with government and awareness of issues.

3. Distinguish between cross-cutting and reinforcing cleavages. Give an example of


each.
• crosscutting cleavages: Divisions within society that cut across demographic categories
to produce groups that are more heterogeneous or different.
- If all the rich people in a nation belong to one religion and the poor to another, the
nation would have reinforcing cleavages that would intensify political conflict between
groups. But if there are both rich and poor in all religions and if people sometimes vote
on the basis of their religion and sometimes on the basis of wealth, the division would be
cross-cutting.
• reinforcing cleavages: Divisions within society that reinforce one another, making
groups more homogenous or similar.
- Italy, the tendency of parts of the industrialized north to lean toward the Socialist and
Communist parties and of the poorer and more agrarian south to be politically
conservative and Catholic orientation reinforces the historical divided between the north
and south that has existed for centuries.

4. Discuss the reasons for the remarkable national unity and identity that exists in a
land of such demographic diversity.
As remarkable as American diversity is, the existence of a strong and widely shared
sense of national unity and identity may be even more remarkable. Despite our diversity,
Americans share an important unity. We are united by our shared commitment to
democratic values, economic opportunity, work ethic, and the American dream.
Vocabulary:
political socialization: The process by which we develop our political attitudes, values,
and beliefs.
demographics: The study of the characteristics of populations.
race: A grouping of human beings with distinctive characteristics determined by genetic
inheritance.
ethnicity: A social division based on national origin, religion, language, and often race.
gender gap: The difference between the political opinions of political behavior of men
and of women.
religion: The belief in and worship of a god or gods, or a set of beliefs concerning the
origin and purpose of the universe.
socioeconomic status: A division of population based on occupation, income, and
education.
reinforcing cleavages: Divisions within society that reinforce one another, making
groups more homogenous or similar.
crosscutting cleavages: Divisions within society that cut across demographic categories
to produce groups that are more heterogeneous or different.
manifest destiny: A notion held by nineteenth-century Americans that the United States
was destined to rule the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
salad bowl theory: “though the salad is an entity, the lettuce can still be distinguished
from the chicory, the tomatoes from the cabbage.”
melting pot theory: As various ethnic groups associate with other groups, they are
assimilated into American society and come to share democratic values like majority
rule, individualism, an the ideal of America as a land of opportunity.