AP Government Review #3: Beliefs and Behaviors about Government
- Hey everyone! Today, we’re going to be talking about Beliefs and Behaviors about Government, which is about 10-20% of your exam. If you didn’t see my last post (on federalism), go ahead and check it out! The beliefs and behaviors about government focus on political ideas and society’s interaction with the government.
- Opinion: a specific view about a particular issue/event/candidate
- Political Culture: a set of widely shared political beliefs and values; America, in particular, is characterized by a love of legal and political equality, limited government, and individual liberties.
- Political Efficacy: the belief that one’s political participation makes a difference
- Political Ideology: beliefs on politics, public policy, and the role of government
- Political Opinion: attitudes about institutions, leaders, political issues, and events
- Political Socialization: how political values are formed and passed on; the family is most responsible for political socialization
- Split-Ticket Voting:b voting for candidates of different parties for different offices in the same election; recent years shows an upward trend of split-ticket voting due to an increase in independents
- Values and Beliefs: ideals that make up a person’s political opinions
What You Need to Know:
- First Amendment Rights (petition, press, assembly, religion, and speech) are crucial to the American political culture
- Individualism: responsibility for their own actions and beliefs
- Equality: everyone has the same rights
- Democracy: government relies on the government
- Economic Opportunity, not economic equality
- 1950s: Americans began to distrust the government; it really hit rock bottom in the 1970s post-Watergate.
How Political Socialization Occurs:
- Family: the family is the biggest shaper of political opinion; children raised in homes where parents strongly identify with a political party are more likely to share the same beliefs of their parents as they get older
- Education: there’s a big trend of voting patterns and levels of education; you need to know that the more educated a person is, the more likely they will vote; they are also more likely to vote republican; higher income=more likely to vote republican)
- Socialization: men and women typically vote differently due to the gender gap (women are more democratic and men are more republican; this is mostly due to positions on defense, equality, and healthcare)
What Political Ideology is:
- not a lot of Americans vote along their ideological lines
- Liberal Vs. Conservative Ideology: Liberals support political and social reform. They want the government to regulate the economy, while providing social programs for the poor, minorities, and women. In addition to that, they want a national health care system and abortion rights. They oppose more military spending, sending troops to war, and school prayer. While conservatives believe in a strong military, classic economics (supply-side; it’ll sort itself), less government regulation in the business sector, and school prayer (most Christians are Republican). They oppose a lot of social and welfare programs (because of the whole economic beliefs), abortion rights (not many women republicans, guys), and a national health care system (since they believe in more private businesses).
How Public Opinion is Measured:
- Polling: Back in the old days, we used straw polls- which was basically gauging the crowd’s responses or asking random people on the streets their opinion. However, modernly, people use scientific polls (or Gallup polls), which allows for more of the population to be surveyed without bias or discrimination. Push Pollswere designed to make a candidate look favorable (or not so favorable) by creating and asking biased questions to get people to respond in a certain way.
- We use polls because it allows for the public to express their opinions and link them to the government.
Voting Rights: (AKA Know Your Damn Amendments):
- 1789: property and tax qualifications restricted the electoral college to white, land-owning males; 1 out of 15 white males could vote
- Jackson: remember that Jackson was all about the common folk; eliminated the land-owning requirement and tax payments; 1850: almost all white adult males could vote
- 1870: 15th Amendment prohibited voting restrictions on race/color ; however, because people are poops, poll taxes, literacy tests, white primaries, and grandfather clauses were put into place so African-Americans couldn’t vote.
- 1920: 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote (removed voting restrictions based on gender); before that women had full voting rights in NY and some other western states
- 1961: 23rd Amendment: the people of the District of Columbia could vote!
- 1964: 24th Amendment: outlawed the poll tax (which discouraged voting)
- 1965: Voting Rights Act of 1965: prohibited the government from using voting procedures to deny people the right to vote; abolished literacy requirements for anyone who finished 6th grade
- 1971: 26th Amendment: have to be 18 to vote; states can make the age less though
What Affects How Many People Actually Vote:
- Age: Old people have the highest voting rates. Young people have the lowest. Young people are more likely vote democrat, while older voters tend to vote republican.
- Education: More educated, more likely you’ll vote and more likely to vote Republican; less education, less likely to vote but more likely to vote Democrat; Obama messed up this silly trend though. More college graduates voted for Obama than McCain in 2008
- Income: More income, more likely to vote; less income, less likely to vote. People with less money will typically vote Democrat (social welfare). People with more money will typically vote Republican (against social welfare). However, people around $50,000 were about split.
- Religion: Jews and Catholics, who support Democrats, typically vote more than Protestants, who support Republicans.
- Gender: Women vote more than men; they favor democrats. Men prefer Republicans. Gender Gap first showed up in the 1980s (Reagan)
- Race: Whites vote more than minorities. Without income and education (being looked at), blacks vote more than whites. Big shift of Blacks voting Republican to Democrat in the election of FDR; Cubans typically vote Republican, while the rest of the Latinos vote Democrat.
- Supporting More than One Party: also known as Cross-Pressure; this causes less voter turnout
Why People Don’t Vote:
- Registration: (all but North Dakota; bless North Dakota) have to register; while it reduces fraud, it discourages people from voting; Motor Voter Act: (Voter Registration Act of 1993) made registering easier because you could register while renewing your license
- Less Political Efficacy: people don’t really think that their vote matters. this is really seen especially at the local elections; we’re all doubters.
- Too Many Elections: Ain’t nobody got time for dat. We have more elections than any other democracy.
- Weird Voting Times: we normally have elections on weekdays when people are working, and many people can’t leave work to vote. just a note: most other countries have their voting days on weekends and holidays.
Okay. That’s it for now! I’ll be covering political parties next! If you have any questions about this review or any of my others, feel free to message me!