Department of Political Science and Sociology

Murray State University


I. Title: POL 140, American National Government, Section 3,  Fall 2016

II. Instructor's name: Dr. Winfield H. Rose

      Office location:  5A-10 Faculty Hall
      Phone numbers:  (270) 762-2662 (office); 753-0126 (home) ; 226-8595 (mobile)
      FAX number:  (270) 762-2688
       (Be sure to check this out; it contains this course syllabus and other useful information.)
      Office hours:  10:00 - 11:00 a.m. & 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. TTh.  1:00 - 4:00 p.m. W.  Other times by appointment.

 III.  Class location,  meeting time & language of instruction: 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. TTh, FH 509; English.

 IV.  Content outline:  see pages 2, 3, and 4 of this syllabus.

   V. Required texts:  (1) Cal Jillson, American Government: Political Change and Institutional Development, any edition.   It is essential that each student purchase this book and read it carefully and regularly.   A study guide to the text is available online.  This study guide contains useful information, including practice tests, that would be very helpful and its utilization is strongly recommended.  It may be accessed by clicking here.  (2)  Winfield H. Rose, "The Theological, Philosophical, and Historical Foundations of the American Polity."  This paper gives greater depth to topics covered in chapters 1 and 2 of the Jillson text and may be purchased at Copy Express (in the Waterfield Library) for about $2.60.

 VI. Instructional activities:

Classes will be a combination of lecture and discussion.  Good note taking is absolutely essential.  Class attendance is important and roll will be taken every day.  Students should come to class with their assignment read and they should be prepared to ask as well as answer questions; class attendance and participation will comprise 15% of the course grade. There will be four major tests and a comprehensive final exam at the officially designated time.  There will be no exemptions from this exam.  Absences from tests will not be well received.  "I just haven't had time to get ready" is not acceptable and neither is having a doctor's appointment (schedule it for some other time).  If it is absolutely necessary to miss a scheduled exam, all make-up's will be given Friday afternoon May 6, 2016 at two o'clock in FH 509.

 VII.   Grades will be determined as follows:
            Four major tests:  15%, 15%, 15%, and 15%.                             A:  91-100%
            Comprehensive final examination: 15%                                     B:  82-91%
            Outside writing assignment: 15%                                               C:  73-82%
            Class attendance, preparation, and participation:  15%              D:  63-73%
                                                                                                            E:  below 63%

VIII. Prerequisites: An inquiring mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to work.  If you do not have these, you should not be here.

  IX.  Purpose and Objective.  The purpose and objective of the course is to give the student a  basic knowledge and understanding of what the American political  system is and how and why it works as it does so that he/she may be a better informed citizen and a more effective participant in the political process.  It also counts as a Category IV social science elective in the university studies requirements.
    You should be different for having been here and taken this course.  You should know and understand more on December 5 than you do on August 19.  You should be better prepared to be a good citizen the rest of your life.  Taking this course should move you toward achieving the "Characteristics of the Murray State University Graduate."  If these do not happen, then you have failed and I have failed.  (See "Philosophy of Teaching" on my homepage.)

  X.  Extra Credit.  Extra credit may be earned by renting and viewing classic movies related to the course.  Examples are Advise and Consent, The  Candidate, All the President's Men, Gideon's Trumpet, The Ugly American, Inherit the Wind, and Primary Colors.  This list is incomplete and others should be pre-approved in advance and all require the submission of a report for credit to be received.  Instructions may be obtained by clicking here.
    Extra credit also may be received by reading and reporting on newspaper, magazine, internet and journal articles.  You should write a short summary of the article, explain its relevance to the course, and attach a xerox copy.  The same may be done for the websites listed/linked later in this syllabus except simply attach a downloaded and printed copy.
    Extra-credit points will not raise a low C to a B or a low B to an A; they will, however, help tilt you toward the higher grade if you are on the borderline between the two, and the more points you have, the better off you will be.  You will receive one point for each submission; there is no limit to the number of submissions, and you may submit them until the last regular class period.

  XI.  Class policies.  There are nine complete and total prohibitions:  (1) talking to one another when it is time for class to begin or after it has begun; (2) the use of profane, vulgar or otherwise inappropriate language in class; (3)  iPhones,  CD players, iPods or similar electronic devices; (4) coming to class with nothing to write on or write with; (5) eating or reading a newspaper in class; (6) habitual tardiness; (7) reading or studying other material or doing homework for another class; (8) leaving or preparing to leave before class is dismissed; and (9) texting, cell phones and pagers which sound in class.   The inconspicuous consumption of Cokes, coffee, etc., is permissible but please turn off and remove from sight all cell phones, iPhones, iPads, laptops and similar gear when class begins.  Thanks.

 XII.  Academic Honesty.  Murray State University takes seriously its moral and educational obligation to maintain high standards of academic honesty and ethical behavior. Instructors are expected to evaluate students’ academic achievements accurately, as well as ascertain that work submitted by students is authentic and the result of their own efforts, and consistent with established academic standards. Students are obligated to respect and abide by the basic standards of personal and professional integrity.

Violations of Academic Honesty include:

Cheating - Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized information such as books, notes, study aids, or other electronic, online, or digital devices in any academic exercise; as well as unauthorized communication of information by any means to or from others during any academic exercise.
Fabrication and Falsification - Intentional alteration or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Falsification involves changing information whereas fabrication involves inventing or counterfeiting information.

Multiple Submission - The submission of substantial portions of the same academic work, including oral reports, for credit more than once without authorization from the instructor.

Plagiarism - Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, creative work, or data of someone else as one’s own in any academic exercise, without due and proper acknowledgement.

Instructors should outline their expectations that may go beyond the scope of this policy at the beginning of each course and identify such expectations and restrictions in the course syllabus. When an instructor receives evidence, either directly or indirectly, of academic dishonesty, he or she should investigate the instance. The faculty member should then take appropriate disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to the following:

1) Requiring the student(s) to repeat the exercise or do additional related exercise(s).
2) Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) on the particular exercise(s) involved.
3) Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) in the course.

If the disciplinary action results in the awarding of a grade of E in the course, the student(s) may not drop the course.  Faculty reserve the right to invalidate any exercise or other evaluative measures if substantial evidence exists that the integrity of the exercise has been compromised.  Faculty also reserve the right to document in the course syllabi further academic honesty policy elements related to the individual disciplines.

A student may appeal the decision of the faculty member with the department chair in writing within five working days. Note: If, at any point in this process, the student alleges that actions have taken place that may be in violation of the Murray State University Non-Discrimination Statement, this process must be suspended and the matter be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity. Any appeal will be forwarded to the appropriate university committee as determined by the Provost.

XIII.  Students with Disabilities:  The Office of Student Disability Services (OSDS) is designed to coordinate and administer services and accommodations for students with documented disabilities. In doing so, OSDS will review disability documentation, meet with students to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations, and work with other areas on campus to implement services.  Their goal is to provide individuals with disabilities access to programs, services, and activities at Murray State University. Contact information:  Velvet Wilson, Director, 423 Wells Hall, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071, (270) 809-5737, 

XIV.  Equal Opportunity.  Murray State University endorses the intent of all federal and state laws created to prohibit discrimination. Murray State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, veteran status, or disability in employment, admissions, or the provision of services and provides, upon request, reasonable accommodation including auxiliary aids and services necessary to afford individuals with disabilities equal access to participate in all programs and activities.  For more information, contact the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access, 103 Wells Hall, (270) 809-3155 (voice), (270) 809-3361 (TDD) or email

XV.  Political Science Internet Resources.  There is a great amount of information available on the WorldWideWeb and I urge you to spend some time surfing the internet for political and historical information on the United States.  If you are not familiar with this process, go to the title page of my homepage and click on the links there. Yahoo is an excellent search engine on politics and public affairs.  Political Documents contains documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Jurist contains much timely information and Findlaw is an excellent source of court opinions and other legal materials.  The Federal Web Locator, ROLL CALL,,and the Federal Internet Guide are excellent guides to the federal government on the 'net. Virtually every federal agency has its own website; for example, see the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.

XVI.  Newspapers and Television.  American National Government is a political science course that is very timely and relevant.  Politics happens all the time, and is reported in the media constantly.  Illustrations of principles and ideas discussed in your text and in class will occur almost every day.  It is imperative for the good student and the good citizen to keep up with these developments by reading newspapers, magazines, and watching television news.  You should read at least one good newspaper a day; better yet would be one national paper such as USA Today or the Wall Street Journal, and a local paper.  One of the best features of newspapers is "op-ed" columns written by syndicated political analysts such as George Will, John David Dyche, Juan Williams, Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell and others; these are usually found on the editorial page and  provide excellent analysis and interpretation of the news as well as news itself.  They are online as well and the first page of the website of the Jewish World Review contains a long list of such columnists.  They also may be used for extra-credit submissions.
    The Fox News Channel is, in my view, the best source of news on television ("We report; you decide.") and the Bret Baier newshour from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. CT is the best single news program on television, iC-Span I and II provide continuous coverage of Congress.  CNN, HLN, CNBC, MSNBC and BLAZE are others.  To be an intelligent voter in particular and a good citizen in general, your learning must be a continuous, diligent, and life-long process.


  I.  Introduction (Jillson ch. 1, the Mayflower Compact, and the Declaration of Independence)    
       A.  Goals for the course.  Why study American government ?  Our socio-political context today: 

        Bob Lonsberry, "Two Americas"    U. S. Debt Clock      Active Shooter Training           Global Terrorism Index
            EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Report
                                                       Thucydides:  We alone regard a man who takes no interest in
 public affairs, not as harmless, but a useless character.

      B.  What is government ?  Some basic definitions.
       C.  What is government for ?  How much should government do?

Madison:  "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
  Aristotle: ". . . the main concern of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizens
and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions."
Gladstone:  "It is the duty of the government to make it easy for the people to
do right, and difficult for the people to do wrong."

      D.  Political and Economic Options; Winfield H. Rose, "On the Nature of Good
           Citizenship in a Democratic Society. (on Internet; access via my homepage)
       E.  Rose, "The Theological, Philosophical, and Historical Foundations of the
                American Polity."  (Purchase at Copy Express.)

       F.   Jefferson, Franklin and Adams, "The Declaration of Independence"

       G.   Winfield H. Rose, "These Truths To Be Self-Evident: What Does the Declaration of Independence Mean Today?"

 II.  The Formal Institutional Setting (Chs. 2 & 3)
        A.  Articles of Confederation (read in Appendix)
  The Constitution (read in Appendix)
  The Founding Fathers and the Constitutional Convention of 1787
  Plans, proposals and compromises
                3.  Ratification and The Federalist Papers (see Appendix; read #'s 10 & 51)
  Interpretations: Beard and McDonald
                5.  Fundamental Principles and Features
  separation of powers and checks and balances
                        b.  federalism and the types of powers
                        c.  Amendments 11-27; amendments proposed but not ratified

III.  Inputs:  Public Opinion and the Mass Media (Chs. 4 & 5)
        A.  Examine the websites Roper Center for Public Opinion Research,
         The Gallup Organization, Harris Poll Online, and Public Agenda Online
        B.  Definitions and characteristics
  Political socialization and its agents 

        D.  Are you a liberal or a conservative?        

        E.  Propaganda.  Click on Propaganda Analysis HomePage and study the types and     examples of propaganda presented there.  You will be responsible for this.
        F.  Mass media and the "Madison Avenue" approach to politics: politicians as soap and toothpaste.
        G.  The mass media: are they "out of touch" and can they be believed?  See Media Research Center: America's Media Watchdog
        H.  The talk radio and talk t.v. phenomena (see the Guide to Talk Radio Programming.)

 IV.  Input Linkage I:  Political Parties (Ch. 7)
        A.  What is a political party?                                     See Directory of U. S. Political Parties.
        B.  Party identification in the American electorate
        C.  Functions of political parties
        D.  Party systems: one-, two-, and multi-                   Google party platforms.
        E.  Why a two-party system in the United States?
        F.  Party organization and structure
        G.  Party lineage, doctrine, and dominance 

        H.  Political parties in the American system: an evaluation.   

  V.  Input Linkage II:  The Selection of Actors/Voting and Elections (Ch. 8)
        A.  Constitutional standards of eligibility
  Formal requirements for voting                                  See Campaign Secrets.

         C.  Party identification and participation in politics
        D.  Ballot systems
        E.  Expansion of the suffrage
        F.  Nominating methods
        G.  Campaign strategy, techniques, and finance; federal election laws
                    and the Federal Election Commission
        H.  The voting decision
        I.  Turnout and voting patterns
        J.  Typology of elections
        K.  Do elections matter?
        L.  Go to Kentucky State Board of Elections for the current Kentucky election calendar,
                voter registration statistics by county, primary and general election results, and a
                downloadable voter registration card with instructions.
        M.  Go to the official websites of the national Democratic and Republican parties.
        N.  So you want to run for office?  Things to consider.

 VI.  Input Linkage III:  Interest Groups and Social Movements (Ch. 6)
        A.  Enter "lobbying" and "interest groups" into a search engine and see what you get.
        B.  What is an interest group? Interest group tactics.
        C.  Differences between interest groups and political parties
        D.  What interest groups do and how they do it ;  A Day in the Life of a Lobbyist     
        E.  FORTUNE's 25 Most Effective Interest Groups Today and related links:  Social Groupings and Organized Groups;                                                                                      First Street 30 Revealed;  Special Interest Group Links
        F.  Evaluation: pro's and con's
        G.  Social Movements

VII.  The Political System, Part I:  Congress  (Article I of the Constitution and relevant amendments; chapter 9 in text)
        A.  The origin and powers of Congress
        B.  Recruitment:  what types of people run for Congress?
        C.  Professionalization and turnover; are term limits needed?
        D.  Current party alignment in the House and Senate                         See and
        E.  Party cohesion and party discipline
        F.  Representative roles and duties                                          
        G.  The two houses: the House and Senate
                1. leadership
                2. committees, their chairmen, and seniority
                3. major differences
        H.  The legislative process, including the House Rules Committee, the discharge petition, the filibuster, and the President
        I.  Congress in the American system:
                1.  special functions: confirmations, ratifications, investigations; impeachments.   Foreign v. domestic policy
                2.  the powers of the legislative branch compared to those of the executive and judicial branches
                3.  evaluation;  Project VoteSmart:  How to Learn About Your Representatives in Congress

VIII.  The Political System, Part II:  The Presidency (Article II,  relevant amendments and Chapters 10 & 11).  To other good Internet links on the Presidency.   Federal law pertaining to Presidential elections and controversies: Title 3 United States Code, Chatpter 1.

William J. Bennett: The President is the symbol of who the people of the United States
are.  He is the person who stands for us in the eyes of the world and the eyes of our children.

        A.  The origin and powers of the Presidency
        B.  Recruitment: what types of people run for President?
        C.  Conceptions of executive power; is there an "undefined residuum"?                  See
        D.  Functions and duties
        E.  The five types of agencies and departments, their duties and functions
        F.  The civil service
        G.  The powers of the executive branch compared to those of the legislative and judicial branches
        H.  Evaluating Presidents and the Presidency

 IX.  The Political System, Part III:  The Judiciary (Article III, relevant amendments, Federalist # 78 and Chapter 12).  See Jurist: The Law Professors' Network,  U. S. Judicial Branch Resources and Judicial Nominations.
        A.  The origin and powers of the judicial branch
        B.  Recruitment: what types of people become judges?                   See
        C.  Basic concepts and definitions
        D.  About the Supreme Court
        E.  Selected important decisions of the Supreme Court
        F.  Contributions of Chief Justice John Marshall
        G.  The powers of the judicial branch compared to those of the executive and legislative branches
        H.  The Judiciary in the American system: activism v. restraint

The Founding Fathers did not establish the United States as a democratic republic so that elected officials would decide trivia, while all great questions would be decided by the judiciary."
                 Judge Andrew Kleinfeld
                      United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1996

X.  Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (Amendments 1 - 10 & 14, Chapter 13)
        A.  The Bill of Rights; see First Amendment Cyber-Tribune and the Second Amendment Foundation.
        B.  The 14th Amendment and the Incorporation Doctrine
        C.  The Bill of Rights interpreted and applied today
        D.  Criminal Justice in America
        E.  Evaluation

 XI.  Public Policy, Foreign and Domestic (Chapters 14 & 15)
        A.  Promoting the general welfare
        B.  Social Security, Medicare                             See
        C.  Regulating the economy
        D.  Taxing and spending: the budget and the national debt; see Tax Foundation
        E.  National security, international affairs and the war against terrorism

XII.  Concluding Observations

The barbarians are not at the gates.  They are inside.
Thomas Sowell

The fact that we live well doesn't mean we live nobly.
David Gergen

No person is above the law.  The high and the low, the mighty and
the mean - all are subject to the rule of law.  This simple yet majestic truth
lies at the very foundation of the American republic.
 Manchester Union Leader, December 21, 1998

Outside Writing Assignment

One of the most important habits an educated and politically aware person can have is reading, on a regular basis, newspapers in general and especially newspaper columns which analyze contemporary political events and issues.  Reading or watching "the news" on television will tell you something about what is taking place, but it will not interpret or analyze what is taking place in terms of the larger political landscape.  That is what nationally-syndicated columnists do when they write their weekly or bi-weekly columns.  These columns are sometimes called "op-ed" pieces because they contain opinion and are usually published on the editorial page of a newspaper.  They also are published in news magazines such as Time, Newsweek and others, and most, if not all, are available via the internet.  The website for Jewish World Review contains an extensive list of such columnists.  Some are clearly conservative, some are clearly liberal, and some are "middle-of-the-road" or moderate.   You may Google the terms "liberal columnists" and "conservative columnists" for further assistance.

Your outside writing assignment for POL 140 is to write an eight to ten page analytical essay on a current political topic or issue that you identify as one of the five most important today, based on at least eight columns written by at least four different columnists.  You should select columnists who have different viewpoints and perspectives, i.e., conservative (right), center (moderate), and liberal (left).  One such topic might be the causes and prevention of gun violence and the role of the Second Amendment. Other topics might be NAFTA, "Obamacare," "Cap & Trade," global climate change, privacy v. national security, the Benghazi fiasco, the economy, the recently-negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran or Islamist terrorism.  Be sure to attach the printed columns to the back of your paper and be sure to indicate when and where they appeared (i.e., give their citation).

This should be a high-quality, well-written paper.  Follow my writing guidelines "Tips on Good Writing" which you may access via my homepage.  Excessive errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation cannot be tolerated.   Double space and use #12 font on a good printer.  Citations should follow the directions given in Style Manual for Political Science, published by the American Political Science Association, under the heading Newspaper Articles.  (This manual is available on-line only from the American Political Science Association website.)  Please include a bibliography at the end in which you list all your sources.  Your due date is November 17.

13.  IF you turn your paper in on time, you will have the opportunity to resubmit your paper,  after it is returned to you, to improve your grade, by making the corrections noted.  Late papers will be accepted until those submitted on time are returned, but they will not have the voluntary resubmission option.   This assignment is worth 15% of your final grade; failure to do it will result in the lowering of your final grade by at least one, and possibly two, grade letters.

Plagiarism warning:  Any evidence that this paper is not your original work will result in a grade of E for the course and in the invocation of the university policy on plagiarism reprinted earlier in this syllabus.   See part XII of this syllabus above.

Tentative Schedule of Assignments

August 16:  Organizational session
September 6: Test 1 (topics I & II)
October 4: Test 2 (topics III, IV, & V)
November 3: Test 3 (topics VI, VII, & VIII)
Outside writing assignment due: November 17
November 22: Test 4 (topics IX & X)
 December 2:  2:00 p.m. FH 509: make-up tests
December 7: Final exam, FH 509, 10:30 a.m.

The above schedule should be regarded as experimental and tentative.
I must reserve the right to adjust it as circumstances require.


Thoughts to Ponder:

In democracies the most potent cause of revolution is the unprincipled
character of popular leaders.

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter
inhabit it.  May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.
 John Adams, in letter to wife Abigail, November 2, 1800
On moving into the White House

We cannot survive as a free society with 12-year-old's having babies, with 15-year-old's
killing each other in the streets, with 17-year-old's dying of AIDS, and
with 18-year-old's graduating from high school unable to read their diplomas.
Newt Gingrich

May the first principles of sound politicks be fix'd in the minds of youth.
Benjamin Franklin

If Saddam Hussein fails to comply and we fail to act or we take some ambiguous third
route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop his program of weapons of mass
destruction . . . he will then conclude that he can go right on doing more to build an arsenal
of devastating destruction. . . . Some way, some day, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal.
Bill Clinton

You were given the choice between war and dishonor.  You chose
dishonor and you will have war.
Churchill to Chamberlain after Munich, 1938 

The single best decision that I have made was selecting Joe Biden as my running mate.
The single best decision I have made.  I mean that.  It's true.  
Barack Obama

Every week we don't pass a stimulus package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs.

We have to pass the (health care) bill so you can find out what is in it.

                                                                                                                       Nancy Pelosi

                                                                               The natural process of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

                                                                                                                              Thomas Jefferson

                                                                                                If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

                                                                                    If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

                                                                                                                            Barack Obama