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AS and A Level: United States

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Important events in American politics

  1. 1 The Constitution (1787) – The Constitution underpins American Politics. Understanding when and how it came about is essential. You should know the key articles of the Constitution and key amendments in the Bill of Rights.
  2. 2 Civil War (1861-1865) – This is an important time not only in terms of race but also in the development of political parties. Understanding why the War took place and the consequences of it will help to understand some deep rooted feelings in America.
  3. 3 1930s – It is important to understand the impact that FDR’s New Deal had on American society. The New Deal helped to develop the scope and ideas of the Democratic Party, started a shift in voting behaviour and had a significant impact on the concept of Federalism.
  4. 4 1960s –The Civil Rights Movement played an important role in race relations leading to the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. JFK and LBJ are a good example of a balanced ticket. LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ had an impact on federalism, voting behaviour (through the demise of the ‘solid south’) and party strategy. The President’s role of ‘Commander in Chief’ is also evident through America’s continued involvement in Vietnam.
  5. 5 Post 9/11 – An understanding of how the events of 9/11 changed the way America viewed not only itself but also the rest of the world is important. The impact of the event including military conflict with Afghanistan and the subsequent ‘War on Terror’ should be understood along with the impact it had on US citizens ‘rights’.

How to become a successful politics student

  1. 1 Keep up to date – Sign up for updates from The Washington Post or The New York Times. You can even get updates from good news sources on social networking sites.
  2. 2 Read – Race of Lifetime (an account of the 2008 Presidential Election) will provide you with good political information, whilst American Literature will help to embed knowledge of American society.
  3. 3 Watch –The West Wing is an excellent American TV series to watch and whilst the content is fictional, the procedures shown will definitely help you to understand how American Politics works. Recount is a good film depicting the problems in Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election.
  4. 4 Make – To keep track of key political vocabulary make your own dictionary. Often it is necessary to define key terms so keeping a dictionary of key words and their definitions can be really helpful.
  5. 5 Enjoy – Talk about what you have learnt. Explain things to friends and family. Discuss ideas with other people in your class.

Essay writing and exam technique

  1. 1 Accurate and appropriate information – The biggest problem for most American politics students is that they often have lots to say but not enough time to say it. It is essential to plan your answer so you only include appropriate information.
  2. 2 Structure – For essay questions you need to define three or four areas to be dealt with systematically. Remember that each point or area of discussion should be easy to identify by the reader and that examples are important to back up your ideas.
  3. 3 Balanced argument – Make sure you have explored different viewpoints, theories and concepts as this will help to make sure that your answer is balanced.
  4. 4 Analysis and evaluation – There are often more marks awarded for analysis and evaluation at A2 than at AS. You need to analyse the points that you are making by commenting on why they are relevant and how they impact the argument.
  5. 5 Synoptic approach – You need to demonstrate that you have developed an understanding of the subject as a whole and not just learnt to recall specific bits of information. Bringing in information learnt in other units is appropriate or make comparisons with the UK political system.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 7
  • Peer Reviewed essays 2
  1. The Galatic Assembly

    Senators will either answer with 'Aye', 'Nai' or 'Abstain', a resolution which has a majority of 'Aye' or for votes will be passed. Thereafter, when the GA will be conviened again, the resolution will be brought up upon. There will only be one for speech, and one aganist speech, after that, it is voted on. If passed it will go on to the Chansellor, who will either veto it, or accept it, on the spot. If vetoed it will go back to the GA and will need a 2/3 vote to be accepted without going back to the Chansellor again.

    • Word count: 4272
  2. presidential power how far does it go

    The Case for the Prosecution The rationale for the attacks on the Administration's actions is based on two separate but interlinked aspects; the legal and the ideological. The essence of the American government is dictated by the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments, which must be passed by two thirds of both Houses of Congress and ratified by 75% of the state legislatures. Many of the first Amendments to the Constitution were adapted from the 1791 Bill of Rights Lowi et al segregate the Bill of Rights into Civil Liberties ( I-VI, VIII)

    • Word count: 4470
  3. This paper aims to examine Mabini's political stance for the Filipino Nation.

    Apolinario Mabini Mabini had such strong feelings against Americans. He openly detested the idea of the Americanization. This ire against Americans often spilled in the various articles he authored - articles published in newspapers in America, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and countless other countries. Especially interesting is this article lifted from the March 23rd edition of the Independent of New York. This article addressed one of the controversial issues faced by the country. "Among the many questions asked about the Philippines and her inhabitants, the following is the most interesting: "Can the natives be Americanized? In other words, can people of the Malayan race, up to this time governed despotically by the Spaniards, be trained and elevated into citizenship in a short span of time, that they may fit into our form of government?

    • Word count: 3108
  4. 'Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.' - Discuss this statement by Stanley Wolpert

    Thus, his participation in politics may be said to have began begin from this point. In this essay I shall try to show that Stanley Wolpert's statement about Jinnah is true and that his role in the partition of India was not only significant but also crucial. Through his efforts he single handedly shaped the events that lead to the creation of Pakistan in August 1947. This view is supported by Professor Lawrence Ziring that Jinnah 'personality made Pakistan possible' and that 'it would not have emerged without him'3 At the same time it is also interesting to make note of the various criticisms of Jinnah by many prominent members of the British Empire, Indian Congress Party and even various Muslim political parties.

    • Word count: 5054
  5. How is Britain's constitution changing in the 21st century?

    The convention could have the possibility to repress the British constitution and bring some serious consequences. A unitary Britain is visibly part of an ever integrating Europe, yet Britain is also transferring power across the national borders to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The establishment and maintenance of these representative bodies has brought into enquiry how satisfied they are in their current situation, and whether there would be moves for more power to be devolved to these executive bodies, maybe even to the point of independence which significantly alters the constitution.

    • Word count: 5306
  6. Urban Transportation

    People lived in the central business district because that is where they worked. Now with the simple horse and buggy, people that can afford the transportation can move a mile or two out of the central city (Guathier 174). The big explosion of growth and increased ridership came at the turn of the century. The cause of this explosion was the electric streetcars that were installed in many cities. Whichever direction the rail lines were laid down and the streetcar moved, people began building their homes in that direction.

    • Word count: 3894
  7. The Separation of Church and State in America.

    Per this health care system employers can deny contraceptive coverage under the explanation that birth control violates their religious beliefs. In actuality this restriction of their healthcare is an imposition of religious beliefs on the women being insufficiently covered. The supposed justification of the denial of contraceptive coverage is that it is an issue of religious freedom, when in reality it is a womens rights issue. Contraceptive coverage is an issue of women's health and not an issue of religious right.

    • Word count: 3402
  8. American Government Term Paper #1. Discuss the theory of Checks and Balances as outlined by the Framers of the Constitution.

    The Framers understood that they were trusting the future generations the responsibility to draw upon their intelligence, judgment, and experience to give tangible meaning to these broad principles over time. As Chief Justice John Marshall observed almost two centuries ago, ?we must never forget it is a Constitution we are expounding?intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs? (The Framer?s Constitution).

    • Word count: 3167

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent has the Constitution protected civil liberties in America?

    "`In conclusion, although in theory the American constitution appears to protect all American civil liberties without fail because it is codified, entrenched and protected, in practise it has only been partially successful in this. It has been interpreted differently to infringe others rights. The three examples of this are the treatment of the African Americans un till the late 1960's, the treatment of the Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbour and the treatment of the suspects in the war on terror. In theory the Supreme Court should have protected them but initially did not."

  • Evaluate the claim that the Senate is far more powerful than the House of Representatives within congress

    "In conclusion, whilst the powers of the Senate and House of Representatives are often equal and were created as equal parts of Congress - in reality the powers of the Senate have increased. This could be due to the increased need for foreign policy, meaning the power of ratifying treaties is more significant than when the Constitution was first written in the 18th century. The benefits enjoyed by Senators and the appearance of it as a promotion from The House, make it appear more important and powerful, however the increase in its importance and the prestigious ness is not in correlation with the increase in power - meaning that whilst the Senate appears a lot more powerful than the House of Representatives, a lot of this is appearance and the actual powers of the Senate haven't changed that much."

  • US pressures groups are undemocratic, discuss

    "Pressure groups are an essential dimension of any democracy, yet they can endanger democracy if interest groups undermine the public interest or if the methods they use are corrupt or intimidating. In a democratic society, different forms of lobbying are essential to protect sections of society. The problem arises where greed and self-interest affects the rights of the public as a whole. To reach a firm conclusion, it is clear that pressure groups are to a degree very undemocratic, namely because of the methods they undertake. Yet, it must be made clear that they do perform key roles that seem to strengthen democracy rather than weaken it, and as long as power is not abused, pressure groups do not undermine the democratic process of the US."

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