GOV 312L • Issues and Policies in American Government
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Offered on the letter-grade basis only. Fulfills second half of legislative requirement for government. This course will examine the principles that lie at the core of the American political system. Why do we, as Americans, stand for liberty, equality, and democracy? How did these come to be the principles that we hold dear? How has our commitment to these principles manifested itself in American political history, and what do these principles demand of us today? We will begin by considering the theoretical foundations of our liberal democracy in the thought of Hobbes, Locke, and Montesquieu. Then we will consider how the political theory of modern liberalism found expression in the American Founding, both in the Declaration of Independence and in the Federalist Papers. After studying the Founding, we will read considerable portions of Democracy in America, focusing on Tocqueville's claim that America's overriding passion is for equality. Next we will consider how equality, liberty, and democracy became thematic issues in the debate over slavery, by reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates as well as the views of abolitionists such as Henry David Thoreau and Frederick Douglass. We will conclude with contemporary arguments about the meaning and importance of liberty, equality, and democracy in the twentieth century and today.
Two in-class exams and a final exam Attendance will also affect your grade.
Second Treatise of Government by John Locke The Federalist Papers Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman A course packet