GOV 312L • Issues and Policies in American Government
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Fulfills second half of legislative requirement for 6 hours of American government. Offered on a letter-grade basis only. May be taken for credit only once. In important ways, practical politics is about the management of philosophical contradictions. The United States was founded as a great experiment in freedom and democracy. Yet, from its inception, until the Civil War, slavery the very antithesis of human freedom existed alongside free and democratic institutions. First, we will explore the historical inplications of this profound contradiction for American politics as well as subsequent legal and political efforts to resolve it. UItimately, the goal of eliminating racial discrimination had to be achieved within a given set of institutional arrangements and a particular discursive framework. Thus, we will examine the institutions and discourse of American politics and the opportunities and constraints that both provided to civil rights reformers. As might be expected, the reforms of the twentieth century introduced new contradictions into the American political system. Therefore, we will conclude the course by examining their political and constitutional implications. Although civil rights protections have been extended to a number of different groups, we will focus almost exclusively on African Americans, the paradigmatic case. U. S. Supreme Court opinions will serve as our primary source of reading material. Nevertheless, this course is suitable for all students, regardless of whether they intend to pursue a career in the law.
Attendance and Particpation Midterm exam Final Exam Writing Assignment