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Political Culture

Political Culture

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Political Culture

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  1. Political Culture Political Tolerance & Mistrust of the Government

  2. Value Changes during the 1930s • Although the Preamble to the Constitution states that “promotion of the General Welfare” is a major purpose of government, the meaning of that value was transformed during the 1930s

  3. Value Changes during the 1930s • Great Depression brought about the near-collapse of capitalism • FDR’s New Deal affirmed government’s responsibility for the welfare of its people

  4. Value Changes during the 1930s • In FDR’s 1944 inaugural address, he outlined a “Second Bill of Rights” • Reflected FDR’s firm commitment to “economic security and independence”

  5. FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” • Asserted everyone has a right to: • Useful job • Food • Clothing • Decent home • Adequate medical care • Good education

  6. FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” • These beliefs played a major role in the creation of the civil rights & welfare legislation of the 1960s & as recently as the early 1990s

  7. FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” • Clinton referred to FDR’s “Second Bill of Rights” when he said: “Health care is a basic right all should have”

  8. Value Changes • The defeat of Clinton’s health care plan indicates that Americans don’t always agree on the meaning of this value

  9. Value Changes • The government’s responsibility for the general welfare became a major issue of the 2000 election campaign

  10. 2000 Presidential Election • Candidates George W. Bush & Al Gore debated the merits of a government-sponsored prescription plan for the elderly

  11. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • American value • Easily misunderstood

  12. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Democracy depends on citizens being reasonably tolerant of the opinions & actions of others

  13. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Most Americans believe themselves to be fairly tolerant • Studies shows that political tolerance is much more complex a value than it appears on the surface

  14. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Key findings: • (1) Overwhelming majority of Americans agree with freedom of speech, religion, & the right to petition—at least in the abstract

  15. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • (2) People are not as politicallytolerant as they proclaim themselves to be • (3) Americans are willing to allow many people with whom they disagree to do a great deal politically

  16. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • (4) Americans have become more tolerant over the last few decades • (5) Most people dislike one or another group strongly enough to deny it certain political rights—although people are not always inclined to act on their beliefs

  17. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • As a general rule, people are willing to deny rights to people on the opposite end of the political spectrum

  18. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Liberals are most likely to deny rights to right-wing groups (neo-Nazis) • Conservatives are most likely to deny rights to groups they may disapprove of (gays, atheists)

  19. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Americans remain more tolerant of unpopular ideas, individuals, and groups in the abstract than in reality

  20. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Personal liberties &constitutional freedoms endure: • Americans often do not act on their beliefs

  21. POLITICAL TOLERANCE • Cannot agree on which group, individual, or idea should be suppressed • Permit the courts to enforce constitutional protections

  22. Mistrust of the Government • Values of the political culture are not immune to change • Trust that Americans have in their government has varied considerably

  23. Mistrust of the Government • Although the trust reflected in the 1950s & early 1960s may have been artificially high, trust in government & its officials has declined significantly since the mid 1960s

  24. Mistrust of the Government • Many scholars blame the Vietnam War & Watergate for the initial, dramatic drops • Trend is persistent into the early 21st century (Americans in record number express their disgust with politics & politicians)

  25. Political Efficacy • Accompanying the mistrust of government has been a drop in external political efficacy • Belief of an individual that government will respond to his/her personal needs or beliefs

  26. Mistrust of the Government • Americans are now much more likely to say that public officials care little about what the people think or want

  27. Mistrust of the Government • Americans seem to have come to the conclusion that government is too big &pervasive to be sensitive to individual citizens

  28. Mistrust of the Government • However—international studies show that: • Americans feel significantly higher levels of political efficacy than do citizens of many European countries

  29. Political Efficacy • Americans are less likely to vote than most Europeans • Americans are more likely to engage in other forms of political participation: • (1) Sign petitions • (2) Work to solve community problems • (3) Regularly discuss politics