Combined AP Government Vocab [As We Go]

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Majority Rule

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88 Terms
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Majority Rule

A fundamental democratic principle requiring that the majority's view be respected

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Checks and Balances

A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power

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Unitary System

System of government in which all power is invested in a central government

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Federalism

A system of government in which power is divided by a written constitution between a central government and regional [state] governments

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Express Powers

Powers specifically granted to one of the branches of the national government by the Constitution

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Implied Powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution

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Reserved Powers

Powers not specifically granted to the federal government or denied to the states; Are held to the states by the 10th amendment

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Cooperative Federalism

Situations in which the national and state governments work together to complete projects. Also called fiscal federalism.

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Categorial Grants

Funds provided for a specific and clearly defined purpose

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Block Grants

Funds granted to the states for a broadly defined purpose. These grants shift resources from the federal government to the states and contribute to the growing number of state and local government employees.

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Mandates

Rules telling states what they must do to comply with federal guidelines; If unfunded they put a financial burden on state and local governments.

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Devolution

A movement to transfer the responsibilities of governing from the federal government to state and local governments.

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Political Culture

A set of widely shared political beliefs and values.

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Political Socialization

The process by which political values are formed and passed from one generation to the next; Most important agent is the family.

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Public Opinion

Attitudes about institutions, leaders, political issues, and events.

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Political Ideology

A cohesive set of beliefs about politics, public policy and the role of the government.

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Political Efficacy

The belief that one's political participation really matters - that one's vote can actually make a difference

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Split - Ticket Voting

Voting for candidates of different parties for different offices in the same election; Recent elections has seen an increase in voters identifying themselves as independents and voting for candidates from both parties.

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Political Party

A group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate the governments and determine public policy.

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Plurality Election

The winning candidate is the person who receives more votes than anyone else, but less than half the total.

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Single-Member District

An electoral district from which one person is chosen by the voters for each elected office and leads to legislatures dominated by two political parties.

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Party Era

A historical period dominated by one political party.

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Critical Election

An election when significant groups of voters change their traditional patterns of party loyalty.

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Party Realignment

The majority party is displaced by the minority party, thus ushering in a new party era.

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Divided Government

A government in which one party controls the presidency while another party controls Congress.

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Interest Group

An organization of people whose members share views on specific interests and attempt to influence public policy to their benefit, but do not elect people to office.

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Political Action Committee

A committee formed by business, labor, or other interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support.

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Free Rider

People who benefit from an interest group without making any contributions.

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Power Elite Theory

The theory that a small number of very wealthy individuals, powerful corporate interest groups, and large financial institutions dominate key policy areas.

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Pluralist Theory

The theory that many interest groups compete for the power in a large number of policy areas.

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Hyper-Pluralist Theory

The theory that government policy is weakened and often contradictory because there are so many competing interest groups.

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Mass Media

Means of communication such as newspapers, radio, television, and the internet that can reach large, widely dispersed audiences.

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Linkage Institutions

Institutions that connect citizens to government. Example are mass media, interest groups, and political parties.

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Horse-Race Journalism

The tendency of the media to cover campaigns by emphasizing how candidates stand in the polls instead of where they stand on the issues.

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Congressional Restricting

The reallocation of the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives.

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Gerrymandering

The legislative process by which the majority party in each state legislature redraws congressional districts to ensure the maximum number of seats for its candidates.

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Incumbent

An officeholder who is seeking re-election. Usually this is the most important factor in determining the outcome of the election.

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Franking Privilege

The right of members of Congress to mail newsletters to their constituents at the government's expense.

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Standing Committees

Permanent subject-matter congressional committees that handle legislation and oversee the bureaucracy.

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Conference Committees

Temporary Committees that are formed to resolve differences in the House and Senate version of a bill.

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House Rules Committee

Committee that sets the guidelines for floor debate in the House. Gives each bill a rule, places it on the calendar, limits debate time and determine its amendments.

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House Ways and Means Committee

Committee that handles all tax bills.

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Seniority

Unwritten rule in both houses reserving the committee chairs to members of the committee with the longest records of continuous service

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Filibuster

A way of delaying or preventing action on a bill by using long speeches and unlimited debate to "talk a bill to death".

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Cloture

A senate motion to end a filibuster requiring 3/5ths vote.

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Logrolling

Tactic of mutual aid and vote trading among legislators.

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Oversight

Congressional review of the activities of an executive agency, department or office.

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Delegate role of Representation

When members of Congress cast their votes based on the wishes of their constituents.

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Closed Primary

A primary in which voters are required to identify a party preference before the election and are not allowed to split their ticket.

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Front Loading

The recent pattern of states holding primaries early in order to maximize their mass media attention and political influence.

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Soft Money

Contributions to political parties for party-building activities and usually a means of circumventing limits on hard money.

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527 Group

A tax-exempt organization, not regulated by the Federal Election Commission, created to influence the political process.

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Veto

The president's Constitutional power to reject a bill passed by Congress, but may be overridden by 2/3rds of their vote.

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Line-Item Veto

The power to veto specific dollar amounts or line items from major congressional spending bills. This power was struck down as an unconstitutional expansion of the President's power.

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Executive Agreement

A pact and therefore not part of US law, that does not have to be approved, between the president and the head of a foreign state.

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Executive Privilege

The President's power to refuse to disclose confidential information. In US v. Nixon it was ruled that this power is not guaranteed.

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Lame-Duck Period

The period of time in which the President's term is about to come to an end and they have less influence.

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Bureaucracy

A large, complex organization of appointed officials.

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Executive Order

A directive, order or regulation issued by the President but have the Constitutional force of law.

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Iron Triangle

An alliance among an administrative agency, an interest group, and a congressional committee where each member provides key services, information, or policy for the others.

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Issue Network

A network that includes policy experts, media pundits, congressional staff members, and interest groups who regularly debate an issue.

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Policy Agenda

A set of issues and problems that policy makers considers important.

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Appellate Jurisdiction

The authority of a court to hear an appeal from a lower court.

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Senatorial Courtesy

An unwritten tradition whereby the Senate will not confirm nominations for lower court positions that are opposed by a senator of the president's own party from the state in which the nominee is to serve.

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Writ of Certiorari

An order by the Supreme Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review.

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Rule of Four

The Supreme Court will hear a case if four justices agree to do so.

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Solicitor General

The solicitor general is responsible for handling all appeals on behalf of the US government to the Supreme Court.

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Amicus Curiae Brief

A friend of the court brief filed by an interest group or interested party to influence a Supreme Court decision.

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Stare Decisis

A Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand". This ensures most decisions are based on precedents established in earlier cases.

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Judicial Restraint

Philosophy that the Supreme Court should use precedents and the Framer's original intent to decide cases.

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Judicial Activism

Philosophy that the Supreme Court must correct injustices when other branches of government or the states refuses to do so.

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Monetary Policy

The Federal Reserve Board controls the economy by regulating the money supply, controlling inflation, and adjusting interest rates.

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Fiscal Policy

Raising and lowering taxes and government spending programs.

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Entitlement Programs

Government sponsored programs that provides mandated benefits to those who meet eligibility requirement, two of which are Social Security and Medicare.

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Office of Management and Budget

Office responsible for preparing the budget that the president submits to Congress.

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Civil Liberties

Legal and Constitutional rights that protect individuals from arbitrary acts of government.

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Civil Rights

Policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by government officials or individuals. Includes prohibiting racial and gender discrimination.

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Selective Incorporation

The case-by-case process by which liberties listed in the Bill of Rights have been applied to the states using the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Establishment Clause

A provision of the First Amendment that prohibits Congress from establishing an official government-sponsored religion.

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Free Exercise Clause

A provision of the First Amendment that guarantees each person the right to believe what he or she wants; however, a religion cannot make an act legal that would otherwise be illegal.

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Clear and Present Danger Test

Judicial interpretation of the First Amendment that government may not ban speech unless it poses an imminent threat to society.

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Writ of Habeas Corpus

A court order directing that a prisoner be brought before a court and that the court officers show cause why the prisoner should not be released.

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Bill of Attainder

A legislative act that provides for the punishment of a person without a court trial.

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Ex Post Facto Law

A law applied to an act committed before the law was enacted.

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