Example Of Political Science: Research Paper
Section 1: US Government
Discuss the concept of Checks & Balances and explain how it makes government more democratic. Provide a description of each branch that includes its duties and how it checks the power of other branches. Describe the impact of the media on the political process focusing on its role as a check on power.
Historically, the founders of the U.S. Constitution intended to prevent tyranny by ensuring that the powers divested through the government are equal and balance (Kilman & Costello, p. 22). Hence, no individual or group or office can abuse their powers. It set up a powerful executive branch, a bicameral legislature, an unelected Supreme Court, and the appointment of judges - all intended from direct rule by the people (p. 22). In the legislative branch, senators were not directly elected by the people but chosen by state governments to serve a six-year term (p. 23). This was intended to protect them against public pressure. Only the members of the House of Representatives were to be elected, but it was also removed from public maneuvering (p. 23). The government was set in the country’s new capitol, far from public view and it originally had just 65 members (p. 23).
In this set up as molded by the U.S. Constitution, the national government is divided into three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial (p. 24). These three branches are not independent of one another because the Constitution set up a system of checks and balances to help ensure that no one branch became too powerful. Each branch has powers that it can use to check and balance the operations and power of the other two branches. Hence, the legislative branch is provided with powers to legislate laws (p. 24). It has various checks over the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch, meanwhile, is provided with the power to administer the laws. It has distinct checks over the Legislative Branch. Likewise, the Judicial Branch is given the power to interpret the laws. It has certain checks over the Executive Branch.
The Constitution places limits on the powers of officials such as the President, Supreme Court justices, and members of Congress (p. 22). For instance, the executive branch can only send out military troops to put down civil unrest or rebellion or to administer national laws if needed (with the approval of the House of Representative). Such boundaries on the stated powers given to the government administrator promote democracy as it safeguards the privileges of the men in power who act in behalf of the people (p. 25). The concept of checks and balances brilliantly preserve government and social stability and to prevent any one’s interest or faction in society from being able to push its agenda at the expense of everybody else (p. 22). Hence, while the U.S. Treasury branch gathers taxes, an act of Congress should let them spend the public fund since these are people’s taxes.
In his famous Federalist Paper No. 10, Madison argued that the greatest danger to the democracy “was not the tyranny of the minority in government, but the tyranny of the majority” (p. 21). Madison reinstated this in his letter to Thomas Jefferson. He said that “wherever there is real power in government, there is danger of oppression” (p. 21). Hence, the real power in a democracy is in the people and this is safeguarded by the checks and balances principle of the national government.
The Constitution’s separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government and the inherent checks and balances of each branch against the other, plus the explicit guarantees of individual liberty were all crafted to strike a balance between authority and liberty (p. 23).
The role of media in any democratic country has always revolted around politics. Its unyielding influence and omnipresence have made them vanguards of democracy, so to speak. They help cement the principles of checks and balances by ensuring that the abuses are exposed. In another way, media also explores how the said distinctions of powers are maintained. To illustrate, the national media are pivotal in the political process and activities. For instance, during the 2008 national elections, the media played a pivotal role in ensuring that the democratic process is preserved and no inconsistencies took place. Hence, in a way, media can be considered as a democratic agency that supports the different branches of government which maintain the status quo or carry out specific interests. It exposes the fraud and abuses to the general public, if there is any.
Section 2: Federalism
Explain the concept of Federalism. Describe the roles of federal, state, and local government. Compare and Contrast Dual Federalism, Cooperative Federalism, and New Federalism including a description of the leaders and movements associated with these concepts.
Federalism is a government system wherein the same territory is controlled by two levels of government. In general, the broader national government governs issues that affect the whole nation and the smaller subdivisions govern local issues (Legal Information Institute, p. 1). Both the national and local governments have the power to enact laws and both have a certain level of autonomy from each other. The United States has a federal system of governance which is made up of a national or federal government and the state government (p. 1).
The federal government makes foreign policy, with exclusive power to enact treaties, declare war, and supervise imports and exports (p. 1). It also has the main authority to print money. Most administrative functions, however, are shared by both the federal and the state governments. These include taxation, commercial laws, environmental policies, and civil rights. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and other nationalist leaders advocated federalism in its early infancy (p. 1).
Dual federalism was originally administered in the U.S. during the first 150 years of the American republic. This was in 1789 through World War II (Kilman & Costello, p. 52). In this type of federalism, the national government managed national defense, foreign policy, and promoted trade while the state government managed local matters, economic regulation, and criminal justice (p. 52). This type of federalism is also known as the “layer-cake federalism” since both entities had their own special areas of responsibility. Their functions rarely overlapped (p. 53). This was initiated under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln (p. 52).
Meanwhile, cooperative federalism or marble-cake federalism, as it is more popularly known, has been administered in the U.S. from 1945 up to 1969 (p. 54). Under this type of federalism, national and state government authority have become intertwined. The national government has become integrated with the state and local governments. Hence, it was not easy to distinguish one leadership from another. State and local governments administered various federal programs (p. 55). For instance, states largely relied on federal funds to support their own programs. This was initiated under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt (p. 55).
The American Civil War (1860-1865) helped ease out the problems of federalism (Kilman & Costello, p. 62). The northern victory and the subsequent adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution abolish slavery, rectified national citizenship, reduced the power of the states in civil rights and liberties, and, generally established the supremacy of the National Constitution and laws over the states (p. 62).
In the first third of the 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court usually cited federalism considerations to reduce federal authority over the national economy (p. 63). Under the New Deal programs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the powers of the federal government have extremely expanded (p. 65). Most of these Roosevelt programs were funded by the federal government and they were manned by the states. It evolved into a federal grant aid wherein the federal government gives a certain budget to state government to administer a special program (p. 66). The U.S. Supreme Court legitimated this expanded federal role and it has generally enabled the national government to subsidize states since 1936 (p. 66).
Since the 1970s, political leaders and experts in politic paved the way for the New Federalism to redress the large powers of the national government and to give back state authority to local government (Legal Information Institute, p. 1). While the national government maintains its high powers, state governments have regained some new powers. Under his presidency, Richard Nixon supported this type of federalism (1969–1974) and every president since Nixon has continued to support the return of some powers to state and local governments (p. 1).
New Federalism has evolved into a distinct form with in a variety of policies. New Federalists have argued for reduced limits on federal power. A devolution of power took place and it gave states power and responsibility for certain government programs (p. 1). The new federalism supporters attested that this new federalism can be more effective since they are more locally based and hence, more direct in its administration. They also argued that a “one-size-fits-all” program applied by Washington cannot effectively function (p. 1).
Section 3: Civil RightsDiscuss two civil rights found in the Bill of Rights explaining how they have changed over time through court or public interpretation. Explain the Process of Incorporation and the significance of the 14th Amendment to this concept. Provide an example of the Process of Incorporation.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the people’s freedom through the Bill of Rights. Examples of civil rights found in the Bill of Rights include the freedom of speech, the right to protect one’s self through arms, etc. These rights can cause equality between citizens as an individual right just like the case of Plessy, wherein it was reinstated that one’s right is the same as any other citizen’s rights (Edwards, Wattenburg & Linesberry, p. 29). However, the exercise of one’s civil right is the issue. In a similar light, the individual right of one person can cause further inequality against the law. What if one take advantage of his freedom to exclude the Blacks from his colleagues? Hence, freedom and equality conflict with each other.
The legality this civil right is attacked on the basis of its conflict with the amendments of both the 13th and the 14th of the Constitution (p. 29). It also conflicts with the abolishment of slavery, which prohibits some restrictive laws on the states (p. 29).
A statute which just implies a legal boundary between the white and colored races, a distinction which is based on the color of the said races. This will forever hold true as the Whites segragate themsleves form the Balcks. Hence, the civil right changed its meaning to hold no distinction in the legal equality of the said races (p. 30). The change of this civil right was certainly aimed to apply a total equality of the Whites and the Blacks before the Constitution (p. 30). In general, this civil right should be universally recognized.
Another change which transpired in the civil rights of women is brought by the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It gave women the right to vote and prohibited each state and the national government to deny any citizen from their right of suffrage (p. 55). This law has been changed during the liberatio of women. Specificaly, this was enacted on August 18, 1920 (p. 55). This great change has been brought about as the fruit of the historic struggle of women organizations. Many women groups have worked towards this ciivl right through various protests, rallies, marches, political lobbying, among others. Women have started to work for this right since the 1800s (p. 55). The amendment was initially introduced in 1878 at the U.S. Congress. After forty hard years, it was ratified via state voting.
The Fourteenth Ammendment entails the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures (Kilman & Costello, p. 65). This shall not be violated and no warrants shall be issued if not based on probable cause, supported by an oath or affirmation, and specifically entailing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized (p. 65).
The process of incorproating all the rights of an indivudal is encapsulated through the due process which is entailed in the Fourteenth Ammendment. The aplication of this incorproation was tested during the Slaughterhouse Case in 1873 wherein the Supreme Court interpreted the scope of the Fourteenth Ammendment as incorporating the different rights of an individual. It impressed upon the due process clause which shields an individual from the powers of the state (p. 66).
At the onset of the 20th century, the Supreme Court has began to selectively integrate some of the special provisions of the Bill of Rights while it disapproved of the incorporation of other rights (p. 66). In the case of Duncan vs Louisiana (1968), it illustrates a modern view of the incorporation of the rights of an individual as it interpreted the provisions of the Bill of Rights as “fundamental to the American principle of justice” (p. 67). This referred to the right to be tried by a jury in a grave criminal case. The due process was made available by the virtue of the Fourteenth Ammendment.
The most recent case of incorporation was represented in the case of McDonald vs Chicago in 2010 (p. 68). It challenged the tough gun control in Chicago. Two years before this case, the Supreme Court affirmed that by the virtue of the Second Ammendment, the individual has a right to bear arms. In the McDonald’s case, the Supreme Court sustained that the second Ammendment was considered by the ratifiers of the Fourteenth Ammendment as “among those basic rights needed by the system to implement order and liberty” (p. 67).
Section 4: Current EventsProvide an example in the news (from the last year) that is relevant to a concept discussed in this paper. Give an explanation of why it relates to the concept. Analyze the source of the news story; focusing on its credibility. Include your own thoughts and opinions on the Current Event.
Last year, President Obama declared a war against the ISIS, a terrorist group. He promised a “steady, relentless” campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group” (Holland, p. 1). Single handedly, the U.S. President announced that “the US will initiate a sustained bombing campaign against the members of ISIS in Iraq and Syria (p. 1). Obama has also asked the U.S. Congress to approve the $500 million to train and empower the “moderate” Syrian rebels. Hence, the U.S. will send 475 more troops to help the Iraqi security forces. Obama also pledged that this fight will not include American combat troops fighting on foreign soil (p. 1). He also promised that the U.S. will provide humanitarian relief to those displaced by the war.
Under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress has sole power "to declare war and grant letters of marque and reprisal" (Legal Information Institute, p. 1). But then, Article II, Section 2 states that "The president shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." While it is clear that the Framers intended for Congress alone to declare war, presidents do not usually check with Congress before acting. This is often considered as the war powers of the president. Hence, this was illustrated in this case wherein the U.S. president readily declared war against a terrorist group.
Constitutional experts agree that “there are no gaps in the Constitution’s allocation of foreign affairs powers” in the war power context (p. 1). They reasoned that the Constitution listed only the powers linked with the executive power that was transferred to Congress..
The constitutional experts also explained that the Framers considered war and treaty powers to be with the executive, as in the tradition of the British model in providing the legislative power over funding so as to check the executive. Hence, the management of foreign relations was “dynamic,” according to the interaction between the political branches (p. 2).
This illustration showcases the delineated powers of each branch of the U.S. government. It also highlights the “unwritten” rules in the checks and balances of the three branches, particularly when the topic is about fighting global terrorism. As the constitutional experts say, the foreign relations power is often rested in the executive branch. They believe that international agreements that transfer sovereign powers may not be realized unilaterally by the executive but it needs the approval of the legislative branch (p. 1).
This can be explained by the notion expounded by Locke on executive prerogative, which would permit the executive to act “without the prescription of law, and sometimes even against it” (p. 1). This implies that the doctrine was incorporated sub silentio into the Constitution (p. 2). The philosophers John Locke and Montesquieu both believed that the executive exercised sole power over foreign affairs – through what Locke called the “federative power” (p. 2). While Montesquieu recognized legislative checks on executive foreign affairs power – through the power of the purse and through its power to disband the army – neither Locke nor Montesquieu envisioned the judicial branch as having any role in foreign affairs (p. 2).
Present day experts also argued that war-making and treaty making powers are part of the royal prerogative (p. 2). It enables the legislative checks through the power of impeachment. Hence, in the British tradition, even when the British King seemed to have sovereign control over foreign affairs, during the eighteenth century Parliament, through its power over domestic legislation and the power of the purse, exerted “a more direct influence over foreign policy than the formal allocation of constitutional powers would suggest” (p. 2).
In contrast, Fisher, a senior specialist in separation of powers, it was just a precedence that President Harry Truman went to war against North Korea in 1950 without asking Congress for authority (p. 3). Since that time, presidents normally used military force by depending on what they consider as independent and self-sufficient sources of authority, particularly the commander-in-chief clause. Fisher noted that these assertions of political power have no legal foundation (p. 2).
Edwards, G., M. P. Wattenburg & R. L. Linesberry. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy, 10th ed. Addison Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc., New York. 2002.
Holland, Joshua. Obama Declared War on ISIS — Here’s What You Need to Know. September 11, 2014. Accessed on 29 March 2015 < http://billmoyers.com/2014/09/11/obama-declared-war-on-isis-heres-what-you-need-to-know/>.
Kilman, Johnny H. & Costello, George, eds. The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. 2000.
Legal Information Institute. “Federalism.” Cornell University School of Law. 2015. Accesed on 29 March 2015 < https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/federalism>.