POSC 121 Final Review


Information from the power point lectures, the Open to Debate textbook, and the assigned readings from the reader are all fair game for this exam. The exam will consist of a combination of essay and multiple choice questions.  The essay questions will provide you with opportunity to display your knowledge of a few of the assigned readings.  You may want to be able to share a few sentences about at least a few of these readings. 


You will need to bring a Datalink form 1200-26760 to the final.  These are available for sale in the Grossmont College bookstore.


Here is a list of the readings assigned this semester:


Declaration of Independence


Paine, excerpts from "Common Sense"


Federalist #10


Federalist #51


Anti-Federalist #1


U.S. Constitution *hint* Know the Amendments (especially 1-10)


Aichinger, "The Relevance of the Federalist Papers"


Anthony, Susan B. "On the Enfranchisement of Women" 1873


John Stuart Mill excerpts from “On Conformity, Individuality, and Liberty” and “On Liberty”


U.S. Congress: Equal Rights Amendment, 1972


Martin Luther King, "Letters from the Birmingham City Jail


Haidt, Jonathan, "What Makes People Vote Republican"


Lakoff, George, "Don't Underestimate Trump"


Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

Newton, "Revisiting Eisenhower's Farewell Address: The Military Industrial Complex in the 21st Century"


Johnson, "Empire v. Democracy"


Al Jazeera, "Big Money Behind War: The Military-Industrial Complex

Hanson, "In Defense of Defense" The National Review


Candee, "Minor Party Relevance in American Politics"


Saffell, "Voters: How Do They Decide?"


Newton, "Political Parties and the Current State of Democracy in America"


Braunwarth, "The Representation of Political Rhetoric on TelevisionNews"


Parenti, "Monopoly Media Manipulation"


Chomsky, "What Makes Mainstream Media "Mainstream""


Dewhirst, "The Filibuster in Modern America"


Dewhirst, "The Electoral College in Modern America"


Saffell, "The Proper Role for the Supreme Court: Activist or Restraint?"


Meese, "Jurisprudence of Original Intention"


Brennan, "A Jurisprudence of Human Dignity"


Stadelmann, "Presidential Doctrines in American Foreign Policy"


Reich, "Unjust Spoils"


Here are some examples of short answer questions that may appear on the final exam, some subset of those questions marked by an asterisk (*) are likely to appear on the final exam:


  1. *What is a Collective Action Problem and what role does the government play in solving these problems?  Give an example.
  2. Compare and Contrast Negative Freedom and Positive Freedom.  Give examples.
  3. *What is Classical Liberalism and how has it shaped our political system?
  4. What is the Irony of Democracy or the Paradox of Democracy and how can it be solved?  Give an example.
  5. *What are natural rights and the social contract?  How are they embodied (where do they appear) in the Declaration of Independence?
  6. *Identify the main theme of either Federalist Paper #10 or Federalist Paper #51
  7. How would a Federalist/Framer of the Constitution view the government of today?  Be specific.
  8. What is the Madisonian Model of the Constitution, give an example of this in practice.
  9. *What are civil liberties?  Name one.  Are we obligated to respect the civil liberties of people who are ignorant or swayed by demagogues?  Why or why not?
  10. What is Constitutionalism and why is it important to a democracy?
  11. *Trace the evolution of Civil Rights of African-Americans in the United States.  Be specific in terms of relevant documents or laws.
  12. How is the civil rights movement of women similar and different from the civil rights movement of African-Americans?
  13. Explain the central differences between the women’s rights movements of the late 19th/early 20th century and that of the 1960s/1970s
  14. According to lecture materials, how has slavery and racism shaped our political system?
  15. *Trace the Evolution of Federalism in the United States; in particular, how and why has the scope of federal power changed relevant to state power?
  16. Define the “layer cake” and “marble cake” analogies as they pertain to divisions between governments
  17. *Explain Jonathan Haidt’s argument of why Americans are divided ideologically in the U.S.
  18. What are the two main tools interest groups use to influence U.S. policy?  Give an example.
  19. What is pluralism? Describe its essential features. How well does this theory hold up in the contemporary political system?
  20. What is Mancur Olson’s “Logic of Collective Action”?
  21. What is an iron or “cozy” triangle and what does it have to do with the “military-industrial complex?
  22. *What is plurality voting, what effect does it have on the number of viable parties?  Why?
  23. Compare and Contrast the Spectacle and the Substance in the news media.
  24. In the book and lecture it was noted that the president is expected to fulfill a number of roles or responsibilities.  List at least three of these "roles" that citizens expect the president to fulfill.  Are these expectations realistic?  Why/Why not?  What is a possible danger of the "expectation game"?
  25. *Shortly after the Supreme Court has made a controversial and widely unpopular decision on the rights of criminal suspects, a justice agrees to a television interview.  The justice sets out to justify to the public the Court’s enormous and undemocratic power.  Write a brief script for the justice.  How will the justice explain the Court’s counter-majoritarian role and lack of direct accountability?
  26. Our justice system must balance the rights of the accused with the rights of society.  Discuss this in terms of the "Due Process" and "Crime Control" models presented in class.  Do you believe that the protections found in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution coddle the accused or do you believe these protections are threatened?  Why?  Give examples.
  27. Compare and Contrast Judicial Restraint and Judicial Activism.
  28. Explain how the judicial branch uses its power to make policy.  Discuss the Supreme Court's use of judicial review to restrain the executive and legislative branches.  Give examples.
  29. Compare and Contrast Idealism in foreign policy and Realism in foreign policy.
  30. How has U.S. foreign policy changed over time?
  31. Compare and Contrast the Monroe Doctrine and the Truman Doctrine
  32. *Compare and Contrast Keynesianism Fiscal Policy and Supply-Side Economics
  33. What is Monetary Policy, how does it work, and who largely controls it?


Here is a list of key terms we have gone over this semester and which may appear on the test:


Political Culture

Political Institutions

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Power of Special Interest Groups in our system

Role of the media in our system

Role of the Supreme Court in our democracy

Role of Political Parties in our system

Power of the people in our democracy

How democratic were the Framers?

Protection of "fringe" groups in the U.S.


James Madison

Right to Privacy under the U.S. Constitution

Checks and Balances

Public goods

Natural Rights

Social contract


Development of the Constitution (role of debate and compromise)

Enumerated powers

Elastic clause

Commerce clause

Difference between liberal and conservative Ideology in the U.S.

Two-party system

Plurality Voting

Third party obstacles

Independent “527” expenditures

Super PACs

Newspaper ownership

Consolidation of the news media

News Media Gatekeeping

Agenda setting role of the news media

The Four function of Congress

Public opinion and Congress

Role of lobbyists in influencing legislation


Caucuses or Legislative Service Organizations

Iron or Cozy triangles

Advantages of Incumbency

Filibuster and Cloture

Structure of party organization in government (speakers, whips, etc.)


How a Bill Becomes a Law including the overriding of vetoes

Richard Neustadt and the power of the President

Senate powers of Advise and Consent

Presidential Roles/Jobs

The National Security Council

Judicial review

Judicial activism

Judicial restraint

Structure of the Federal court system

Marshall court and its important cases

Marbury v. Madison

Dred Scott v. Sanford

Warren court

Countermajoritarian role of the Supreme Court

Supply-Side economics

Keynesian economics

shift in tax burden over time

Types of taxes

Federal Reserve Board

Monetary policy


Rates of (in)equality in the U.S.

Monroe Doctrine

Roosevelt Corollary

Truman Doctrine


Realism and idealism in foreign policy

Use of Direct Democracy Tools in California