Chapter One:

Ideas That Shape American Politics

Note: Students will click on the right arrow in the left-hand corner to advance to the next slide. Then, students will click on the icon to play the audio for that slide.

LO1 – Identify the Purposes of Government:

Government is defined as the structures or order (government agencies, departments, etc.) used to resolve conflict for the entire society.

The purposes of government are to:

Establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility (Give us justice and peace)

Provide for the common defense (Keep us safe)

Promote the general welfare (Help us)

Secure the blessings of liberty (Give us freedom)

LO2 – Define Politics:

Politics is defined as the process by which society makes collective decisions about who gets what, when and how.

LO3 – Define a Social Contract:

A social contract is defined as an agreement between citizens and government in which citizens give their consent to be governed in exchange for protection of their rights.

LO4 – Identify the View of Political Theorists John Locke and Thomas Hobbes:

Both 17th Century theorists were social contract theorists - that is, they believed that a social contract was extremely important to the commonwealth to protect the rights of the people.

See also:

Locke’s Political ViewsHobbes Political Views

Believed in limited governmentBelieved in an all-powerful government (particularly a and that man is basically “good”monarchy or a single-ruler)


Government should preserve People must give up certain rights to the government life, liberty, and private property (or chaos will result)



People form governments People form governments (through a social contract)

(through a social contract)to protect rights

to protect rights

Governments derive their just powersGovernments derive their just powers from the

from the consent of the governedconsent of individuals who agree together to follow certain rules

LO5 – Define the Principles and Types of a Democracy:


Majority Rule, Equality, Individual Rights and the dignity of the individual, and Protection of Minority Rights.

Types of Democracy:


A direct democracy is one where each individual person represents themselves. There are no elected representatives. For example, this form of democracy is utilized on the east coast by towns. These towns hold “town hall” meetings, for example, where all persons living in a town attend the meeting and cast votes on town decisions.


Indirect democracy is also referred to as a representative democracy or a “republic.” In this form, persons vote for elected officials at the local, state and national government levels who represent them and make decisions for them.

LO6 – Identify the Principles of Pluralism, Elitism, and Democracy:

Pluralism: People influence government through interest groups.

Elitism: Power rests in the hands of a small number of wealthy and powerful individuals.

Democracy: People rule.

LO7 – Define Negative and Positive Liberty:

Negative Liberty: Defined as freedom from constraints or the interference of others.

Positive Liberty: Defined as the ability—and provision of basic necessities—to pursue one’s own goals.

LO8–Differentiate Among Ideological Beliefs:

Liberal: Defined as individuals who value cultural diversity, government programs for the needy, and public intervention in the economy

Conservative: Defined as individuals who believe in reduced government spending, personal responsibility, and traditional moral values

Socialist: Defined as a belief that citizens are responsible for one another’s well-being and use government policy to ensure all are comfortably cared for.

Libertarian: Defined as individuals who believe in minimal government, while defending borders, prosecuting crime, and protecting private property.



More Government

Less Military / Defense


Less Government

More Military / Defense

To find out what ideology you might be, see the website and “take the test:”

If you had $100 to spend, how would a Liberal and Conservative spend that money in the areas indicated?








Test Questions

If you had $100 to spend, how would a Liberal and Conservative spend that money in the areas indicated?








Test Questions

Which of the following correctly represents the trends in the areas marked?

A. Liberals and Conservatives want more

B. Liberals and Conservatives want less

C. Liberals want more

Conservatives want less

D. Liberals want less

Conservatives want more


Test Questions – Part One:








Test Questions – Part Two:

Answer = D (Lib. Less/Consv. More






Spending)_______ X ________|________________________


Test Questions – Part Two:

Answer = A (Lib. More/Consv. More

LO9 – Relate Equality to its Measurements: Opportunities, Results/Outcomes, Political, and Social

Opportunities: Removes barriers such as race so that all have an equal chance to succeed (applying for a job or financial aid).

Results/Outcomes: Equal sharing no matter the effort; proportional results to the percentage of the whole (everyone who tries gets the same prize).

Political: Means that every citizen has the same rights and opportunities. The law applies equally to all (speed limits, voting).

Social: Means that all individuals enjoy the same status in society (anyone can become president).

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