The American Political System: Midterm 1 Essay
Your answer must be typed, printed out, and handed in at the beginning of class, October 13. This is an open book exam, and while you may discuss the question with your classmates, you must write your own response. Any evidence of a ‘group answer’ will lead to a conference with me, and, if I determine that you did not write your own answer, to a zero for the exam. Finally, it is expected that you will refer to relevant current events to fill out your response.
Your answer should be 750-1500 words (2-4 pages); please include the word count on your essay.
Make sure you refer not only to the various chapters in the book, but also to the Constitution, and to the Federalist Papers (appendices). BE SPECIFIC. And don’t forget to make use of news sources in answer question 3!
You must answer questions 1 and 2, and EITHER question 3a OR 3b:
The American political system is built upon both checks and balances within the federal government and structure of federalism, in which authority is divided between the federal and state governments. Given this, please explain the following:
1. Why did the founders set up a system with checks and balances? How, specifically, did they do so?
2. Why did the founders set up a federalist system? How, specifically, did they do so?
3. How well does the theory match reality? That is, what are some of the complications of exercising power:
a) within the checks-and-balance system of the federal government?
b) between the federal government and state governments?
(Again, answer either 3a or 3b—do NOT answer both! And refer to current events—for example, a recent controversy or to a particular policy—to illustrate your argument.)