Government by the People, Basic Version, 20th Edition

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9780131101722: Government by the People, Basic Version, 20th Edition

For the Introduction to American Government or Introduction to American Politics courses. This is the most authoritative text for American Government. Always one step ahead of the competition. Government by the People continually sets the standards for other American Government texts by anticipating instructors' needs. Known for its impeccable scholarship and for its distinguished author team who treats each new edition as a fresh challenge, Government by the People is the perfect text for the educator who wants students to understand how the American political system works.

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About the Author:

James MacGregor Burns is a Senior Scholar at the Academy of Leadership, University of Maryland, College Park, and Woodrow Wilson Professor Emeritus of Government at Williams College. He has written numerous books, including The Power to Lead (1984), The Vineyard of Liberty (1982), Leadership (1979), Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1970), The Deadlock of Democracy: Four-Party Politics in America (1963), and Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956). With his son, Stewart Burns, he wrote A People's Charter: The Pursuit of Rights in America (1991); with Georgia Sorenson, Dead Center: Clinton, Gore, and the Perils of Moderation (2000); and with Susan Dunn, The Three Roosevelts (2001). Burns is a past president of the American Political Science Association and winner of numerous prizes, including a Pulitzer Prize in History.

J.W. Peltason is a leading scholar on the judicial process and public law. He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. As past president of the American Council on Education, Peltason has represented higher education before Congress and state legislatures. His writings include Federal Courts in the Political Process (1955), Fifty-Eight Lonely Men: Southern Federal Judges and School Desegration (1961), and with Sue Davis, Understanding the Constitution (2000). Among his awards are the James Madison Medal from Princeton University, the Irvine Medal from the University of California, Irvine, and the American Political Science Association's Charles E. Merriam Award.

Thomas E. Cronin is a leading student of the American presidency, leadership, and policy-making processes. He teaches at and serves as president of Whitman College. He was a White House Fellow and a White House aide and has served as president of the Western Political Science Association. His writings include The State of the Presidency (1980), U.S. v. Crime in the Streets (1981), Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum, and Recall (1989), Colorado Politics and Government (1993), and The Paradoxes of the American Presidency (1998). Cronin is a past recipient of the American Political Science Association's Charles E. Merriam Award.

David B. Magleby is nationally recognized for his expertise on direct democracy, voting behavior, and campaign finance. He is dean as well as Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University and has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Virginia. His writings include Direct Legislation (1984), The Money Chase: Congressional Campaign Finance Reform (1990), Myth of the Independent Voter (1992), and is editor of Outside Money: Soft Money and Issue Advocacy in the 1998 Congressional Elections (2000). He was president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, and has received numerous teaching awards. In 1996 he was a Fulbright Scholar at Nuffield College, Oxford University.

David M. O'Brien is the Leone Reaves and George W Spicer Professor at the University of Virginia. He was a Judicial Fellow and Research Associate at the Supreme Court of the United States, a Fulbright Lecturer at Oxford University, held the Fulbright Chair for Senior Scholars at the University of Bologna, and a Fulbright Researcher in Japan, as well as a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation. Among his publications are Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics, 5th ed., (2000); a two volume casebook, Constitutional Law and Politics, 4th ed., (2000); an annual Supreme Court Watch; and To Dream of Dreams: Religious Freedom in Postwar Japan (1996). He received the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award for contributing to the public's understanding of the law.

Paul C. Light is currently the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service and Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Professor Light has a wide-ranging career in both academia and government. He has worked on Capitol Hill as a senior committee staffer in the U.S. Senate and as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the U.S. House. He has taught at the University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has also served as a senior adviser to several national commissions on federal, state, and local public service. He is the author of 15 books on government, public service, and public policy.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Events of the past few years have underscored the importance of government and politics in people's lives. The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon reminded all Americans that we live in a dangerous world. Citizens expect their national, state, and local governments to provide security, a theme President Bush repeatedly emphasized in his 2002 campaign appearances. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 also raised many questions about how our governments perform: How do we capture and punish those who planned and paid for these attacks? How could our intelligence services—the FBI, CIA, and others—have failed to detect an attack of this magnitude? How do we secure the homeland from future attacks? At the same time that we are asking these hard questions, we are affirming the enlarged role of governments at all levels in defending our country against those who encourage terrorism, in reorganizing our governments, especially our national government, to more effectively secure our homeland and to rebuild New York City and the Pentagon. We also ask a lot of our government. For example, what balance should we strike between protecting liberty and providing security?

The economic state of affairs is another topic that illustrates the importance of government at all levels. Many states have been forced to cut budgets and consider tax increases and at the national level, the Federal Reserve Board has been active in adjusting interest rates. How governments respond to these economic challenges provides another opportunity to learn about government and politics.

In terms of elected office and party preferences, our nation is evenly divided, with a slight edge to the Republicans at the national level. But as we were reminded in 2000, the Electoral College, and not the popular vote, decides who is president. And in the case of the 2000 presidential election, it was the Supreme Court's decision in Florida, one of many 5-to-4 decisions by the court in recent years, that effectively decided the election. Bush put talk of the disputed 2000 election aside with his tireless and successful campaigning for Republicans in 2002. Will Bush and the Republicans use this as a springboard to party dominance or will Democrats find a way to regain their legislative majorities and reclaim the White House?

Constitutional democracy—the kind we have in the United States—is exceedingly hard to achieve, equally hard to sustain, and often hard to understand without rigorous study. Our political history has been an evolution toward an enlarged role for citizens and voters. Citizens have more rights and political opportunities in 2003 and 2004 than they had in 1800 or 1900. The framers of our Constitution warned that we must be vigilant in safeguarding our rights, liberties, and political institutions. But to do this, we must first understand these institutions and the forces that have shaped them.

Many U.S. citizens take for granted civil liberties, civil rights, free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, and economic freedom and prosperity. Yet many people live in places where these freedoms are nonexistent. This is a time of testing for new democracies as well as old ones. Contempt for government and politics is being expressed in the United States and abroad, yet politics and partisan competition are the lifeblood that enables free societies to achieve the ideal of government by the people.

The world we live in remains highly volatile. Although our defense policy changed with the collapse of communism and the emergence of a less powerful Russia, the world has not suddenly become a safer place in which to live. Terrorism, as evidenced by attacks not only in New York and Washington but around the world, has become the most pressing national security threat. How should we respond to terrorism? To what extent do we pursue those countries that may be producing weapons of mass destruction, such as Iraq? Should the war on terrorism be waged by the United States alone? Or should we work through the United Nations?

Although we constantly turn to government and to our elected officials with problems and requests, we are critical of their shortcomings. A recurrent theme of this book is the absolute need for politics and politicians, despite the widespread tendency to criticize nearly everything political. The reality is that our political system should not be taken for granted, even as we seek ways in which it can be improved.

We want you to come away from reading this book with a richer understanding of American politics, government, and the job of politicians, and we hope you will participate actively in making this constitutional democracy more vital and responsive to the urgent problems of the twenty-first century.


Always one step ahead . . .

At Prentice Fall, we are extremely proud to continue to publish the book that always remains one step ahead by anticipating your needs as an educator and your students' needs as learners. In fact, Government by the People has set the standard that others strive to meet. And Government by the People continues to innovate in response to changes in our democratic environment and changes in how the government course is taught by introducing instructors and students to a cohesive presentation interwoven with interesting sidebars, political cartoons, and photos—all the while staying focused on the very document that serves as the foundation of our government: The Constitution. With this edition of Government by the People, we continue this proud legacy.

Esteemed authorship has always been a hallmark of this text. Our authorship is the reason Government by the People remains a bestseller. Every author on this text is among the most well known scholars in his respective field. As a result, Government by the People is considered the most authoritative text on the market. With this edition, we are extremely proud to continue this heritage by welcoming Paul C. Light as the newest member of our renowned author team.

New to this Edition:

  • New Co-Author — Paul C. Light is currently the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service and Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His diverse academic and professional experience, including having written fifteen books on government, public service, and public policy, make him the ideal new author for Government by the People. Paul contributed to the revision of several chapters in this edition, including chapters that deal with congress, the presidency, and the policy chapters.
  • Late-Breaking, Up-to-Date — Content Many chapters have undergone significant revision in this edition. The authors have paid particular attention to the material in Parts III and V (Policy-Making Institutions and The Politics of National Policy) as a result of dramatic events that have affected this material over the course of the past two years. Chapters on Constitutional Democracy, Campaigns and Elections, Congress, The Presidency, Congress and the President, The Judiciary, Bureaucracy, Making Economic and Regulatory Policy, Making Social Policy, and Making Foreign and Defense Policy have been substantially rewritten. As a result, there is a very timely discussion of topics such as the passage of campaign finance reform and its effects, the Enron debacle and its fallout, the success of welfare reform, an analysis of why crime is increasing throughout the United States, and the war on terrorism as well as a possible war in Iraq. Every chapter's tone and coverage were assessed in view of the changing circumstances in our national life as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. Finally, owing to the unique connections these authors have to inside analyses, the new edition features extensive evaluation of the impact of the historic midterm elections of 2002.

Technology Initiatives

As in previous editions, Government by the People leads the industry in providing creative, innovative electronic solutions for your classroom. Whether in the form of tools that enable more effective communication or by providing dynamic presentation of content via the World Wide Web, Prentice Hall continues to anticipate your needs.

  • New PoliSim Version 2.0 — PoliSim is a dynamic series of multi-level simulations developed by Prentice Hall exclusively for American government texts that require students to make politically-charged decisions based on the evaluation of data and information obtained from a variety of authentic sources. Students will use information such as real election results, real demographics, real maps, and real voting score cards from actual Senators to complete simulations in a highly interactive multimedia environment. Some of the simulations enable a Web browser so that students are encouraged to do additional research in order to make intelligent decisions. Simulations are current as of the midterm elections of 2002. PoliSim 2.0 features several improvements over version 1.0. Most notably, there are six new simulations, for a total of 17, including a Running for Congress simulation and The Civil Rights Timeline. (For a complete list, these simulations are incorporated into the Table of Contents for your convenience.) A new user interface featuring a Results Reporter has been added to track progress and outcomes of each simulation for easy grading. For your added convenience, PoliSim is integrated into tie end-of-chapter material in Government by the People. PoliSim is included free with all new copies of the text and is CD-ROM based. A Web browser is required for the successful completion of some simulations.
  • New and Improved Evaluating Online Resources for Political Science with Research Navigator ™ — Our newest addition to the reliable Internet guide for political science, Prentice Hall's new Research Navigator™ keeps instructors and students abreast of the latest news and information and helps students create top quality research papers. From finding the right articles and journals to citing sources, drafting and writing effective papers, and completing research assignments, Research Navigator™ simplifies and streamlines the entire process. Complete with extensive help on the research process and three exclusive databases full of relevant and reliable source material, including EBSCO's ContentSelect ™ Academic Journal Database, The New York Times Search-by-Subject Archive, and Best of the Web Link Library. A unique access code for Research Navigator™ is provided on the inside front cover of the booklet. Evaluating Online Resources for Political Science with Research Navigator ™ is FREE when packaged with Government by the People and available for stand-alone sale. Take a tour on the Web at
  • Improved Companion Website ™ ( ) — Students can now take full advantage of the World Wide Web to enrich the study of American government through the Government by the People Website. Created by Jimmie McGee, South Plains College, the site features interactive practice tests, chapter objectives and overviews, additional graphs and charts, and over 150 primary source documents that are referenced in the text. Interactive Web exercises guide students to do research with a series of questions and links. Students can also tap into information regarding the midterm elections of 2002, writing in political science, career opportunities, and internship information. Students and instructors will benefit from material providing the latest news from highly regarded media outlets. Finally, a special feature allows instructors to create their syllabus customized to Government by the People and post it conveniently online.
  • Course Management and Distance Learning Solutions — For instructors interested in managing their courses online, whether locally on campus or in a distance-learning environment, Prentice Hall offers fully customizable, online courses in both WebCT and Blackboard platforms. Ask your local Prentice Hall representative for details or visit our special demonstration site at for more information.

Enduring Features of the Text

Among the many attributes of Government by the People are the features that have come to support the balanced presentation of topics within the text. Each of these features has been appropriately revised to reflect those issues that are most significant within our political environment today.

  • NEW In Comparative Perspective. This new boxed feature uses data, maps, and figures to show students how the United States compares to other nations throughout the world with regard to a variety of topics, including: The British and American Systems: A Study in Contrasts, and Registration and Voting in the World's Democracies.
  • NEW People in Politics. This new boxed feature provides students with short profiles of influential political figures, some of historical importance as well as some contemporary figures. Many focus on the positive contributions of America's public servants, including: Justice Thurgood Marshall, Hillary Clinton, and James Lee Witt.
  • NEW: PoliSim. Now featured within the end-of-chapter material, this feature introduces students to the PoliSim that correlates to that respective chapter, revealing how the chapter material relates to the simulation that the students are about to perform.
  • People Debate. These box features have been completely revised to offer additional introductory material in which the authors provide a framework for the discussion. In addition, each debate now concludes with a set of critical thinking questions and a list of Websites where the students can do further research. People Debate boxes give students a chance to participate in a pro/con debate in the text, online, and through essays and links on the Companion Website ™ Topics include: Liberty Versus Security, Interpreting the Constitution, and Dissent in War.
  • You Decide/Thinking It Through. Now streamlined, this feature has even greater presence in each chapter. It has been revised to include even broader discussion on current topics. This participatory question-and-answer feature is designed to strengthen students' critical thinking skills as well as introduce interesting and challenging issues and ideas about American politics, including: Should Presidents Be Limited to Two Terms in Office? and How Should the United States Government Deal with Undocumented Aliens?
  • We the People. This feature has been revised to address even more specifically the diverse nature of the American political system. These unique boxes are designed to reflect the concerns and experiences of ethnic and minority groups in American politics. Some of the topics include: Where We Learn the American Political Culture, Religion and Politics, Portrait of the Electorate, and Women Governors.

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Burns, James MacGregor, Peltason, J.W.,
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ISBN 10: 0131101722 ISBN 13: 9780131101722
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Burns, James MacGregor; Peltason, J.W.; Cronin, Thomas E.; Magleby, David B.; O'Brien, David M.; Light, Paul C.
Published by Prentice Hall
ISBN 10: 0131101722 ISBN 13: 9780131101722
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