21 Debated: Issues in American Politics (2nd Edition)

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9780131841789: 21 Debated: Issues in American Politics (2nd Edition)

Organized to correspond to most American government books and designed to provide a plethora of discussion topics, this volume features 42 recent, pro/con articles on 21 of the most controversial issues in American Politics. Complete with headnotes and discussion questions, the volume spurs readers to debate issues independently or through research. The authors provide opposing views on issues including democracy and the constitution, rights and liberties, the political process, government institutions, and issues in public policy. For those interested in American political issues.

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One of the fascinating things about politics is its unpredictability. Almost anything can happen. For example, suppose the years to come produced the following headlines:

  • January 1, 2110: "Last Republican Dies at Age 95; Survives Last Living Democrat by Ten Days."
  • February 10, 2045: "FBI Reports All Firearms Now in the Hands of the Federal Government."
  • March 13, 2005: "Court Reverses Roe: Alabama Applies Death Penalty to Abortion Providers."
  • April 17, 2020: "Xiang Xio Wan, Black Chinese-American Elected President."
  • May 1, 2066: "New Constitutional Convention Rewrites Constitution; Right to Private Property Eliminated."
  • June 3, 2025: "President Leno Removed from Office for Sexual Harassment."

Perhaps these headlines are preposterous and the events they suggest are beyond possibility. You may want to consider, however, that groups of citizens are actively using the democratic process with the goal of actualizing some of these hypothetical events. Whether or not these headlines appear in the future is up to you and your fellow citizens. In an increasingly information-driven age, those who are informed will determine the future, and that is why this book can help you.

If you are reading this preface to the second edition of 21 Debated, you are probably a college student taking a course in American politics. You may already know a good deal about politics in America, or you may not have paid too much attention thus far. In either case, this book can be more than just a course requirement. Many important issues are currently shaping America's future, and, as today's citizen and perhaps tomorrow's leader, you will have a role in determining how these issues determine your future.

Realize first what this book is not. It does not cover all the issues. America hosts more than 80,000 separate units of national, state, and local government in which hundreds of thousands of issues are addressed. Further, this book does not address all aspects or sides of any particular issue. Although it is presented in a debate format with one author on each side of each issue, in reality every major social and political issue is complex, and many sides may develop in the process of an issue's resolution.

This book does, however, get you started in the right direction. It introduces you to twenty-one of the most controversial and important issues facing America today, discussed by some of the nation's most thoughtful commentators. It is unlikely that any single article will allow you to resolve for yourself any particular issue conclusively, but that is not our purpose. As editors we have had in mind from the start three objectives. The first is to pique your interest in the issues themselves. You may have already heard so much discussion on some of the issues that you think nothing of interest can be said. If this is the case, we hope to surprise you with some creative thought and good writing.

Our second objective is to provide you with some of the basic information needed to begin to develop an informed opinion. The articles here provide a great many facts and findings as well as interpretations. Our third objective is to raise questions in your mind. Good analysis often raises more questions than it answers. After reading these articles, we hope that you will have a wide array of new questions and will be more eager to begin a life-long search for the insights that will make your contribution meaningful. We wish you all the best.

This book is dedicated to Rosemary, Oliver, and John.

Greg Scott
Loren Gatch

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