Welcome to United States Government
, an OpenStax resource. This textbook was written to increase student access to high-quality learning materials, maintaining the highest standards of academic rigor at little to no cost.
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United States Government
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY) license, which means you can distribute, remix, and build upon the content, as long as you credit OpenStax for the original creation.
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ABOUT United States Government
United States Government
is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of the single-semester United States Government course. This title includes innovative features designed to enhance student learning, including Insider Perspective features and a Get Connected module that shows students how they can get engaged in the political process. The book provides an important opportunity for students to learn the core concepts of United States Government and understand how those concepts apply to their lives and the world around them.
Coverage and Scope
Our United States Government
textbook adheres to the scope and sequence of introductory American government courses nationwide. We have endeavored to make the workings of United States Government interesting and accessible to students while maintaining the conceptual coverage and rigor inherent in the subject at the college level. With this objective in mind, the content of this textbook has been developed and arranged to provide a logical progression from the fundamental principles of institutional design at the founding, to avenues of political participation, to thorough coverage of the political structures that constitute American government. The book builds upon what students have already learned and emphasizes connections between topics as well as between theory and applications. The goal of each section is to enable students not just to recognize concepts, but to work with them in ways that will be useful in later courses, future careers, and as engaged citizens. The organization and pedagogical features were developed and vetted with feedback from American government instructors dedicated to the project.
United States Government: Where do we start?
- United States Government: Why form a government?
- Who is in control?
- Shared Political Culture
- Civic Engagement
- Constitutions and Contracts: Why establish rules for governing?
- Why create a new constitution?
- Where did the ideas for the U.S. Constitution originate?
- Articles of Confederation
- Is another new contract really necessary?
- Ratification or Approving the Contract
- Amending or Changing the Contract
- Federalism: What is the basic structure of government?
- How should power be structurally divided?
- How is revenue shared?
- U.S. Courts: How is the contract interpreted?
- What do they do?
- Structure and Procedure
- Due Process and Equality Under the Law
- Congress: How are laws made and who is making them?
- How is the legislative branch structured?
- How do we choose our representatives?
- What does legislative procedure look like?
- The President: Who is upholding the law?
- What are the powers, structure and function of the executive branch?
- How do we select and elect a president?
- What is the public presidency?
- The Bureaucracy: How are the laws implemented?
- Policy Implementation
- Structure and Function
- Who is in control?
- Domestic Policy
- Actors, Issues and Disputes
- What is public policy?
- Categorizing Public Policy
- Policy Arenas
- Who are the policymakers?
- How are budgeting and tax policy handled?
- Foreign Policy
- Actors, Issues and Disputes
- What is foreign policy?
- Basics & International Actors
- Tools or Instruments
- Institutional Relations
- Public Opinion
- How is it formed?
- How is it measured?
- What is the connection to political institutions?
- Interest Groups
- Who or what are they?
- How are they formed?
- Pathways to Participation and Influence
- How are they regulated?
- Political Parties
- What are they?
- How and why did they form?
- How does the two-party system work?
- How are they organized?
- What is divided government?
- The People Take Action
- Voter Registration
- Voter Turnout
- Why run for office?
- Campaigns and Voting
- Methods of Participation
- Influence and Impact
- What is their function
- How have they evolved?
- How are they regulated?
- What is their impact?
- Civil Liberties
- Protecting Freedoms
- What does the contract protect?
- How are basic freedoms secured?
- How are rights of the accused protected?
- How is the Bill of Rights interpreted?
- Civil Rights
- People Challenging the Rules
- How are rights identified?
- What has occurred in the struggle for equality?
- How has the fight for women’s rights progressed?
- Native Americans, Alaskans, and Hawaiians—how has the fight expanded?
- How is equal protection achieved?
- Appendix A: Declaration of Independence
- Appendix B: The Articles of Confederation
- Appendix C: The Constitution of the United States
- Appendix D: Federalist Paper No. 10
- Appendix E: Federalist Paper No. 51
- Appendix F: Electoral College Votes by State, 2012–2020
- Appendix G: Selected Supreme Court Cases (UNDER DEVELOPMENT for REMIX and ADDITIONS)
- Appendix H: U. S. Department of Justice Legal Terms Glossary
Engaging Feature Boxes
Throughout United States Government
, you will find features that engage students by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:
- Get Connected! This feature shows students ways they can become engaged in the U.S. political system. Follow-up may include an activity prompt or a discussion question on how students might address a particular problem.
- Finding a Middle Ground. This feature highlights a tradeoff or compromise related to the chapter’s content area. Follow-up questions guide students to examine multiple perspectives on an issue, think critically about the complexities of the topic, and share their opinion.
- Insider Perspective. This feature takes students behind the scenes of the governmental system to see how things actually work. Follow-up questions ask students for their reaction to this peek inside the "black box" of politics.
- Link to Learning. This feature provides a very brief introduction to a website that is pertinent to students’ exploration of the topic at hand. Included in every module, Link to Learning boxes allow students to easily connect to the most current data of ever-changing content such as poll research, budget statistics, and election coverage.
Effective Art Program
Our art program is designed to enhance students’ understanding of concepts through clear and effective statistical graphs, tables, and photographs.
Module Materials That Reinforce Key Concepts
- Learning Objectives. Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide students with respect to what they can expect to learn. After completing the module and end-of-module exercises, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.
- Consider the Original. Excerpts from original documents imbedded within chapters for students to read, including questions to consider in connection to chapter concepts.
- Terms to Remember. Key terms are bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the Glossary, which appears at the end of the module online and at the end of the chapter in print.
- Questions to Consider. Review Questions provide opportunities to recall and test the information students learn throughout each module. End-of-chapter Critical Thinking Questions encourage deeper reflection on the chapter concepts and themes.
Student and Instructor Resources
Additional resources are combined for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, PowerPoint slides, and an Instructor Answer Guide. Instructor resources require a verified instructor account, which can be requested on your openstax.org log-in. Take advantage of these resources to supplement your OpenStax book.
OpenStax partners are our allies in the mission to make high-quality learning materials affordable and accessible to students and instructors everywhere. Their tools integrate seamlessly with our OpenStax titles at a low cost. To access the partner resources for your text, visit your book page on openstax.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Senior Contributing Authors
Glen Krutz (Content Lead), University of Oklahoma
Dr. Glen Krutz received his BA and MPA from the University of Nevada–Reno, and his PhD from Texas A&M University. He joined the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Political Science in 2002 and serves as Professor of Political Science, teaching the American Government course to hundreds of students each semester. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Krutz worked in politics and policy, as a campaign assistant and then Capitol Hill aide to a U.S. Senator and as a research analyst for what would become the Nevada System of Higher Education. He has authored and co-authored several books, and his work has appeared in numerous leading journals. Dr. Krutz’s current research probes questions of public policy agenda-setting in democratic political institutions, especially Congress.
Sylvie Waskiewicz (Lead Editor), PhD
Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. With a specialization in Franco-American relations and over ten years of teaching experience at the university level, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spent the last nine years editing college textbooks and academic journals in the humanities, social sciences, and world languages.
Deborah Smith Hoag, Austin Community College
Professor Hoag received her BGS from West Texas State University, her MA in Political Science from Texas Tech University, and her MA in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine (PhD program candidate at UCI). She joined Austin Community College's Government Department in 2011 after many years teaching for Lone Star College System, Katy Independent School District, and Texas Tech University. In California, Deborah worked with some well-known political scientists and authors of the 20th century, including Dr. David Easton and Dr. Harry Eckstein. She has written several books compiling oral histories of pioneer families in Oklahoma and Texas. She is part of Achieving the Dream Grant
to adapt OER textbooks and resources for ACC and other Texas community college districts.
Prosper Bernard, Jr., City University of New York
Jennifer Danley-Scott, Texas Woman’s University
Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University
Christopher Lawrence, Middle Georgia State College
Tonya Neaves, George Mason University
Adam Newmark, Appalachian State University
Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State University
Joel Webb, Tulane University
Shawn Williams, Campbellsville University
Rhonda Wrzenski, Indiana University Southeast
Brad Allard, Hill College
Milan Andrejevich, Ivy Tech Community College
Thomas Arndt, Rowan University
Sue Atkinson, University of Maryland–University College
Edward Bond, Alabama A&M University
Joseph Campbell, Rose State College
James Davenport, Rose State College
Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College
Henry Esparza, University of Texas–San Antonio
Terri Fine, University of Central Florida
Mark Francisco, Volunteer State Community College
Ben Fraser, San Jacinto College--Pasadena & Houston, Texas
Sarah Gershon, Georgia State University
Rick Gianni, Indiana University Northwest
Travis Grasser, Commerce High School
Eric Herzik, University of Nevada–Reno
Matthew Hipps, Dalton State College
Alexander Hogan, Lone Star College–CyFair
Cynthia Hunter-Summerlin, Tarrant County College
Tseggai Isaac, University of Missouri-Rolla
Walter Jatkowski, III, Northwest College
Kevin Jeffries, Alvin Community College
J. Aaron Knight, Houston Community College
Robert Lancaster, Kentucky State University
John Lund, Keene State College
Shari MacLachlan, Palm Beach State College
Carol Marmaduke-Sands, North Central Texas College
James McCormick, Iowa State University
Eric Miller, Blinn College
Sara Moats, Florida International University
Marie Natoli, Emmanuel College
Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio
James Newman, Southeast Missouri State University
Cynthia Newton, Wesley College
Hyung Lae Park, El Paso Community College
Jeffrey S. Peake, Clemson University
G. David Price, Santa Fe College
James Ronan, Rowan University
David Smith, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Leniece Smith, Jackson State University
Kai Sorensen, Central Michigan University
James Starkey, Pasadena City College
Karen Stewart, Collin College
Abram Trosky, United States Coast Guard Academy
Adam Warber, Clemson University
Alexander Wathen, University of Houston–Downtown
Reed Welch, West Texas A&M University
Yvonne Wollenberg, Rutgers University
John Wood, University of Central Oklahoma
Laura Wood, Tarrant County College
Michael Zarkin, Westminster College
Licenses and Attributions