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US political system

  1. Jan 26, 2006 #1
    i read a book recently that was based on politics in america (a fiction book), and i wondered if anyone knows of any good sort of general introductory books an american politics? like, the election system, congress, the senate, that kind of thing.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2006 #2
    Alexis de Toqueville's Democracy in America
  4. Jan 26, 2006 #3
    You might start by reading America's founding documents. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. They set up the basis of what America has become, and laid the groundwork for how the US would work.

  5. Jan 26, 2006 #4


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    Add the Federalist Papers to that.
  6. Jan 26, 2006 #5


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    After you read the founding papers and how the American system is supposed to work, I'll be glad to refer you to reading on how the system really is now.
  7. Jan 26, 2006 #6
    You gotta start out with the fairy-tale version of America, otherwise, how are you supposed to understand what everyone's supposedly striving for?

    Though, of course, the current U.S. government and population has different ideals than did those who set it up in the late 1700's. But then, even George Washington's administration was accused of violating the Constitution and abandoning American ideals.

    One of the main things about our founding documents, however, is that they're made to be flexible, and made to be ambiguous. Our Founders knew there'd be lots of changes in the future, and set up the U.S.A. so that it would be flexible and able to grow into whatever it needed to be.

    But besides all that ideological crap, there's also plain illegal and immoral stuff going on, just as there is in any government.
  8. Jan 26, 2006 #7


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    Well, the founding documents were all by, and about, white men. Nothing about their wives, slaves, the native americans who were in their expansionist way, etc.

    We've had a Civil War, Women's Lib, and are currently in a scandal involving a lobbyist for some of the tribes. None of this could be deduced from the founding documents, and the idea that reading them will greatly inform anyone about how politics works today is just silly, or idealistic. And the idea that we SHOULD behave the way Madison dreamed we might (absent all those ignored people) in the agrarian pre-industrial world he lived in is even worse!
  9. Jan 26, 2006 #8
    I'd rather live according to Madison than Madison Avenue.
  10. Jan 26, 2006 #9


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    True. At the current time I am most concerned about checks and balances as it applies to protection of civil liberties and minority rights:

  11. Jan 26, 2006 #10
    Ditto on Toqueville. But don't expect an objective description though, it presents a specific viewpoint, that of a 'progressive aristocrat' from the age of emerging (classical) liberalism. This is valuable though because he really raises a lot of questions and thoughts on the US political system and culture.

    Tocqueville was one of the first European Academics to take the US seriously. He had some great insights.
  12. Jan 27, 2006 #11
    You might try Wikipedia.
  13. Jan 27, 2006 #12
    Well, there was something about slaves. 3/5 comprimise, and the thing about no new slaves being imported after 1810 or something.

    And of course it's different today than it was then, but those are still the basis of American history, whether you like it or not, whether they were fair/good/proper/racist/evil, they are the basis of everything.
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