Government 1: Spring, 2014      Essentials of Government     Robert Friedman

office: Tahoe Hall 3110

office hours: TR 8:15-8:45

fax: (916) 278 - 6488

A basic course which examines the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. system of government and the ideas and values on which they are based. Fulfills the CA State graduation and credential requirements for U.S. Constitution and California State and Local Governments. To select the section of this class (studio, classroom or web) which best meets your needs, please refer to the guide posted on the web. The class also has three associated one unit tutorial classes which meet TR 8:00 a.m.  Enrollment in tutorial courses is not required but highly recommended.

In this course, students will: (1) Understand the values that influenced the colonists to separate from England, (2) Understand the purposes of the Framers of the Constitution, (3) Learn the theory of federalism and its contemporary relevance, (4) Understand the basic structure and processes of the federal and California political systems and how the two systems are similar and dissimilar, (5) Understand the history and importance of civil rights and civil liberties and (6) Understand the different avenues that citizens have for influencing the government.  Meets area D3 requirements.

Grading Policy

*There will be weekly quizzes covering the assigned readings. These quizzes collectively represent 200 points. The lowest quiz score and any excused absence will not be averaged in computing the final grade.
* There will be weekly tests covering lecture, presentations and discussion. The tests collectively represent 150 points. The lowest test grade and any excused absence will not be averaged in computing the final grade.  Students who are in the television studio will not have tests and their grade will be based on their oral participation.
*There are two essays (Insights) required, one essay per signup period. If you are in the studio, you are expected to lead a class discussion which will be based upon your essay topic.  The Insight component of the class is worth 50 points.
*A student may earn up to 30 extra credit points through quality bulletin board participation over SacCT, oral participation and attendance at designated events.


A -- 380 points

B+ -- 355

C+ -- 310

D+ -- 260

A- 365

B -- 340

C -- 285

D -- 245


B- -- 325

C- -- 270

D- -- 230


Cannon, Enduring Debate 7th Edition  ISBN 978-0-393-92158-8
Ginsburg, We the People: Shorter 9th Edition ISBN
Governing California 4rd Edition  ISBN 978-0-393-91202-9
A discounted package of the texts above  ISBN# 978-0-393-52329-4
 is available at the campus bookstore.

Web Page—The World Wide Web is an integral part of this course. Reading assignments, the Insight schedule and Grades will be kept on the Web.   Any questions regarding grades must be raised within a week of the posting of the grade.  

Students with Disability: If you have a disability and require accommodations, you need to provide disability documentation to SSWD, Lassen Hall 1008, (916) 278-6955. Please discuss your accommodation needs with me after class or during my office hours early in the semester.

Academic Dishonesty: The attempt by a student to cheat on an exam or other academic assignment or to engage in plagiarism is a violation of a fundamental principle of academic honesty and integrity and will not be tolerated.  At the very least, you will be given a 0 for the assignment.  Other sanctions include automatic failure for the course and/or referral to Student Affairs.

* Plagiarism is the use of distinctive ideas or works belonging to another person without providing adequate acknowledgment of that person’s contribution.  Regardless of the means of appropriation, incorporating another’s work into one’s own requires adequate identification and acknowledgment.  Plagiarism is doubly unethical because it deprives the author of the rightful credit and gives that credit to someone who has not earned it.  It is not necessary when the material used is common knowledge.  When the source is not noted, the following would constitute plagiarism:


1.         Word-for-word copying.


2.         The mosaic (to intersperse a few words of one’s own here and there while, in essence, copying another’s work).


3.         The paraphrase (using someone’s ideas, concepts, constructs, and the like without proper citation)


4.         Fabrication (inventing or counterfeiting sources).


5.         Ghost-written material (submitting another’s effort as one’s own).




Weekly List of Topics

Week 1: 

Explanation of course requirements
Citizenry’s knowledge of government

Week 2

American political values
Importance of government
Immigration:  the immigrants, their lives and the political issues that surround them (only in Spring semesters)

Week 3

Constitutional framework and principles
Federalism – the changing role of the national and state governments

Week 4

Federalism and the Framers of the Constitution
Contemporary issues in federalism

Week 5

Civil Liberties – Bill of Rights, speech, religious, criminal defense, property, guns, gays
Civil Rights – African-Americans, women, Latinos, disabled, homosexual

Week 6

Public opinion – formation, attitudes, values, opinion polls, ethnic, religious and gender differences
Issues in opinion polling

Week 7

Direct democracy – initiative, recall, majority rule and the Framers
Media – forms, regulation, ownership, power, diversity, bias

Week 8

Issues concerning the media – objectivity, propaganda
Participation – the franchise, voting and gender, ethnicity, religion, age, SES, obstacles

Week 9

Political Parties – history, function in democracy, group affiliations (gender, ethnicity, class, etc)
Issues of political parties – community enclaves, political machines, ideology

Week 10

Elections – history, campaigns, primaries, new technologies, how voters decide
Money in politics – amounts, contributors, campaign finance laws, impact on government

Week 11

Interest groups – representation, tactics, power
Interest group issues – power and tactics at the state and local levels

Week 12

Legislature – representation, organization, deliberation, power vis-à-vis the executive
Issues in legislation – styles of representation, earmarking, pork barrel politics

Week 13

Executive – presidents, governors, organization, powers
Executive personalities – Schwarzenegger, Bush, styles of governing

Week 14

Bureaucracy – history, growth, duties, power
Judiciary – Constitutional basis, selection, functions, organization

Week 15

Issues of the judiciary – judicial philosophy, power
Concluding thoughts: Course assessment, Course wrap-up