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American Government

American Government
Stories of a Nation, Brief Edition

Second Edition

December 2020 | 600 pages | CQ Press
American government is not just one story—it’s many stories. Our stories. And they are still being told.

In the Second Edition of American Government: Stories of a Nation, Brief Edition, author Scott Abernathy tunes in to the voices of America’s people, showing how diverse ideas throughout our nation’s history have shaped our political institutions, our identities, the way we participate and behave, the laws we live by, and the challenges we face. His storytelling approach brings the core concepts of government to life, making them meaningful and memorable, and allows all students to see themselves reflected in the pages.

Carefully condensed from the full version by Scott Abernathy, American Government, Brief Edition, gives your students all the information they need—and the stories they relate to—in a more concise, value-oriented package.

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About the Author
Chapter 1. American Political Stories: Claiming Rights, Demanding to Be Heard
Standing Rock: Water Protectors Claim Their Rights and Freedoms in North Dakota

American Political Culture Is Built on a Set of Shared Ideas

Politics and Political Action Set the Stage for Revolution

The Structure of Institutions Affects How Citizens Participate

Conclusion: The American Experiment Continues, and You Are Part of It

Chapter 2. The Constitution of the United States: A New Vision of Representative Government
James Madison Plans for a Republic That Will Last

The Confederal System Makes Coordination between the States Difficult

Delegates Reach a Compromise at the Constitutional Convention

Delegates Work Out Details of the New Government

Federalists and Anti-Federalists Argue over Ratification

Conclusion: The Motives of the Framers and the Effects of the Constitution Are Still Being Debated

Chapter 3. Federalism: The Changing Boundaries between the Nation and the States
Marijuana Policy Today Reveals Tensions between State and Federal Law

The Constitution Divides Power between the Nation and the States

For Much of American History, the Boundaries between the Nation and the States Were Sharper Than They Are Today

President Franklin Roosevelt’s Response to the Great Depression Reshapes American Federalism

Modern American Federalism Remains Cooperative but Faces Challenges

Conclusion: The Evolution of Federalism Continues

Chapter 4. Civil Liberties: Building and Defending Fences
Cell Phone Tracking Capability Challenges the Boundary between Public and Private

The Bill of Rights Establishes Protections for Americans’ Civil Liberties

The First Amendment’s First Two Protections Both Involve Religion

The First Amendment Also Protects Expression: Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petitioning the Government

The Constitution Also Protects Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments Help Shape Freedoms in the Nation and Across the States

Conclusion: Civil Liberties Involve Fences Still under Construction

Chapter 5. Civil Rights: How Equal Is Equal?
Protesters Act to Secure Rights for Americans with Disabilities

Civil Rights Amendments Emerge from the Civil War—but Provide Limited Protection in Practice

Challenges to Legal Segregation Achieve Successes But Face Resistance

American Women Work to Secure Their Civil Rights

Americans Confront Overlapping Forms of Discrimination

Conclusion: Have Americans’ Civil Rights Been Secured?

Chapter 6. Public Opinion: How Are Americans’ Voices Measured, and Do They Matter?
Public Opinion May Be Moved by Important Events Like Ferguson

Public Opinion Is The Sum Total of Individual Beliefs and Attitudes

Public Opinion Is Transmitted and Measured in Several Ways

Political Socialization and Political Ideology Shape Public Opinion

Ferguson and the Effects of Public Opinion on Democratic Representation

Conclusion: How Meaningful Is Public Opinion?

Chapter 7. The Media: Truth, Trust, and Power
Can a Foreign Government Use the American Media to Influence a Presidential Election?

The Evolution of American Media Shows That Issues of Power and Trustworthiness Are Not New

Questions of Bias Challenge Americans’ Trust in the Media’s Objectivity

Media Ownership and Content Are Subject to Regulation

The Power of the Media to Affect the Public Is Tested

Conclusion: Debates about the Power of the Media Continue

Chapter 8. Parties, Elections, and Participation: Making Representative Democracy Happen
Bernie Sanders Challenges the Democratic Party to Become More Progressive, Twice

Parties Act to Identify, Support, and Nominate Candidates for Elected Office

The Rules Governing National Elections Shape the Transmission of Americans’ Preferences Into Laws and Policies

Political Participation Can Take Many Forms

Conclusion: The 2020 Elections

Chapter 9. Interest Groups and Social Movements: Collective Action, Power, and Representation
A Housing Bubble Bursts, and Interest Groups Pop Up

Americans Face Challenges in Acting Collectively in a Representative Democracy

Interest Groups Vary By Type and Tactic

Occupy Wall Street Illustrates the Struggles, Successes, and Failures of Social Movements

Social Movements Employ Different Tactics from Interest Groups to Make Change and Educate

Conclusion: Organizing in American Political Life

Chapter 10. Congress: Representation, Organization, and Legislation
Two “Years of the Women” Highlight the Promise and Challenge of More Inclusive Representation in Congress

The Constitution Defines Congress’s Shape and Powers

Congress Is Organized Around Formal and Informal Rules

The Legislative Process is Complex by Design

Members Represent Constituents in How They Act and Who They Are

Conclusion: The Complexity of Representation

Chapter 11. The American Presidency: Individuals, Institutions, and Power
In This Corner . . . Donald J. Trump: The President as Prizefighter-In-Chief

The Constitution Outlines the Powers of the American Presidency and Places Limits on Those Powers

Institutions and Other Informal Sources of Power Shape the Modern Executive Branch

Presidents Have Pushed the Limits of Their Power to Preserve National Security

The President Has Several Tools for Unilateral Action

Conclusion: The Paradoxes of Power Continue

Chapter 12. The Federal Bureaucracy: Putting the Nation’s Laws into Effect
Federal Bureaucratic Action Consists of Many Actors and Evolves Over Time

Theories of Bureaucratic Organization Focus on Rules, People, and Tasks

The Bureaucracy Has Developed in Response to Demands and Crises

A Functioning Bureaucracy Depends upon Effective Organization

The Bureaucracy Is Constrained by Oversight and Reform

Conclusion: What Does a “Good” Bureaucracy Look Like?

Chapter 13. The Federal Judiciary: Politics, Power, and the “Least Dangerous” Branch
The Politics of Supreme Court Confirmations Place Nominees on “Trial”

The Constitution Casts the Judiciary as a Unique but Weaker Branch

The “Trial” of John Marshall Establishes the Principle of Judicial Review

The American Legal System Is Defined by Federalism

Judicial Review Raises Questions of Constitutional Interpretation and Judicial Decision Making

Conclusion: The Trial of the Supreme Court Continues

Chapter 14. Public Policy: Promoting the General Welfare and Advancing Americans’ Interests
American Dreamers’ Futures Depend upon Whether a Public Policy Will Continue

American Health Care Policy Has Evolved Significantly since the Great Society

Fiscal Policy Guides the Economy and Responds to Crises

U.s. Foreign Policy Has Changed with the Nation’s Place in Global Affairs

Immigration Connects Foreign Policy to Domestic Policy

Conclusion: The Story of American Politics Continues



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Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime. It offers flashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts, as well as learning objectives that reinforce the most important material.