1 Political Science Department Professor Ronald King

Political Science Department
San Diego State University
Fall 2013
Professor Ronald King
Adams-Humanities 4133
[email protected]
POLS 101
MW 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. (plus 1-hour break-out section)
AL 201
This course, when taken in conjunction with POLS 102, can be used to fulfill the
graduation requirement in American Institutions. For intended Political Science majors,
it is a mandatory prerequisite.
The organizing theme for the course is contemporary democracy. For the first
time in world history, a majority of nations now use competitive elections as a means of
selecting leaders. For the first time in history, a majority of individuals live in societies
that utilize competitive elections. The United States was the first modern nation to adopt,
to a considerable degree, democratic principles. Yet the meaning of those democratic
principles and their relevance within the present U.S. regime remain subjects of intense
debate. Thus we will address topics such as: the justifications for democracy, its various
and complex institutional forms, the nature of the democratic citizen, the essential policy
choices confronting democracies today, the prospects for greater democratization, and the
role of democratic nations in the world.
Our primary focus, as we address these difficult topics, will be the U.S. political
system. Nevertheless, it is impossible to understand one’s own society without placing it
in a theoretical, comparative, and international perspective. Thus the course will contain,
through the lens of U.S. politics, simultaneous introductions to political theory,
comparative politics, and international relations. Together, these constitute the four main
subfields of Political Science as an academic discipline. Students will be exposed to
certain of the concepts and methods of Political Science and will develop their skills in
thinking critically, assessing evidence, generating conclusions, and defending them in
oral and written forms.
Finally, it should be remembered that the topics for this course are controversial
and essentially contested. Students will encounter authors who are supportive and those
who are critical of fundamental U.S. principles and practices. Often, there will be no
right answer to the questions posed. The purpose of the course is to pose those questions
clearly, to indicate some of the answers systematically given, and to help students to
define and justify their own personal stance, free of established predisposition or
ideological prejudice.
Registration: Students must be registered in one of the break-out sections in order to
receive credit for this class.
Workload: It is expected that students will do at least two hours of independent work
outside of class for every hour of in-class time. You will most likely have difficulty in the
course unless you make this commitment.
In this course, students will:
1. Utilize basic approaches, perspectives, theories, and models of Political Science
to analyze political life. Substantively, this includes understanding the
importance of the four essential subfields of the discipline: American politics,
comparative politics, political theory, and international relations.
Methodologically, it involves active engagement with hypothesis specification,
formal modeling, and empirical testing using both quantitative and qualitative
data. Normatively, it involves active evaluation and argumentation regarding
contrasting ethical positions.
2. Define, explain, and illustrate by contemporary examples various theories of
democratic government, addressing its origins, evolution, justification,
institutions, processes, and effects.
3. Analyze and assess the founding documents of U.S. government, including its
basic principles and the controversies over those principles.
4. Compare and contrast the essential features of U.S. government with those of
other advanced democracies.
5. Compare and contrast key concepts of political ideologies, as systems of
organizing principles that help to define one’s personal position on contemporary
political issues.
6. Analyze the meaning of citizenship in the contemporary world, including the
rights, duties, and obligations of the citizen.
7. Analyze the effect of increasing globalization on the democratic nation state,
focusing upon the role of U.S. government.
8. Exercise skills in critical thinking, close reading of texts, verbal and written
communication, note-taking, organization and integration of ideas, and problemsolving.
9. Demonstrate the ability to write formal essays that impart information, frame and
support an argument, use critical thinking and analysis, make logical assumptions,
derive sound conclusions from evidence, and display college-level use of
language, grammar, and rhetorical structure.
Students in this course should remember:
1. They are expected to come to every class session, and to have read, understood, and
thought about the assigned readings for that class session. This preparation is
necessary in order to get maximum value from the lectures and to participate fully in
2. Examinations will cover the course materials presented in lectures, assigned readings,
class discussions, and handouts. Students need to show up on time for the exams. No
extra time will be given to students who are late. Excused absences for missed
examinations will be permitted for extreme situations only. Do not anticipate
3. The assigned formal essays require a major commitment of time and effort. The
deadlines for submission are absolutely firm. Do not leave things to the last minute.
Plan ahead, so that you are not caught unexpectedly by printer malfunctions, sudden
illness, scheduling conflicts, etc. Papers will be penalized 5% for each weekday that
they are late. All submissions must be typed, nicely formatted, edited, and proofread. They are meant to be a representation of your best work.
4. The instructor reserves the right to give unannounced quizzes on class materials and
readings at any time, and to call upon students for answers during class sessions.
5. Understanding, not memorization, is the foundation of college education. Study to
understand, and memorize only what is important. Understanding is different than
reading, for it entails actively thinking about the materials presented rather than
merely absorbing them.
6. It is important to take careful class notes and to review them often. Do not write
down everything said in class. Do not write down only those words the instructor
puts on the powerpoint or writes on the board. Instead attempt to reproduce the
organization of the lecture, attending to the main points and the supporting
7. Be sensible about where, when, and how you study. Multiple-choice exam questions
test your knowledge of basic facts and concepts. Either you know the information or
you do not. It is important to pay attention to the exact wording of each question and
potential answer. Short-answer and essay exam questions require students to write
complete, concise, clear and organized comments indicating their understanding of
the terms, theories, concepts, documents, etc. that are part of the class content.
Quality, not quantity, is the essence of a good answer, although you should not be so
brief that you do not fully explain or provide the required information.
8. Do not record lectures. If you have a problem with this policy, see the professor.
9. Students who come to class late or leave early can be disruptive to others. Please
come on time, and plan to be in class the entire session. If necessary, use the rest
rooms before the class session begins. Interruptions are often rude.
10. Turn off your cell phones, pagers, text-messagers, web-browsers, etc. You may use a
laptop in class only to take notes – not to surf the net, do your email, etc.
11. The classroom is a formal and polite setting. Please reserve individual discussions for
before or after class. Please treat other students with respect and courtesy, even when
you disagree with them.
12. Students with disabilities or who need special consideration, please contact the
professor as soon as possible.
13. Cheating and/or plagiarism are completely unacceptable. Any student who cheats or
plagiarizes automatically will receive an F in the course. You are to submit your own
work, reflecting your own thoughts, ideas, and conclusions. Students are to cite all
materials (whether words or ideas) that come from outside sources. Students cannot
submit work for credit in this course that was prepared for another course.
Plagiarism is to steal or pass off as one’s own the ideas or words of another; to use
another’s production without crediting the source; to commit literary theft; to present as
new or original an idea or product derived form an existing source (WWWebster, online
dictionary). It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the SDSU universitywide policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism, and with student grievance procedures in
case of disagreements.
On Neutrality vs. Fairness
There is a basic distinction between neutrality and fairness. No one studies
controversial subjects merely in order to be neutral. Instead, the object is to formulate for
oneself the best, clearest, most justified opinion possible, while recognizing that others
might come to different conclusions. Fairness, however, is a fundamental rule of the
academy. It entails that we examine evidence and arguments without prejudice, that we
attend especially to the positions contrary to those we think we espouse and to the
weaknesses in the positions we are tempted to espouse. It entails that we consider ideas
independently of their source, and that we do not shy from reasoned conclusions whether
they be supportive or disturbing to our home, society, or government.
Ideas are inherently controversial. This course will consider a range of ideas, not
all of them comfortable, some of which might challenge certain predispositions inherited
from one’s family, community, or regime. For example, we will examine theorists who
have argued for and against the idea that democracy is a proper system of government,
for and against the idea that the U.S. constitutional framework is essentially fair and
functional, for and against the idea that the U.S. role in the world is positive and
progressive. We will consider various views regarding individual participation, political
obligation, and policy ideology. The intention is to apply the standard of fairness when
deliberating these controversial topics and constructing a personal position for oneself.
At the core of this course is the premise that independent thought is an essential
duty of the democratic citizen. The good citizen is not one who simply repeats received
slogans, but instead is one who thinks seriously about issues, who pursues deep
understanding, who undertakes independent evaluation based upon study, who respects
and appreciates the diversity of beliefs and experiences, who fashions preliminary
opinions subject to revision upon further examination, and who justifies those opinions
using reasoned arguments and evidence.
Grades will be based upon a point system, in which 600 points is a perfect score.
A maximum of 100 points can be earned in each of the two examinations and in for each
of the three assigned essays. Another 100 points can be earned from quiz grades and in
the weekly break-out section for participation, attendance, and performance of class
Examination #1 (midterm)
100 points maximum
Examination #2 (final)
100 points maximum
Paper #1
100 points maximum
Paper #2
100 points maximum
Paper #3
100 points maximum
Quizzes + Break-Out Section Grade
100 points maximum
Total Points
600 points
One must score 540 or above to earn a grade in the A-range; from 480 to 539 points to
earn a grade in the B-range; from 420 to 479 points to earn a grade in the C-range, from
360 and 419 points to earn a grade in the D-range. Any student earning below 360 points
will fail for the semester. No ‘extra credit’ work will be permitted.
The examinations will cover the course materials presented in lectures, assigned readings,
class discussions, and handouts. Students are required to bring a functioning pen (blue or
black ink) to each examination. Excused absences from the examinations require
advance permission from the professor. The only exception to this rule is absolute, dire
emergency that must be clearly documented. Do not expect most traditional excuses to
be accepted.
Details regarding the assigned papers can be found in the Appendix attached to this
Blackboard: This syllabus, important announcements, assigned readings, and daily
lecture outlines can be found at: blackboard.sdsu.edu under the listing for POLS 101CX.
Dr. Ronald King is Professor of Political Science at SDSU. His academic c.v. can be
found at: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~ronking/
Professor King’s office hours are:
Mondays 12:30 -1:30 and Wednesdays 2:30-3:30, or by appointment
Adams-Humanities 4133
The direct phone number at SDSU is:
619/ 594-1094 (x41094).
The email address is:
[email protected]
and he welcomes non-real-time communications from students in the class, including
questions about the lectures or course material and comments about the ideas presented.
and bring them to class to help you follow the lecture and take notes. They also
will serve as your study guide for examinations.
understand these before the class session at which the will be discussed.
1) August 26 (Monday)
Introduction to the Course
Human Rights and Wrongs
Reading: UN General Assembly, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
2) August 28 (Wednesday) The Nation-State, Nationalism, and Globalization
--- September 2 (Monday)
II. Who Rules America?
3) September 4 (Wednesday) The Historic Rejection of Democracy
“The Republic” – Selections by Plato
4) September 9 (Monday) What is Democracy? Why Should One Care?
“Second Inaugural Address,” by George W. Bush
“A Theory of the Democratic Process,” from Democracy and Its
Critics, by Robert Dahl.
5) September 11 (Wednesday) Democracy as a Revolutionary Activity. The Advances
and Retreats of the Democratic Experience
“The Mayflower Compact”
“The Declaration of Independence”
“Common Sense” by Thomas Paine
6) September 16 (Monday) Democratic Rules Affect Democratic Results
“Democratic Contraction? Political Consequences of Felon
Disenfranchisement in the United States,” by Uggen and
“Expansive Citizenship - Voting Beyond Territory and
Membership,” by Ranier Baubock
7) September 18 (Wednesday) How Qualified is the American Citizen?
“Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” by
Robert Putnam
8) September 23 (Monday) How Democratic is the U. S.? Do the People Rule?
“Elections as Instruments of Popular Control,” by Erikson and
9) September 25 (Wednesday) How Democratic is the U.S.? Do Special Interests
“On the Species Homo Politicus,” from Who Governs?, by
Robert Dahl.
10) September 30 (Monday) How Democratic is the U.S.? Do Elites Control the County?
The Big Debate: Do the people rule? Should they rule? How might we
reform things to improve popular rule?
“American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality,” American
Political Science Association Task Force Report.
How Does U.S. American Democracy Govern
11) October 2 (Wednesday) The American Founding and Its Principles: Separated
Institutions Sharing Powers – I
“The Articles of Confederation”
“The Constitution of the United States”
*** TAKE-HOME ESSAY #1 DUE October 2 at the start of class ***
12) October 7 (Monday)
Separated Institutions Sharing Power (II)
Congress; the President
13) October 9 (Wednesday) Separated Institutions Sharing Power (III)
Judiciary; Federalism with the States
14) October 14 (Monday)
In Defense of the Constitutional Design
“The Federalist Papers,” Numbers 10 and 51 (James Madison)
15) October 16 (Wednesday)
16) October 21 (Monday)
In Critique of the Constitutional Design – I
The Localism Critique
“Essay 1” by Brutus (Robert Yates)
17) October 23 (Wednesday) In Critique of the Constitutional Design – II
The Inefficiency Critique
“Congressional Government” by Woodrow Wilson (selections)
Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, It’s Even Worse Than It
Looks (selection)
18) October 28 (Monday)
In Critique of the Constitutional Design - III
The Democratic Critique
How Democratic is the American Constitution? by Robert
Dahl (selections).
19) October 30 (Wednesday) Alternative Constitutional Designs
“The Presidential and Parliamentary Models of National
Government,” by Thomas Sargentich
“The Perils of Presidentialism,” by Juan Linz.
20) November 4 (Monday) Alternative Democratic/Voting Designs
21) November 6 (Wednesday) How Successful is the American Constitutional System?
To Reform or Not To Reform?
-- November 11 (Monday)
IV. American Citizenship, Identity, and Ideology
22) November 13 (Wednesday) The Size and Tasks of Government
Data Tables (attached to lecture outline on Blackboard)
***TAKE-HOME ESSAY #2 DUE NOVEMBER 13, at the start of class ***
23) November 18 (Monday) Inequality and Poverty in America
Data Tables (attached to lecture outline on Blackboard)
24) November 20 (Wednesday) Rights and Freedoms
U.S. Constitution, Amendments 1-10 (Bill of Rights)
25) November 25 (Monday) Race and Ethnicity in America
“Race and Redistribution” from Fighting Poverty in the U. S. and
Europe, by Alesina and Glaeser Chapter 6.
26) November 27 (Wednesday) Political Ideology I – Conservatism
“The Role of Government in a Free Society,” from Capitalism and
Freedom,” by Milton Friedman.
27) December 2 (Monday) Political Ideology II – Liberalism
“Rights and Dollars,” from Equality and Efficiency: The Big
Tradeoff, by Arthur Okun.
28) December 4 (Wednesday) Political Ideology III – Social Democracy
“Five Central Themes,” from The Political Theory of Swedish
Social Democracy, by Tim Tilton.
29) December 9 (Monday) Political Ideology IV – Marxism
“The Labour Process and the Process of Producing Surplus Value,”
from Das Kapital, by Karl Marx.
30) December 11 (Wednesday) When Democracy Fails – Collective Action
“The Strategy of Research – Selections” by Ronald King
***TAKE-HOME ESSAY #3 DUE DECEMBER 11, at the start of class ***
December 16 (Monday) --- Final Exam/Examination # 2:
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Take-Home Essay Assignments
Instructions Regarding the Three Take-Home Essays:
Length: Two Pages Maximum. Typed, with Normal Fonts and Margins.
Single-Spaced, with a space between paragraphs
Make sure your name appears clearly on the first page
Make sure your break-out section number and instructor appear clearly on the
first page (5-point deduction if this is missing)
Late Penalty – 5-point deduction for each (unexcused) weekday late.
Editing: The essays must be edited and proof-read.
Staple the pages together.
Essays with an excessive number of elementary grammatical or spelling errors
will receive a 5-point deduction.
Any essay that uses the wrong its/it’s; their/there; which/witch; or
whether/weather will AUTOMATICALLY receive a 5-point-deduction.
Content: Each essay must begin with a topic sentence stating explicitly the specific
position you wish to defend (the claim). This should be followed, in a tightly
organized fashion, by the reasons and evidence you believe give adequate
defense for this claim (the support), allowing you to conclude it should be
preferred to various alternate and competing plausible claims.
Citations: You are expected to cite all sources, using a standard format.
Be aware of the definition of plagiarism and the penalty for plagiarism.
Take-Home Essay # 1 – “I believe that the mass of citizens / organized interests /
social or economic elites have ultimate power in the United States because….” In the
classic story, an alien from Mars comes to earth and issues the conventional request: take
me to your leader. You need for formulate a response. In class we have considered three
contrasting theories, that the mass of citizens ultimately rule, that organized interests have
the greatest influence, and that social and/or economic elites dominate the political
process. It is now time for you to express your opinion. (Make sure your answer refers to
the class materials).
One of the tasks of citizenship is to assess the quality and quantity of the
country’s democracy. It matters to our evaluation of the United States as a democratic
society whether the people rule, whether interests rule, or whether elites rule. You should
think seriously about these three options, and the evidence for and against each. Then you
are to produce an essay presenting and defending your own position. Remember, there
are a number of coherent possible positions, and that the defense of any particular
position entails the reasoned rejection of its competitors. DUE Wednesday, October 2,
Take-Home Essay # 2 -- “I believe the United States should / should not change its
Constitutional document because….” Imagine that tomorrow a new U.S.
Constitutional Convention is called and that you are selected as a delegate. You have
listened to the debates in which the constitutional document has been defended (“let
ambition counteract ambition”) and has been criticized (for excess centralization or
potential inefficiency or less than fully democratic provisions).
You are now asked your opinion. Do you vote to retain the current constitutional
structure or do your propose reformulation? What theory of governance guides your
preferences? Based on that theory, what specific changes would you propose and/or
oppose? (Make sure that your answer refers to the class materials.)
One of the tasks of citizenship is to determine for oneself whether the institutions
and processes of government are justifiable or not. You should consider the Madisonian
principles underlying U.S. government institutions compared to alternative principles.
You should consider the actual operation of U.S. government institutions, assessing their
efficiency and effectiveness, responsiveness and responsibility, compared to alternative
institutional formats. You should consider the pros and cons of various possible
Constitutional reforms, deciding if you wish to defend the status quo or if there are
particular reforms you believe are necessary. Then you are to produce an essay
presenting and defending your own position on the issue. DUE Wednesday, November
Take-Home Essay # 3 -- “I am a Conservative / Liberal / Social Democrat / Marxist
because….” Imagine that a citizen’s advisory panel has been called to produce
recommendations regarding U.S. government policy, and that you have been selected for
the panel. What general policy direction do you believe the U.S. ought to adopt? What
does that mean for the kinds of things the government should be doing and/or not doing?
What principles justify your preferences?
One of the tasks of citizenship is to construct a relatively coherent position
regarding the relationship of public to private spheres. It is your task to think seriously
about the four most common ideological positions found in the advanced industrial
nations, considering the pros and cons of each. Then you are to produce an essay
presenting and defending your own position. Remember, there are a number of coherent
possible positions, and that the defense of any particular position entails the reasoned
rejection of its competitors. DUE Wednesday, December 11, AT THE START OF
Grading the Papers
The papers will be graded using the following standard:
1. Grasp of the subject matter, linking ideas and information.
2. Capacity to apply course materials and facts appropriate to the topic.
3. Making an explicit claim and supporting it effectively.
4. Organization of points – logic, consistency, depth, and clarity of the argument.
5. Capacity to answer the questions asked.
6. Degree of insight and intelligent commentary in the answer produced.
7. Comprehensiveness of the answer produced.
8. Balance and fairness (i.e., recognition of opposing viewpoints, treated fairly in their
own terms).
9. Correct use of the language of two disciplines, Political Science and English;
evidence of careful proofreading.
10. Explicit recognition of sources and their quality.
Why Written Work in a 100-Level Class?
College papers reflect your ability to read, think, and learn as well as write. To write
well, you must think clearly. You must have something to say and the means to say it
effectively. In order to produce good written work, a student needs to have researched
the topic thoroughly, have thought about the material before beginning to write, and then
use skill to convert his/her ideas into an interesting, coherent, and analytical paper, one
that makes a convincing argument for or against a particular position.
Helpful Hints for College Students Writing Papers
To construct a good essay, the student should:
-- Know what and why you are writing. Read the assignment and all instructions
-- Plan before you write. Make an outline. Decide what the main topics are and what
their logical place is in the overall theme of your work. Decide what subtopics will
be included. Do not put together a patchwork of ideas; make a coherent plan instead.
The outline helps you in avoiding mistakes, leaving information out, etc. It also
helps you to discover important ideas. As the writing proceeds, you can always
make changes, but start with a clear plan.
-- As you write, be specific and definite. Use clear, precise English. Be sure to say
what you mean. Avoid generalizations, flawed arguments, and vague statements.
Do not use meaningless words or clichés. Make every word count. And do not
expect the reader to fill in your gaps of information. Graders will only grade what
they read; they will not add their knowledge to your work.
-- Write rapidly. Rapid writing helps the flow of ideas. A slow writer struggles for
each word and often gets tangled in sentences or ideas. Just write. You can always
revise later.
-- Revise. Always revise. Look for the logic in what you have written as well as the
thoughtfulness of the words you are using and the substance of your work. Many
essays break down due to flawed thinking. Also, as you revise, ask yourself a series
of questions. For example, have I answered the question asked in the assignment?
Have I done a complete job in my analysis? Have I left out necessary information?
Have I been reasonable in my approach? Do my words say what I want them to say?
Does the argument flow coherently? Would the argument appear convincing to a
neutral party? Have I said all I can? Have I said more than I need to? Clean up your
work by revising.
-- Follow instructions. If the instructions say “staple your pages together,” staple
your pages together. If it says “proofread your work,” proofread your work. It is
your paper.
-- Write papers that will improve your grade. Be mindful of both the substance and
the presentation of your work. You are not writing a paper for an instructor; you are
writing it for yourself. You are the one who will benefit.
-- Turn written work in on time. Points will be deducted for late work.
-- When a paper is returned, go over it very carefully. Check the mistakes so as to
avoid repeating them. There are usually remarks noted on your paper to help you
avoid making the same mistakes again. Throwing your paper in the trash is selfdefeating. Take advantage of the help you can get by going over a corrected or
graded paper.
-- Be honest. How would you grade your paper if someone else wrote it and turned it
in to you for evaluation?
-- Do not underestimate the time this will take. Writing requires responsibility, skill,
continued practice, clear thinking, and pride in what you do. Over time good writing
can become a habit.
An “A” essay will:
 Contain a very clear purpose, a strong introduction (thesis sentence and/or
paragraph), a well-developed argument supporting your thesis, and a thoughtful
 Display an excellent use of course concepts.
 Effectively recognize complexities and fully address more than one of them.
 Contain strongly supportive details and a judicious understanding or sense of
 Be logically developed and well organized.
 Be creative and insightful.
 Use a style and tone appropriate to the purpose.
 Show a mature sentence variety and paragraph development
 Be virtually free of grammar and usage errors.
A “B” essay will:
 Contain a reasonably clear purpose, an acceptable introduction, a somewhat welldeveloped argument and conclusion.
 Exhibit good use of course concepts.
 Effectively recognize some complexities, addressing more than one of them.
 Contain many supportive details and a good understanding or sense of evidence.
 Be logically developed and well organized.
 Use a style and tone appropriate to the purpose.
 Offer adequate sentence variety and paragraph development.
 Lack the verbal felicity or organizational strength of an “A” essay.
A “C” essay will:
 Contain less than a clear statement of purpose, strong introduction, developed
argument, and conclusion.
 Contain satisfactory use of course concepts.
 Effectively recognize part of the complexity inherent to the topic.
 Contain some supportive details, understanding, and sense of evidence.
 Display adequate competence in logical development and organization, although
it may exhibit occasional organizational or argumentative weaknesses.
 Display adequate competence in sentence variety, paragraph development,
grammar, and usage.
A “D” essay will:
 Show partial knowledge of the complexity of the issue and attempt to address it,
but will be weakened by one or more of the following:
o Omit a clear topic sentence, purpose, or conclusion.
o Be too general or too specific.
o Have a weak orientation toward course concepts.
o Contain trivial or frivolous points or supporting material.
o Contain inherent contradictions or incomplete arguments.
o Have flaws in organization.
o Fail to develop an appropriate tone.
o Contain flaws in style, grammar, or usage.
An essay deserving an “F” will:
 Superficially address the issue and will be weakened by some of the following:
o Be far too general or far too specific.
o Have little evidence of course concepts or use them incorrectly.
o Have major contradictions of logic.
o Contain a vacuous or trivial or fabricated argument.
o Have little controlling organization.
o Have noticeable flaws in style, grammar or usage.