PSC 212: American Policy System, Timetable

By Jeremy Lewis.  Revised 5/22/19 for summer course.

Week: [01] [02] [03] [04] [05] [Test1] [06] [07] [08] [09] [10] [Test 2] [Scores] [11] [12] [Project] [13] [14] [Final]

Please check the following, using your Hawks identity only:

In summer, 3 semester weeks are compressed into each summer week, and each week of readings begins on Wednesday with a test each Tuesday following; each textbook chapter (though not GoogOlympics event) should be noted in 4-5 paragraphs, and each short reading in one paragraph, submitted in the Google form for reports on readings.

When adapted for course-by-conference, any class session missed will be replaced with report paragraphs as above, or an alternative.

Presidential campaign 2016 videos, debates and advertising

Week 1 [Summer 1A]: introduction
Janda/Hula, Essentials edition, 14: Policymaking [PPT]  and The Budget | Cengage, self-study activities for this book
Janda, Full edition, 17: Policy-Making | Lecture and Discussion Notes
In the event of a natural disaster, reducing our island to rubble,
- What basic services should be provided by government?
- What level of basic services should be provided to all people?
- What basic services should they provide for themselves?

More broadly,

- What is distinctive about the US policy making process?
- What types of public policy are there?
- What types of ideology are there and how do you fit in these schemes of belief?
- What values and services should be promoted by government?
- What are the stages of the process of making public policy?

Idealog (Web)[are you liberal, conservative?] Explanation plots your ideological position from a quiz; explanation of the two dimensions of political thinking [local file].  (More sophisticated than Idealog). [Graphs, and instructions on clipping the screen]

Week 2 [Summer 1B]: order and civil liberties
Janda/Hula, Essentials edition, 12: Order & Civil Liberties [Local PPT, civil liberties] began
Notes to Janda, Full edition, 15: Order and Civil Liberties | Lecture and Discussion Notes
Serow 9: Liberties & Rights
49: Miranda v Arizona (1966, rights of accused) [Case Notes] [Local PPT] [Reporter]
Miranda case lecture, with PPT
- What types of civil liberties are there in a liberal democracy?
50: Donald Kettl, "System Under Stress," (Patriot Act) [Reporter]
- In what sense do civil liberties compromise society's need for order and security?
53: Craig Rimmerman, "The Lesbian and Gay Movements" [5e] [Reporter]
- Regardless of your own views about homosexuality, in what ways has the gay rights movement been successful, and what obstacles remain?
54: Alderman & Kennedy, "In Our Defense" (Native American right to religion, 1991). [Reporter]
- What sort of need (if any) can justify a state overriding the right to religious practice?

Humor about liberties and social stereotypes:

Monty Python's Flying Circus, "The Precision Drilling Sketch," 1970s era, on YouTube (early TV skit bending stereotypes)
Monty Python's Flying Circus, "Homicidal Barber & The Lumberjack Song," 1970s era, on YouTube (early TV skit bending stereotypes)
Monty Python's Flying Circus, Candid Photography sketch ("Nudge, Nudge"), 2'30"
Week 3 [Summer 1C]: equality and civil rights
Janda/Hula, Essentials edition, 13: Equality & Civil Rights [Local PPT, civil rights]
Notes to Janda, Full edition, 16: Equality and Civil Rights | Lecture and Discussion Notes
Serow 9: Liberties & Rights
- How are civil rights anchored in the US Constitution?
- What types of equality are there and which ones are valued in the US?
48: Anthony Lewis, "Gideon's Trumpet" (1964, Right to counsel.) [Reporter]
- How was the right to counsel established?

51: Richard Kluger,"Simple Justice: Brown v Board ..." (1975, schools desegregation) [Reporter]
- How did school desegregation come about and what was the role of the courts?

52: Charles Ogletree, "With All Deliberate Speed," (2004, on Brown II's meaning.) [Reporter]
- Did the two Brown v Bd cases contradict each other?

55: Mary Ann Glendon, "Rights Talk", (what do rights mean, 1991) [Reporter]
- What are the difficulties of implementing affirmative action, and how do people's rights conflict?
- Can there be rights without responsibilities? Supreme Court Cases |

Week 4 [Summer 2A]: policy making and the budget
Janda/Hula, Essentials edition, 14: Policymaking and The Budget [Local PPT, Macroeoconomic theories]
Lecture on Keynesianism; Monetarism; Supply side; and Public Choice theories
Notes to Janda, Full edition, 18: Economic Policy | Lecture and Discussion Notes
- What types of economic policy are there, and with what effects?
- What is the business cycle and how does it affect government?
- How should government control the business cycle, if at all?
- What is the difference between monetary and fiscal policy?
- What difference does it make if the government takes in more revenue than it spends -- or vice versa?
- Which policy should the government adopt in a recession -- or a boom?
- Who develops the President's budget?
- What are the stages of the budget process?
- Can the Congress ever balance the budget?
- Is deficit spending caused by ... liberal democracy?
- How much of the US budget is controllable this year by the President and Congress?
- Distinguish between progressive and regressive tax policies.
- By the standards of the developed world, how fair are US and Alabamian tax policies?
- Who should pay for government services?
- Should government attempt to reduce the inequality of the market?

Robert Reich "Tax policy experiment," compares states taxes with their growth, Inequality Media,, YouTube, 4'.

Presidential inaugural address or State of the Union message: check Calendar.

Serow, 15: Political Economy ...
83: Michael Harrington, "New American Poverty" (1984)  [Reporter]
- Is there really no poverty or squalor in modern America?
- Insofar as there is poverty, does society have any moral obligation to alleviate it?

84: Milton Friedman, "Free to Choose" (1980, individualism) [Reporter]
- What are the virtues of the free market?
- How is Friedman intellectually indebted to Adam Smith and to Friedrich von Hayek?
- How did Friedman, in the 1980s, influence President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher?
- Is the free market desired to make us rich -- or to give us political freedom?
- Do government handouts to the poor make them dependent -- or more free?
- Are countries with larger government sectors necessarily less rich, and less free, than free market countries?

Compare with Bernie Sanders highlights of speeches about Wall Street financiers' control of US politics, on YouTube
Bernie Sanders' Plan to End 'Too Big to Fail' banks - Bloomberg business, Jan. 2016, 3'
Jimmy Fallon, impersonation of Bernie Sanders's victory speech after NH primary, Feb. 2016, 5'
Week 5 [Summer 2B]: domestic policy and politics
See Calendar for Test 1, which may include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions on all the above.
Notes to Janda, Full edition, 19: Domestic Policy | Lecture and Discussion Notes

Appelbaum & Gebeloff, “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It,” NY Times, 11 Feb. 2012, PPT [Reporter; notes, PDF]

President Trump's domestic policy proposals, WhiteHouse.Gov, 2017
Robert Reich, "Trump's Infrastructure Scam," Inequality Media, YouTube, 2'
Robert Reich, "The Koch Machine," Inequality Media, YouTube, 3'
Robert Reich, "Robert Reich Debunks Republican Deficit Hawks," Inequality Media, YouTube, 3'

Serow, 15: ... & Public Welfare

85: Sharon Hays, "Flat Broke with Children," [Reporter]
- What types of entitlements are provided in the US, and to what groups in society?
- To what extent is there poverty in the modern US?
- Is it fair to say welfare benefits breed dependency instead of a helping hand?
Lecture in response:
- How has welfare for the poor been reformed since 1964 and since 1995?
- What kinds of families use public assistance?
- How do economic conditions create a need for welfare -- and trap some in a circle of alleged dependency?

86. Michele Wucker, "Lockout" [Reporter]
- What kinds of immigrants are there to the US?
- What effects do immigrants have on the economy?
- What groups oppose immigration, and why do they argue against?
Lecture in response:
Types of immigration; motivations of immigrants; effects on the economy and society.

87. Steven Cohen, "Understanding Environmental Policy"  [Reporter]
- Does environmental policy raise costs of businesses?
- Does environmental policy emerge from a struggle among interests?
Lecture in response:
- How has the US tackled pollution of water, air and land since 1970?
- How can we view pollution as a by product of economic production and consumption?

88. Kevin Phillips, "Bad Money"  [Reporter]
- What caused the financial services sector to crash in 2008?
- Was that sector over- or under-regulated by government?
- How large was that sector in the US economy?
- To what degree did this crash affect the US economy and political campaigns even 8 years later?

Week 6 [Summer 2C]: global policy
Notes to Janda, Full edition, 20: Global Policy | Lecture and Discussion Notes | PPT

Constitutional language on foreign policy (Lecture) [Local PPT]
- Compare the enumerated & inherent congressional and presidential authority in foreign affairs.
- How much of Art. 1 Sect. 8 concerns itself with trade compared to force?
- How far do the emphases of the Founders reflect the context of their times rather than ours?

Serow, 16: America in Changed World

89: Sam Huntington, "Clash of Civilizations."[Reporter]
- Is a struggle among civilizations replacing the traditional struggles among nation states?
- if so, what are these civilizations?
- If so, are there differences among nations within each civilization?
- If so, should the US declare war against "radical Islam" or only against particular terrorist groups?

90: Fareed Zakaria, "The Post-American World"[Reporter]
- If the US is no longer a hegemon, what world order is emerging?
- Can the US function as the chairman of the board of nations?

Old and New diplomacy; Multilateralism v Unilateralism (Lewis, lecture outline)
For AWAC speaker event: check Calendar.
- What are the key concepts of international relations?
- How can the world function safely without a world government?
- Should nation states conduct their foreign policy by realism -- or is there room for idealism?
- Is public opinion capable of exerting influence on US foreign policy?
- What should replace the cold war as a theme of US foreign policy for the 21st century?
When feasible: Test 1 returned, with exemplary written answers presented

GoogOlympics Event: Current US foreign policy speeches
Week 7 [Summer 3A]: the US in the world
Serow, 17: America in World
91: Chalmers Johnson, "Blowback,"[Reporter]
- Is the US a global empire nation?
- Is there a real phenomenon of "blowback" -- and what does it mean?
- Do open and covert actions abroad frequently "blowback" against the US?
- Do these "blowbacks" often outweigh the benefits of the actions taken?

92: Joseph Nye,"Soft Power," [Reporter]
- What are the different sorts of power?
- Can soft power produce better results than force?
- Is it better to be feared than loved by other countries?

GoogOlympics event: Al Jazeera news
Visit, the global media service based in Qatar, for a foreign perspective on world news. (the station originated with BBC-trained journalists in Saudi Arabia).

Civil discourse on policy issues:
Patnode, Roberts' Rules, Modern Edition. [Local PPT]
- How can we secure fairness in policy debates?
- What are motions? How do we open debate?
- How can we close debate in order to make a decision?
- How do we make priorities in who speaks and what motions to consider?
- How do we ensure a minority voice can be heard, yet decisions can be made and accepted?

GoogOlympics event: Humor about forms of argument
Monty Python's Flying Circus, "The argument clinic," 1970s era sketch, on YouTube, 6'
What makes a proposition into a true argument, and is a contradiction enough?
Week 8 [Summer 3B]: policy discourse with respect for others
In week 8, there will be a lecture and exercise on Robert's Rules, and Patnode will be discussed. [Local PPT]
1. Motions will be suggested by the class (Pro and Con teams will be decided by a coin toss)
2. Each team will develop a proposed motion.
3. Each team will develop ideas for amendments to the motion.
4. Each team will research facts for use on both sides of the discussion.
5. Teams of students will work up simulations with a motion, pro and con speeches, and amendments.
Debate on chosen policy topic, with a presiding officer, motion, pro and con speeches, and amendments.

Check Calendar for presentation by Prof. Jaime Demick on her struggle to change public policy.
Students' lecture notes, 2009 | 2008 | outline

Week 9 [Summer 3C]: entitlements and health care reform
Growth of Federal Entitlements [PPT]
See set of current readings in the subfolder for this subject in the class's folder on Gdrive.
- What are federal entitlements, and why have they been growing?
- How large are entitlements compared to other federal programs?
- If entitlements simply are transfer payments among the population, is there any reason to worry about their growth?
- How important is health care among the federal entitlements?

Dye, Understanding Public Policy, 5: Health Care | Lecture
See set of current readings in the subfolder for this subject in the class's folder on Gdrive.

- Is the health care system more based on a private market or on public delivery?
- What systems of health care does the US operate for the military, the elderly, the poor, and children?
- Does the US system distribute health care resources efficiently?
- Why are so many Americans left out of the health insurance system?
- Should the US health care system be reformed, and how?

Affordable Care Act, March 2010: lecture notes | White House | Alabama
- What are the goals of the health care reform?
- When will the provisions come into effect?
- Will the reforms actually increase or decrease federal costs?
- How were the reforms put through the House and the Senate?
- Who supported or opposed the reforms?
- Will the reforms achieve universal coverage?
- Which groups will benefit? Which will pay for those benefits?
- Spring 2015, 2016, 2017: did the new Republican majority repeal or reform the act?

GoogOlympics Event: The US Health care system

Debate on chosen policy topic, with a presiding officer, motion, pro and con speeches, and amendments.

See Calendar for Test 2, which may include multiple choice, short answer and essay questions on all since Test 1.

Week 10 [Summer 4A]: the criminal justice system

Choosing a research topic, a research question, and seeking quality sources[PPT]
Readable journals: Policy Studies Review; Policy Studies Journal; PS: Political Science and Politics; Public Administration Review; Foreign Policy; Foreign Affairs;
Think tank reports: Brookings Institution, American Enterprise institute, CATO institute, Heritage Foundation, RAND corporation.
Government data and reports sites:;;;;
International reports sites: (includes Human Development Reports); (includes PISA test);
Polling sites: (includes world surveys);;
Research Design: simple template PPT

Monty Pythons' sketch on truth and falsehood, the Dead Parrot sketch (BBC, YouTube, 5')

Dye, Understanding Public Policy, Crime & the (In)justice System | Lecture Notes | Discussion Notes
See set of current readings in the class's subject subfolder on Gdrive.
- Can crime be deterred (if at all) by punishment that is certain, swift and severe?
- Is the criminal justice system so irrational that it is failing to control crime?
- What types of crime are there?
- What are the causes of crime?
- Why does crime increase or decrease?
- Does harsh punishment -- or even the death penalty -- deter crime?

GoogOlympics: teams report on The FBI Uniform Crime Reports and Crime Clock

Monty Python, stoning punishment from film, The Life of Brian (BBC, YouTube, 3')
Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean and the Camera Thief (YouTube, 3')

Debate on chosen policy topic, with a presiding officer, motion, pro and con speeches, and amendments.
When feasible: Test 2 returned, with exemplary written answers presented

Week 11 [Summer 4B]: local political machines
Debate on chosen policy topic, with a presiding officer, motion, pro and con speeches, and amendments.
See set of current readings in the class's subject subfolder on Gdrive.
Monty Python, Crucifixion, from film, The Life of Brian (BBC, YouTube, 3')

Research Design: bring your design to class.
Research Design: simple template PPT
- Explain the nature of the problem or issue to be explored
- Sketch the approach you will take to investigating it and the nature of your coverage (periods, states, institutions, elections, parties, countries, presidencies)
- What differences, causes or consequences do you expect to find?
- What main sources do you find useful?

Machine Politics:| Lecture Notes | Scores
Riordon, Plunkitt of Tamany Hall [text online] [PPT] [Reporter]
- What are the central beliefs of Plunkitt about local politics?
- Is there anything about Plunkitt's argument that fits VO Key's 1949 analysis - or your own state's politics today?

Jeremy Lewis, "George Wallace", Ency. of Political Parties & Elections, 1991. Lecture [Reporter]
[Note, this was written before Dan Carter's 1995 book, The Politics of Rage, & PBS video "Settin' the Woods on Fire", were published. See Alabamian politics video notes.]
- To what degree was George Wallace a southern version of Plunkitt -- and what are the contrasts between those men?
- How did interpretation of the politics of Wallace change after 1991?
- What were Wallace's political beliefs and practices as a young man?
- How did Wallace change from 1957 onwards, and why?
- In what sense, if any, was Wallace racist?
- What were Wallace's skills as a campaigner and as an executive?

Explanation of research project: see Requirements page
Workshop for research project, with references and audiovisual presentation; see Calendar & Requirements page

Week 12 [Summer 4C]: State and local politics
Presentations workshop: develop an Illustrated presentation of your research project, framing the problem or issue; explaining its importance; explaining how you approached it; surveying the arguments in the literature; summarizing each section of your material; and giving your findings; followed by main sources.
Presentations timetable | Advice | Optional, simple template for slides: [PPTX] [PPT]
Examples from past seniors' capstone presentations (for creative visuals, see Rainey, McCollum and Pierce PPTs)

Explanation of the course rotation and courses offered for next term; pre-registration advising.

Readings from 212 folder on Google drive:
Thomas Patterson, 21:  State and Local Politics
- How do state and local politics differ from the federal?
- How are state and local structures established - and how do they fit together?

Alexis de Tocqueville, "Equality" (excerpt of Democracy in America, 1835). [Reporter]
- How did the prime foreign observer of American society in 1831 understand social and economic equality in the US culture?

V.O. Key, "Alabama" from Southern Politics in State & Nation (1949). [Reporter]
- How did the classic 1949 study portray Alabama, and what is friends and neighbors politics?
- Does Alabama politics still resemble those of 1949?

PBS Video, "Going to Great Lengths: The AL Constitution of 1901" (2007) Lecture
PBS video, "It's a Thick Book" [Reporter]
- How do the powers of state institutions vary from those of the federal government?
- Does Alabama retain any characteristics now that Key found in 1949?
- What kind of society did Tocqueville espy -- and is anything still the same?
- What's wrong with the 1901 constitution and what reforms have been proposed?

Stewart, WIlliam H.  2001. "The Tortured History of Efforts to Revise the Alabama Constitution of 1901," Alabama Law Review 53 (1): 295-333 [Reporter]
Note: even though this is a law review article, written by a political scientist, you will find it quite readable for 200 level.
- What efforts have been made to reform the Alabama constitution and so far have they failed or succeeded?

Eckberg, Nancy. 2015, 2017, 2018. "Good Year for Constitutional Reform Bills," excerpt of ACCR newsletter, 22 June 2015, and subsequent updates. See 212/AL/Texts folder in Google Drive. Notes [Reporter]
- Can constitutional reform succeed on a broad scale, or only incrementally?

Week 13 [Summer 5A]: Alabamian politics
Illustrated briefings by students of their research projects, followed by interrogation and critical thinking discussion:
Course evaluations

Alabamian Politics: (links updated 2012)
AL in NJ Almanac of American Politics (now behind paywall)
- What are the political characteristics of our state?
- How does Alabamian politics seem from the point of view of conservative researchers in Washington DC?
- What upheavals in the legislature and executive have taken place since the 2010 edition?

AL Federal districts MAP & list (pre-2008; updated in part)
- What are the characteristics of Alabama's electoral districts and elected officials?
- How well do current elected officials match their districts?
- Are there any elected officials who could be successfully challenged in the next election?
- How are Alabama's economy, society and politics changing?
Using Almanac,'s newspaper article search, &, brief presentations:

District 1 and US Rep. Joe Bonner  [Reporter]
District 2 and US Rep. Martha Roby  [Reporter]
District 3 and US Rep. Mike Rogers  [Reporter]
District 4 and US Rep. Robert Aderholt  [Reporter]
District 5 and US Rep. Mo Brooks [Reporter]
District 6 and US Rep. Spencer Bachus [Reporter]
District 7 and US Rep. Teri Sewell [Reporter]

Senior US Senator: Richard Shelby  [Reporter]
Junior US Senator: Jeff Sessions (US Attorney General, 2017-) [Reporter] Autobiography | Press Releases |  internships in DC and AL

2017 Update: how did the confirmation process work for Sessions as Attorney General of the US?
Luther Strange versus Doug Jones, special election 2017 [Reporter]
- Why was the special election for US Senate a surprise?
- What caused this strange result?

Governor Riley
Governor Bentley, the "Love Gov" [Reporter]
The Republican Legislative revolution since 2010 [notes needed] [Reporter]
- The rise and fall of Speaker Mike Hubbard [notes needed] [Reporter]
(Alabama political news is generally best found at

West Florida 1st district (Joe Scarborough and subsequent) [Reporter]

PBS Video, " Conscience of a Congressman" (Carl Elliott) -- if time permits.
Week 14 [Summer 5B]: Alabamian politics (2)
Illustrated briefings by students of their research projects, followed by interrogation and critical thinking discussion
Advice | Optional, simple template for slides: [PPTX] [PPT]

Alabamian Politics: selected readings from our folder on Google Drive
Presentations on Alabamian state government by our current Capitol Interns, if available.
- What are the characteristics of Alabama governance?
- How is the public administration of Alabama improving?
- What's wrong with taxing and budgeting in Alabama?
- In what ways do job discrimination continue to haunt Alabama?
- Check out recent articles on Alabama politics at
- How did the AL voters realign in the 1990s toward the Republican party?
- How did AL's realignment in the 1990s reflect changes across the South?

See Calendar for Comprehensive Exam.
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