- What is your personal definition of politics?
My personal definition of politics is a system (tacit, explicit or both) by which a subset of a population represents or governs the population (or both). I think it is only applications of this definition that vary widely.
- What do you think are examples of political behaviours? To what extent do you engage in these behaviours in your own life? How different are these types of behaviour from what you perceive to take place in our municipal, provincial, and federal institutions?
Political behaviours are essentially the private citizen stepping outside of their personal or professional life to engage in a behaviour, activity, instance or process that will affect or factor into the policy making process of the community, city or country, to whatever very small extent. In my opinion political behaviour may also amount to the expression of a view with a situation or a view regarding a suggested change or action in the decision making of the political establishment. In our democracy, the right, even the moral responsibility to participate in elections is an example of this. Speech making, volunteer work, participating in electoral campaigns, writing to the newspapers or even leaving comments on the Internet sites of newspapers, may all be considered political behaviours. I do not engage in political behaviours to a considerable extent; my extent is negligible. Often it is all I do to leave comments on the Internet regarding news articles that are relevant to my concerns, and I do this relatively rarely. The types of behaviour in our municipal, provincial and federal institutions, of course, are much more formalistic, ceremonious, vitally symbolic of the decorum of the governance of this country, much more cautious in ascribing solutions to problems, and much more consequential than the political behaviour of private citizens.
- Are the ways we conduct ourselves politically really a product of our cultural? How are we different from Americans, Brazilians, Cubans, or Mexicans? What are the distinguishing components of these political cultures or cultures like these? Can they be distinguished even within Canada, e.g., in Alberta, Quebec, and Newfoundland?
The ways we conduct ourselves politically are a product of our culture, because the type of government is often rooted in the culture, for example Hofstede’s cultural types and his matching them to organizational behaviours, this applies to governments as well. The type of government, in turn, determines the extent to which a private citizen can conduct themselves politically, and the channels along which the private citizen may go to conduct themselves politically. In this respect, as Canadians we are not very different from Americans, Brazilians or Mexicans (whose countries are considered free and fair, transparent democracies like our own) who also have a tradition of widespread private citizen engagement in the political process, though adverse conditions in these countries (such as the relentless violence of drug mafia kingpins in Mexico) may make this engagement more difficult or less realistic. Of course, beyond political behaviour, the characteristics and needs of the country, city or community government are unique to it. This does not necessarily make the process less free. This is the rule that distinguishes many small variations in the political process (not at the essential level) across cultures, for example to ask the question of how Japanese democracy is different from Canadian democracy. Using this same rule (community need specificity), we see how different provinces of Canada have very slightly different politics adapted to their historical characteristics and needs.
- Do you agree with the eight values that are listed as generators (such as health, and education) of politics? List the values you feel are the basis upon which politics flourish. What values do Canadians reflect in their political system?
I do not think that any abstract model could precisely describe the generators of politics; politics is a far more complex network of connections and mechanisms than for all its gears to be summarized in eight values. Thus, I do feel that the eight values are accurate, only not complete. I feel that politics flourishes upon the pursuit of stated goals ascribed to the unique situation of the people; for example, goals that may make Chinese voters happy may not be the same as the goals that may make Japanese or Swedish or South African voters happy. Though most voters may agree on the importance of goals such as economic growth, a low unemployment rate, healthy social services, etc., the means of pursuing such goals (which form little goals in themselves) will also differ from country to country. Canadians value transparency, accountability, diversity, and tax dollar efficiency in their political system.
- What is your position on the abortion issue — are you pro-choice or pro-life? If you were given a hypothetical budget of $10 million, how would you spend that money to defend your position?
Regarding abortion, I believe that pregnancy prevention (which can happen at the time limit of a few days within intercourse) should be encouraged, as well as frequent pregnancy testing, but I do not know if I believe in abortion itself. I have seen images of the fetus prior to abortion, including images of the fetus in its final developmental stages, in which it much resembles a human child, and has only to leave the mother’s body. It is difficult to call abortion murder or to mandate my opinions on others, of course, because I do not know what the experience is like of having another human being developing inside me, what manner of emotional or physical effects this may have, both happy and unpleasant. From the standpoint of pure ethical theory I do not agree with the moral foundation of abortion, but in practical terms I feel there is not much point to vigorously enforcing anti abortion legislation as I find it somewhat cruel for the women involved, it produces genuine human suffering that the policy makers (especially if they are male, of course) cannot fully fathom or appreciate, and all for the sake of their own ethical biases. That said, I do sometimes compare abortion to murder, especially if the fetus is nearly fully developed, but I consider there to be varying degrees of murder, as the courts recognize. If I had $10 million to spend on the abortion issue, I would make birth control and birth control education more widely and economically available.
- How does politics build cities, towns, provinces, nation-states?
Identify those political decisions that have added assets and infrastructures to your community. Are there any examples you can recount that point to how politics can hurt or even destroy communities?
Cities, towns, provinces and nation-states need infrastructure. This infrastructure may be explicit, such as transportation infrastructure and public housing, or it may be tacit, such as frameworks, protocols, the penal code, etc… Depending on the size of the cities, towns, provinces and nation-states, however, this infrastructure may be extremely challenging and large scale and wide ranging to build, and to build it we need a methodology, and that methodology is politics. I support political decisions that are investment and development oriented instead of fiscally conservative and debate oriented. I think, in plain terms, that the only point of government is to get things done, and that there always is much to be done to improve the conditions of a population. An example I can recount is the closure of the West India Docks by the British government in the early 1980s. The Docks were obsolete and costly but serviced many thousands of locals with their livelihoods. Their closure led to the complete stagnation of the community in terms of employment, per capita income, and standard of living. However, as an accompanying reverse example, the British government then decided to invest tens of millions of pounds in the development of the Docklands Light Railway, which brought new corporate branches, job opportunities, and development incentives to the Docklands until they became one of the most important parts of London from one of the most irrelevant.
- How do people learn about politics and where do political attitudes come from? List the most important agents of political socialization in your life. Discuss the roles of public opinion polls in generating opinion. Do political opinion polls influence how people vote and how they feel about certain politicians?
People learn about politics from the immediate social environment of their roots: schooling (although our schooling struggles to be secular and non partisan), family, friends, classmates, colleagues, and the goings on of the environment around them. For example, someone growing up in a warzone may inevitably develop political opinions about the opposing side. More advancedly, political attitudes come from independent thought and study, not only the continuation of trends; this is where original political ideas come from, whether positive or negative. For example, Communism took some time to develop in the literature and philosophy before it became a real political action (in the days even before it was a formidable force). The most important agents of political socialization in my life have been to read. I think that schooling is not quite the same as education; most of what I independently know, has come from books, and I try to make my readings as fair and comprehensive as possible. I do not necessarily read about politics, but I do about history, geography, world culture, etc., which is relevant to understanding politics today, especially in terms of long term conflicts with deep and complex roots. In terms of public opinion polls, I have not always been a believer in statistics but I believe that there is something of a positive correlation between public opinion polls and electoral campaign results; for example, all the polls in the 2008 election pointed to a unanimous victory for Obama, and the electoral results showed that he won by a margin of almost ten percent. Public opinion polls do not often seem to be wrong in my opinion, especially in terms of public elections. However, public opinion is sensitive to change and can do so overnight, so polls need to be held very frequently in order to keep track of this, which is impractical. A difference of even a few days can render a public opinion poll invalid. I think polls influence voters to some extent because not all voters fully understand their own positions and may feel pressured to agree with one of the black and white options on the Likert scale.
- Can an academic discipline such as the one described in this chapter adequately collect, organize, and analyze information from the world of politics in a meaningful way? How are political scientists different from journalists in the professional study of political events and behaviour? Are the complexities of human political behaviour beyond the competency of any one specialized field of human knowledge?
An academic discipline as methodical and methodological and realistically ingrained as political science can certainly collect, organize, and analyze information from the world of politics in a meaningful way, in the sense that, much as in an organization, transactional and operational level data can be captured and studied to output a pattern or trend that can then be utilized in the formation of decision making or strategy setting. However, whether or not it can do this adequately is a good question. I believe it cannot do it adequately, just as I have read that only seven percent of transactional and operational data ever make it to the decision making strategic or executive managerial level. There is simply too much data for the available human resources or intellectual capital to process, and when there is a great deal of input from political scientists, there is an even smaller number of people at the executive level (i.e. government) who are paying attention and willing to use this information proactively. While a journalist simply describes what is happening, a political scientist analyzes it in all its deep rooted and complicated contexts. The complexities of human political behaviour are indeed beyond the competency of any one specialized field of human knowledge. Political science makes borrowings from other social sciences.
Examples of the borrowings that political scientists make from other social sciences are the anthropological, historical, psychological, philosophical, sociological, linguistic, managerial, pedagogical, and religious studies. Political behaviour is the aggregate of many human and societal influences on an individual, so it is necessary to build bridges between these social sciences. Trend building should come from the analysis and cross examination and calibration of as much data as possible.
The progenitors of political science were the Greeks and the Romans. Political science was not known as such in those days, but it has origins in classical civilization. Books by Aristotle and Plato, such as The Republic, offered valuable, ethics related models of the description of an ideal state. The ideal state had roots not in political realism but in ideals of human behaviour and social and individual responsibility. These models are very different from those employed today, which take into account a state’s interests rather than its ideology, but they represent the birth of the scientific study of politics. The Romans had greater need of political science than the Greeks, for the vast expanse of lands and peoples they ruled, and so they fashioned political science more elegantly and more concentratedly, developing many areas of law that even persist to this day in some penal codes; the Romans developed valuable legal precedents and concepts, but it was still not exactly political science yet. This began shortly after the Middle Ages, when descriptions of politics became descriptive rather than prescriptive, i.e. descriptions of the actual rather than the ideal. This was the birth of political realism. Idealizations such as The Republic (although Utopia is somewhat similar to it, from a much later time) were replaced by analytics such as The Prince, or the application of precise logical governances to the analysis of political behaviour, descriptive or prescriptive. In brief, political science became a science.
- Compare the development of academic Political Science in Canada and the United States. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing political knowledge via the traditional, behavioural and post-behavioural approaches in Political Science? What are the likely trends in the future study of politics?
The development of academic Political Science in Canada and the United States differed in the sense that the states of the United States exhibit less independence than the provinces and territories of the Canadian federation. The central focus at the crux of Canadian politics and political science is intra governmental relations, and the balance of federal power and provincial power. Despite this, the approach of American political scientists to political science is more complex and comprehensive than that of Canadian political scientists; it is based on intensive research and research methodology. The Canadian approach is less abstract based and more practical; it is based simply on making a study of problems facing the Canadian federal government and provinces and finding solutions through abstraction, trial and error, etc. (depending on which model of policy development we look at).
The traditional approach is not political realism, i.e. ideology becomes interest. The behavioral approach is based on field research into “consumer psychology”. The post-behavioral approach casts hypotheses and then verifies them with analysis, i.e. it is not exploratory. The global and comparative approaches to political science are the most probable to dominate the academic community.
- Can a Political Science only function in a democratic environment? Is Political Science biased in favour of pluralistic liberal political systems? Do less than democratic systems have positive consequences for people living under them? Discuss the role of Political Science in those remaining totalitarian systems.
Political science in an undemocratic environment is limited in the scope of its hypotheses and field researches. The limit is government acceptability. Thus it is still possible to carry out some of the work and responsibilities of academic political science, but not as beneficially to the science, the academic community or the public (or even the government, which may benefit from its findings). Political science may be biased in favor of pluralistic liberal political systems, but only because such systems are encouraged as the end result of state craft on a global level; for example, almost every country in the world identifies itself as a democracy officially although of course, fewer countries actually are democracies. Undemocratic systems lack positive consequences for people living under them because human progress, such as economic progress (utilitarianism and Adam Smith) flourish under democratization and liberalization and laissez faire approaches. In totalitarian systems, the public face of political science is heavily propagandized.
Evaluate the relative importance of ideas and ideologies in politics. Discuss the role political socialization plays in support of a society’s formal ideology.
Ideas and ideology are important in politics, but they should not be held to be the absolute. Political realism or realpolitik holds that a state should be guided by interests and not ideology in its policies. Nevertheless, few voters agree with this concept and most are ideology driven; thus political socialization and political behaviors have ideological foundations, hence the relevance of ideas and ideology even to political realism.
Discuss how one could go about examining a society’s national ideology.
One goes about examining a society’s national ideology by dismantling its influential components and making a study of each one of them.
Does Robert E. Lane’s classification of the functions of political ideologies draw any particular ideology to mind? Which one and why?
Robert E. Lane’s classification is closely related to what we learn about the ideas of Thomas Hobbs. Hobbs made a powerful argument against anarchism by stating that human beings are by nature competitive, even violently so, and that a government is an artificial institution that is necessary because it places supra natural controls on naturally barbaric human tendencies. A government becomes a matter of survival.
Discuss the following statements:
Canadians are not highly ideological.
I agree with this statement. Canada is a nominatively but hardly an ideologically religiously identifying country. The many facets of Canadian immigrant demographics are largely assimilated into Canadian society. Ideology is not so uniform or strong in Canadian society. This has allowed Canada to retain a highly fluid structure allowing it to flow and adapt to modern situations. Canada is one of the most diverse, yet one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a public administration system that other countries strive to study and emulate. It enjoys nearly perfect foreign relations with the rest of the world and does not usually participate in international conflicts, though it is not the same as, for example, Switzerland in a policy of official neutrality. All of this would not be possible if Canada were tightly ideologized.
Most Canadians describe themselves as liberal or conservative but there are not sharp differences between them.
I agree with this statement because Canada is such a developed and societally harmonious state that politics has almost ceased to be controversial in the major sense. This does not mean much noise is not made about politics (noise is made indeed) but if we relate our situation to the situations of the rest of the world, we may find that our debates and even our conflicts are relatively over quite quiet matters. Here we debate intra governmental relations, the social union framework agreement, government expenditures; in other countries we may debate matters of explosive situations or civil war. I believe most of the substantial differences between the liberal and conservative factions lie in their approach to the expenditure of Canadian tax dollars, and even so, we have seen the Conservative government that is holding power, embark on expensive economic stimuli to protect Canadian functionality from the global economic crisis. There are no sharp differences between the Liberals and Conservatives in Canada.
Nazism could never flourish in Canada.
I believe that extremist or hostile or xenophobic attitudes may find themselves created anywhere if adverse enough circumstances manifest themselves. The Germany after the Treaty of Versailles seemed to be a Germany that was de-imperialized, de-colonialized, and developing on the democratic track; but the devastation wrought by the treaty, its unfair blame on Germany as the supposed cause of the First World War, and the devastation wrought by the Great Depression, combined together to create a national desperation that allowed Hitler to win the vote. Such an attitude, created by desperate enough circumstances, is possible anywhere, and of course not necessarily in Western countries alone.
Which values and beliefs are likely to comprise an ideology?
- The nature of the individual
- The role of the individual
- The power distance of the individual
- The power distance of the state
- The social structure that accommodates the culture
Why is it so important to address the nature of human nature in constructing an ideology?
The shortcomings and over competitiveness of human nature are what makes an ideology and a political system necessary (Hobbs’ argument against anarchism).
Differentiate between political philosophy and ideology.
Political philosophy is more along the lines of ethical theory. It is a scientific study of the morality of politics. Plato and Thomas More could be said to be political philosophers. Ideology is more relevant to a nation’s culture or events or religion or other belief shapers; ideology changes. There may be many ideologies while political philosophy would be more congruent.
Discuss what ideologies do.
Ideologies align the ideas and opinions and the behavioral development of their subject population. They may be positive or negative, beneficial or counterproductive. I find that ideologies tend to be negative instead of positive, because an ideology does not have to be rational at all in order to convince people if they are born in that society from birth. I prefer a state that is not high in ideology, like Canada.
An ideology consists of a system of ideas that `prescribes’ a system of values, beliefs and knowledge. Discuss the role of `proscription’ in protecting a political culture.
Prescription and proscription are the most relevant parts of an ideology. They impose realizations and controls of beliefs and norms. They are the relation between the legislative and the executive. However, the sharpness of prescription and proscription, hinting that the political structure needs more and more enforcement of controls in order to survive, is a hint that the ideology is not fluidly responsive to changes in its external environment and may not be the best option for its society’s progress.
Is an ideology a set of beliefs and ideas that a political system tries to live up to by giving them an institutional framework?
Yes; I agree with this definition. An ideology is a grid system that comes from the crisscrossing of many facets and sets the platform on which a society’s tacit and then its explicit infrastructure is built.
Why do ideologies criticize other ideologies?
Many ideologies claim not only to be fitted for their own societies, but adaptable to other societies and even superior to the ideologies of other societies. In addition, many ideologies are more rigorous than others, for example, the North Korean ideology and the Canadian ideology. Finally, all human populations compete for scarce resources; ideology provides a conscionable justification for economic conflict.
Survey textbooks used in related disciplines (sociology and social psychology). Are some of the observations and generalizations made about ideologies helpful to your understanding of political ideology?
I believe that the textbooks I have surveyed are rather congruent and agreeable in their mutually overlapping definitions of the components and nature and function of ideologies. However, input from the social sciences is always valuable because it increases the background of political science.
Put together a needs or wish list for your community. What ideological path is most likely to enable your community/country to achieve its goals?
My needs or wish list for my community would be to seek alternative energy sources (renewables) to our petroleum industry which represents too great a percentage of our gross national product for comfort. I would like to see our financial sector and other natural resource-independent sectors build up. I would like to see us more diversified and secure, like the economy of Dubai. I would also like to see more liberalization, but I believe it would naturally come in line with economic development. The ideological path most likely for Saudi Arabia to achieve its goals is something like New Public Management (NPA) or neoliberalism, that is still in line with Islamic principles and values.
Democracy as a political ideology has roots going back over 2,500 years. Do you think the traditional components of these early democratic ideals are still relevant today?
I think most early traditional components of democracy as a political ideology still survive today. Some, of course, have been outdated by the fading out of their institutions… For example, we no longer hold discourses on the democratic or voting rights of slaves or women, which took place from Plato’s time to comparatively recently. Nevertheless, “The Republic” or “Utopia” is still what most voters seem to be drawn toward as an end result of development.
Is democracy a transitional ideology, i.e., can fundamental democratic principles be altered to meet contemporary social requirements?
I believe this is similar to the case of Communism. Karl Marx spent his entire life in France, Germany, England and Switzerland; his theory was designed for a state that was heavily industrialized and not in a developmental stage. Russia, on the other hand, was limitedly industrial, with an impoverished agriculturalist population base. Lenin found that Russia was so ill suited for Communism that with all the adjustments he made to it, it became Leninism, Russian Communism, quite different from Marxism. There was also Stalinism, Maoism, etc… So probably there are many existing strains of democracy worldwide, that purists may be unaware of.
Discuss the connection between liberalism and democracy.
Liberalism and democracy both uphold the rights, or the worth, of the people. Even a liberal non democracy like Singapore, values the rights and worth of its people more than a non liberal democracy, such as Venezuela.
Define the term “pluralism” and explain why democracies are judged by the degree of pluralism they generate.
Pluralism is the concept of including more than one element, line of reasoning, principle or ethical judgment in a totality or judgment. Democracy is meant to encompass, and be inclusive, rather than exclusive. It is also meant to be flexible and adaptive to people’s wants and needs, which they express through their rights. This is why pluralism is a criterion for judging the functionality of a democracy.
Research points out that democracy is rarely found among the nation-states of the world. Why do you think this is so?
It has taken the Western world 2,000 years to develop the world’s leading democracies; even sixty years ago, the health of these democracies was in question, when we consider for example, the Jim Crow laws in the Southern United States that forbade African Americans from engaging in the political process or made it practically impossible for them by subjecting them to much longer bureaucratic processes and much more difficult examinations than their white counterparts. Most of the world is also recovering from centuries of colonial rule and has yet to build its own identity and a political structure that is optimal for that identity. Finally, some cultures are not maximally adapted to a democratic model by their very nature. These countries still need to develop a tradition of political behaviors that complements democracy.
What is it about both conservatism and socialism that manifest them as both democratic and non-democratic ideologies?
This depends on the degree to which institutions are set in place that are inflexible to voter referendums. These institutions have various arguments. They have their apologists and their opponents. This is typical of liberal and socialistic systems as well as conservative systems, e.g. anti racial discrimination laws were not established by voter referendum and would not be entrusted to voter referenda. The British monarchy has never been entrusted to a voter referendum. Etc.
Discuss the problems created in Canadian society by practising the principles of majority rule and minority rights. To what extent is the fate of Indians threatened by our presumptions about democracy in Canada.
On the one hand, democracy is rule of the people by the people, and by the people insinuates the majority of the people, since the people will never move unilaterally in one direction. On the other hand, democracy cannot turn into “mobocracy” that alienates and persecutes minorities who are weaker than the majority because of their weaker electoral proportion. And a country like Canada is not so homogenous and is growing less and less so; this complicates this contradictory understanding of democracy (majority rule vs. minority protection). This problem is partially solved by the institutions discussed above (government institutions placed inflexibly to voter referenda for ethical reasons, such as anti discrimination laws). The Native American community in Canada seeks to practice its multiple millennia old traditions such as whale hunting for example, which may contradict Canadian institutions (such as environmental laws). The majority of Canadians may vote for environmentally friendly laws if such laws were proposed in referenda, and we would presume that a majority vote would mean democratic legitimacy, while in fact it would affect the traditional lifestyle of this country’s original inhabitants, and still appear democratically legitimate because they form a minority.
Discuss the differences among the concepts of nation, country, state, government, and nation-state. Examine the growth in the number of nation-states in the international community since 1648. Discuss the proliferation of state actors in the twentieth century. Consider the large number of nations in relation to the relatively small number of nation-states. Analyse the information in the text, Table 4.1, to explain the absorption of nations by nation-states.
A state is an entity that comprises multiple components. It has a high level, centralized authority with legislative and executive powers. It has territorial and boundary definitions; a certain population base that is more or less permanent; and a governing authority or mechanism, and the capacity to establish foreign relations with other authorities over states of this description.
It is not entirely necessary for a nation to have its own official government in order to be considered a nation. Some nations, exist within other nations, due to political agreements or political conflicts. Examples include the occupied Palestinian territories and the territory of Nunavut in Canada which is more or less self-governing (the first is due to conflict, the second due to agreement).
A country, on the other hand, is not as official a description. It is a description of a country based on its historical population, its fluid geographical boundary lines, its terrain, etc. For example, “The Basque Country” in northern Spain is called a country although it is not its own nation or state.
Some of the rights and delineations of independent nation states were established by medieval-era treaties, and each nation-state came to be equalized to others in terms of its territorial sovereignity and its foreign relations. The number of nation-states in the world is ever on the increase as conceptional independence (the status of being a distinct country or state) is granted political status. The youngest countries in the world, only recently granted independence, are Kosovo (from Serbia), East Timor (from Indonesia), South Ossetia and Abkhazia (from Georgia, although not recognized), etc.
Discuss the difficulties of measuring power among the nation-states of the international system. Is Ray Cline’s conceptual formula a realistic one in a world of nuclear proliferation and militarized states? What components of Cline’s formula are most relevant in the power equation of a nation-state? What is a superpower? What is a middle power?
Unfortunately, the nation-state defies any simplicity of description because of the multiplicity of manners in which to describe and define it, and the multiplicity of its operational and definitive characteristics. Nation-states find their power and relevance to the world in such matters as military power, strategic capacity, and the “critical mass” concept. Factors such as physical location may determine the importance of a nation-state; more strategically located nation-states (for purposes of military and trade and bottlenecking other nation-states) have been historically powerful, such as the Byzantine Empire. The location of a nation-state is important because it determines the potential power of the nation states in a strategic way. Depending on what nation states surround it, can provide more or less power. The population of a nation-state is not necessarily an indication of power, however if a nation state is in the growing process it can be a source of power. Natural Resources of a nation-state are a source of power. The raw materials found from these resources can empower a nation state. (Example: oil).
Ray Cline’s formula is agreeable to me because the variables seem more or less true to life and the equation between them seems to be the mathematicization of fairly logical assumptions. The components of the formula that are most relevant when thinking of superpowers are the control of natural resources, population and military capabilities.
Superpowers are nation-states with disproportionate degrees of territorial sovereignity and political power (power is defined as the ability to make others do what you want or the ability to make things develop or happen in such a way as you want). Superpowers include China, Russia, the United States, India, Brazil, the European Union, etc.
Middle power nation-states have some power, but not to the extent of the superpowers of the world, they have some say on worldly affairs but a lower amount of power to execute their ideas. An example of a middle power would be Italy, France, Turkey, etc.
Discuss how the basic political organization of a country can enhance or complicate its economic potential. What advantages do unitary states have over federal states? Discuss the various types of federal systems introduced in the chapter. Which one most clearly resembles the unitary system and why?
The division, delineation and delegation of powers in a political structure is absolutely essential towards its success, the same as holds true for a commercial organization. Economic capacity is a product of political organization. Depending on how the country has its government set up, it may affect things such as communication with other countries, transportation of goods. The population under that government may be more for the people or more for the country, so money would be invested accordingly which in essence affects the economic potential of the country.
The advantages unitary states have over federal states are the way they exercise their power, which may not be available in states that use federal systems. Unitary states are the most common type of political organization. With all of the power residing in the national government this grants all responsibility to one governing body, so all citizens listen to one source only. This represents the simplest type of nation-state that does not need to be divided into multiple semi-autonomous political entities.
Federal systems include mature federations, conciliatory federations and centralized federations. The mature federation has achieved national, economic and political integration among people of ethnic origins. Mature federations also the share interests and goals of the national government. Conciliatory federations have a process that is continual to compromise and negotiate between the national government and sub-national units. The conciliatory federations have their own identities, with their own laws, policies, customs and languages, jurisdictional disputes often arise. Conciliatory federations are responsible to local needs.
The centralized federations closely resemble the unitary systems. The federal structure serves for the national government. In a centralized federation, the national government has all power just like in the unitary systems. Both ideals closely resemble each others.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of economic systems employed in the world’s states. Suggest some of the ways that urbanization, industrialization, and communications alter political institutions. Discuss the political problems by the trade off between economic growth and sustainable environmental quality.
The economic systems of the world can be categorized into the capitalist, the socialist, and the so-called mixed economic model. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of a capitalist system are production, pricing and distribution of goods and services that are determined by millions, each trying to maximize personal gain.
The advantages of socialist system are the state controls all resources. The supply, demand and prices of goods and services are determined by government policies. This makes the state economy highly resilient to economic crashes or the economic statuses of rival or competitive or trade partner countries. The disadvantages include the people being completely controlled, there is no real differentiation in social classes, and more education doesn’t always mean a high paying job is available.
In a mixed economic system the advantages are the control of the economy is shared by the public and private institutions. It is a mix of both the social and capitalist systems. The disadvantage is that since it adopts several systems to make one system, that there are still those things that disadvantages in the other systems which are still present.
Canada may solidly be described as a capitalist state, despite its heavy tradition of socialistic benefits packages, because even government functions and bodies are being taken over by corporations, and the government is seeking a corporate-style image management.
Is the military capacity of a state an accurate indicator of its ability to influence other states? What can be said about military power vis-à-vis the totality of a state’s perceived strength? Identify the problems inherent in comparing national power on the basis of military indicators.
Military capacity can affect other nation-states although modern international law rejects inner state violence as a means of settling disputes. Modern international law has no enforcement arm; the United Nations cannot invade a country if it refuses to abide by international settlements. So military powers should not have an influence but I believe it still does.
Military power does not describe the totality of the strength of a nation-state. Power or strength refers to things such as economic productivity, scientific and technological advancements.
Military power is the cause of more harm in the world rather then creating cures for disputes. Just because a nation has a large military does not mean it is powerful, they can have no economic structure at all. In some cases a way boosts the economy in these types of countries, which is a positive I suppose for them, but also a negative.
Discuss the intangible elements of perceived power. Do Canadians want Canada to be seen as a powerful country? How do they want Canada’s influence to be expressed? In what ways do Canadians show their concern over the direction of Canada’s foreign policy?
The tangible elements of power for example are population, geography and natural recourses remain stagnant without national will and strategic purpose are the intangible elements of power.
Canadians have a desire for Canada to be a powerful and a consequential country in world affairs. Canada has the economy to be such a country, and it enjoys good relations with almost all the countries of the world. Canadians have a desire to further Canada’s image management through its power management; we have no desire to fight wars, but we have a desire to be seen in peacekeeping and aid relief missions; etc.
Discuss the problem of classifying governments. The instructor should say something about the instrumental character of all typologies and classifications, point out that they are inventions to accommodate the research interests of the investigator. Students should recognize the dangers of reifying types and classifications, thus confusing them with reality.
The problem with classifying government is that there are different classifications of government. Governments can differ in size, history of a state, experiences, civilization, openness, legitimacy, effectiveness, the kind of political participation by individuals and groups outside the center of authority. There are various ways a government can be classified as, democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian. All different styles of government bring with them different elements thus making them unique. Every government is different. This makes it difficult for a political scientist to assemble typologies to classify governments into categories.
Discuss the attributes of democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian governments in certain nation-states.
In a democratic government, the leader of the nation state is for the people. They are elected through vote because the people believe they are the person that can continue to guide their country in to the future. There are usually several options for leaders, but only one is selected as official leader.
There are two different types of authoritarian governments, civilian and military. They both are governments that are unelected elites, they control the competition for power making sure they are not overthrown. With these governments there are little constitutional guarantees from the leaders.
Throughout history there have only been two totalitarian dictatorships. One was in Germany during the Nazi regime, lead by Adolf Hitler. The other occurred in Italy during the reign of Mussolini. Both seized total power of their countries and lead with an iron fist. Both inspired the likes of Francisco Franco (Spain) and Juan Peron (Argentina). In these types of governments it was listen to the government or be killed, no other alternatives.
Contrast the main characteristics of parliamentary and presidential government.
The main characteristics of parliamentary government are the parliamentary executive comprises a head of state and head of government usually called a prime minister. The prime minister than chooses the cabinet. The cabinet guards, directs and drives the process of parliamentary government. In terms of policy and law making, the cabinet is the government. The executive in the parliamentary system is dependant for authority and maintains confidence in parliament. The prime minister may stay in power as long as he continues to be elected. There are majority governments and majority governments. The opposition has a crucial role to play; the role is to criticize government, its behaviour, administration of policies and to offer alternatives to government policies. There is a question period, which is an important part of parliamentary accountable. This gives MP’s the time to ask government questions on matters of urgency.
The main characteristics of presidential government are that it is the oldest working presidential form of government is the republic of the United States. Most republic head of state are elected individuals. The president dominates all institutions of government and is above the law. Separation of powers has two functional dimensions, one being the separation of personnel; no person may hold office in more than one of the three branches of government at the same time and two being the checks and balance powers are shared by the three branches of government, so that no branch comes to dominate. There are really only two groups in which to elect a president from and they are the Republicans and the Democrats. The president may only stay in power a total of two terms throughout their life. There is only a majority government. There is no opposition against the president. The president is the only symbolic representative of all the people. The president is elected by the popular vote.
Discuss the conditions of authoritarianism that lend themselves to the creation of military governments.
Authoritarianism is a system of government characterized by autocratic decision making, restricted pluralism and limited public participation. A form of authoritarian government is the military regime, which are governments in which the executive legislator, administrator and judicial institutions are controlled by the military. This leads to military government, because those that are in the armed forces seize power and have taken control of the highest positions of governments. This type is system is very common in Africa. This is where all power is in the hands of their armies.
Evaluate either the book or the movie “1984” as a realistic portrayal of modern totalitarianism. Authoritarian and totalitarian governments comprise the majority of political regimes in the world today.
George Orwell’s novel is a somewhat realistic portrayal of modern totalitarianism. With the advancements of technology today, it is not hard to believe that the government could be controlling people via micro chips, since GPS systems are becoming more and more advanced. There are more and more movies that are having a common theme among them as a so called “Big Brother” is watching over you. Movies such as the Matrix provide further ideas as to how the government could control the people through technology.
Discuss why democratic governments are so infrequent an occurrence in the contemporary international system. Why have most governments throughout history been authoritarian?
Democratic governments are infrequent an occurrence in contemporary international systems, because they are authoritarian or totalitarian, which do not focus on the people, they prefer to focus on the state itself. The people have to follow the leader’s opinions and actions. The leader has all the power and rejects opposition to any of their personal views. Most governments throughout history have been authoritarian. The reason for this may lead back to far back in history, when kings and queens were in control of countries. This view that one leader should control the state seemed to be followed throughout history. When countries are in a bad state of economic growth, the people want to follow someone with the knowledge to fix the problem so everyone would lean at that person as their leader.
Many argue that the executive branch is the most capable of formulating public policy. To what extent is this true in light of the resources available to the executive?
The executive branch is the most capable considering it is the oldest and most adopted institution. It has been the focal point ever since groups began to organize governments in society. In today’s world every political system has an executive branch. Executives have a wide range of available political resources that are not usually accessible to other branches of government.
In Canada, the resources of the Cabinet are many, but what are the constraints on executive power?
The constraints of the Cabinet are the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board. These three bodies advise the PM and the Cabinet on the advisability and financial feasibility of pursuing a given policy. All information is filtered through these offices.
Despite legislative and popular checks on Canada’s political executive, some argue that the balance of governmental power has shifted far in the direction of the Cabinet. Discuss to what extent this is true.
The balance of governmental powers has shifted far in the direction of the Cabinet because the Cabinet are the executives who take care of and handle political situations. The Cabinet manages various levels of governments, boards, commissions and crown corporations. Canadians usually accept decisions made by the Cabinet not by the Prime Minister. There are many more voices in the Cabinet than just the Prime Minister.
Are there signs that Parliament may be reasserting its powers? What are they?
Parliament may be reasserting its powers by placing specific individuals into the appropriate positions. This would be to balance the power to where it should be.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of separating the head of state from the head of government and party in the parliamentary system.
The advantage of having the separation between head of state and the head of government is differentiation. This allows for the government duties to be divided up such as they are in Canada. The head of state opens parliament and attends public functions. Her majesty the Queen of England is represented and given symbolic or ceremonial representation from the governor general. The head of state decides who should be the head of government.
The disadvantage of separating the head of state from the head of government is not having full control of government.
Under the United States presidential system, is it really possible for the same person to carry out partisan duties and represent the public interest for the nation-state as a whole?
I believe it is possible to carry out these duties but in all likeliness it will not occur; there is not enough time for one person to be able to accomplish all that. It would take a special individual to pull it off.
As head of state, the U.S. president spends a tremendous amount of time at ceremonial functions. Should these duties be assigned to someone else, thus freeing the president for political work?
Various countries around the world employ a leader who is both head of state and head of government. The President of the United States is an example. The Secretary of State does not come near as visible a public role as the President. Other countries employ a Head of State and a Head of Government; an example is Turkey, where the power of the President is ceremonial, or Egypt, where conversely, the power of the Prime Minister is ceremonial. I believe that the United States should invest in a more ceremonial role for the Vice President or Secretary of State or even build a new title so that the President can exercise his executive powers more efficiently.
List, compare, and discuss the functions of the executive branch of government in the United States and Canada. From what you surmise, which state is more democratic?
In the United States the functions of the executive branch of government are conducted by 14 departments and a private executive assistant such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), FTC and the commission. The president and the vice president and the secretary make up the cabinet in the American government.
The executive or federal government of Canada must pass bills and resolutions that become binding rules, and enforce them. In my opinion, Canada has among the most transparent democratic institutions in the world.
the office of the Governor General in Canada
The office of the Governor General has become symbolic and ceremonial by custom and convention; the Governor General holds little or no real power. The Governor General may deliver the speech from the throne at opening sessions of parliament. Adrienne Clarkson, the Governor General, is the official representative of the Queen’s representation in Canada. As the Queen holds no power in England and England holds no power over Canada, the ceremonial role of the Governor General is emphasized.
the Queen’s Privy Council
The Queens Privy Council is a body of royal advisors, and private to secrets of the crown, the Privy Council evolved to become the legal precursor of the modern-day cabinet. The Queens Privy Council has no mention in the Canadian legislative literature, but it is the antecedent of the Canadian cabinet. All selections of the Canadian cabinet are made by the Governor General of Canada.
the Cabinet and cabinet making
The cabinet is the executive council of the Canadian government; it is the main decision-making forum for initiating laws, policies, raising and spending the public’s money. They also provide advice and recommendations to the Prime Minister. When forming a cabinet the Prime Minister must realize economic, geographic, gender, linguistic, political and social criteria to ensure his Cabinet is optimized for the government and people but also to ensure that it is well reflective of diversity concerns, i.e. by including women and minorities proportionately in his government. Each province should have a least one cabinet minister in the federal cabinet. With a cabinet shuffle the PM can promote the most loyal ministers or demote those whose performance is less than expected. This becomes a tactic that he uses to maintain his power, one of his privileges.
the powers of the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is the most important and most powerful figure in Canadian politics. His responsibilities and powers include the ability to call an election, to gain popular visibility, to instruct the formal executive, to lead a political party, to form a government and to build a federal consensus among premiers. The Prime Minister can even recommend for the Governor General to dissolve parliament.
Identify and discuss the functions the U.S. president must perform as “head of state.”
As the head of state, the President of the United States is the central figure in the ceremonial and also the executive role of the country. He acts on behalf of all of the people and is the foremost symbol of the political community. It is he who talks to foreign dignitaries. He also addresses the nation once a year in a State of the Union Address. It is up to the Presidency to mandate or abolish national holidays. The President is the mouthpiece of American democracy.
Discuss the president’s role as commander-in-chief. Give some examples of presidents performing this role in recent political history.
The president has the role as commander-in-chief, which means he can go above Congress for a limited time during war times. He does not need to wait to seek approval over any actions he declares, during this very limited and special emergency time. However his power is limited to time during this process, unless he received congressional co-operation. For example, the powers of Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II were powerful and congressionally extended.
Washington personally led a federalized militia force of approximately 15,000 troops to quell the Whiskey Rebellion during his second term, although he was not present during any of the skirmishing in the relatively bloodless conflict.
Madison personally took control of command in the War of 1812, because he thought his leading commander was not capable enough to lead them to victory. Thus he override existing controls because of the emergency nature of the time.
Bush enacted this power during the “War on terrorism”, to justify several actions he performed.
Discuss the president’s function as “chief diplomat.” To what extent can Congress control the president’s powers in this area?
The president’s functions of being the chief diplomat are to make treaties, receive ambassadors and other public ministers and to exercise executive power. The Congress can control the president with regards to his power with the “commander-in-chief” power that he can assume. They can disagree with it and try to override the president and force the process to only be the limited amount of time. However, they may or may not be successful in doing so, this being dependent on the emergency nature of the time. This is because multiplicity of leadership can cause confusion and cripple the nation’s ability to behave unilaterally during an emergency.
Discuss why in both authoritarian and totalitarian regimes the executive tends not to be subject to the limitations and checks that confront democratic executives.
Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes involve regimes or leaders or oligarchies that behave in absolutist fashion as despots, with no mechanism of democratization or electorally formed representative assemblies to check this power. With having complete power and no one to answer to, they become free of limitations and can do whatever they desire.
What new limitations confirm the present leadership in a Soviet Union dominated by perestroika?
The perestroika reforms began the process leading to the end of the Soviet-era state controlled economy and its gradualistic transformation into a free market economy which is ongoing today. The former Soviet Union has slowly been reforming to a democracy, but its transitioning to a free market economy has stagnated the speed of democratic reform because the process is extremely unstable. For example, during the global economic crisis the economy of the Russian Federation retracted by over ten percent, a severe blow compared to other Western countries.
Define a constitution. Do you believe there are really any effective restraints on governments today? What do constitutions accomplish?
I define a constitution as the highest outcome document of law that precedes all other bodies of law in a society. It describes the manners of operation of government–the government bodies, the government structure, the government elections and other vital and basic procedures. It describes the branches of government, their rights and powers and responsibilities, and discusses the role of citizenry in shaping the government. Most importantly the constitution spells out the rights of the individual and the limitations on the power of the state, and since it is very difficult to change, this is meant to protect democracy and individualism.
Do democratic constitutions reflect a philosophical perspective– one that views the nature of human beings with optimism or pessimism? Regardless of which perspective used, can a constitution, backed by the authority of government, protect liberties and preserve order?
Democratic constitutions reflect an optimistic view of the nature of most human beings as being of an intelligent, genuinely caring variety and wanting to engage actively and positively in the shaping of their nation state. This might not be the view in authoritarian or totalitarian or socialistic regimes in which the individual has little or no say in the government. If the constitutional view of human beings were pessimistic then private citizens would only be given individual freedoms, instead of political rights, but the point of the constitutions is “Government of the people, for the people, by the people.”
What are the underlying tenets of modern constitutionalism?
Modern constitutionalism consists of formal limitations of government power, protection of citizens against arbitrary exercise of government power, and to permits an constitutional change.
How are these tenets reflected in the American constitution?
The American constitution has adaptability regarding, the amendment process, broad grants of institutional power and authority, growth of extra constitutional practices and judicial interpretation of constitutional generalities.
Can you identify the tenets of constitutionalism in the Canadian constitution?
In the Canadian constitution, both governments at the federal and the provincial level are given exclusive and concurrent powers. To amend their legislated functions, there are formally spelled out procedures; there is a rights and freedoms charter to protect the individuals and the provincial governments from an excess of federal meddling; and finally the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord. All of this exists to check the power of Ottawa.
How important do Canadians regard the principles of democratic constitutionalism in the operation of the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Constitution Act, 1982?
Canadians view these principles are essential to life in Canada. Canada has a very multi cultural society so all citizens no matter their ethnicity need to be protected. Equal rights are described in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, perhaps the most essential part of the constitution. Canadians regard both constitutional acts are essential to a democratic Canada.
What qualities of a modern constitution enable democratic states to adapt to changing times and events? To what extent can a constitution be considered a “flexible” document?
The modern constitution enables democratic states to adapt to changing times and events by focussing on the public good. The constitution takes into account everyone’s opinion and seeking of consensus, concessions and public participation. This requires government to implement their public policies according to high social standards such as; accountability, equal opportunity, majority rule, minority right and political neutrality.
Discuss the doctrine of limited government. What provisions in Canada’s Constitution limit the powers of government against individual citizens? Are these limitations meaningful?
The constitution delineates the powers of key government members and their limits and responsibilities. The constitution employs mechanisms to limit the power of the federal government. It prevents the build-up or concentration of power disproportionately onto one person or an oligarchy of persons, or on one part of the government. It forbids arbitrary interference by the government into individual life. The charter of fundamental rights and freedoms spells out limits on the powers of the federal government. I find these limitations extremely important and the root of our democracy. Without them, there would be no “glass ceiling” that the government would hit on its route to power.
Investigate why a Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution Act, 1867. Then, explain why one was added in 1960. Is the Canadian Bill of Rights still operant today?
The Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution Act of 1867, because it was legislative rather than a constitutional enactment. It could be replaced by an act of parliament, so it was then put into the Constitution. With the Bill f Rights in the Constitution, Canadians could feel more secure in the knowledge that the amendment formulae would work to prevent any loss of basic freedoms.
List and discuss the rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy. What protections are missing in our Constitution and how could these omissions affect you as an individual? What inclusions would make the ideal constitution?
Like Americans, Canadians enjoy the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law, individual equality, and freedom of: religion, speech, assembly and association, press. I believe the Constitution is fine how it is, nothing at the moment comes to mind that should be included, in regards to anything from 1960 until the present.
Given the amendment formulas applicable in Canada’s Constitution, could we describe it as a flexible document? Will our Constitution be able to adapt to changing times? How would the Meech Lake Accord have amended the formulae for Canada’s Constitution?
Given the amendment formulae’s applicability to Canada’s constitution, I would describe it as a flexible document. There are several methods of amendment which are flexible. The constitution will be able to adapt to change with the flexibility it currently holds. Parliament may be able to pass and make changes as long as it is within their constitutional rights. The Meech Lake accord 1987 laid out five conditions for its acceptance of the constitution; the recognition of Québec as a district semi state, a larger provincial role in immigration, a provincial input into appointment to the supreme court of Canada, limitations on the federal spending powers and a veto for Quebec on constitutional amendments. Ministers then agreed to the five principals of Québec proposals at Meech Lake.
Is the federal principle incorporated in the Constitution Act, 1867 destined to undergo major amendment in the future? What areas are likely to be most controversial?
I think that if we look at the government of the first Prime Minister John Alexander McDonald we find that the role he had planned out for the provinces was very small; he saw the federal government as being the absolute central power in Canada, ruling over the provinces as though they were only English counties. This is so called “colonial federalism”. The adoption of the constitution in 1867 was a major amendment reflecting provincial anger at federal tyranny. In our time, what is controversial about the constititional amendemnts are the sharing of power and public funds between Ottawa and the provinces and among the provinces themselves. Intra governmental relations are the key issue in modern Canadian politics.
The US constitution has survived for over 200 years because of its amendment flexibility and its broad grants of authority and generalities. Compare the constitutions of Canada and the United States with respect to these characteristics. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both documents?
The US constitution did not include a bill of rights; the concept of federalism was originally conceived by the framers of the constitution and has been reinterpreted under the pressures of a changing society, making new and different demands on government. The constitution continues to change as time goes on; it has been amended 27 times, even though 1100 amendments have been introduced into congress. The constitution has been elaborated, enlarged and updated to evolve with society as it needs to.
In Canada the original constitution did not include the bill of rights as well. The Constitution does permit constitutional changes and formulae to change the content of the Constitution. The Constitution Act of 1867 granted parliament the power to make laws for peace, order and good government. There are five methods applicable to the broad areas of constitutional reform, some require approval of the House of Commons and the Senate as well as the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces with at least 50 percent of the population of all provinces, and rights are guaranteed by the constitution but may be limited by parliament.
It is sometimes argued that democracy would not be possible in contemporary societies without political parties. Discuss what these institutions are and how through them a public is able to gain access to the governing elite, hold them accountable, and influence public policies.
Political parties are groups of people united in their opinion or action, more or less permanently organized, who want to elect their candidates to public office so as to influence or control the actions of government. The public is able to gain access to the government elite by voting and selecting specific political groups to be able to protect the citizens from the government. The population controls the vote, and how they vote is how the political party in office is selected.
Political parties are often characterized by ideological and organizational rifts. Discuss how parties are able to maintain unity in the face of internal forces of fragmentation.
The vital survivability factor in a political party is its ability to stay together in the face of fragmentation and personality conflicts and power vacuums. Assimilation and harmonization of members is essential to presenting a united front.
Compare the roles of political parties in democratic and non-democratic states.
In most non-democratic states, people cannot go against their leaders because of the fear of severe punishment. Interest groups activity and interest articulation exist, but only on a relatively small scale and under controlled circumstances.
In democratic political systems, parties may play a crucial role in making and implementing public policy; however because of the competitive nature of democratic political systems, organizations other than political parties also shape the state.
In democratic and non-democratic states, they mobilize people, represent their interests, provide for compromise among competing groups and are the vehicles that recruit the leaders of most contemporary nation-states.
Identify and discuss the various functions of political parties with particular reference to how they recruit political leaders, socialize the masses, and aggregate political interests in a society
The manners in which political parties will elect leaders; elect members; and enact candidates, differ widely. Different ways to recruit include appointment, election and party conventions. Another important function of political parties is to socialize the masses by converting opinions, attitudes, beliefs and preferences into coherent policies. Interest aggregation is the joining of interest in such a way that they are related to the selection of government and party leaders and to the making and administrating of policy
Discuss how party systems evolve. What type of system has evolved in Canada, the United States, Russia, Poland and Hungary?
Political party systems evolve due to the need of spelling out exact electoral system. The need for a choice in the voting process emerged the 2 party systems. So that the people had choice in the vote, two candidates could be chosen to run the state. This then evolved into the multi-party system in which more candidates emerged with different political views and policies.
In Canada, the multi-party system has emerged, since there are several political groups to vote for such as; Liberal, Conservative and NDP. In the United States, the two party systems exist between Republicans and Democrats.
What factors have contributed to the development of multiparty systems in former communist East European states after the collapse of communism?
Multi-party systems basically reflect the ideological differences that evolve in a given society as witnessed by the presence of anarchist groups, communist parties, nationalist parties, revolutionary parties and socialist parties. Within multi-parties systems coalition are formed opportunism, pragmatic and mutual self-interest are primary forces that encourage coalition.
Discuss whether every shade of a political idea becomes a political party.
I do not believe that every shade of a political idea becomes a political party. The number of political parties we have in Canada is not equal to the number of political ideas we have, which seems to increase every day. Although different political parties have a variation of different ideas based upon basic concepts. Some political parties can represent several political ideas. Pressure groups result from every shade of a political idea.
Discuss the hypothesis that the greater the degree of compromise and accommodation in a party, the less ideological that party is. Is it possible to plot the party system in Canada on an ideological map of the left-centre-right? Does the sheer number of parties operating in a political system determine the level and intensity of party competition?
The current hypothesis that the greater the degree of compromise and accomodation in a party equals the less ideological that party is is not always true. Change or compromise or accommodation in a political party does not have to mean a lessening of the ideology. In fact, compromise, both internally within the party and externally with the people and the federal and provincial governments and their own parties in power, equals survival. The Democrats fielded an African-American presidential candidate for the first time, and he got elected; this does not mean the Democrats are less ideological than in the past.
Discuss the differences in the functions of political parties and pressure groups.
Pressure groups are voluntary associations often organized to promote a goal their members share to resist some objectives of government. Whereas political parties mobilize people, represent the interests of the majority and provide compromise to competing groups. Pressure groups are the ones who resist political parties objectives if they are currently in power.
Give Canadian examples of the various types of pressure groups discussed in the text. How effective are they in Canada’s parliamentary system of government? Why are many democratic governments moving to register the groups that pressure them?
Various types of pressure groups include the following: The Canadian Medical Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and many others. The government listens to the pressure groups and takes into consideration what they have to say to decide to pass a law or policies. I believe that many democratic governments are moving to register the groups that provide pressure to their government. This will allow for public knowledge about who is trying to influence policy makers. Pressure groups will sometimes penetrate political parties to get closer to decision makers.
The vote is one of the most basic mediums of political participation. Is the vote of a single individual a powerful political tool? Are elected officials more responsive to groups of voters?
The individual vote is something that is both denigrated and emphasized in our society. No single election has ever been determined by a single vote, but if individuals do not vote, causes will not further. Officials are more responsive to groups or blocs or interest groups of voters, because they represent larger numbers and demographics, and unified marketing toward them is possible. No political party has the time and membership and resources to cater to the individual vote.
What can be said about the percentage of voter turnout in national elections?
In Canada, the voter turnout has been, until recently, historically higher than in any other democratic state. There is no reason not to vote. Voting has become increasingly easier in Canada then it has in the past, there are a lot fewer restrictions. If the public does not participate in the voting process, the public does not really have a say anything towards the government. We are given the right to vote, so shouldn’t we utilize that right to elect the proper officials to run our country. With the turnout being lower, this may show no confidence in the current officials up for election; so many Canadians may just not care, since they have no confidence in any.
Under what circumstances is it a meaningful and efficacious form of public participation?
Voting is meaningful with regards to voting for public officials; in some countries it is illegal to not place a vote, such as Australia. Legal acts can result from not participating.
Discuss the role of an electoral system in determining the outcome of an election. How does the single-member district with plurality affect Canada’s party system? How would the use of proportional representation change the electoral performance of Canada’s political parties?
The electoral system provides the framework for determining the successful candidate in an election, because it ranks the parties from winning to losing on the basis of the electoral mechanism (e.g. the vote count, the electoral college, etc.). An electoral system consists of all the customs, laws, procedures and institutions used to elect representatives in a political system. Most states have created an electoral system of their own to choose government and representatives.
The size of the electoral district, the number of political parties that compete and the timing of elections are all variables affecting the performance of any electoral system. Parties looking for reinstatement in Canada, look for times that their competition appears weak so they call an election to gain the possibility of a majority government. The single member district is based on geopolitical principal that divides a state or its sub national units into relatively equal constituencies.
With the use of the proportional representation this could change the electoral performance of Canada’s political party because the process is different from the single member district currently used. The votes that would remain underrepresented or wasted in other electoral systems are given legislative representation in proportion to the total population vote.
Outline the process unleashed when Canada calls an election.
If the Governor General acts on the recommendation of the Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament, an election for the federal government in Canada is automated. The cabinet instructs the chief electoral officer to issue writs of election to the returning officer in every federal riding in Canada. Returning officers are responsible for appointing deputy returning officers to the subdivisions in every riding, for receiving the nominations of the candidates and for authorizing the printing of the ballots. The returning officer designates the location of polling stations in each riding. At these stations a deputy returning officer and a poll clerk watch over the polling process under the scrutiny of two agents representing each candidate. The voter is then given a ballot on which the names of the candidates running for office, from this they choose a candidate. Standard features of elections are debates, where candidates are able to discuss issues to which they represent, responding to each other’s questions or comments. Then the party with the most votes all over Canada wins the election and is elected to parliament.
Who or what wins elections in Canada: leaders or policies?
I believe that in Canada, policies win elections. The leader does play a strong role, but is the policies that people vote for, since they focus on large groups of people. Whereas in the United States, the people for their leader, such as Barack Obama.
If an election was called today, who do you think would win and why?
If an election were to be called today, the conservatives under Harper would win once again, but with a minority government. They are not strong, but they are however stronger than their rivals, who are currently in shambles. Also, an election was just called less than a month ago.
Identify and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the U.S. primary as a means of nominating candidates to elective office. Do you believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Why or why not?
The advantage and disadvantage of the Unites States primary as a means of nominating candidates to elective office are as follows. A disadvantage of the primaries is that the nominees were chosen by a caucus; an infernal meeting of leaders who selected a candidate to carry the banner in the election.
An advantage to this was the people; citizens of America later became the ones who chose the nominees, not by politicians or party organizers. Primary elections are the means of involving party followers in the nomination process.
Other advantages and disadvantages are some primaries are closed, which requires voters to declare in advance that they are registered members of a particular party. Other primaries are open and do not force partisan declarations; people can decide when they enter the voting booth on Election Day in which parties primary they will participate. I believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. This allows them a chance to pick someone in which they believe has the best chance to win the presidency. This is the best person to oppose the other party whether it is Republican or Democrat.
Discuss the various methods that states use to select their delegates to national party conventions. How important are presidential primaries to hopeful presidential candidates?
Delegates to the presidential nominations convention are selected in a variety of ways. Delegates are bound to the candidate winning the primary election, while in other states delegates can exercise at their own discretion about voting at the national convention for the winner of the state primacy. The primaries are perhaps the most important part for presidential hopefuls. The only real way you have a 50/50 chance at winning the presidency is to win your primary. This allows the candidate to represent his/hers political party and face the opposition. During the primary, this is where the candidate gains much of their potential votes, and really gets their name out to the whole country.