°Renka's Home Page
°PS103 Syllabus - Spring 2001

PS103 – Spring 2001 Essay Questions

Professor Russell D. Renka

°Essay No. 1 - February 9, 2001

Essay No. 1 - 2/09/01

                Answer only one of the following essays, in a paper of approximately 2 ½ to 3 honest pages, either typewritten or word processed.  You may turn in the exam in person, send a physical copy to my mailbox at Carnahan 211-L, send by email attachment to rdrenka@semo.edu, or FAX to me at 573/651-2695.  When citing source materials in support of your essay, be sure to give the author or authors their due by naming them as the source.  And please be certain that when you quote or closely paraphrase the words of someone, enclose all direct uses of their words in quotes.  If you don’t, I’ll automatically return the paper unread and un-graded for you to correct that.  Essay section value is 100 points.
     Due:  by Wednesday, February 14 on or before class.

1.  John Roche said the Framers of the Constitution were pragmatic democrats, but Richard Hofstadter raised serious doubts about that, labeling them as economic upper-class defenders who feared the aggressive urban mobs and small dirt farmers—men whom Jack Rakove says were habitually voting their own into office in the states of the 1780s.  James Madison in Federalist No. 10 and No. 51 put forth the framers’ views on human nature as self-interested and inclined to form into factions that sought power for their own selfish ends.  Yet Madison in No. 10 also says voters will be inclined to elect their betters in a republic with powers conferred on elected officials.  I chipped in that elected officials are much kinder on taxation to their own citizens than they are to outsiders and nonvoters.
    What was democratic about the things the Framers did in Philadelphia?  What was undemocratic about the things they did?  On balance, were they more democratic than undemocratic?

2.  Federalism is in dispute today, with some arguing for greater state and local governmental powers and others for retaining federal or central powers.  Donahue cites one side of this, and Dunlap another.  Based on evidence such as theirs, make your best argument for increasing the power of the states (against the central government) or for increasing central power against the states.

3.  The readings on Macks Creek and the West Virginia tax on river traffic, the class and text description of constraint on trade by states in the 1780s, the taxation of the national bank by Maryland before 1819, and the dependence of states and other federal grant recipients on grant money from Washington, all have a certain common element about them.  What do these things say about the nature and behavior of politicians in a democracy such as the U.S.?  Also, if you can, cite one or more additional examples to highlight this same kind of behavior.

Note:  Whichever essay you answer, please avoid saying the equivalent of “whatever is, must be fine, because it’s working OK by me, and the United States is the best possible way to do things, in any case.”  That may be true, but it’s not an argument with evidence backing it.  It’s a proclamation without a defense.  In a courtroom that would leave you defenseless against cross-examination.  So also in essay writing.

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February 12, 2001 11:57 AM