°Renka's Home Page
°PS103 Assignments
°Student Lists - Sections 03H, 04
°Ultimate Bulletin Board
    °Posting on the Board
°Political Science Links
°GradeA gradebook
°PS103 Tutorials - LEC Learning Assistance Homepage
°Essay Questions - Fall 2000
    °Exam 4 - December 4, 2000
°Student Essays
°Papers by Professor Renka:
    °Madison and Federalism
    °Pre-Primary in 2000
    °Primary Predictions
    °The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Polling

PS103 Syllabus
Professor Renka, Fall 2000

PS103 - U.S. Political Systems Professor Russell D. Renka
Spring 2001 - Southeast Missouri State University Campus Office:  Carnahan 211L
Section 04 - MWF 11:00-11:50 a.m., Carnahan 202 Office Hours:  MWF 10:00-10:50 or by appointment
Section 07 - MF 12:00-1:15 p.m., Carnahan 202 Office Telephone:  (573) 651-2692
Renka's Home Page:  http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/renka/ Office FAX: (573) 651-2695  
Renka's email:  rdrenka@semo.edu  Department Telephone:  (573) 651-2183

°Course Requirements and Credits
°Source Citations and Source Locations
°Course Textbook and Reader
°What's Expected of You
°How to Reach Me
°Weekly Readings and Examination Itinerary


    This is a course on the government and the politics of the United States.  The modern world is dominated politically by governments of large nation-states such as  the U. S.  Governments have special authority granted to no other organizations.  This includes the power to make laws and regulations and to enforce them, and to impose and collect taxes from all of us.  Government is a nearly universal way human beings regulate themselves and their fellows.  This course introduces the fundamentals of American politics and government in a university studies context.  Coverage of topics is by national standard reflected in any competent introductory textbook.  Included here is state-required coverage of  federal and state constitutions.  There are no formal course prerequisites, although I assume nearly all of you have some background in civics and U.S. history courses.

    Politics has been defined as "the art of the possible."  To understand politics is to get beyond the dry civics and legal formalities of government structure and function.  A formal diagram of "how a bill becomes law" exists in every textbook.  Politics explains why a particular bill becomes law and another falls short, by injecting the motives and assets of politicians to gain insight.  For example, the Republican-majority 104th Congress passed a minimum wage increase in 1996 despite the traditional Republican disdain of such measures and the ardent hostility of many Members of Congress toward it.   Politics explains how that could happen--as we shall see.  Many Americans in 1999 deeply dislike politics and politicians, but it's impossible to understand government without politics.  And any effective citizenship in a democracy requires some real knowledge of politics along with the formal principles of its governance.

    This course is taught at three levels.  Some material is basic description, such as an outline of the trimester system set forth in the Supreme Court's highly controversial Roe v. Wade abortion decision, or a specification of what the First Amendment says about freedom of speech.  Some is analytic; once you know basics, you can interpret whether the distinction in law of first and second trimesters makes sense based on what we know from medical research, or whether public tobacco advertising should be classified as commercial speech.  And ultimately you confront the evaluative or judgmental; you ultimately decide what if anything to accept in Roe v. Wade or in tobacco advertising. 

 All have the objective of enabling you to understand what you read or hear in the public realm, and to react as an informed consumer and citizen.  Essay portions of exams are designed to let you show knowledge at each of these levels.

    This course emphasizes two core university studies objectives (all listed at School of University Studies at Southeast Missouri State University; URL is http://www2.semo.edu/registrar/bulletin/univ_stu.html ).  First is effective citizenship.  Plainly put, the course enhances your ability to be an informed participant and knowledgeable consumer.  This does not mean I promote an automatic acceptance of the American status quo; quite the contrary, blind acceptance is a fool's path.  The second, equally important objective is to master locating and gathering information.  Few things are more confusing to the average American than to figure out sources of the myriad effects our government has upon our lives.  Website access is a great help, but one must still learn navigation and acquisition skills.  Several assignments are therefore designed to ensure that you become conversant in web usage beyond the simple use of search terms in your favorite search engine.

 PS103 Course Requirements and Credits           Top

Examinations:  The 16-week course has four sections, each ending with an examination worth 200 points.  Each exam has two sections, multiple-choice, and essay, worth 100 points each.

    The multiple choice questions cover all readings, classroom materials, and other materials we may address during that four-week period.  Each is worth 100 points.  These questions combine the basic and the analytic, but largely bypass the judgmental (although some will require you to recognize an opinion of a writer or your instructor on an issue raised in class and/or readings).  On the proportion of questions taken directly from reading, v. those taken from lecture:  I don't know, since both are important, and single items often blend both.      Net Value:  400 points

    The take-home essays are written on your choice from two or three essay options on a basic problem cited in that section (100 points each).  You'll normally have five days (T to R, or F to W, in weekly calendars) to write your paper, which should be about 2.5 to 3 honest pages with appropriate citation of sources.  Each option basically consists of a closely related set of 2 or 3 queries.  These require you to integrate class material and readings to address that issue.  Typically the first part is basic; for instance, show the legal distinctions from Roe v. Wade between trimesters of pregnancy.  The next part requires analysis; for instance, explain why the end of the second trimester is so crucial to the abortion issue.  Finally is judgment; considering what you've said before, do you finally accept or reject the Roe v. Wade trimester distinction?      Net Value:  400 points

    The fourth examination covers material from Weeks 13 through 16 only.  Essay is done during Week 16, and the multiple-choice part is done on the date of the final.  There is no comprehensive (16-week coverage) final in this course.

Review Sessions:  Before each in-class exam, I conduct an afternoon review session, to be announced in class after we discuss what time would be best for you.  I do not, however, issue a written review sheet, since that's done through the regular readings and class sessions.  My experience with review sheets is that any question not expressly shown on the review sheet becomes occasion for complaints from students, even if that material had been covered intensely for four weeks before the test.  I do recommend that students reviewing the Reader selections take advantage of the prefaces written by the Reader's editors.  They are intended to help you in both reading and reviewing an article.

The National Election:  This fall the Department of Political Science will hold one or more specific events on the national election.  We want you to pay some serious attention to this national event, even if you are one of the millions who never vote.  Full details are still pending as of Week One; see Political Science Events for scheduled events, plus links to pertinent election sites on the web.     Value:  50 points.

Polling:  I teach about polling because it is such an important technique in modern life for learning about people.  It's also a very attractive way to lie or mislead.  The web has opened the polling world to millions of people, many of whom have no idea how to tell among
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Polling.  So I'll be assigning you to do just that.  Details:  forthcoming.        Value:  50 points

Ultimate Bulletin Board:  My PS103 classes share one
Ultimate Bulletin Board discussion site for material pertinent to this class.  Every student is expected to read the Board and make periodic postings of his or her own on a relevant site.  See Posting on the Board for getting registered and started on the Board.  This site will include material on the presidential primaries, on the material covered in class, and on other political happenings in the news.  It's an ideal place to post queries about what something in lecture or readings is about, and will help cut down on excessive e-mail.  I'll inventory participation and periodically post it on an entry slot in GradeA Gradebook.  Credit applies only to meaningful participation, that is, saying something that contributes to furtherance of a conversation on one or more appropriate topics.                        Value:  3 points per meaningful posting, up to 100 points total

Extra Credit:  On occasion I accept individual proposals to something above and beyond the items listed above.  This requires that you submit a properly written proposal either before or after we discuss what you want to do.  But be aware, that this is not a substitute or compensation for doing less than stellar work on the regular material.      Net Value:  negotiable!

    In summary, points are allotted by:
Examinations - multiple choice sections   400 points (100 per exam)
Examinations - take-home essays           400 points (100 per exam)
Ultimate Bulletin Board                          100 points
The National Election                              50 points
Polling                                                     50 points                      

All assignments                                    1000 points

Grades:  See my GradeA Gradebook.  This is a website for posting and keeping up with your assignments and grades.  Each person has a unique name and password for accessing GradeA in a given course.

Source Citations and Source Locations             Top

Essay writing in PS103 means using and citing sources, including but not limited to those cited as reading in this Syllabus.  Use any style guide you wish, but do not fail to cite the source when copying or paraphrasing a source.  If you have an established major, use the style guide from that profession.  I don't care which one you use in PS103; just pick one and be consistent in its use.  As a time-saver, whenever you use class readings as sources, you can copy the formal citation straight from this syllabus Itinerary and paste it to your paper.

    For internet source citations, click on Poly-Cy Guide to Internet Resources for Political Science - Style and Web Site Citation Guides.  Or consult the Reference Desk at Kent Library.  See also Kent Library - Online Databases (Accessible only to users of the SEMO Network), Southeast Missouri State University.   As an excellent starting point for extensive website references on American government, see Grace York's University of Michigan Documents Center and click on appropriate categories, including Federal Government Resources on the Web.  If you use other major research library sites instead, OK; but you surely will find this one useful.  

Course Textbook and Reader:       Top

    The text is:  Edwards, George C. III, Martin P. Wattenberg, and Robert L. Lineberry.  1999.  Government in America:  People, Politics and Policy, 8th ed., Election Update ( New York:  Addison Wesley Longman).  Textbook website is Government in America, Eighth Edition Election Update Online (http://occ.awlonline.com/bookbind/pubbooks/edwards8e/).  From there, click on Student Resources--Online Course Companion for chapter-by-chapter review including sample exam questions, website links, web source citation guide, and glossary.

    The Reader (a collection of articles) is available at Southeast Bookstore on shelves referring to my two PS103 sections (03H, 04), is:  Cigler, Allan J., and Burdett A. Loomis, eds.  1999.  American Politics:  Classic and Contemporary Readings, 4th ed.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin.

    I have a handful of additional readings written by me and posted on website links.  These are shown below in the Itinerary.

What's Expected of You:          Top

:  Those who attend typically do well, and absentees typically do not.  Attend each class session unless there’s a valid reason to miss (i.e., personal illness or ill child, death in immediate family, motorcycle wreck, full blown Midwestern blizzard, New Madrid Fault disturbance of 6.0 or greater magnitude on Richter Scale, Armageddon witness).  We often use class discussion for short writing assignments and/or assignments to find relevant information from journals, the library, or websites.  Some of these are impromptu, and it’s often difficult or impossible to compensate by asking later that I email you the assignment details.  Use email or telephone voice mail to advise me if you will miss or have missed class.

Lateness to class:  Just come in quietly.  I don’t encourage deliberate lateness, but traffic, weather, and professors in earlier classes all can cause you to arrive at five after the hour.   If you routinely amble in at ten after without giving a reason, then I will invite you to find a new class.  We have a clock in class, and I'll try to close on time.

**On plagiarism:  You should review the Student Handbook (sorry, it's currently not available online) on plagiarism, or refer to Academic Policies and Procedures and scroll down to Academic Honesty, which says 

"plagiarism is the act of passing someone else's work off as one's own. In addition, plagiarism is defined as using the essential style and manner of expression of a source as if it were one's own. If there is any doubt, the student should consult his/her instructor or any manual of term paper or report writing. Violations of academic honesty include: 

1. Presenting the exact words of a source without quotation marks; 
2. Using another student's computer source code or algorithm or copying a laboratory report; or 
3. Presenting information, judgments, ideas, or facts summarized from a source without giving credit."

     That's pretty clear, yet plagiarism still crops up with distressing regularity.  I cannot and will not accept any work except your own.  In academic circles, proper recognition of authorship is the gold standard.  We are all required to maintain the currency.  You may use any source, so long as you properly distinguish what’s truly yours from what is borrowed from and attributed to someone else.  Note:  I did not plagiarize the University's statement, since it's attributed to its proper source.

Special Needs:  Just advise me directly if you have specific difficulties that I can help you handle.  For example, I'll do oversized-print handouts if someone is visually impaired so that the usual 10-point type doesn't work.  On University policy, see Southeast Missouri State University's Accessibility Plan at Academic Calendar 2000-2001 for Southeast Missouri State University.  Honors students should also check Honors Program - Southeast Missouri State University; the Section 03 course is listed there at Current Courses.

How to Reach Me:                       Top

    I have an open door policy, and can very often be found at or near my office computer.  My office is located in A.J.S.Carnahan (Social Science) Building, in Room 211L.  The Department of Political Science is also located at Room 211; you can leave messages for me there if I am absent.  In general, I can be reached as follows:

a)      Leave a message at my Department mailbox or with the department office.

b)      Leave a message at the drop outside my door at 211-L.

c)      Place a voice mail message at 651-2692.

d)      Email me at rdrenka@semo.edu.

e)      If you’re out of town and cannot send a paper or assignment by email, then FAX it to 573/651-2695.

f)    Consult my Home Page (URL: http://cstl-cla.semo.edu/renka) for other details about myself and my courses, including this syllabus.

PS103 Weekly Readings and Examination Itinerary - Renka - Spring 2001     Top

Southeast Master Calendar

Academic Calendar 2000-2001 for Southeast Missouri State University  

Week 1 - January 17,19     Politics, Collective Problems, and the Place of Government
Readings:  Text Chapter 1 - Introducing Government in America
    Text Appendix - The Declaration of Independence
    Cigler and Loomis Reader, selection 1.1 - Jack N. Rakove, "A tradition Born of Strife"
    Text Chapter 2 - The Constitution

Week 2 - January 22-26   Constitutional Foundations and the Problems of Democracy
    Reader, selection 9.1 - James Madison,  Federalist No. 10
    Reader, selection 1.5 - James Madison, Federalist No. 51
    website reading - Russell D. Renka, Madison and Federalism
    Reader selection 1.2 - John P. Roche, “The Founding Fathers:  A Reform Caucus in Action”
    Reader selection 1.3 - Richard Hofstadter, "The Founding Fathers:  An Age of Realism"

Week 3 - January 29-February 2     Federalism in the United States; Comparing U.S. and State Constitutions
Readings:  Text Appendix - The Constitution of the United States
    Text Chapter 3 - Federalism
    Reader selections 2.1 through 2.4: 
        2.1 - James Madison, Federalist No. 39
        2.2 -  Supreme Court decision of 1819 - McCulloch v. Maryland, 
        2.3 - John D. Donahue, "The Devil in Devolution"
        2.4 - Jonathan C. Dunlap, "The Absent Federal Partner"
    Text Chapter 21 - The New Importance of State and Local Government

Week 4 - February 5-9     Political Parties
Readings:  Text Chapter 8 - Political Parties
    Reader selections 6.1 through 6.3:
        6.1 - Kay Lawson, "Why We Still Need Real Political Parties"
        6.2 - Everett Carll Ladd, "Of Political Parties Great and Strong"
        6.3 - Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, "Promoting President Clinton's Policy Agenda"

** Exam no. 1 - Friday, February 9 (multiple choice, in class); essays topics are handed out at exam's end and are due by class time five days later (Wednesday, February 14).

Week 5 - February 12-16    Election 2000:   The Nomination of presidential candidates
Readings:  Text Chapter 9 - Nominations and Campaigns
      Reader 7.2 - Everett Carll Ladd, "1996 Vote:  The 'No Majority' Realignment Continues
             7.3 - Clyde Wilcox and Wesley Joe, "Dead Law:  The Federal Election Finance Regulations, 1974-1996"
            7.4 - Ronald D. Elving, "Accentuate the Negative:  Contemporary Congressional Campaigns"
            website readings - Russell D. Renka, The pre-primary period in presidential elections & Primary Predictions

Week 6 - February 19-23
    Election 2000:  The General Election 
Readings:  Text Chapter 10 - Elections and Voting Behavior
    Reader selections 5.1 through 5.3:
        5.1 - Ruy Texeira, "Voter Turnout in America:  Ten Myths"
        5.2 - Michael Schudson, "Voting Rites:  Why We Need a New Concept of Citizenship"
        5.3 - Robert D. Putnam, "Bowling Alone:  America's Declining Social Capital"

Week 7 - February 26-March 2    Public Opinion and Polling
Readings:  Text Chapter 6 - Public Opinion and Political Action
    Reader selections 4.1 through 4.3:
        4.1 - Charles Kenney, "They've Got Your Number"
        4.2 - Benjamin Ginsberg, "Polling and the Transformation of Public Opinion"
        4.3 - Larry J. Sabato and Glen R. Simpson, "When Push Comes to Poll"
   Website reading - Russell D. Renka, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Polling

Week 8 - March 5-9    The Media
Readings:  Text Chapter 7 - The Mass Media and the Political Agenda
    Reader selections 8.1 through 8.3:
        8.1 - Joshua Meyrowitz, "Lowering the Political Hero to Our Level"
        8.2 - Thomas E. Patterson, "Bad News, Bad Governance"
        8.3 - Doris A. Graber, "The 'New' Media and Politics:  What Does the Future Hold?"

Week 9 - March 12-16    Interest Groups
:  Text Chapter 11 - Interest Groups
    Reader selections 9.2 through 9.4:
        9.2 - Burdett A. Loomis and Allan J. Ciglar, "The Changing Nature of Interest Group Politics”
        9.3 - Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Lobbyists--Why the Bad Rap?"
        9.4 - Robert Dreyfuss, "The New China Lobby"
** Exam no. 2 - (multiple choice, in class)

March 19-23    
Spring Break    

Week 10 - March 26-30     Diversity, Democracy and Civil Liberties
Readings:  Text Chapter 4 - Civil Liberties and Public Policy
    Reader selection 3.6 - Joshua Wolf Shenk, "Steve Forbes, Joe Camel, and the ACLU"
    website:  Roe v. Wade 
Readings:  Text Chapter 5 - Civil Rights and Public Policy
    Reader selection 3.2 - Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
        Selection 3.4 - Brown v. Board of Education (1954; 1955)
        Selection 3.5 - Nathan Glazer, "In Defense of Preference"

Week 11 -
April 2-6   The U.S. Congress
Readings:  Text Chapter 12 - Congress 
    Text Appendix, p. 580 - "Party Control of the Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives in the Twentieth Century"
    Reader selection 7.1 - Gary C. Jacobson, "The 1994 House Elections in Perspective"
    Reader selection 10.1 - Kenneth A. Shepsle, "The Changing Textbook Congress"
    Reader selection 10.2 - Linda L. Fowler, "Who Runs for Congress?"

Week 12 - April 9,11 (F, April 13 is Easter Recess)   The Congress
Readings:  Reader selection 10.3 - Richard F. Fenno, Jr.  "Learning to Govern"
        10.4 - Lizette Alvarez, "Four Days in a Life Where the Grass Was Greener"
        14.2 - James Kitfield, "Jousting with Jesse""

Week 13 - April 16-20     The Presidency and the Modern Presidency
Readings:  Text Chapter 13 -  The Presidency 
    Text Appendix, pp. 577-579 - "Presidents of the United States"
    Reader selection 11.1 - Richard E. Neustadt, "The Power to Persuade"
    Reader selection 11.2 - Robert A. Dahl, "Myth of the Presidential Mandate"
**Exam no. 3 - Monday, April 16 (multiple choice, in class); essays topics are handed out at exam's end and are due by class time five days later

Week 14 - April 23-27    The Presidency (conclusions)   
ReadingsReader selection 11.3 - Charles O. Jones, "Perspective on the Presidency"
   Reader selection 11.4 - E.J. Dionne, Jr., "Governing in an Age of No Majorities"

Week 15 - April 30-May 4    Divided Government in America
Readings: Text Chapter 14 - The Congress, the President, and the Budget

  The Judges and Courts
Readings:  Text Chapter 16 - The Federal Courts
    Reader selection 13.3 - David J. Garrow, "The Rehnquist Reins"
    Reader selection 13.4 - Richard A. Posner, "What Am I?  A Potted Plant?"

Finals Week - May 7-11

    Section 04 (MWF11) - Wednesday, May 9, 10:00 a.m.
    Section 07 (MF12:00) - Monday, May 7, 12;00 p.m.