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American Government
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American Government
Stories of a Nation

Second Edition
Additional resources:


November 2018 | 664 pages | CQ Press
“The main strength of this book is that it presents a ‘human’ side to American Government that challenges students to think critically while still presenting the ‘teaching’ side with objectives, self-tests, and chapter reviews.” 
—Kathleen Barrett, University of West Georgia

In the Second Edition of American Government, author Scott F. Abernathy tunes in to the voices of all Americans, showing how our diverse ideas shape the way we participate and behave, the laws we live by, and the challenges we face. From the Constitutional Convention to Ferguson, Missouri, each chapter features rich, personal narratives that illustrate how the American political system is the product of strategies, calculations, and miscalculations of countless individuals. It focuses on real people, the actions they take, the struggles they face, and how their choices influence outcomes. The key concepts are memorable because they are tied to real politics, where students see political action and political choices shaping how institutions advance or impede the fulfillment of fundamental ideas. Participation is at the heart of this groundbreaking new text, with ample background on how and why to participate. Not only will all students see themselves reflected in the pages, but they will come to understand that they, too, are strategic players in American politics, with voices that matter. 

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Included in SAGE Vantage! SAGE Premium Video tools and resources boost comprehension and bolster analysis— featuring animations of basic American Government concepts and recent news clips connected to key topics in the book. Preview a video about voter turnout  

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FREE online resources for students that make learning easier. See how your students benefit.

SAGE course outcomes: Measure Results, Track Success
Outlined in your text and mapped to chapter learning objectives, SAGE course outcomes are crafted with specific course outcomes in mind and vetted by advisors in the field. See how SAGE course outcomes tie in with this book’s chapter-level objectives at edge.sagepub.com/abernathy2e.

CQ Press Lecture Spark
Designed to save you time and ignite student engagement, these free weekly lecture launchers focus on current event topics tied to key concepts in American government. Access this week’s topic

Free poster: What can you do with a Political Science degree? 
Download a poster that you can print to hang in your classroom, email to colleagues, or share on social media. 

Looking for the AP® Edition? Learn more about the brief text specifically tailored for the new AP® framework and exam.
 

 
PREFACE
 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
PART I: FOUNDATIONS
 
CHAPTER 1. AMERICAN POLITICAL STORIES: CLAIMING RIGHTS, DEMANDING TO BE HEARD
AMERICAN STUDENTS CLAIM THEIR RIGHTS

 
AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE IS BUILT ON A SET OF SHARED IDEAS

 
POLITICS AND POLITICAL ACTION SET THE STAGE FOR REVOLUTION

 
THE STRUCTURE OF INSTITUTIONS AFFECTS HOW CITIZENS PARTICIPATE

 
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S “LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL” LINKS THE CHALLENGE AGAINST RACIAL SEGREGATION TO CORE AMERICAN IDEALS

 
CONCLUSION: THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT CONTINUES, AND YOU ARE PART OF IT

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 2. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES: A NEW VISION OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT
JAMES MADISON PLANS FOR A REPUBLIC THAT WILL LAST

 
THE CONFEDERAL SYSTEM MADE COORDINATION BETWEEN THE STATES DIFFICULT

 
DELEGATES REACH A COMPROMISE AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

 
DELEGATES WORK OUT DETAILS OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT

 
FEDERALISTS AND ANTI-FEDERALISTS FIGHT OVER RATIFICATION

 
CONCLUSION: THE MOTIVES OF THE FRAMERS AND THE EFFECTS OF THE CONSTITUTION ARE STILL BEING DEBATED

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 3. FEDERALISM: THE CHANGING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THE NATION AND THE STATES
THE FIGHT FOR ACCESS TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA REVEALS TENSIONS BETWEEN STATE AND FEDERAL LAW

 
THE CONSTITUTION DIVIDES POWER BETWEEN THE NATION AND THE STATES

 
FOR MUCH OF AMERICAN HISTORY, THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN THE NATION AND THE STATES WERE SHARPER THAN THEY ARE TODAY

 
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT’S RESPONSE TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION RESHAPES AMERICAN FEDERALISM

 
MODERN AMERICAN FEDERALISM REMAINS COOPERATIVE BUT FACES CHALLENGES

 
CONCLUSION: THE EVOLUTION OF FEDERALISM CONTINUES

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 4. CIVIL LIBERTIES: BUILDING AND DEFENDING FENCES
STANDING ROCK: WATER PROTECTORS CLAIM THEIR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS IN NORTH DAKOTA

 
THE BILL OF RIGHTS ESTABLISHES PROTECTIONS FOR AMERICANS’ CIVIL LIBERTIES

 
THE FIRST AMENDMENT’S FIRST TWO PROTECTIONS BOTH INVOLVE RELIGION

 
THE FIRST AMENDMENT ALSO PROTECTS EXPRESSION: SPEECH, PRESS, ASSEMBLY, AND PETITIONING THE GOVERNMENT

 
THE CONSTITUTION ALSO PROTECTS INDIVIDUALS INVOLVED WITH THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

 
THE NINTH AND TENTH AMENDMENTS HELP SHAPE FREEDOMS IN THE NATION AND ACROSS THE STATES

 
CONCLUSION: CIVIL LIBERTIES INVOLVE FENCES STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 5. CIVIL RIGHTS: HOW EQUAL IS EQUAL?
PROTESTERS ACT TO SECURE RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

 
CIVIL RIGHTS AMENDMENTS EMERGE FROM THE CIVIL WAR—BUT PROVIDE ONLY IMPERFECT PROTECTION

 
CHALLENGES TO LEGAL SEGREGATION FACE SUCCESSES AND FAILURES

 
AMERICAN WOMEN WORK TO SECURE THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS

 
AMERICANS CONFRONT OVERLAPPING FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION

 
CONCLUSION: HAVE AMERICANS’ CIVIL RIGHTS BEEN SECURED?

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
PART II: POLITICAL BEHAVIOR AND MASS POLITICS
 
CHAPTER 6. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: CARRY THAT WEIGHT
TWO PERSPECTIVES ON CAMPUS CARRY OF FIREARMS IN RESPONSE TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

 
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION CAN TAKE MANY FORMS

 
THE DECISION TO VOTE OR NOT VOTE INVOLVES MANY FACTORS

 
ANOTHER RESPONSE TO CAMPUS SEXUAL VIOLENCE HIGHLIGHTS THE FLUIDITY OF PARTICIPATION

 
ARE YOUNG ADULT AMERICANS REALLY DISCONNECTED FROM THE POLITICAL PROCESS?

 
CONCLUSION: CARRYING THE WEIGHT OF SELF-GOVERNANCE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 7. PUBLIC OPINION: HOW ARE AMERICANS’ VOICES MEASURED, AND DO THEY MATTER?
PUBLIC OPINION MAY BE MOVED BY IMPORTANT EVENTS LIKE FERGUSON

 
PUBLIC OPINION IS THE SUM TOTAL OF INDIVIDUAL BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES

 
PUBLIC OPINION IS TRANSMITTED AND MEASURED IN SEVERAL WAYS

 
POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION AND POLITICAL IDEOLOGY SHAPE PUBLIC OPINION

 
FERGUSON AND THE EFFECTS OF PUBLIC OPINION ON DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION

 
CONCLUSION: HOW MEANINGFUL IS PUBLIC OPINION?

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 8. THE MEDIA: TRUTH, POWER, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
CAN A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT CHANGE A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? HOW POWERFUL ARE THE MEDIA?

 
THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN MEDIA SHOWS THAT ISSUES OF POWER AND TRUSTWORTHINESS ARE NOT NEW

 
QUESTIONS OF BIAS CHALLENGE AMERICANS’ TRUST IN THE MEDIA’S OBJECTIVITY

 
MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND CONTENT ARE SUBJECT TO REGULATION

 
THE POWER OF THE MEDIA TO AFFECT THE PUBLIC IS TESTED

 
CONCLUSION: DEBATES ABOUT THE POWER OF THE MEDIA CONTINUE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 9. POLITICAL PARTIES: THE INSURGENTS VERSUS THE ESTABLISHMENT
TWO PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES SHAKE UP THE FIELD . . . AND CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ABOUT THE POWER AND COHESION OF THEIR PARTIES

 
PARTIES ACT TO IDENTIFY, SUPPORT, AND NOMINATE CANDIDATES FOR ELECTED OFFICE

 
PARTIES PROVIDE LABELS TO CANDIDATES TO ASSIST VOTERS IN MAKING THEIR CHOICES

 
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2016 THROWS CONVENTIONAL WISDOM OUT THE WINDOW

 
POLITICAL POLARIZATION, GRIDLOCK, AND TWO-PARTY DOMINANCE ARE THE DEFINING FEATURES OF PARTIES IN GOVERNMENT TODAY

 
CONCLUSION: HOW WILL THE PARTIES RESPOND?

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 10. CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS: CANDIDATES AND VOTERS IN AN ERA OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES ADDRESS LATINO VOTERS IN 2016

 
NATIONAL ELECTIONS SERVE TO HOLD OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE, BUT REGULATING THEM IS NOT ALWAYS EASY

 
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS HAVE MANY STAGES AND MOVING PARTS

 
A FIRST-TIMER RUNS FOR CONGRESS, WINS, AND THEN TURNS TOWARD REELECTION

 
THE DETAILS OF CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS DIFFER BY STATE, BUT MANY OF THE RULES ARE THE SAME

 
CONCLUSION: POLITICS AND AMERICA’S CHANGING LANDSCAPE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 11. INTEREST GROUPS AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: COLLECTIVE ACTION, POWER, AND REPRESENTATION
A HOUSING BUBBLE BURSTS, AND INTEREST GROUPS POP OUT

 
AMERICANS FACE CHALLENGES IN ACTING COLLECTIVELY IN A REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

 
INTEREST GROUPS VARY BY TYPE AND TACTIC

 
OCCUPY WALL STREET ILLUSTRATES THE STRUGGLES, SUCCESSES, AND FAILURES OF SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

 
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS EMPLOY DIFFERENT TACTICS FROM INTEREST GROUPS TO MAKE CHANGE AND EDUCATE

 
CONCLUSION: ORGANIZING IN AMERICAN POLITICAL LIFE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
PART III: INSTITUTIONS
 
CHAPTER 12. CONGRESS: REPRESENTATION, ORGANIZATION, AND LEGISLATION
THE ELECTIONS OF 2018 HIGHLIGHT THE CONNECTIONS AMONG PARTISANSHIP, INSTITUTIONS, AND IDENTITIES IN CONGRESS

 
THE CONSTITUTION DEFINES CONGRESS’S SHAPE AND POWERS

 
CONGRESS IS ORGANIZED AROUND FORMAL AND INFORMAL RULES

 
THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS IS COMPLEX BY DESIGN

 
GETTING TO CONGRESS INVOLVES PERSONAL, PROFESSIONAL, ELECTORAL, AND FINANCIAL FACTORS

 
MEMBERS REPRESENT CONSTITUENTS BY HOW THEY ACT AND WHO THEY ARE

 
CONCLUSION: REPRESENTATION REMAINS COMPLEX, BUT THE LANDSCAPE CONTINUES TO CHANGE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 13. THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY: INSTITUTIONS, INDIVIDUALS, AND POWER
ONE PRESIDENT’S WARS: A WEEK IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF DONALD TRUMP

 
THE CONSTITUTION OUTLINES THE POWERS OF THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY AND PLACES LIMITS ON THOSE POWERS

 
INSTITUTIONS AND OTHER INFORMAL SOURCES OF POWER SHAPE THE MODERN EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 
PRESIDENTS HAVE PUSHED THE LIMITS OF THEIR POWER TO PRESERVE NATIONAL SECURITY

 
THE PRESIDENT HAS SEVERAL TOOLS FOR UNILATERAL ACTION

 
CONCLUSION: THE PARADOXES OF THE PRESIDENCY CONTINUE

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 14. THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY: PUTTING THE NATION’S LAWS INTO EFFECT
FEDERAL BUREAUCRATIC ACTION CONSISTS OF MANY ACTORS AND EVOLVES OVER TIME

 
THEORIES OF BUREAUCRATIC ORGANIZATION FOCUS ON RULES, PEOPLE, AND TASKS

 
THE BUREAUCRACY HAS DEVELOPED IN RESPONSE TO DEMANDS AND CRISES

 
A FUNCTIONING BUREAUCRACY DEPENDS UPON EFFECTIVE ORGANIZATION

 
THE BUREAUCRACY IS CONSTRAINED BY OVERSIGHT AND REFORM

 
CONCLUSION: WHAT DOES A “GOOD” BUREAUCRACY LOOK LIKE?

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 15. THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY: POLITICS, POWER, AND THE “LEAST DANGEROUS” BRANCH
THE POLITICS OF SUPREME COURT CONFIRMATIONS PLACE NOMINEES ON “TRIAL”

 
THE CONSTITUTION CASTS THE JUDICIARY AS THE WEAKEST BRANCH

 
THE “TRIAL” OF JOHN MARSHALL ESTABLISHES THE PRINCIPLE OF JUDICIAL REVIEW

 
THE AMERICAN LEGAL SYSTEM IS DEFINED BY FEDERALISM

 
JUDICIAL REVIEW RAISES QUESTIONS OF CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION AND JUDICIAL DECISION MAKING

 
CONCLUSION: THE TRIAL OF THE SUPREME COURT CONTINUES

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
PART IV: POLICY
 
CHAPTER 16. DOMESTIC PUBLIC POLICY: THE POLITICS OF PROMOTING THE GENERAL WELFARE
AMERICAN EDUCATION POLICY ABOUT SCHOOL CHOICE INVOLVES BOTH POLITICS AND MARKETS

 
THERE IS NOTHING TIDY ABOUT THE DOMESTIC POLICYMAKING PROCESS

 
EDUCATIONAL REFORM TODAY TAKES A VARIETY OF TYPES

 
HEALTH CARE POLICY HAS EVOLVED SINCE THE GREAT SOCIETY

 
EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE ARE ONLY TWO OF MANY AREAS OF DOMESTIC POLICY

 
CONCLUSION: DOMESTIC POLICY IS ABOUT DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 17. ECONOMIC POLICY: REPRESENTING AMERICANS’ FINANCIAL INTERESTS
THE PROBLEM OF STUDENT DEBT THREATENS THE FINANCIAL HEALTH OF STUDENT BORROWERS AND THE NATIONAL ECONOMY

 
FISCAL POLICY GUIDES THE ECONOMY THROUGH DECISIONS ON SPENDING AND TAXATION

 
POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS TO THE STUDENT DEBT CRISIS COME FROM A RANGE OF SOURCES

 
MONETARY POLICY IS GOVERNED BY THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

 
CONCLUSION: CAN ECONOMIC POLICY SOLVE THE STUDENT DEBT PROBLEM?

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
CHAPTER 18. FOREIGN POLICY: ADVANCING AMERICAN INTERESTS IN AN UNCERTAIN AND CHANGING WORLD
THE COLD WAR AND ITS END HAVE POWERFULLY SHAPED FOREIGN POLICY

 
U.S. FOREIGN POLICY HAS CHANGED OVER TIME

 
CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN THE EARLY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY SPREADS WORLDWIDE

 
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS FORMULATED BY MANY ACTORS AND ORGANIZATIONS

 
CONCLUSION: THE STORY OF AMERICAN POLITICS CONTINUES

 
CHAPTER REVIEW

 
 
APPENDIX 1: ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION
 
APPENDIX 2: DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
 
APPENDIX 3: CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
 
APPENDIX 4: FEDERALIST NO. 10
 
APPENDIX 5: FEDERALIST NO. 51
 
APPENDIX 6: POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATIONS IN CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENCY, 1789–2017
 
APPENDIX 7: SUMMARY OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1789–2016
 
GLOSSARY
 
NOTES
 
INDEX

Supplements

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  • assignable data exercises in each chapter help students build essential data literacy skills using interactive data visualization tools from SAGE Stats and U.S. Political Stats. Drawing on key data series ranging from demographic patterns to state budgets to voting behavior, these exercises offer students a dynamic way to analyze real-world data and think critically about the numbers.
  • assignable SAGE Premium Video (available on the SAGE Vantage platform, linked through SAGE Coursepacks) that is tied to learning objectives, and curated exclusively for this text to bring concepts to life, featuring: 
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    • comprehensive, downloadable, easy-to-use Media Guide in the coursepack for every video resource, listing the chapter to which the video content is tied, matching learning objective(s), a helpful description of the video content, and assessment questions 
    • 18 “Topics in American Government” videos that recap the fundamentals of American politics in every chapter—from the Bill of Rights to voter turnout to the powers of the presidency
    • Over 36 News Clips from the Associated Press that bring extra coverage of current events into the book, connecting multiple, brief 2- to 4-minute news clips to core American government chapter content
  • chapter-specific discussion questions to help launch engaging classroom interaction while reinforcing important content;
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“The main strength of this book is that it presents a ’human’ side to American Government that challenges students to think critically while still presenting the ‘teaching’ side with objectives, self-tests, and chapter reviews.” 

Kathleen Barrett
University of West Georgia

“One of the main objectives of the author is get students engaged, and I think [he] goes a long way in accomplishing that goal.… [The text is] thought provoking and a pathway to presenting American Government content that will lead to promoting meaningful critical thinking and discussion among college students.”

Elizabeth Prough, PhD
Madonna University

“This text does [have a relatively] unbiased in tone and does try to integrate contemporary controversies and debates into the text. The story telling element enhances the relevance of the subject to students…The book offers a storytelling element to the traditional American government textbook. It provides built-in cases to use as examples in class that are relevant to a younger demographic.”

Agber Dimah
Chicago State University

“I think there is a very nice balance [in this text] between storytelling and substantive information…I really appreciate this…the author [also] seems to recognize its limitations and rather seamlessly moves from storytelling to the more utilitarian delivery of course content.” 

Scot Schraufnagel
Northern Illinois University

“I have had a favorable impression of the text since its gestation…I find its organization, coverage, and inclusion of stories quite helpful among other strengths.”

Samantha Mosier
Missouri State University
Vantage Reference: 
American Government - Vantage Digital Option