American Government paper

American Government paper


January 2013. There is a new president in the White House.

2012 was an exciting election for sure. Obama? Romney? Santorum? Gingrich? All interesting. But not as interesting as the real surprise candidate. Who was this mysterious stranger? Jeb Bush? No. Michael Bloomberg? Hardly. Arnold Schwarzenegger? Getting closer. Your new President of the United States is:

Paris Hilton?!?

That is right. In a stunning move (and after a constitutional amendment for those who noted that Ms. Hilton is under 35 years of age), the country decided that if they were going to spend the next four years following someone’s every move, it might as well be a train wreck. Heaven help us all.

Only one problem. Ms. Hilton, for all her wonderful qualities, knows nothing of American government and politics. Fortunately for her, she has picked the right person as her new domestic policy advisor: YOU! So get to work, and don’t mind the Chihuahua droppings.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, it is time to get down to the assignment. As the newest advisor to the most politically inexperienced president in American history, you will need to call on all that you have learned in POS1041 to help Ms. Hilton. Specifically, President Hilton has asked for your help in passing a new major piece of DOMESTIC legislation. The details of the legislation, as well as the details of President Hilton’s party affiliation (if any) are up to you. President Hilton wants to know about the kinds of difficulties that her proposal will face, and the things she needs to do to get it passed (GO BACK AND REREAD THE PREVIOUS BOLDED SENTENCE as that is the main part of the assignment).

Specifically you should inform President Hilton of the following:
1) The structure of our constitutional form of government (separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism – you should talk about all three of these and each should be its own paragraph).
2) The role of specific actors within the formal branches of government (Congress, the bureaucracy, and the courts – you should discuss all three of these and each should be its own paragraph).
3) The role of other institutions and actors (the media, political parties, and interest groups – you should talk about each of these and each should be its own paragraph).

Your final exam should be in the 1200-1800 word range. Is it possible to do well if you write less than 1200 words? Yes, but only if you’ve been gifted with the brevity of Hemmingway. This assignment is asking you to summarize everything you’ve learned this semester so if you’re completing it in 500 words then that means you didn’t learn a whole lot and it’ll make me sad. You probably don’t want me to be sad while grading.


1) President Hilton, for all of her reputation as a bit of a flake, will not be in the least impressed with general or vague suggestions. Or for that matter with suggestions that are not based on textbook, modules or class discussion material. What separates and A-paper from a B-paper from a C-paper? The level of details, specificity and thoroughness employed in your answer.

2) Try, to the best of your ability, to have a THESIS or ARGUMENT to your exam. An exam that reads as an integrated whole, with each paragraph adding to a central argument will be looked at much more favorably than an essay that amounts to a series of unrelated, list-like paragraphs (first there is Congress, then the Courts, etc. – DON’T DO THAT!) A basic thesis, that each of you is welcome to use, would be (don’t quote it word for word though):

a) Because of the separation of powers and checks and balances in American government, the President cannot single-handedly achieve what he or she wants. Therefore Ms. Hilton will face numerous difficulties with Congress, the bureaucracy and the courts in getting her bill passed and implemented. But with the help of the media, her political party, and interest groups, Ms. Hilton can achieve her goals.

You would then explain why separation of powers/checks and balances affects the President, what difficulties Ms. Hilton might face with Congress, the bureaucracy and the courts, and how Ms. Hilton could use the other three groups (media, etc.) to overcome these.

3) Proper spelling and grammar is appreciated. If I have to puzzle through what you mean by each sentence you shall feel my grading wrath!

4) This is your best opportunity to integrate all that you have learned this semester, which will help you remember it for the rest of your life. Too often we teach American government and politics as if each branch and actor operates independently of the rest. The truth is much more complex – and messier – than that. So dig in. Have fun. Good luck.

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