POLS 112: American and California Government
Professor Brett Savage
This course provides a broad overview of the actors and institutions of American and California politics. Over the quarter you will gain an understanding of how American political institutions shape the behavior of government officials and explore how non-governmental actors influence the policy-making process. Among the questions we consider are: how federalism shapes the distribution of resources in American politics, why the US has only two major parties, why Congress tends to move slowly, and how individuals form political preferences and make decisions in American democracy.
To illustrate the interactions of ideas, interests, and institutions in American and California politics, we will also spend a significant portion of each class discussing contemporary policy problems. These case studies will demonstrate key features of American democracy. We will cover a range of topics, including recent proposals for constitutional amendment, immigration policy, gay marriage, tax and fiscal policy, product and drug safety, homelessness, foreign policy and defense, and the role of religion in American political culture.