James Madison by Gilbert Stuart    GOVT 2305

    Associate Professor of Government

   SPRING 2011
    Section:         23767 Lec 039
    Time:             TTh   12:00 noon - 1:20 pm
    Location:       Pinnacle
    Room:           410
    Session:         January 18 - May 15
    Office Hours: MW 10:20-10:30, 11:50-12:00, & 1:20-2:00
                         TTh 10:25-10:35, 11:50-12:00, 1:15-2:50 & 4:05-4:15
                         or by appointment
    Email:            rcasagra@austincc.edu
    Office:           PIN 407
    Phone:           512-223-8134   
    Website:        http://gov.casagranda.com
    Textbook:     The Struggle for Democracy,
         Pearson Longman, Tenth Edition, 2010,
                          ISBN 9780205771295

James Madison (1751-1836)
So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property.
Federalist Paper #10

This course is an introduction to United States government.  The course includes a framework for understanding United States government and politics, the constitutional basis for United States government and politics, the processes of United States government and politics, the institutions of United States government and politics, and the policies of United States government. The basic objectives of the course are for the student to:

1. Gain an awareness of the principles that guided the founders of the U.S. and the manner in which our definition of these principles have changed over the years.

2. Understand the basic structure of the U.S. government.

3. Develop an awareness of the political process and its impact on government.

4. Become aware of the ways in which government affects/is affected by its citizens.

5. Think in political terms as part of the process of becoming a more effective citizen.

6. Develop independent critical thinking skills.

7. Understand the theoretical nature of what government is.

8. Critically explore such concepts as republic, democratic theory, and liberalism.

The course will begin with a theoretical overview of politics.  This beginning will include a discussion about what the very nature, role, and functions of government are.  We will explore the difference between the political, economic, and normative sphere of action and how they interact to create politics.

In the second part of the course we will look at the evolution of the U.S. political system through the lens of political history.  The objective here will be to discover what we have and how we got it.

Next we will focus on the political process by looking at public opinion, interest groups, political parties, elections, voting, and the media.  In the process we will explore such concepts as single member district representation, republic, proportional representation, and campaign financing.

Then we will look at the institutions of the U.S. government, namely the Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and the federal bureaucracy.

We will conclude the semester by examining foreign policy.

While this is primarily a lecture course, the class may also include videos, transparencies, role-playing simulations, internet activities, writing assignments, and classroom discussions.  Students must attend and participate regularly.

It is perfectly true that the government is best which governs least.
It is equally true that the government is best which provides most.
Walter Lippmann

Each ACC campus offers support services for students with documented physical or psychological disabilities.  Students with disabilities must request reasonable accommodations through the Office for Students with Disabilities on the campus where they expect to take the majority of their classes.  Students are encouraged to do this three weeks before the start of the semester.

I do not like email.  I realize that we live in a society where people consider email to be a normal means of communication and I will check it, but it is best to see me in person concerning any issue.

I will not respond to email addresses that are clearly not your own.  In other words if you are using your parents email, then I will not respond to any emails from such addresses.  For example if your name is John Smith and I receive an email that looks like the following:

Paula Smith <psmith@austincc.edu> Subject:

Federalist Paper  Full Headers:


Professor Casagranda,
I am sending this to you per your request.

John Smith 

then please do not expect a reply from me.

If you do not have your own email address and you are incapable of getting one, such as one provided by ACC, then you will just need to see me during office hours or after class. 

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill
Do NOT ever message or text the professor using Facebook or his personal cell phone for questions related to the class.  You should view Facebook and the personal cell as means of contacting the professor for Twelfth Revolution club business, personal, or political activism only.
Each student is expected to attend and participate in each class meeting and to complete the assigned reading PRIOR to each class.  Although class attendance is not a direct component of the final grade, absences do limit the student’s opportunity to participate fully in class activities and will almost certainly impact the student’s final grade.  Should it be necessary to miss a class a student should contact other class members for copies of the notes amd materials covered in that class.  Attendance is required on test days and on oral presentation days.  Should you miss a test day there will be NO make up exams, instead your final grade will be based on the tests taken.  Should you miss two or more exams you should consider dropping the course rather than suffering a failing grade.

Cell phones and text-messaging devices must be turned off and should not be in evidence in the classroom unless you have prior approval from the instructor.  Late arrivals and early departures are disruptive so please be on time and plan to stay the entire period unless you have previously spoken to the instructor. Excessive tardiness or failure to follow class policies on cell phones may result in the student being dropped from the course.  Do NOT get up during class to throw something away. 

The professor reserves the right to withdraw (drop) anyone from the class for any reason.  This does not mean that you will automatically be withdrawn if you are failing or if you are not attending class.  If you wish to drop the course please make sure to do so yourself.  The instructor will not do it for you.  

If, for any reason, you decide to withdraw from the course you must complete the required forms in the Admissions and Records office.  The last day to withdraw from the Fall session (initiated by instructor or student) is November 23, 2009.  This may not be the same date for High School students, so be sure to be in compliance with your High School. 

Incompletes will not be given to any student for any reason.  If it becomes clear that you will not be able to complete the course please consider dropping the course by the drop deadline.  Failure to complete the required coursework will likely result in an F grade.  

We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. I hope to bring some of that discomfort of thought to the American people.
              John Anderson

Acts prohibited by the college for which discipline may be administered include scholastic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating on an exam or quiz, plagiarizing, and unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing outside work.  Academic work submitted by students shall be the result of their thought, research, or self-expression.  Academic work is defined as, but not limited to tests, quizzes, whether taken electronically or on paper, projects, either individual or group; classroom presentations, and homework.

If a student commits any of these actions, I will seek disciplinary action in the form of an academic penalty, which will likely include a course grade of  ‘F’.

Look, I take this very seriously and it has a real simple solution.  If you want to include text from someone else feel free to cite the original author.  It will strengthen your argument and suggest that you have done research on the subject.  Otherwise, I am ruthless and will show no mercy when it comes to plagiarism.  Failure to comply with this rule is almost certain to cause you to fail the course.  

I'll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason

I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices son
They're one in the same
I must isolate you
Isolate and save you from yourself

Swayin to the rhythm of the new world order and
Count the bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums

The boogeymen are coming
A Perfect Circle
Just as each student is expected to attend class, each student is also expected to participate in the class discussion.  This not only includes preparing for class and listening in class, but also includes asking questions, answering questions, providing examples, and expressing opinions.  This class will be much more educational (as well as interesting) in an atmosphere of active participation and lively exchange of ideas.  There will be numerous opportunities throughout the semester to use current events to explore and expand upon our understanding of the concepts we are studying.  As a result I also expect students to keep up with current events.  If you are not normally in the habit of doing, then so you must plan to begin looking at a reliable news source.  The BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/ and Reuters http://today.reuters.com/news/home.aspx are two examples of the sort.  

In any classroom situation that includes discussion and critical thinking, there are bound to be many differing viewpoints.  These differences enhance the learning experience and create an atmosphere where students and instructors alike will be encouraged to think and learn.  On sensitive and volatile topics, students may sometimes disagree not only with each other but also with the instructor.  It is expected that faculty and students will respect the views of others when expressed in classroom situations.

Each person has the right to express his or her opinion.  Our Bill of Rights not only guarantees us the right to express our opinions but also provides us the opportunity to learn from our fellow citizens as they express their opinions.
All our beliefs are being challenged now, and rightfully so – they're stupid.
Bill Hicks


Three exams will be given during this semester as noted on the Course Schedule.  In addition to this your grade will include a participation component and miscellaneous activities.  The exams will include both objective and essay questions.  Essays may be conducted as take-home exams due by the following class period or as in-class exams according to the professor's whim.  

There are NO make-up exams.  Should you miss an exam I will calculate your grade as if you took the 2nd and Final Exams, regardless of which exam that you missed.  In other words if you miss an exam the highest grade that you can receive for the class will be 880 points (an 88%).  If you miss two exams the highest grade that you can receive for the class will be a 64%.  Sometimes things come up in life that we cannot control.  The first exam can serve as a sort of insurance policy, so that you will not be completely lost should you miss a test.

Arrangements can be made to take the first and second exam in the Testing Center if the professor is informed of a need to miss the regularly scheduled exam prior to the exam date.  NO arrangement can take place on or after the date of the test.  Due to Testing Center policy and since I generate a new exam every semester, NO such arrangement can be made for the Final Exam.

It should also be noted that there seems to be a high learning curve on my exams.  It has been my experience that people tend to do poorly on the first exam even if they ultimately earn an ‘A’ in the class.  The first exam should be regarded as a lesson in learning how to take my exams. 

Writing assignments will be turned into turnitin.com (http://www.turnitin.com).  Papers handed to the professor should be assumed lost and NO credit will be received for them.  Never treat a written assignment as a summarization.  You are to ask and answer some question of political significance.  Be creative, but also make sure to support your thesis and any claims made around it.    The class ID and enrollment passwords are listed below:
class ID: 3684301
enrollment password: madison

                                     POINTS TOWARDS
EXAM 1 100
PARTICIPATION                  _ _150

Final letter grades will be assigned after determining total points earned, as follows:

    Final  Grade Scale              Letter Grade    
          900 – 1100                         A    
           800 – 899                          B    
           700 – 799                          C    
           600 – 699                          D    
               0 – 599                          F    

Classroom participation is worth 150 points (one and a half letter grades).  There is no formal attendance grade, however, it will be difficult to participate in classroom discussions if you are not in attendance.  The best way to earn a high participation grade is to ask questions, answer questions, and contribute insights when appropriate.  This is NOT a license to be obnoxious.

The text may be conducted as an in class test or with an in class multiple-choice test with a take-home essay.  If an essay is assigned as take-home, that portion of the exam must be turned into turnitin.com (see above). 

There are five ways to earn these 0-200 points (a maximum of 2 letter grades).
1) You can attend Austin Philosophy Forum, Pinnacle Student Political Science Association, or Twelfth Revolution events.  You cannot get credit for Twelfth Revolution business meetings.  If you go to these event to get credit you must bring back proof that you attended or sign a sign-in sheet.  (15 poinnts each)

2) You can write an 600-900 word essay about a political topic from a single story from 60 Minutes http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml.  The exact episode and story from that episode is up to you.  However, since this essay MUST be political you will want to avoid writing about topics like Penelope Cruz, as fun as they might be.  (30 points)

3) You can write a 600-900 word essay about a political topic from a single story from Frontline http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/.  The exact episode and story from that episode is up to you.  However, since this essay MUST be political you will want to avoid writing about topics like Penelope Cruz as fun as that might be.  (30 points)

4) You can submit a personal essay or an opinion essay to the 4th Annual Constituation Day  (60 points) 

5) You can write 450 word film review for one of the following movies: (10-15 points each)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (10)
Lion of Winter (10)
Gallipoli (10)
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (10)
Control Room (10)
Thin Blue Line (10)
1984 (10)
Brazil (10)
Chaplan (1992) (10)
A Woman in Berlin (10)
Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral (15)
The Corporation (15)
Hearts and Minds (15)
Koyaanisqatsi (15)
Battle of Algiers (15)

For options 2 - 5 you mst turn in your work to turnitin.com (see instructions above).

1. Attend all class sessions; if you miss a class get copies of the handouts/notes from a classmate.
2. Do not miss tests.  It may be tempting to miss the first exam, but don’t.
3. Read the assigned material prior to each class session.
4. Study the materials; prepare for and take each exam as scheduled.
5. Complete and turn in all assignments as assigned and on time.  NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ANY REASON AFTER THE DUE DATE.
6. Contact the instructor if, at any time, you feel your performance is not up to your standards.

1. Writing Ability
2. Reading Ability
3. Critical Thinking and Analytical Sills
4. Memorization

If you can master these four forces, then you can succeed in academia.  To the extent possible this class will attempt to assist in developing all four skills further.  However, it should be obvious that English classes are generally where the above skills (especailly the first two) are formally taught.  It is assumed that you have had English classes and that you will apply those skill sets developed in such classes to ALL writing assignements.   

In the Beginning

1/20, 1/25
The Origin & Nature of Government
Chapter 1
Who controls the past controls the future;
who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
The Birth of a Republic
1/27, 2/1
The British Government
Chapter 2
2/3, 2/8
Origins of the Revolution
The Declaration of Independence
The Articles of Confederation

Federalist Paper #10
2/15, 2/17, 2/22, 2/24, 3/1
The Constitution

The Constitution

If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.
James Madison
The Façade
The Role of the News Media
Chapter 6
3/10, 3/22, 3/29, 3/31 Ideology & Parties

Chapters 5 and 9
3/15 & 3/17

4/5, 4/7
Iraq and Iran

Chapter 18

Successful politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies.
Walter Lippmann
The Machine
Congress & Parliament
Chapter 11
Presidency as Institution

Chapter 12
4/26, 4/28
A History of the Presidency
Chapter 12
5/3, 5/5
The Presidency & Power
Chapter 12
The Supreme and the Federal Courts
Chapter 14


There is nothing so good for the human soul as the discovery that there are ancient and flourishing civilized societies which have somehow managed to exist for many centuries and are still in being though they have had no help from the traveler in solving their problems.
Walter Lippmann

Elbridge Gerry John Adams
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) John Adams (October 30, 1735  – July 4, 1826)
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Letter to William Stevens Smith (November 13, 1787), quoted in Padover's Jefferson On Democracy
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
Letter to John Taylor April 15, 1814

The instructor reserves the right to modify any portion of the syllabus at any time.  The Course Schedule is meant as a guide; treat the rest as law.