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Summer 2016 Syllabus for POLI-D001.66Z
POLI-D001.66Z - Robert Ovetz
Call Number: 11246
Term: Summer 2014
4 units
Critical examination of the historical and contemporary struggle for the development of democratic political institutions in the United States at the state, local, and national levels. Particular emphasis given to the conflict between traditional elite’s versus historically disenfranchised social groups (women, people of color, and workers) in the conduct of U.S. political life.
Instructor Information: Robert Ovetz
Office Hours: Mon/Wed, 2 pm, on-line, and by appointment
About the Course
Critical examination of the contemporary and historical struggle for the development of democratic political institutions in the United States at the state, local, and national levels. Particular emphasis given to the conflict between disparate socioeconomic groups (e.g. traditional elites versus the historically and currently disenfranchised; women, people of color, workers, immigrants, etc.) in the conduct of U.S. political life.

In this survey course on American political institutions, we will study the various dynamics of the centers of power in US federal and state politics focusing on the executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as elections, lobbying, political parties, corporations and political action. In order to understand these institutions and processes we will examine three perspectives on the distribution of power in America and how and when it is exercised, by whom, and for what purpose. The objective of this course is both to help you to understand the events that are taking place in our country and our state today and to learn how engaged organized citizens have influenced the distribution of power and character of American political institutions. Among the current events and problems we will be studying to illustrate principles and concepts include the upcoming 2012 presidential election, ongoing wars, corporate influence in government, environmental crises, shrinking civil liberties, and other current political developments and issues to illustrate principles and theories.
Student Learning Objectives
The course seeks to achieve three student learning outcomes (SLOs)—knowledge, skills/abilities, and attitudes you will demonstrate/perform as a result of successfully completing this class:
1. evaluate how political decisions are shaped by institutions and processes
2. assess the impact of political decisions on individuals and groups
3. demonstrate the capacity to participate in the political process effectively
You may read any edition of the following as long as it’s either the same or more recent. Do not read an edition older than the one listed below. All reading assignments will be based on the following editions so it is your responsibility to make sure the chapters in your edition corresponds with the assigned readings below.

You may use one of the multiple copies of the books are on reserve in the library.
M. Parenti, Democracy for the Few, 7th edition, Longman, 2002, ISBN 0312392508.*
T. Patterson, We the People, 7th edition, McGraw Hill, 2007, ISBN 9780073403861.
M. Field, California Government and Politics Today, 11th edition, Longman, 2006, ISBN 0205521150.

*A free download of the 9th edition of Democracy for the Few can be obtained by clicking on the hyperlinked title in this sentence or cut and paste the following URL without the line breaks:

Because only the required edition of the Patterson book is available in the campus bookstore it is strongly urged that you order your other two books on-line. You also might want to check online if you are interested in other used copies. For alternatives to Amazon try and (which buy and sell textbooks) or a number of new used on-line textbook sale and rental outlets. In addition to the many on line textbook resellers there is also a great new website called the Campus Bookswap http:// where you can list your books yourself and buy books directly from other students.
Written Assignments
Short Paper
There will be one required formal research paper given during the semester. The paper may not exceed 4 pages in length (not including citations and illustrations). These are considered formal research papers that must have an introductory paragraph, clear thesis statement, and either footnotes (use auto insert function) or in text citations and a bibliography. Please do not write in outline. Any single academic citation style is acceptable. Your paper should:
o The paper must be emailed to me as an attached MS Word “.doc” or “.docx” file or as an Apple Pages file only.
o Be written in a formal research paper style.
o Be written with an introductory paragraph with a clear thesis and preview.
o Be stapled.
o Not include a cover sheet.
o Be typed in no smaller than 11 pt font, and use 1.5 or 2 line spacing with at least .8 margins all around.
o Use either in text citations with a bibliography or footnotes without a bibliography.

I strongly encourage you to use the campus Writing and Reading Center, .
studentsuccess/writing-reading-center/, General Subjects Tutoring,
gensubj.html, library databases and other resources,, and the short guides to writing research papers at

About Sources and References
Sources used for your paper could include films, interviews, podcasts, TV or radio broadcasts, internet news stories, published reports, journal articles, web pages, blogs, and articles from newsletters, newspapers and magazines. The textbooks may not be cited more than once in your paper. Please do not use Wikipedia as a source. Please use the free library databases that you will learn about in our visit to the library. Any one of the primary styles for citing works used is acceptable.

OR help writing your citations go to
and Be sure to use the same citation style for all your citations.

Please use either a list of references or footnotes. If a list of references is used at the end of the paper be sure to provide clear indications as to where each reference appears in the body of the text. If footnotes are used use the “insert footnote” function in your word processing program. Please do not insert them manually. Be sure to provide the complete reference the first time each reference appears in the footnotes.

Grammar and Proofreading
You will be graded for grammar, punctuation and style to the extent that it reduces your ability to express your research and analysis clearly. While grammar, punctuation and style are not the most significant part of the grade you will receive, it does affect your ability to ommunicate your ideas and analysis clearly and effectively. If you have any issues concerning your language skills you wish to discuss with me please visit me during office hours.
I strongly encourage you to use the short guides to writing research papers at
Additional Information
Taking the Course Pass/No Pass
For those students who wish to take the class Pass/No Pass you will need to choose that option through the college portal by the required deadline. It is not possible to change your declaration after this date. If you take the class Pass/No Pass you will have the option of either writing the paper or doing a 15 minute presentation with questions and answers during the last two classes on the topic you chose at the mid-term.

On-line Discussion
Students are required to post for each chapter of the readings and reply to one student’s posting for each of the chapters. In addition, each week I will post a discussion topic on Wednesday. Each student is required to post at least one 4 sentence response to the discussion question or in reply to another student.

Course Policy
• I reserve the right to drop you from the course at any time for failure to complete assignments.
• Any act of plagarism will result in an automatic “F” for the assignment.
• Please post respectful contributions to the forums. It’s ok to criticize ideas but not people.
Testing / Grading
Grading will be based on a combination of preparation for class including doing the readings before they are scheduled to be discussed, participation in the discussions, mid-term and final essay exams, and the short papers. The grade for participation includes participation in class.

Student Evaluation/Grading Policies
o Students will receive their grades on-line at the mid-term after the mid-term exam is graded.
o The short paper must be typed and turned by email on the day it is due in class.
o 10 percent will be deducted for each week that a short paper assignment is turned in late. A period of
7 days or less is consider 1 week.
o Exams must be taken on campus at the designated testing location. There are no make-ups for any
missed exams without an acceptable reason according to District policy.
A+ 96-100
A 93-95
A- 90-92
B+ 86-89
B 83-85
B- 80-82
C+ 76-79
C 70-75
D 60-69
F 0-59
Assignment Percentage
Short research paper - 20
Chapter discussion postings - 20
Weekly topic discussions - 20
Mid-term essay exam - 20
Final essay exam - 20
TOTAL: 100
Assignments Schedule
Course Outline
Topic 1. Majoritarian, Pluralism, and Plutocratic Theory
Read in books:
Parenti, ch. 1. Partisan Politics, 3. The Plutocratic Culture, 4. A Constitution for the Few, 5. Rise of the Corporate State Patterson, ch. 1. American Political Culture: Seeking a More Perfect Union; and the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America, p.!3

Topic 2. The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Federalism
Read in books:
Patterson, ch. 2. Constitutional Democracy, 3. Federalism, 4. Civil Liberties, 5. Equal Rights
Note: instead of reading J. Madison’s “The Mischiefs of Faction” (p. R2-1-R2-3) read the complete
“Federalist Paper #10” at
M. Field, ch. 1. California Politics in Perspective, 2. The Californians, 3. California’s Historical Development, 4. Freedom and Equality, 13. City Governments!

Topic 3. Article II: The Executive Branch and the President
Read in books:
M. Parenti, ch. 10. Political Repression and National Security, 15. The President, 16. The Political Economy of Bureaucracy
T. Patterson, ch. 12. The Presidency, 13. The Federal Bureaucracy, 17. Foreign and Defense Policy
M. Field, ch. 9. California’s Plural Executive!

Topic 4. Article I: Congress
Read in books:
M. Parenti, ch. 7. Military Empire and Global Domination, 8. Health, Environment, and Human Services, 14. Congress
T. Patterson, ch. 11. Congress, 15. Economic and Environmental Policy
M. Field, ch. 8. The California Legislature

Topic 5. Article III: The Judiciary
Read in books:
M. Parenti, ch. 9. Unequal before the Law, 17. The Supremely Political Court
T. Patterson, ch. 14. The Federal Judicial System
M. Field, ch. 11. California Courts and Judges

Topic 6. Corporations and Money in Politics
Read in books:
M. Parenti, ch. 2. Wealth and Want in the US, 6. Politics: Who Gets What?, 11. Who Governs?: Elites, Labor and Globalization, 12. Mass Media, 18. Democracy for the Few
T. Patterson, ch. 6. Public Opinion and Political Socialization

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Last Updated: 1/27/16