Most people know to vote for President every four years in the US. However, there is a lot more to vote on than that each year. In every state there are federal elections every two years. In some states there are also local off-year elections. Plus there are primaries before the actual elections that decide who gets on the ballot. Plus there are special elections sometimes when there are vacant seats!
American Politics describes the politics of America since before Liberalism, Enlightenment, and Revolution and to today. The articles below explore the most important aspects of American politics as fun facts and myths.
Factoids tagged with "American Politics"
President Trump has claimed that Democrats are responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families apprehended at the border. However, this is mostly false, as existing laws were passed by both parties, weren’t commonly enforced to their full extent in the past, and don’t actually require families to be separated. In short, there is no law that requires families to be separated, and it was Trump’s administration who enacted the current “zero tolerance” policy.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4th 1826 within five hours of each other. Their deaths in many ways marked the end of an era in American history.
The American left and right aren’t synonymous with the political left right. Rather, they describe “big tents” that contain a broad spectrum of political views.
The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is an oath of allegiance written by Christian socialist minister Francis Bellamy in August 1892. It was meant to paired with a salute.
It is a myth that the estate tax hurts poor and middle class Americans, only the richest Americans (0.2% of families) pay the estate tax.
The estate tax (“death tax”) is one of the taxes preventing an unsustainable wealth gap; eliminating the estate tax would increase the wealth gap.
The idea that universal healthcare can’t work in the U.S. due to size alone is a myth. The U.S. has 50 states, each with populations equivalent to nations with universal coverage.
Despite the Red-State Blue-State split of the two-party system (between city and rural regions), America is rather purple (meaning all regions have a mix of voters).
Presidents of the U.S. are granted power to create executive orders by the Constitution, but orders must be lawful, keeping in-line with the Constitution and other legal statutes.
Donald Trump hasn’t been much of a Tyrant in-action, but he does have a lot in common with the classical tyrants, including the tyrant from Plato’s Republic.
Conservatives have long had a Powell memo strategy against progressive liberals, cutting the funding to the arts (like PBS, NPR, and the NEA) is part of it.
Bernie Sanders says he is a Democratic Socialist, but he describes an American version of Social Democracy and not text-book Democratic Socialism.
Right-wing Populism, like the Tea Party, and Left-wing Populism, like Bernie Sanders, are the two basic forms of populism. Both are anti-elite but otherwise very different.
The KKK and slavery both have their roots in the Democratic party. However, the southern bloc conservatives (“the solid south”) have increasingly favored the Republican party over time. Thus, today the faction who once supported the KKK and slavery now mostly supports the Republican Party.
Trump may have had the largest inaugural crowd in 2017 if you count all sources online, on TV, and in-person, but his in-person turnout was provably smaller than Obama’s.
Generally speaking, a modest increase to the minimum wage will increase household spending and thus stimulate the economy. However, this can be offset by job loss or hour reduction, inflation, and other factors.
Hitler was a National Socialist (NAZI). National Socialism is a type of fascism. Although National Socialism had some socialist and left-wing planks, it is a unique authoritarian, militant, and nationalist ideology separate from socialism or liberalism that is generally considered “far-right.”
William Jennings Bryan can be considered the father of modern American left-wing and right-wing populism, including progressivism, the religious right, workers’ movements like the free-silver movement, the income tax, direct elections of Senators, and more.
George Washington ran without any serious opposition in 1789 and 1792 and James Monroe was re-elected without serious opposition in 1820. Thus, we can say “they ran unopposed” and be mostly correct.
In the U.S., the President and Vice President are elected by getting a majority of electoral college votes, they are not elected by popular vote.
About half of American families pay little to no federal income tax after tax credits and deductions. Payroll taxes, excise taxes, and sales taxes hit the average American family the hardest.
As James Madison said when discussing special interest factions and liberty in the Federalist #10, “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires”.
Historically, Protestantism is like classical liberalism (individual liberties and rights) and Catholicism is like social liberalism (state enforced social justice).
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) became the first publicly traded company when it sold shares on its own Amsterdam Stock Exchange (the first stock market).
Madison drafted both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but he wasn’t the sole author of either, both were debated and approved by committees.
Shirley Chisholm became the first black Congresswoman in 1968. In 1972 Chisholm ran for President as a Democrat, making her both the first female, or black, major party Presidential candidate.
Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominee of a major U.S. political party at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Saul Alinsky, the American community organizer and author of Rules for Radicals, can be considered the father of modern community organizing.
Some claim the Second Amendment, like the Three-Fifths Compromise, was ratified to preserve slavery. This is only partially true.
Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and other Barons of Industry freely gave away most of their fortunes to charitable and philanthropic causes.
Thomas Jefferson never said, “every generation needs a new revolution”, but he did say, “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”
We know liberals and conservatives think differently, however science suggests differences not only in thinking process, but in brain structure as well.
Blog Posts tagged with "American Politics"
In the US, a Government Shutdown is when funding isn’t secured to keep parts of the government running.
Social Conservatism is the ideology of social hierarchy and tradition that mixes liberal and conservative views. It comes in political and economic forms.
Classical Conservatism is the ideology of authority, hierarchy, order, and tradition (like classical aristocracy). It comes in political and economic forms.
Social liberalism is the ideology of collective liberties and rights that favors social welfare and justice. It comes in a political and economic form.
Classical liberalism is the ideology of liberties, rights, individualism, reason, and tolerance that comes in a political and economic form.
We describe a “purple strategy” modeled off purple state politics, for the Defense of Western Liberal Democracy and Republicanism.
All nations have some sort of class system or class structure, generally based on wealth, birth, or status. We explain modern and historic social class systems and the general logic behind them to see to what extent they are natural and what extent they are convention.
We discuss the importance of individualism and the complexities involved in balancing the spirit of Individualism with collective responsibility.
Marx and Mussolini called for extreme evolutions of socialism, Mises called for an absolutist return to individualist liberalism, but all miss the mark.
The Social Safety net is a collection of welfare services meant to help people bounce up when they hit bottom, it is not meant as a net to trap the poor under.
I offer opinions on how to fact-check alternative facts from the perspective of a fact-checker who fact-checks alternative facts. Fact.
Steve Bannon eluded to a “National Populist” “Deconstruction” agenda in a recent speech. We take a look at the historic meaning of those terms.
The New Deal Coalition and Conservative Coalition are two coalitions that are emblematic of both the 20th century party switches and the modern parties.
We explain the “vast-right wing conspiracy” (or right-wing strategy) that Hillary talked about in the 90s (and the left-wing equivalent).
Conservatism is the ideology of governmental, cultural, and economic order, tradition, hierarchy, and authority that generally comes in classical, social, and economic forms.
We look at the effect of the black voter and black suffrage on the balance of political power in the two-party system.
We discuss Republics in general including the philosophy of republics, classical and modern republicanism, and real Republics in-action.
To understand the climate change debate, it is important to clarify some confusion regarding climate change denial and skepticism.
Alternative facts describe inconsistent sets of information submitted as plausible evidence for competing sides of a case/debate/argument.
The problem with unsubstantiated information is that it is unverified as true, and often leaked by sources with plausible deniability, which is confusing.
The modern Tea Party is a progressively conservative nativist protectionist populist movement that represent a response to globalism and progressive social liberalism.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with having said, “equal rights for all, special privileges for none,” a slogan that other progressive Democrats like Williams Jennings Bryan embraced.
We explain the meaning of Democrat, Republican, Whig, Federalist, Anti-Federalist, Union, and Confederacy the political terms the major parties used for their party names.
We explain three different types of Republicans found in America during Civil War Reconstruction: moderate, conservative, and radical Republicans.
We explain the different types of American progressivism from the founders, to the Reform movements, to Bryan and the Roosevelts, to the progressives and populists of today.
Notable political factions, politicians, and platform planks switched between the major U.S. political parties throughout U.S. history leading to a number of complex changes. Here are some different ways to look at “the party switches” and different “party systems” the changes resulted in.
Liberalism is the political ideology of liberty and equality, where classical liberalism emphasizes individual liberty and social liberalism emphasizes social equality.
The article below is written as advice to potential “faithless electors” thinking about how to vote in 2016, but doubles as a lesson in civics regarding the powers and responsibilities of the U.S. Electoral College.
We explain the American political left-wing and right-wing by looking at the different factions that make up American liberalism and American conservatism.
If the 2016 election proved anything, it proved that the votes of progressive populists (like Bernie) and nativist populists (like Trump) matter in elections.
“Civil Religion” is the civic “religion” of a nation. It doesn’t describe the theological religion of a nation, but rather a quasi-religious shared identity built around national symbolism and customs.
Separation of Powers describes the way in which government is divided into different branches (ex. in the U.S., the legislative, executive, and judicial). Checks and balances describe the powers each branch has to “check” the other branches and ensure a balance of power.
We explain political duopolies by looking at the political duopoly in the United States of America and other historic duopolies.
In modern history political factions have often been represented by a color, we look at political color to understand color politics.
We list the U.S. Presidents, their political parties, and their political ideologies alongside descriptions of their Presidency to examine U.S. history.
We examine the historical effects of social, political, and economic inequality on society to see how it has led to social unrest and events like revolutions and populist uprisings.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the General Will roughly means “that which is in the best interest of the people” or “the public good”, and not just popular consensus.
The exact origin of the term politically correct isn’t known, but its first modern usage is from 1793. Meanwhile, the related political argument over tolerance is as old as politics itself.
We explain the basic classical forms of government and the many types of governments that can be derived from the classical forms.
Social Contract Theory is the theory of why people form governments based on how people lived in a State of Nature before government.
Plato can be understood as the father of rationalism and political philosophy (political idealism), and Aristotle, his student, the father of empiricism and political science (political realism).
We explain liberalism and conservatism, including the different social and classical types of liberalism and conservatism.
We explain the political terms conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive, and radical and how they are used in different contexts.
We explain two types of special interests: cronyism (politicians working with corporate interests) and monopolies / oligopolies (the consolidating of corporate power in a given industry to one or few entities).
Collectivism describes ideology (political or otherwise) that favors the collective, like-wise Individualism describes ideology that favors the individual.
We explain populism, globalization, nativism, nationalism, neoliberalism, modernization, and other terms important for understanding modern world politics.
The Federalists and Anti-Federalists were the first political factions of the U.S.. They arose out of a debate over the ratification of the 1787 Constitution and went on to form the basis of our current two-party system.
The modern usage of the political terms left and right comes from the French Revolution of 1789 when supporters of the king stood to the president’s right, and supporters of the revolution to his left.
We present a summary of the history of human rights documents including the Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, Declaration of Rights and Man, and English Bill of Rights.
The Constitution protects our Liberty, but the law has placed limits on this. Those limits are sometimes enforced with large legal fees. To what effect this promotes social justice, and to what effect this harms social justice by creating opposition is debated.
Classical liberalism arose in opposition to state-imposed religion and aristocracy in the 1600 – 1700’s during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and America.
On this page, we look at political parties from a historical perspective to better understand the underlying left-right politics all political parties are based on.
Most groups, bound by class, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or some other force have faced oppression with rebellion. Here are tips on avoiding common pitfalls.
America’s founding fathers intended the U.S. to be a Republic (elected officials vote on laws), rather than a Direct Democracy (everyone votes on laws).
“The invisible hand” is a term used by Adam Smith to describe the theory that self-interest leads to social and economic benefits in a free-market.
The United States is a Federal Republic with democratic values that some claim contains a growing oligarchy (or corporatocracy). We look at those claims.
Special interests describe interests that are not purely public interests. Factions (special interest groups) are groups formed around shared interests (special interests).
Political Correctness (politically correct or PC), describes how much tolerance, sensitivity, censorship, and freedom of expression “is correct” in a given setting.
A simple explanation of American politics including an overview of US history, the political parties, and the political system.
We explain economic inequality from a historical perspective, and then consider the effects of wealth inequality and income inequality in America today.
We explain “the left-right political spectrum” by applying the terms “left” and “right” to a number of “left-right paradigms”.
Book Reviews tagged with "American Politics"
Below is the Federalist #10, written by James Madison, and reprinted in full. We explain, annotate, and offer context on the Federalist #10.
Below we present an annotated version of Andrew Carnegie’s 1889 essay Wealth (better known as the Gospel of Wealth).
We explain and annotate a letter Abraham Lincoln sent to Joshua Speed which shows how Lincoln opposed the Know-Nothings and Slavery.