AP Government

Mr. Pharr

Chapter 1 Vocabulary


1.Democracy- Government by the people, both directly or indirectly, with free and frequent elections

2.Direct Democracy- Government in witch citizens vote on laws and select officials directly

3.Direct Primary- An election in witch voters chose party nominees

4.Initiative- a procedure whereby a certain number of voter may, by petition, propose a law or a constitutional amendment and have it submitted to the voters

5.Referendum- procedure for submitting to popular vote measures passed by the legislature or proposed amendments to a state constitution

6.Recall- a procedure for submitting to popular vote the removal of officials from office before the end of their term

7.Representative Democracy- government in which the people elect those who govern and pass laws; also called a republic

8.Constitutional Democracy- government that enforces recognized limits on those who govern and allows the voice of the people to be heard through free, fair, and relatively frequent elections

9.Constitutionalism- the set of arrangements, including checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, rule of law, due process, and a bill of rights, that requires our leaders to listen, think, bargain, and explain before they act of make laws. We then hold them politically and legally accountable for how they exercise their power.

10.Natural Rights- the right of all people to dignity and worth

11.Political Culture- The widely Shared beliefs, values, and norms citizens hold about their relationship to government and to one another.

12.Statism- The Idea that the right of the nation are supreme over the right of the individuals who make up the nation

13.American Dream- A complex set of ideas that hold that the U.S. is a land of opportunity where individuals initiative and hard work can bring economic success.

14.Capitalism- An economic system based on private property, competitive markets, economic incentives, and limited government involvement in the production, pricing, and distribution of goods and services.

15.Popular Consent- The idea that a just government must derive its powers from the consent of the people it governs

Chapter 2 Vocabulary


  1. Majority Rule- Governance according to the expressed preference of the majority

  2. Majority- the candidate or party the wins more than have of the votes cast in an election.

  3. Plurality- The candidate or party with the most votes cast in an election, not necessarily more than half.

  4. Democratic Consensus- A condition for democracy is that the people widely share a set of attitudes and beliefs about government procedures, instructions, core documents and fundamental values.

  5. Theocracy-Government by religious leaders, who claim divine guidance

  6. Articles of Confederation- The first governing document of the confederated states, drafted in 1777, ratified in 1781, and replaced by the present Constitution in 1789

  7. Annapolis Convention-A convention held in September 1786 to consider problems of trade and navigation, attended by five states and important because it issued the call to congress and the states for what became the constitutional Convention.

  8. Constitutional Convention- The convention in Philadelphia, from May 25 to September 17, 1778, that debate and agreed on the constitution of the U.S.

  9. Shays' Rebellion- A rebellion led by Daniel Shays of farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786-1787 protection mortgage foreclosures. It Highlighted the need for a strong national government just as the call for the constitutional Convention went out.

  10. Bicameralism- the principle of a two-house legislature

  11. Virginia Plan- The initial proposal at the Constitutional Convention made by the Virginia delegation for a strong central government with a bicameral legislature dominated by the big states.

  12. New Jersey Plan- The proposal at the constitutional convention made by William Patterson of NJ for a central government with a single house legislature in which each state would be represented equally.

  13. Connecticut Compromise- The compromise agreement by states at the constitutional convention for a bicameral legislature with a lower house in which representation would be based on population and an upper house in which each state would have two senators

  14. Three- Fifths Compromise- The compromise between northern and southern states at the constitutional convention that three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives.

  15. Electoral College- The electoral system used in electing the president, in which voters vote for the electors pledged to cast their ballots for a particular party's candidates.

  16. Federalist- Supporters of ratification of the constitution and of a strong central government.

  17. Anti-federalist- Opponents of ratification of the constitution and of a strong central government generally.

  18. The Federalist- essays prompting ratification of the constitution, anonymously published by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison in 1787 and 1788

  19. Natural Law- God's or nature's law that defines right from wrong and is higher than human law.

  20. Separation of Powers- Constitutional division of powers among the legislative , executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative making the law, the executive branch applying and enforcing the law, and judiciary interpreting the law

  21. Checks and Balances- a constitutional grant of powers that enables each of the three branches of government to check some acts of the others and therefore insures that no branch can dominate.

  22. Autocracy- a type of government in which one person with unlimited power rules

  23. Partisanship- a strong alliance to one's own political party, often leading to unwillingness to compromise with members of the opposite party

  24. divided government- government divided between the parties, especially when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of congress

  25. unified government- government in which one party holds both the white house and both houses in congress.

  26. Electoral college- System of electing the president and vise president, where voters vote for electors that pledge to cast their vote for a certain party.

  27. judicial review- court can review laws or governmental regulations and decide if they are constitutional

  28. Federalist-Group that wanted ratification of the constitution, including stronger national government at the expense of state power. They controlled new federal government until Thomas Jefferson's election in 1800.

  29. Writ of mandamus- court order directing an official to preform an official duty.

  30. congressional Elaboration- Congressional legislation that gives further meaning to the constitution based on sometimes vague constitutional authority, such as the necessary and proper clause.

  31. impeachment- a formal accusation by the lower house of a legislation against a public official; the first step in removal from office.

  32. executive order- a directive issued by a president or governor that has the force of law.

  33. executive privilege- the power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if linked to national security.

  34. impediment- presidential refusal to allow an agency to spend funds that congress authorized and appropriated.

  35. originality approach- approach to constitutional interpretation that envisions the document as having a fixed meaning that might be determined by strict reading of the text or Farmer's intent.

  36. adaptive approach- a method used to interpret the Constitution that understands the document to be flexible and responsive to the change needs of the times.

Chapter 3 Vocabulary

1. federalism- a constitutional arrangement in which power is distributed between a central government and states, which are sometimes called provinces in other nations. The national and states exercise direct authority over individuals.

2. unitary system- A constitutional arrangement that concentrates power in a central government.

3. confederation- a constitutional arrangement in which sovereign nations or states, by compact, create a central government but carefully limit its power and do not give it direct authority over individuals.

4. delegated powers- powers given only to the national government and listed in the Constitution.

5. implied powers- powers inferred from the express powers that allow Congress to carry out its functions.

6. necessary and proper clause- the clause in the constitution setting forth the implied powers of congress. It states that congress, in addition to its express powers, has the right to make all laws necessary and proper to carry out all powers the Constitution vests in the national government.

7. inherent powers- the powers of the national government in foreign affairs that the Supreme Court has declared do not depend on constitutional grants but rather grow out of the national government's obligation to protect the nation from domestic and foreign threats.

8. supremacy clause- contained in article IV of the constitution, the clause gives national laws the absolute power even when states have enacted a competing law.

9. commerce clause- the clause in the constitution that gives congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

10. federal mandate- a requirement the national government imposes as a condition for receiving federal funds.

11.reserve powers- all powers not specifically delegated to the national government by the constitution. The reserve power can be found in the tenth amendment to the constitution.

12. concurrent powers- powers that the constitution gives to both the national and state governments, such as the power to levy taxes.

13. full faith and credit clause- the clause in the constitution requiring each state to recognize the civil judgments rendered by the courts of the other states and to accept their public records and acts as valid.

14. extradition- the legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.

15. interstate compact- an agreement among two or more states. Congress must approve most such agreements.

16. national supremacy- constitutional doctrine that whenever conflict occurs between the constitutionally authorized actions of the national government and those of a state or local government, the actions of the national government prevail.

17. preemption- the right of a national law or regulation to preclude enforcement of a state or local law or regulation.

Chapter 4 Vocabulary

1. ethnocentrism- belief in the superiority of one's nation or ethnic group.

2. demography- the study of the characteristics of populations.

3. reinforcing cleavages- divisions within society that reinforce one another, making groups more homogeneous or similar.

4. cross-cutting cleavages- divisions within society that cut across demographic categories to produce groups that are more heterogeneous or different.

5. American exceptionalism- the view that due to circumstances of history, the Constitution, and liberty, the US is different from other nations.

6. manifest destiny- a notion held by nineteenth-century Americans that the US was destined to rule the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

7. Sun Belt- the region of the US in the South and Southwest that has seen population growth relative to the rest of the country and which, because of its climate, has attracted retirees.

8. Bible Belt- the region of states in the South and states bordering the South with a large number of strongly committed Protestants who see a public role for religion.

9. Rust Belt- states in the Midwest once known for their industrial output, which have seen factories close and have experienced relatively high unemployment.

10. urban- a densely settled territory that is often the central part of a city of metropolitan area.

11. suburban- an area that typically surrounds the central city, is often residential, and is not as densely populated.

12. rural- sparsely populated territory and small towns, often associated with farming.

13. race- a grouping of human beings with distinctive characteristics determined by genetic inheritance.

14. ethnicity- a social division based on national origin, religion, language, and often race.

15. fundamentalists- conservative Christians who, as a group, have become more active in politics in the last two decades and were especially influential in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

16. gender gap- the difference between the political opinions or political behavior of men and of women.

17. gross domestic product- the total output of all economic activity in the nation, including goods and services.

18. socioeconomic status- a division of population based on occupation, income, and education.


Chapter 5 Vocabulary

  1. collective Bargaining- the process in which a union represents a group of employees in negotiations with the employer about wages benefits and workplace safety.

  2. recall- a procedure for submitting to popular vote the removal of officials from office before the end of their term

  3. faction- a term the founders used to refer to to political parties and special interests or interest groups

  4. pluralism- a theory of gov that holds that open, multiple, and competing groups can check the asserted power by any one group

  5. interest group- a collection of people who share a common interest or attitude and seek to influence gov for specific ends. Interest groups usually work within the framework of gov and try to achieve their goals through tactics such as lobbying

  6. social mvmts- a large body of people interested in a common issue, idea, or concern that is of cont. significance and who are willing to take action. mvmts seek to change attitudes or institutions, not just policies

  7. open shop- A company with a labor agreement under which union membership cannot be required as a condition of employment.

  8. closed shop-A company with a labor agreement under which union membership can be a condition of employment.

  9. free rider- An individual who does not join as a group representing his or her interests, et receives the benefit of the group's influence.

  10. professional associations- Groups of individuals who share a common profession and are often organized for common political purposes related to that profession.

  11. nongovernmental organization (NGO)-A nonprofit association or group operating outside government that advocates and pursues policy objectives.

  12. collective action-How groups form and organize to pursue their goals or objectives, including how to get individuals and groups to participate and cooperate. The term has many applications in the various social sciences such as political science, sociology, and economics.

  13. public choice-Synonymous with "collective action," specifically studies how government officials, politicians, and voters respond to positive and negative incentives.

  14. lobbying- Engaging in activities aimed at influencing public officials, especially legislators, and the policies they enact.

  15. Federal Register- An official document, published every weekday, that lists the new and proposed regulations of executive departments and regulatory agencies.

  16. amicus curiae brief- Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or organization urging the Supreme Court to hear a case (or discouraging it from doing so) or, at the merits stage, to represent arguments in the addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case.

  17. Super PACs- Independent expenditure-only PACs are known as Super PACs because they may accept donations of any size and can endorse candidates. Their contributions and expenditures must be periodically reported to the FEC.

  18. bundling- A tactic in which PACs collect contributions from like-minded individuals (each limited to $2,000) and present them to a candidate or political party as a "bundle" thus increasing the PAC's influence.

  19. lobbyist- A person who is employed by and acts for an organized interest group or corporation to try to influence policy decisions and positions in the executive and legislative branches.

  20. revolving door-An employment cycle in which individuals who work for government agencies that regulate interests eventually end up working for interest groups or businesses with the same policy concern.

  21. issue network- Relationships among interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, and the government agencies that share a common policy concern.

  22. Political action committee (PAC)- The political arm of an interest group that is legally entitled to raise funds on a voluntary basis from members, stockholders, or employees to contribute funds to candidates or political parties.

  23. leadership Pac- A PAC formed by an officeholder that collects contributions from individuals and other PACs and then makes contributions to other candidates and political parties.

  24. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)- Largely banned party soft money, restored long-standing prohibition on corporations and labor unions us of general treasury funds for electoral purposes and narrowed the definition of issue advocacy.

  25. soft money- Money raised in unlimited amounts by political parties for party-building purposes. Now largely illegal except for limited contributions to state or local parties for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

  26. independent expenditures- The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals, groups, and parties can spend unlimited amounts in campaigns for or against candidates as long as they operate independently from the candidates. When an individual group, or party does so, they are making an independent expenditure.

  27. issue advocacy-Unlimited and undisclosed spending by an individual or group on communications that do not use words like "vote for" or "vote against," although much of this activity is actually about electing or defeating candidates.

  28. 527 organization-A political group organized under section 527 of the IRS Code that may accept and spend unlimited amounts of money on election activities so long as they are not spent on broadcast ads run in the last 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election in which a clearly identified candidate is referred to and a relevant electorate is targeted.