The purpose of this chapter is to give you a preview of the major questions to be asked throughout the textbook, as well as to introduce some key terms
in the basic vocabulary of American politics. After reading and reviewing
the material in this chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:
- List the two basic questions to be asked about American (or any other) government,
and show that they are distinct questions.
- Explain what is meant by power in general human terms and by political power in particular, relating the latter to authority, legitimacy, and democracy
in the context of American government.
- Distinguish among the three concepts of democracy mentioned in the chapter,
explaining in which of these senses the textbook refers to American government as democratic.
- Differentiate between majoritarian politics and elitist politics, explaining
the four major theories of the latter.
- Explain how political change makes political scientists cautious in stating
how politics works or what values dominate it.