Major essay

Essay due: May 10 via Turnitin. 10pm deadline for submissions.

Essay plan due: (Optional) If you wish to do this you need to submit it to your tutor via email by April 15

This plan should be a 1-2 page document that includes the following:

  1. The title of the Essay Question you will address. If you are planning to narrow down the scope of the question to make answering it more manageable, briefly explain your approach. 
  2. Brief summary of the argument you want to make: 1/3 of a page. 
  3. Structure of the essay using dot points and subheadings. 
  4. List of articles and books you have started to read (with hopefully some comment about the usefulness of particular sources). Within one week of receiving the plan, your tutor will email it back with comments and suggest a time to meet to discuss your essay. This process is optional but provides a great opportunity to receive feedback.

Essay questions

  1. “American Politics textbooks frequently suggest America has a widely agreed upon political culture. However, the latest research on American political culture tends to emphasise conflict over so-called shared core values.” Discuss
  2. “American exceptionalism is not an empirical condition, rather it is an ideology. Moreover, it is a dangerous ideology.” Discuss. 
  3. “Neustadt argued in 1960 that ‘Presidential power is the power to persuade.’ Seeing the presidency as a persuasive office is no longer that convincing and as a result academics have developed better theories to explain the nature of presidential power. Discuss 
  4. Using analysis of voter turnout in the primaries this year who are the Trump voters? Are they typically non-participants in American politics? Do they fit the label Middle American Radicals? 
  5. “Populism is a core American political tradition. Trump is a quintessential American populist.” Discuss 
  6. “Socialism has long been considered alien in the USA and even ‘un-American.’ The Sanders’ campaign shows that socialism is finally likely to have a significant impact on American politics in the years ahead.” Discuss 
  7. In a recent article Hacker and Pierson argue that “A few decades ago, Mrs. Clinton would have been seen as a common political type: an evidence-oriented pragmatist committed to using public authority to solve big problems.” What are the strengths and weaknesses of this view of Hillary Clinton? 
  8. What are the main failings of the US Congress? Is destructive partisanship the central problem? Does the power of money and interest groups lead to bad and unfair decisions? Are the central problems caused by poor institutional design for contemporary conditions? 
  9. “The partisan drawing of electoral boundaries is a blight on American democracy and leads to many undesirable outcomes. A system where commissions draw all election boundaries would better serve American democratic values.” Discuss 
  10. What are the major differences between the Democratic and Republican parties in the US? How did these parties overcome significant regional cleavages and become more coherent national parties? Has the emergence of ideological coherence within these parties been a positive thing? 
  11. “The presidency of Barack Obama represents the regeneration of American liberalism.” Discuss 
  12. Why did conservatism emerge as such a force in American politics in the late 20th century? Is it showing signs of exhaustion in the 21st century? 
  13. “Greater and greater inequality in America has occurred with the passing of each decade since the 1970s. There have been very few policies passed that have effectively addressed this issue, in fact the problem has often been ignored or made worse by powerful interest groups. However, there are signs that political action to address inequality is now more likely than in the past.” Discuss. 
  14. What are the merits and the pitfalls of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ case for reparations? 
  15. Assess the successes and failings of the 1996 federal welfare reforms. 
  16. Why did Obama win the 2008 and 2012 elections? To what extent were these elections the fulfilment of the “Emerging Democratic Majority” thesis of Ruy Teixeira and John Judis?

Your essay will be worth 45% of your overall mark for the unit.