American Politics

American Politics

American Politics : Highlight Courses

Below are highlights of some of the many American politics electives that we offer to cadets. For a full listing of available electives, be sure to check the USMA Redbook’s American Politics Major page.

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SS376: American Political Development (Toolbox Course)

It’s easy to say that the U.S. government of the 21st Century is different from what it was in 1789, but how and why did the government develop as it has? American political development is a subfield of American politics that considers the evolution of political institutions, ideas, and policies over time. Why is it that some ideas (socialism and welfare, for example) have often had a hard time being accepted by the American public? How and when did processes like the Senate filibuster come into being, and why has it proven resilient over time? What are the major critical events in American history that shaped the formation and evolution of the two major political parties? We assess these and related questions by using an interdisciplinary academic approach to the development of American politics since the founding.

Normally offered in both the fall and spring semesters.

Redbook Link

Sample Syllabus for SS376

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SS472: The American Soldier and the State (AP Elective)

In the United States, civilian control of the military is a norm as old as the Constitution itself. Yet, tensions between the military and the civilians they serve have been present throughout American history. Recent decades have seen the emergence of concerns such as the rising politicization of the military, an increasing demographic gap between military servicemembers and the general American public, and publicly partisan statements by senior and retired uniformed personnel. What responsibilities do military leaders have in advising the President, Congress, and the public? If the Joint Chiefs of Staff disagree with the president’s foreign policy, is it appropriate for military leaders to publicly speak out about their concerns? Or do such actions violate the norm of civilian control? This class considers the above questions through the lens of political science, using theories, qualitative assessments, and quantitative analysis in order to better understand the state of civil-military relations in America.

Normally offered in the spring semester. 

Redbook Link

Sample Syllabus for SS472

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SS379: Legislative Politics (AP Elective)

This course deals with the origins, institutional evolution, and behavior of the United States Congress. It focuses on the role of Congress in representation and policymaking within the American political system. What did the founders intend for Congress, and are their intentions reflected in the modern institution? How does Congress actually work, and who influences or controls the lawmaking process? What do we expect of members of Congress in balancing their representational role with their national policymaking mission? And are members—and the institution as a whole—appropriately balancing the dual responsibilities of the “Two Congress” model?  The course features case studies, practical exercises, and guest lecturers to address these questions and more.

Normally offered in the spring semester.

Redbook Link

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SS468: Political Participation (AP Elective)

This course provides a survey of the American electoral system, the behavior of voters and candidates, and the nature of parties, campaign strategies, and the media. The goal of the class is for cadets to emerge as educated observers and consumers of political campaigns and elections.  Do campaigns really matter? Is it rational for voters to participate? Why is our electoral system constructed as it is, and what are the alternatives? What is the role of campaign advertising and vote choice? The course will take both theoretical and empirical approaches in addressing these topics.

Normally offered in the fall semester.

Redbook Link

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