Basics of American Politics, The (15e) : 9780133815436

Basics of American Politics, The (15e)

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A lively, straight-forward approach to the basics of American Politics


Written to engage students, and kept short to provide a flexible foundation for instructors, The Basics of American Politics covers all the terms and topics a student will need to understand the nuts-and-bolts of American government and politics. This title uses a dynamic game metaphor to engage students in the basics of the American political system and the contact sport of politics. Beginning with a clear definition of politics, it introduces four governmental and four nongovernmental “players” who must abide by the “rules of the game” established by the Constitution and civil liberties. It ends by examining rival theories of who wins and who loses in American politics.


This title is available in a variety of formats — digital and print. Pearson offers its titles on the devices students love through Pearson’s MyLab products, CourseSmart, Amazon, and more. To learn more about pricing options and customization, click the Choices tab.


Table of contents

Chapter 1. What Is Politics?

Chapter 2. The Constitution: Rules of the Game

Chapter 3. The Executive Branch: The Presidency and Bureaucracy

Chapter 4. The Legislative Branch: Congress

Chapter 5. The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court and the Federal Court System

Chapter 6. Civil Rights and Liberties: Protecting the Players

Chapter 7. Voters and Political Parties

Chapter 8. Interest Groups and the Media

Chapter 9. Who Wins, Who Loses: Pluralism versus Elitism

Appendix. The Declaration of Independence

                 The Constitution of the United States


New to this edition

New cases have been added to this edition, including:

  • Google: The Rise of a Washington Lobby
  • Obama's Online 2012 Reelection Campaign
  • Controlling Global Warming - The Climate Bill Fighting Terror
  • Guarding Liberties

Coverage has been updated to include the following topics:

  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Fundraising in 2012
  • Citizens United and the End of Campaign Reform
  • The Patriot Act and Wiretapping
  • Guantanamo, Congress and Obama
  • Recent Elections: Whose Realignment
  • New Cases on Freedom of Speech
  • Polarized Parties: The Growth of Partisans
  • The SEC and the Bernie Madoff Scandal
  • Budget Deadlocks and Sequesters
  • Obama's Lite-News Strategy
  • Is there Life After Congress? Obama and Federalism
  • The John Roberts Court
  • Extension of the War Powers Act
  • Race to the Top Educational Reform
  • Presidents on the Limits of Presidents


Features & benefits
  • Promotes Critical Thinking - Boxed stories present engaging anecdotes and promote critical thinking on the American political system. Topics include President Obama's take on the Presidency; the Bernie Madoff scandal; the appointment of Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and the effect of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show on the political process.
  • Incorporates Real-life Examples - “Case Studies” in each chapter allow students to apply concepts to real-life scenarios and enhance their understanding of material. These range from "The History of Separate But Equal" to "Controlling Global Warming: The 2009 House Climate Bill" to "The Triple O" - Obama's Online Operation.
  • Engages Students with Chapter-ending Material - “Wrap Up,” “Thought Questions,” and “Suggested Readings” at the end of every chapter aid discussion and promote further study for students interested in the topics covered.
  • Provides Flexibility for Instructors - This brief and inexpensive book is an excellent choice for instructors who want to incorporate outside material—articles, readers, novels—into their course, but also ensure that their students still get the basics of the US politics.