California Government and Politics Today

write short responses (a few sentences for each) on at least five of these chapters.

Chapter 1:
1. Describe how California political developments have had an impact on the nation as a whole.
2. What does the author mean by “power blocs” in California politics?
3. How does our state government interact with the national government?

Chapter 2:
4. How does the author describe the geographic and demographic characteristics of our state? Why would this be important to politics?
5. What trends do you see in the California labor force? Why is this significant?
6. What does the author mean by “social and economic inequality”? Explain some of the advantages or disadvantages of living in a two-tier society.

Chapter 3:
7. What do you find most notable about the political history of California? What developments do you see that could have shaped the state we live in today?
8. Why is the “Progressive” legacy especially important to our state? (You might note how the brief description in the book is similar to what we learned in our textbook.)
9. How did California’s government progress in the twentieth century? How do you see this development in relation to national events we discussed in class?
10. What really stands out about our state Constitution?

Chapter 4:
11. Why does the author see the need for a delicate balance between freedom and equality? Explain how these two ideals could be in conflict.
12. Why is California often considered a very unequal society? Share specifics. In what ways do you think our state actually is a relatively equal society?
13. What is “identity politics”? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Chapter 5:

14. Describe how the mass media influences politics in our state. How does this impact the quality of our decisions?
15. Describe some of the “economic interests” in California. How do they influence politics?
16. How do interest groups have power? How can some groups be influential even if they do not have a lot of money?
17. Why is lobbying a high-skill career? (I know several. They are great people, mostly.)

Chapter 6:
18. Why are political parties important in California? How do they have influence? Do they help voters?
19. Why are nonpartisan political organizations important? Please give examples.

Chapter 7:
20. Why are elections important? Why do elections for many offices have more than one step? How are elections for local offices different from elections for state officials or legislators?
21. What sort of people run for office? What is involved in running for office?
22. What is Direct Democracy? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
23. What sort of people tend to vote? What sort of people tend to not vote? Why does this matter?

Chapter 8:
24. How does our state legislature seem very similar to the national legislature (Congress)?
25. Why are districts important in regard to our legislature?
26. How does the legislature do business? Why are committees especially important?

Chapter 9:
27. What powers does the governor have?
28. When we elect our next governor, what factors do you think we should consider?
29. Why do we have seven other officials in the state executive branch, besides the governor?

Chapter 10:
30. Why is the state budget so important? Why do ordinary Californians care about the budget?
31. Explain why the budget process is a two-year process.
32. Explain how voters have directly impacted the state budget. Is this a good thing?
33. What changes would you suggest in the budget process? Do you think it is realistic to balance the budget every year?

Chapters 11-12:
34. How is our state court system similar to the federal court system? Why is it important to have in independent judiciary?
35. How are judges chosen? Why do voters vote on judges?
36. Explain some key points that the author makes about our criminal justice system.
37. What is civil law? How is this different from criminal law?

Chapters 13-14:
38. Why is local government important? Do you think we should pay as much attention to local government as we do to state and national government?
39. What are the responsibilities of cities? Why is it difficult to do these tasks?
40. How is a mayor-council form or government different from a city manager form of government? (El Cajon, Santee, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove all have city managers.)
41. Why are counties especially important in California? What responsibilities do they have?
42. What are Special Districts? Why do we have them? Please give examples.
43. Explain the governance process for California’s elementary and secondary schools (K-12)?
44. Explain the governance process for California Community Colleges.

Chapter 13:
45. How does the author see the state’s economy, energy and environment as connected?
46. What challenges do you see in California’s future? How can you be a part of the solution?
47. Explain some of the ways that ordinary people can help shape our political future. You might consider some of the suggestions in Appendix A and Appendix B.

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