Why do policymakers select certain problems for attention and ignore others? Why do some policy ideas fail and other succeed? In addition to the President, Congress and Supreme Court what other institutions are influential in shaping public policies? How do policymakers design and implement policies? How do those policies ultimately influence the nation? Providing answers to these and other questions are the focus of this book. The practice of politics and policymaking is complicated, involving thousands of people in government institutions and the private sector. Although each public law and public policy has a unique history, Politics and Public Policy is designed to help students understand the larger patterns of the policy making process.

Living Room Politics

Living room politics

The United States is a representative democracy. American grade school children are taught that government and public policy are based on the consent of the governed. President Abraham Lincoln said that American government is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and every national leader before and after him has cited the “will of the people” to justify particular courses of action.

Debates about the proper role of citizens in guiding public policy date back to the founding of the nation. James Madison and other authors of the Constitution were strong advocates of democracy, but they did not believe that elected representatives should blindly follow mass opinion in determining public policy. Many of the Founders feared that ...

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