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3 October 2010
AP Government and Politics

American Political Culture Terms

Man in a State of Nature - Man strives to get better then other men, therefore creating
competition and enemies. Everyman wants the same chance at getting what they want. Nature
makes man’s mind and body in sync and equal. Man is not very different from one another
according to nature, yet inequalities are what make men competitive with other men who desire
the same as they do. Politicians, just as Hobbes describes Man, will strive to achieve their end
goal and try to compete with other politicians.

Majority Rule with Minority Rights- The United States was formed with the concepts of
majority rule and minority rights as the central focus of a democracy. At each election, the
person with the most votes, 50% +1, is voted into office. In order to maintain balance, majority
rule must continually consider minority rights in a democratic system.

Culture War- is essentially the struggle to define America. It’s between the “Real
Americans” vs. the “Elitist Educated Snobs”. The term frequently implies a conflict between
those values considered traditional or conservative and those considered progressive or liberal.
Your world view determines where you stand in Culture War. Everyone has a world view:
educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, liberal or conservative. Your
basic beliefs form your world view placing you on one side of the Culture War.

Mistrust of Government- In the sources of American Political Culture, the time of the
American Revolution was brought about because of a preoccupation with natural rights and a
distrust of British authority. The British government was still ruling over America, when the
colonists left Britain for that very reason. The American Revolution happened because there was
no trust in the British government between the people and the state.

Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Results- Equality of Opportunity is when all


people have an equal chance to succeed in life. Whereas, Equality of results is when all is
rewarded regardless of effort. Equality of opportunity is affirmative action. It helps people to be
put all on the same level based on merit, but perhaps cannot get to that level themselves. Equality
of results can usually be measured with a great degree of precision, opportunities cannot. That is
why many proponents of equal opportunity use measures of equality of outcome to judge
success.

Meritocracy- It’s a system of government or other organization wherein appointments are


made and responsibilities assigned to individuals based upon intelligence, ability, and merit. We
are more willing to tolerate economic inequality than political inequality, because people do not
mind helping the needy, but not those who are capable of taking care of themselves.
Political Socialization- is the process where a person’s political beliefs are influenced from
their families’ own beliefs. These all influence in one degree or another an individual's political
opinions: Family, Media, Friends, Teachers, Religion, Race, Gender, Age and Geography. These
factors and many others that people are introduced to as they are growing up will affect their
political views throughout the rest of their lives. Most political opinions are formed during
childhood. A person’s own political belief is directly influenced by what other people tell have to
say about politics.

Protestant Work Ethic- Emphasizes on the necessity for hard work as a component of a
person's calling and worldly success and as a sign of personal salvation. If someone has a
Protestant work ethic, they are hard workers and “good” people. It is an established national
tradition that people with a Protestant work ethic save money, obeys secular laws, do good deeds
and have family values. This was the mold created of the perfect American, which ends up
leading to the differences people may have with these criteria and how it creates a culture war.

Shared Political Values- When people have similar or the same political values. When
people have the same values, they tend to unite and unfortunately, go against those who oppose
them. This bond ends up creating a party. All participants have the same views on political
topics; therefore, they work together in order for someone with their beliefs to run the country.
This essentially is the workings of the different political parties.

Horatio Alger- He was a prolific American author of boy’s adventure stories whose heroes
lead exemplary lives to Strive and Succeed in the face of adversity and poverty, good and evil.
His rags to riches stories show that with hard work and perseverance, one can accomplish great
things out of life. His characters coming from poor backgrounds battled all the obstacles that one
can encounter in life and instead of being a bum, the model American citizen is born.

Political Tolerance- People in a democracy must be respectful of other people’s opinions


and actions. Political tolerance is more complex than it seems. Most people dislike beliefs a party
supports strongly enough to deny it certain political rights, although many are unwilling to act on
those beliefs. Democracy can only exist when there is a perfect balance and harmony of political
tolerance in order to not have one side crushing the other one down. The United States as a
whole has become more politically tolerant over the past few decades. Tolerance is worn thin
during war times because one person’s intolerance may be another’s civic concern, which are
rooted in the basic moral values Americans have.

Rugged Individualism- It refers to a belief that individuals can succeed with minimal
governmental aide. It is generally considered a belief of the Republican party. Rugged
Individualism makes the individual American it’s focus. A key American political value,
individualism separates the people from the government, giving them a freedom needed. The
notion that all American’s should be capable to fend for themselves reflects nowadays on the
Republican party mindset. Whereas, Democrats feel that the government should be extremely
involved with the individual’s life.