AP US Government : Democratic Theory

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Democratic Theory

The democratic theory of minority rights is best illustrated by 

Possible Answers:

creating congressional districts that exclude the opposition party.

having electoral votes be the number of all representatives and senators.

creating congressional districts that ensure representation by specific groups.

enforcing a strict filibuster in all senate voting.

having a state's electors be given on a winner take all basis.

Correct answer:

creating congressional districts that ensure representation by specific groups.

Explanation:

Minority rights is a principle that even in a democracy ruled by majority voting, those people who are not members of the majority in belief, ethnicity, or cultural backgorund should not be shut out of the democratic process. While this is usually quite difficult to achieve, one method that can help is by creating congressional districts that are built around certain constituencies so as to insure they have representation.

Example Question #10 : Modern Impacts Of The Constitution

The American electoral system is frequently characterized as being "first past the post." Which of the following is true about this type of system?

Possible Answers:

The "first past the post" system results in lower voter turnout than other types of voting systems.

The "first past the post" system frequently leads to ambiguous electoral results.

The "first past the post" system requires nonpartisanship. 

The "first past the post" system usually marginalizes third parties.

The "first past the post" system is especially prone to electoral fraud.

Correct answer:

The "first past the post" system usually marginalizes third parties.

Explanation:

"First past the post" describes a system in which elections are won by the candidate with the most votes. This is in contrast to systems where, for example, numbers of representatives are elected proportional to the share of the votes their party received. Students who know this can ignore answers that are fundamentally at odds with the American governmental system, such as the "requires nonpartisanship" and "ambiguous electoral results" answers. Then, it becomes a matter of striking out answers which are not necessarily restricted to this type of electoral system ("low voter turnout" and "electoral fraud"). This leaves us with the correct answer, marginalizing third parties.

Alternately, students can contrast the American electoral system with say, the British system of proportionate representation and find key contrasts, e.g. the relative scarcity vs. abundance of third parties.

Example Question #172 : Constitution And Government Foundations

A system of government whereby a group of citizens attends a town meeting and vote on issues, with the majority prevailing, is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

representative democracy

direct democracy

a meritocracy

a republic

an oligarchy

Correct answer:

direct democracy

Explanation:

Direct Democracy refers to a system of government in which citizens directly vote on issues and the majority prevails. This is impractical on a national level, where there are millions of would-be voters, so a representative democracy, or a republic, is established where representatives are elected to "represent" the voting interests of the people.

Example Question #173 : Constitution And Government Foundations

Please select the most important and widespread Constitutionally-related shift that has occurred throughout American history.

Possible Answers:

Expansions of democracy

Heightened judicial activism

Increased Presidential power

The Electoral College’s loss of influence

Correct answer:

Expansions of democracy

Explanation:

While many Constitutionally-related changes have occurred over the span of American history, the most widespread and vital transformation has been the various expansions of democracy that have taken place. The abolition of slavery, suffrage for both African Americans and women, the lowering of the national voting age (to eighteen), the passage of civil rights legislation, and the direct election of Senators are just some of the most crucial ways in which more and more American citizens have gained increased democratic rights, influences, and freedoms. This Together with the nation and its people, the Constitution has continually evolved along these lines, often through the passage of relevant amendments (such as the Fifteenth Amendment which banned racial discrimination and the Nineteenth Amendment’s grant of voting rights to women). Further democratic expansions and changes are sure to come.

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