AP US Government : Impact on Political Functionality

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Impact On Political Functionality

What is ironic about Alexander Hamilton and James Madison's political careers?

Possible Answers:

Whereas Hamilton supported Federalism because he was from a large state, Madison supported Federalism despite being from a small state.

Although both wrote extensively about the rights of American agriculturalists, each man would later pass laws privileging merchants.

While both wrote together about the dangers of political factions, each would go on to found America's first partisan political parties.

Though both men supported the legal rights of white citizens, neither was concerned with the rights of black slaves or freedmen.

Despite early support for the American Revolution, both would eventually move to Europe.

Correct answer:

While both wrote together about the dangers of political factions, each would go on to found America's first partisan political parties.

Explanation:

Although James Madison and Alexander Hamilton would declaim political factionalism together in The Federalist Papers, Hamilton would later found the Federalist party and Madison the Democratic-Republicans. These two parties would go on to be bitterly partisan before the Era of Good Feelings, in which the Federalist Party dissolved. Students should be able to recall the basic political positions of Hamilton and Madison, particularly which parties they formed.

Example Question #2 : Impact On Political Functionality

Party Polarization occurs when __________.

Possible Answers:

one political party has an overwhelming majority in Congress and so is able to push forward easily with a political agenda

the voters of a political party lose faith in it and cause a realignment election

the majority of Democrats and the majority of Republicans agree with one another and are able to work together to carry out a political agenda

the members of a political party disagree with one another over an issue and thus hand control over to the other political party

the majority of Democrats and the majority of Republicans heavily disagree with one another over an issue and vote along party lines

Correct answer:

the majority of Democrats and the majority of Republicans heavily disagree with one another over an issue and vote along party lines

Explanation:

"Party polarization" describes a situation in which the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans disagree with each other on a political issue and where each member votes along party lines. This often leads to congressional gridlock, and it is one of the reasons many Americans are disillusioned with the political process.

Example Question #3 : Impact On Political Functionality

A divided government occurs when __________.

Possible Answers:

one political party supports a war and the other political party opposes it

the judiciary has a majority of judges who disagree with the laws being passed by the legislative branch

a president has been voted out of office, but must continue to fulfill the role for several more months

disagreements within the executive branch make it very difficult for the president to act with full control

one party controls the presidency and another party controls the legislative branch

Correct answer:

one party controls the presidency and another party controls the legislative branch

Explanation:

A divided government occurs in the United States when one party controls the Presidency and therefore the executive branch, and a different party controls Congress and therefore the legislative branch. Whenever this occurs, the president's term of office is usually marked by gridlock and political tension as each party tries to prevent the other party from fulfilling its agenda. It is usually considered an electoral indictment of the president if during his term the other party gains a majority in Congress because it suggests that the voting public is dissatisfied with the president’s work.

Example Question #4 : Impact On Political Functionality

What is the most central function of all political parties?

Possible Answers:

Undermining the opposition’s credibility

Raising funds 

Attracting loyal voters 

Winning elections 

Correct answer:

Winning elections 

Explanation:

At the most basic, intrinsic level, all political parties have one single goal in mind: winning elections. Victory is crucial to a party’s survival– without a solid record of electoral success (on the local, state, and federal levels), a party is incapable of holding itself together and carrying out the functions which are necessary for its existence. By winning elections, a party is able to hold on to its voter base, as well as to recruit new members, and is also able to amass funds, power, and influence.

Example Question #5 : Impact On Political Functionality

Which of the following best defines ticket splitting?

Possible Answers:

Frequently switching back and forth between membership in opposing political parties

Voting for whichever candidate seems best suited to the office, regardless of party allegiance

Voting for one political party to win one office and then voting for the opposition to win another position

Choosing not to vote because both parties’ platforms are too similar

Correct answer:

Voting for one political party to win one office and then voting for the opposition to win another position

Explanation:

Ticket splitting occurs when a citizen votes for one party’s candidate to hold a certain office but then casts a vote for the opposing party to win another office. This method of voting divides government positions between each of the two major parties, undermining attempts at dominance by either side. In recent decades, ticket splitting has become increasingly popular among the public, as more and more people grow discontent with both Democrats and Republicans and so split their votes in hopes of creating an even system of control. The two big parties feel somewhat threatened by this practice because it prevents any one party from feeling reasonably assured of total victory, especially on the state level.

Example Question #6 : Impact On Political Functionality

Which of the following is not one of the key roles which third parties play in the political process?

Possible Answers:

Recruiting new voters or re-interesting formerly disinterested voters in the political process

Forcing either one or both of the two main parties into obscurity and/or dissolution

Creating a space for dissent, dissatisfaction, and/or protest

Stealing votes away from one of the two major parties

Correct answer:

Forcing either one or both of the two main parties into obscurity and/or dissolution

Explanation:

In reality, third parties are hardly ever successful in their bids to win election; the Democrats and the Republicans simply enjoy far too much entrenched support to be at all easily dislodged. Third parties, however, do not need to win to order to still play a decisive role in the political process. A good third party candidate is often able to steal voters away from one of the two main parties, which can have a great influence on the election’s final outcome. Third parties also provide arenas where voters can safely express their anger or concerns against their government and where discussion of controversial issues or groups can take place. These features are often attractive to individuals who have either never before voted or who had stopped voting for a period of time, drawing them into the political sphere.

Example Question #7 : Impact On Political Functionality

Which of the following correctly lists some of the key functions performed by every effective political party?

Possible Answers:

Strictly controlling candidates and removing taints of controversy from policies

Breaking up coalitions, selecting Electoral College delegates, and dispensing patronage to loyal party members

Selecting candidates, running campaigns, and conveying policies to the public

Functioning as a watchdog against the opposition, assembling the party machine, and attempting to trigger a critical election

Correct answer:

Selecting candidates, running campaigns, and conveying policies to the public

Explanation:

In order for a political party to operate effectively, it must accomplish several basic but vital tasks: candidates must be vetted, decided upon, and promoted, campaigns must be put together and managed properly, and the public must be informed of the party’s ideas and platform. Without first attending to these matters– and attending to them in an intelligent and orderly manner – a party will find itself unable to perform any of the more complex maneuvers needed to gain an electoral victory. Parties must work diligently to establish a sturdy foundation if they and their candidates can ever hope to weather (much less triumph over) the tumultuous election cycle.

Example Question #8 : Impact On Political Functionality

Americans have historically preferred __________ party government.

Possible Answers:

divided

one

unified

authoritarian

inclusive

Correct answer:

divided

Explanation:

Historically, Americans have preferred divided government, where one party controls the executive, but voters typically vote the opposing party into the legislative. This may serve as an additional check and balance that the public invented themselves.

Example Question #9 : Impact On Political Functionality

Advocates of the responsible party model believe parties should craft an articulate platform and _____________.

Possible Answers:

be flexible to the will of the people

make decisions based on moral conscience

do what is in the best interest of the country

do whatever is necessary to stay in power

be held accountable by it

Correct answer:

be held accountable by it

Explanation:

The responsible party model argues that the party represents a platform of policy propositions that should be adhered to by the members of the party above any other concerns.

Example Question #10 : Impact On Political Functionality

Why might political parties shy away from taking strong policy positions?

Possible Answers:

Parties have no way to bind their elected officials to a party platform

Party discipline is too strong

Party membership is too moderate

Ideological differences within the party

The power of parties is limited by the constitution

Correct answer:

Parties have no way to bind their elected officials to a party platform

Explanation:

Political parties in America are decentralized and thus not centrally controlled. They cannot discipline nor remove party members who go against the party platform. Additionally, the American electorate is largely moderate, so American parties must attempt to be catch-all.

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