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Principles and Practice of American Politics

Principles and Practice of American Politics
Classic and Contemporary Readings

Eighth Edition
Edited by:

September 2024 | 664 pages | CQ Press
Combining timeless readings with cutting-edge, current selections, Principles and Practice of American Politics effectively animates today's institutions and political arrangements in the study of American Government and politics. Each selection is artfully framed by contextual headnotes, and many of the readings are written specifically for the volume.

The Eighth Edition includes readings that present institutions of majority rule, the nature of racial discrimination, the proper role of the court, and other issues that provide students an opportunity to think through and discuss their views on the future direction of American civic life.

About The Editors
Chapter 1. Designing Institutions
1-1 From The Logic of Collective Action

Mancur Olson Jr.
1-2 Governing the Commons

Elinor Ostrom
1-3 What is Political Science For?

Jane Mansbridge
Chapter 2. The Constitutional Framework
2-1 Federalist No. 10

James Madison
2-2 Federalist No. 51

James Madison,
2-3 “The True Principles of Republican Government”: Reassessing James Madison’s Political Science

Samuel Kernell
Chapter 3. Federalism
3-1 Federalism: Sorting Out Who Does What

Donald F. Kettl
3-2 How America’s “Devolution Revolution” Reshaped Its Federalism

Thad Kousser
Chapter 4. Civil Rights
4-1 Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)

Supreme Court of the United States
4-2 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

Supreme Court of the United States,
4-3 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)

Supreme Court of the United States,
4-4 Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023)

Supreme Court of the United States
4-5 Racial Authoritarianism in U.S. Democracy

Weaver and Prowse
Chapter 5. Civil Liberties
5-1 Free Speech and National Security

Geoffrey R. Stone
5-2 Roe v. Wade (1973)

Supreme Court of the United States,
5-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022)

Supreme Court of the United States
5-4 The Real World of Constitutional Rights: The Supreme Court and the Implementation of the Abortion Decisions

Gerald N. Rosenberg
Chapter 6. Congress
6-1 Legislating in Polarized Times

Sarah A. Binder
6-2 Insecure Majorities: Congress and the Perpetual Campaign

Frances E. Lee
6-3 Beneath the Surface: Partisanship, Bipartisanship, and Committee Activity

Steven S. Smith
6-4 Disrupted: The Appropriations Process, Partisan Polarization, and Partisanship

Steven S. Smith
6-5 Diversifying: Gender, Race, and Congressional Representation

Steven S. Smith
6-6 Why 435? Reapportionment and the Size of the House

Steven S. Smith
Chapter 7. The Presidency
7-1 From Presidential Power

Richard E. Neustadt
7-2 From Going Public

Samuel Kernell
7-3 Power without Persuasion

William Howell
Chapter 8. The Bureaucracy
8-1 The Rise of the Bureaucratic State

James Q. Wilson
8-2 Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms

Mathew D. McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz
Chapter 9. The Judiciary
9-1 From A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law

Antonin Scalia
9-2 From Active Liberty

Stephen Breyer
9-3 Federalist No. 78

Alexander Hamilton
9.4 On the Nature of Supreme Court Decision Making

Tracey George and Lee Epstein
Chapter 10. Public Opinion
10-1 Analyzing and Interpreting Polls

Herbert Asher
10-2 The Polarized Electorate

Alan I. Abramowitz
10-3 The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion

John Zaller
10-4 Democracy Hypocrisy: Examining America’s Fragile Democratic Convictions

Joe Goldman, Lee Drutman, and Oscar Pocasangre
Chapter 11. Voting, Campaigns, and Elections
11-1 Voter turnout, 2018-2022

Pew Research Center
11-2 No Compromise: The Electoral Origins of Legislative Gridlock

Gary C. Jacobson
11-3 Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government

Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels
11-4 Election Reform: Past, Present, and Future

Richard Hasen
Chapter 12. Political Parties
12-1 From Why Parties?

John H. Aldrich
12-2 Doom-Loop Partisanship

Lee Drutman
12-3 Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity

Lilliana Mason
Chapter 13. Interest Groups
13-1 Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy

Richard L. Hall and Alan V. Deardorff,
13-2 The Growth of Corporate Lobbying

Lee Drutman
13-3 Democracy in America?

Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens,
Chapter 14. News Media
14-1 Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election

Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow
14-2 (Almost) Everything in Moderation: New Evidence on Americans' Online Media Diets

Andrew M. Guess
14-3 Local News, Information, and the Nationalization of U.S. Elections

Daniel J. Moskowitz
U.S. Const.
Appendix: Constitution of the United States

"Principles and Practice of American Politics is a well-balanced reader covering all the major topics of an American Government course."

Blake Jones
Ohio Valley University
Key features


  • Twenty-eight new and updated essays encourage students to reflect on the continuing debates in American Politics. This new edition includes the most widely read chapter from Governing the Commons, by Elinor “Lin” Ostrom, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Supreme Court opinions on abortion, school desegregation, free speech and national security, and diversity in universities, a set of short essays on today’s Congress, and new readings on political identities, bureaucracy, interest groups, the media, and election reform.


  • Chapters follow a consistent organization by introducing readers to the interests, rules, and strategic contexts of a reading’s political action in a major national political forum.
  • Each selection is artfully framed by contextual headnotes to make them appropriate for classroom use.
  • Original readings written specifically for the volume give the book a coherent treatment of the performance of U.S. political institutions.
  • Readings can serve as a supplement or standalone text. For instructors using this text as a supplement, the collection of selected readings will animate the institutional processes described in your core text. For instructors using this text as the core reading material for the course, the collection of selected readings can stand alone and do not assume more than an elementary knowledge of American government and politics.

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ISBN: 9781071847374