The Spirit of American Politics

  1. What is a republic? Are republics democratic? (4-5)
  2. Explain the meaning and differences of the four theories of power: pluralist, elite, bureaucratic, social movement (5-6).
  3. Explain the meaning of politics (6).
  4. Explain the four “I”s of the book (ideas, institutions, interests, individuals) (6-7).
  5. What does government do? (7-8).
  6. Who are we as a country? How does the millennial generation differ from others? (8-9).

A Nation of Ideas

  1. Explain the meaning of American exceptionalism (10).
  2. Explain the meaning of freedom. (11)
  3. Explain the meaning of negative and positive liberty (11-12).
  4. How has the idea of freedom changed? (13).


  1. Explain the meaning of self-rule and difference between a democracy and republic (14-15).
  2. Explain how the U.S. is a democratic republic (15).

Limited Government

  1. Explain the origins of the notion of limited government (16-17).
  2. Explain how the U.S. has a big government and how liberals and conservatives differ on their views of it. (17-18).


  1. Explain the notion of individualism and how it differs from the value of community and social democracy (19-21).
  2. Explain the origins of the American notion of individualism (21-22).

American Dream

  1. Explain the notion of the American dream? (24).
  2. How do Americans view the prospects of the opportunity to get ahead? (25)
  3. Is the American system tilted toward the wealthy? What does the evidence show? (24, 26).
  4. Does the American dream promote the wrong values? (26-27)


  1. Explain the meaning of equality and the difference between social, political, and economic equality (27-8).
  2. Explain how the level of economic equality in the U.S. compares to other countries (28-9).
  3. Explain the difference between equal opportunity and equal outcome.


  1. Explain the status of religion in American politics (31-33).

How Do Ideas Affect Politics?

  1. Explain the idea of political culture and the relationship between ideas, political culture, and political institutions (34-5).