Government The individuals and institutions that make society's rules and that also possess the power and authority to enforce those rules.
Limited Government A form of gov. based on the principle that the powers of gov. should be clearly limited either through a written document or through wide public understanding; characterized by institutional checks to ensure that gov. serves public rather than private interests.
Politics The process of resolving conflicts over how society should use its scarce resources and who should receive various benefits, such as public health care and public higher education. According to Harold Lasswell, politics is the process of determining "who gets what, when, and how" in a society.
Monarchy A form of autocracy in which a king, queen, emperor, empress, tsar, or tsarina is the highest authority in the government; monarchs usually obtain their power through inheritance.
Dictatorship A form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a single person who usually has obtained his or her power by the use of force.
Theocracy A form of gov. in which the gov. rules according to religious precepts. There's no separation of church and state.
Democracy A system of government in which the people have ultimate political authority. The word is derived from the Greek "demos" ("the people") and "kratia" ("rule").
Representative Democracy A form of democracy in which the will of the majority is expressed through smaller groups of individuals elected by the people to act as their representatives.
Ideology Generally, a system of polit. ideas that are rooted in religious or philosophical beliefs concerning human nature, society, and gov.
Progressivism An alternative, more popular term for the set of political beliefs also known as liberalism.
Libertarian Someone who believes in a smaller, less involved gov. in both social and economic policy.
Reactionary Don't want to change. Very, very conservative.
Radical Really want change. Very, very liberal (progressive).
The Mayflower Compact A document drawn up by Pilgrim leaders in 1620 on the ship "Mayflower." The document stated that laws were to be made for the general good of the people.
Confederation A league of independent states that are united only for the purpose of achieving common goals.
The Articles of Confederation The nation's first national constitution, which established a national form of gov. following the American Revolution. The Articles provided for a confederal form of gov. in which the central gov. had few powers.
Shay's Rebellion A rebellion of angry farmers in western Massachusetts in 1786, led by former Revolutionary War captain Daniel Shays. This rebellion and other similar uprisings in the New England states emphasized the need for a true national gov.
The Constitutional Convention The convention (meeting) of delegates from the states that was held in Philadelphia in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. In fact, the delegates wrote a new constitution (the U.S. Constitution) that established a federal form of gov. to replace the governmental system that had been created by the Articles of Confederation.
The Virginia Plan Favored large states. Called for: bicameral legislature (modeled after Parliament), national executive branch, national court system. Addressed the biggest issues with the Articles of Confederation.
The New Jersey Plan Favored small states. Proposed: each state would only have one vote, Acts of Congress would be supreme law of the land.
The Great Compromise A plan for a bicameral legislature in which one chamber would be based on population and the other chamber would represent each state equally.