Is American Democracy Broken? Perspectives and Debates

Key challenges to American democracy in today's volatile political climate
  • Lectures 25
  • Video 4 Hours
  • Skill level all level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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Course Description

A Faculty Project Course - Best Professors Teaching the World

American democracy seems in crisis, as we face legislative gridlock, soaring deficits, negative campaigns awash in donations from anonymous sources, growing public distrust of government, and protest movements on the right and left on the political spectrum. This class provides an overview of competing views on contemporary American democracy and a fresh look at some key issues facing our polity, including campaign finance, the War powers, the politics of deficit spending, and the proper policy-making role of the courts.

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  • Over 25 lectures and 3.5 hours of content!

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Curriculum

Course Introduction
01:10
Section 1: Overview
05:59

In this lecture, I will give you an overview of the course and frame the questions and structure of our class.

Lecture Slides
3 slides
Glossary Of Key Terms
1 page
Section 2: What is American Democracy?
Introduction
01:18
13:36

In this lecture, we develop working definitions to get the lay of the land and create a foundation to build a more systematic understaning of competing images of American democracy. In particular, we will look at "direct" democracy, "representativte" democracy, and majority rule.

Lecture Slides
9 slides
Substantive Definitions of Democracy
11:16
Lecture Slides
4 slides
What is American Exceptionalism?
17:56
Lecture Slides
9 slides
Section 3: Competing Images of American Democracy in Practice
Introduction
08:38
Stratificationism: A Closer Look
21:13
Lecture Slides
7 slides
Pluralism: A Closer Look
17:57
Lecture Slides
6 slides
Hyperpluralism: A Closer Look
14:31
Lecture Slides
6 slides
10:08

This lectures sums up our discussion on stratificationism, pluralism, and hyperpluralism.

NOTE: Please forgive the audio! At some points, the audio becomes distorted but you should still be able to hear what I am saying.

Lecture Slides
6 slides
Section 4: Contemporary Issues in American Democracy
Introduction
00:53
Campaign Finance
08:33
The Deficit
12:15
Judicial Review
10:09
The War Powers - Concluding Lecture
08:19

Instructor Biography

Jeb Barnes , Associate Professor of Political Science - University of Southern California

After receiving his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, Jeb clerked for a federal bankruptcy judge and then practiced as a commercial litigator in Boston and San Francisco. In 1994, he left the practice of law to pursue a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. His research centers on the intersection between law and politics and how policy emanates from interactions among the various levels and branches of government.

His research has been published peer-reviewed articles in a variety of journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, and Annual Review of Political Science, and three books: Dust-Up: Asbestos Litigation and the Failure of Commonsense Policy Reform (2011), Overruled? Legislative Overrides, Pluralism, and Contemporary Court-Congress Relations (2004), and a co-edited volume, Making Policy, Making Law: An Interbranch Perspective (2004). He has been invited to present his work in a wide range of academic and professional settings, including Oxford University, Northwestern University, the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Aspen Institute, and the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

At USC, he is a Distinguished Dornsife Faculty Fellow and has won numerous awards, including a departmental teaching award, a general education teaching award, the Gamma Sigma Alpha Professor of the Year Award, and the Raubenheimer Award for outstanding junior faculty.

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Reviews

Average Rating
4.7
Details
  1. 5 Stars
    19
  2. 4 Stars
    3
  3. 3 Stars
    1
  4. 2 Stars
    1
  5. 1 Stars
    0
    • Tjstob Stob

    This course was very well organized. And, I particularly liked the built in reviews when moving on to new segments

    • Don Astor

    Great Job by Prof Barnes

    Prof Jeb Barnes did a great job in this course. He identifies some basic problems, and gives clear definitions of American politics. He presents multiple views of how to tackle some of these problems. He does a superb job of educating others on government. He connects with the audience well, and makes us consider new ideas. Five (5) Stars on delivering a challenging course.

    • Clayton A. Feldman, MD

    Bruised, But not Broken

    One can perhaps again begin to think there is a bit of hope left for our political system, using the tools provided in this short but very useful course that show that in the way American Democracy was framed, it is exceptional in design, intentionally fragmented and probably still functional. Good Show! Clayton A. Feldman, MD

    • Tzu-Hao Chen

    This course provides me a short but clear introduction of American Democracy!

    • Douglas Karo

    Diagnosing the Contemporary American Political System

    Clear, concise, informative, and suggestive of ways to think about our political system and its operation. Not much good news unless you find yourself a winner.

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