Political Science

DIRECTIONS: Choose any five of the following six essay questions and, for each one, write an essay that displays your thorough knowledge of the relevant course materials. Each essay will be worth up to 25 points toward the final course grade. (If you choose to answer all six questions, the lowest-scoring response will be dropped from the score calculation.) Your essays should be typed (or word processed) and double-spaced.

Please note: this is an “open book/open notes” examination; consequently, you should feel free to use your class notes and course readings (including those found on the course Canvas site) when completing this assignment. You may not, however, use external on-line sources (such as Google or Wikipedia) as aids;


1. Explain John Locke’s notion of a social contract and its importance to the study of American government. (In your answer, be sure to discuss Locke’s ideas about where our fundamental rights come from, why we have government, what the appropriate limits are on governmental power and what should happen if the government violates fundamental rights.)

2. What is the “separation of powers”? According to The Federalist No. 51, how is it supposed to work in the American constitutional system? In your view, does the constitutional separation of powers actually work today in the way that James Madison envisioned? Why or why not? (Be sure to explain your answer!)

3. Compare and contrast the national government’s structure and powers under the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution. What are the major ways in which they are similar? How are they different? (Be specific!)

4. Compare and contrast the “national supremacy” and “dual federalism” approaches to federalism. What are the main assumptions or ideas underlying each approach? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

5. One of Congress’ enumerated powers is the power to regulate ‘commerce among the several states.’ Why is an understanding of this power so important in studying American government? (Be sure to explain your point and to illustrate your answer with specific cases as appropriate.)

6. What is the “Wickard aggregation theory”? Why is it important in the study of American government?

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