Cornell University Political Science Questions

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Please answer the following questions 

Please respond to six of the eight essay questions posted below. You may choose any six you wish, just please number your responses to indicate which response goes with which question. 


  • Briefly identify and describe two different collective action problems that governments help solve, and provide a specific example of each situation in the real world. Why do societies face this kind of collective action problem? How is government able to help resolve each specific problem you discuss (both generally and in your example)?  Do you believe government’s use of power to resolve this problem of collection was justified and beneficial?  Why or why not?
  • How does the Constitution differ from the Articles of Confederation? (highlight at least three main differences) What problems does the Constitution solve that the Articles of Confederation was susceptible to? How? What problems did the Constitution, as ratified, introduce? Have these been fixed through amendments, or do you believe the US Constitution continues to have significant issues that need reform?
  • The United States is a representative democracy. Why did the Framers view this as necessary? What does Madison say about this in Federalist #10? Does Madison argue for addressing the problem’s causes or effects? Why? How do these mechanisms help limit the problem of faction? In your opinion, do we suffer from the problems of faction today?
  • We have a federal system in the United States. Highlight and explain at least two benefits of a federal system, noting why they are beneficial, as well as at least two drawbacks/problems caused by a federal system. Why are these problems? Drawing on these arguments, do you think a stronger national government would be better or worse? (Be clear about what you mean by “better” or “worse” and why — you might wish to consider the tradeoff between transaction and conformity costs, for example). Feel free to use examples from current American politics, including some of the policy areas we discuss to highlight your argument.
  • The role of the national government (relative to state/local governments) is (somewhat) clear in the constitution. Why has the national government expanded over our nation’s history? Make sure and draw on both historical and logical reasons, and describe particular pieces of the constitution that have aided in this expansion.
  • What were Jim Crow laws, and what were their two primary goals? How were these eventually largely remedied in the 1960s, and what are the Constitutional justifications for these remedies? How/why did federalism delay the extension of civil rights to various groups throughout American history? Despite these delays, how/why were these rights eventually extended? Make sure and note the role the federal government, social movements, and individual state governments have played in doing so. Make sure and note the difference between de facto and de jure segregation in considering the effectiveness of these remedies.
  • Why do we have parties? What roles do they play in a representative democracy? How can these roles be beneficial? How can they be harmful? Why does the US have only two major political parties? Make sure and describe the strategic behavior on the part of voters, politicians, and parties that explains why we typically only have two parties. Under what circumstances could we see a third party have some success? Why?
  • How have parties evolved over American history? Make sure and discuss each of the party systems and their defining characteristics, as well as what leads to the change to the next party system. Through these party systems, how has the face/shape of the party changed? That is, discuss what we mean by the party-in-the-electorate, party-as-organization, and party-in-government, and how power has varied across these groups. In your opinion, which do you believe is most powerful today? Why? Why are the others less powerful? In your opinion, which do you think should be most powerful?

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