American Government : Constitutional Democracy Under Pressure book cover
2nd Edition

American Government
Constitutional Democracy Under Pressure

ISBN 9780367893484
Published December 15, 2020 by Routledge
384 Pages 88 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

American Government: Constitutional Democracy Under Pressure highlights the necessary tension between our constitutional principles and institutions and the populist heat that sometimes roils our national politics, especially at the current political moment. Our constitutional democracy has been under pressure for some time, but few would deny that fears for its fate have deepened in just the past few years. We assume that our political institutions will limit and contain contemporary populism, just as the Founders intended and as they have in the past, but will they? An increasingly polarized electorate, urging their representatives to fight and never to compromise, may be stressing Constitutional limits. This new edition offers to help American government teachers lead their students to a nuanced theoretical and practical understanding of what is happening in the politics of their Constitutional democracy today.

New to the Second Edition

  • Further develops and highlights the distinguishing theme of the book, "Constitutional Democracy Under Pressure," in light of Trump Administration events over the last two years.

  • Expands coverage of all media aspects including fake news, social media, responsible journalism, and related topics including foreign manipulation of the news.

    • Includes the most recent election results.

    • Addresses issues specific to the Trump Administration including unique coverage of the 25th Amendment, cabinet instability, election interferences, executive power and unitary action, and impact on the courts.

    • Updates in all tables, figures, suggested readings plus photo updates throughout.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1 The Revolution and The Constitution

    Chapter 2 Federalism and The American Constitutional Order

    Chapter 3 Civil Liberties: Democracy and The Expansion of Liberty’s Realm 

    Chapter 4 Civil Rights: Where Liberty and Equality Collide

    Chapter 5 Shaping Americans: Political Socialization, Public Opinion, And the Media

    Chapter 6 Factions Today: Interest Groups and Political Parties

    Chapter 7 Democracy’s Moment: Voting, Campaigns, and Elections

    Chapter 8 Congress: Partisanship, Polarization, and Gridlock

    Chapter 9 The Executive Branch: The President, The Bureaucracy, and Executive Power

    Chapter 10 The Federal Courts: Originalism Versus Living Constitutionalism

    Appendix A The Declaration Of Independence

    Appendix B Constitution of The United States

    Appendix C Federalist Numbers 10, 51, and 78

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    Cal Jillson earned a PhD from the University of Maryland and has taught at Louisiana State University and the University of Colorado, where he chaired the Department of Political Science from 1989 to 1993. He joined the faculty of Southern Methodist University in 1995 as professor and chair of the Department of Political Science (1995–2001). He is a member of the American Political Science Association and several regional political science associations. Professor Jillson has written a number of books dealing with the origins of the American political culture and the health and performance of contemporary American politics and political institutions. His recent books were American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change, 10th ed., 2019; Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy, 3rd ed., 2018; Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State, 7th ed., 2019; and The American Dream in History, Politics, and Fiction, 2017.


    This brief textbook highlights the tension between constitutional democracy and populism in American government, focusing on questions of constitutionalism. In this well-written book, Cal Jillson gets students to ask key questions regarding the dynamic, complicated relationship between contemporary populism and government institutions in an interesting and well-executed departure from his usual American political development focus.

    Mark C. Miller, Clark University

    This timely text is a fantastic resource for students and professors, focusing on the most pressing issue facing America today: the functioning of our constitutional democracy amid increasing partisanship, polarization, and populism. The book is well-written, well-organized, and well-focused on the concepts, theories, and history that will allow students to engage the big questions of the modern day.

    Morgan Hazelton, Saint Louis University

    Cal Jillson’s new brief textbook is outstanding. With a well-researched, comprehensive set of historical analyses and effective writing style that is clear and flows well, it will be easy for American Government students to follow. I will surely use it in the future, and highly recommend it!

    Benjamin J. Kassow, University of North Dakota

    In American Government: Constitutional Democracy Under Pressure, Cal Jillson provides an accessible and engaging treatment of the U.S. federal government. Understanding the formal and practical features of the Republic has arguably never been more important than in the midst of these challenging times. Constitutionally designed to lean into the winds of change, the structure and flows of the Republic are wonderfully elucidated and explained by Jillson in this text.

    John W. Patty, University of Chicago