GOVT 2305 Unit 6


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Unit 6: The Executive Branch and Foreign Policy



A.  Read the following selections from the Margin Notes by clicking on each link.


B.  Watch these presentations. When you click on one of the links below, a new screen will pop up. Use the scrollbar on the side of the new screen to navigate. You need Adobe Reader to view PDF files.


C.  (Optional) Read the following chapters from the textbook.

Chapters 12 - 13 and 18


D.  The following Optional Links are designed to help you do better in your course but they are not required.

GOVT 2305 Critical Thinking Essay Rubric

A Guide to Evaluating Your Own Writing (PDF)

Google Arts & Culture's Tour of The White House

Video Clip: The History of National Emergencies (4:57)

Video Clip: Presidential Emergency Powers in the Constitution (4:13)

State of the Union Address (3 Clips)

State of the Union Note-Taking Chart (Google Doc)

State of the Union History (3:22)


Articles of Impeachment and the Senate Trial of President Trump:

Video Clip: Chief Justice Roberts Swearing-In (3:14)

Video Clip: Senate Receives Articles of Impeachment (6:12)

Video Clip: Speaker Pelosi Names Managers for Impeachment Trial (4:08)

Video Clip: House Votes to Impeach President Trump (5:26)

Video Clip: Senate Impeachment Trial Process and Historical Precedents (5:48)

Senate Impeachment Trials of the President (5 Clips)

Congressional Power of Impeachment (9 Clips)

Interpreting the Standard for Impeachment (8 Clips)


E.  Critical Thinking Essay (20 points)To Do Note

A critical thinking essay isn't difficult to write but it is a very structured piece of writing so it’s important that you read and follow the steps below in order.

  1. Read What is Critical Thinking? before you do any work on your essay. We cannot take the time to fully explore what is meant by critical thinking. You do, however, need to have some general idea what critical thinking means in order to write a good critical thinking essay.

  2. Read What is A Critical Thinking Essay? before you go any farther. A critical thinking essay is very similar to an exploratory essay -- a type of writing with which you may be familiar. It has a specific focus and a specific structure. Don’t try to wing this assignment!

  3. Look at your topic carefully and make sure you understand it. Try rewriting it using your own words but keeping the meaning the same


POWERAlthough most people associate the term politics with government and governmental processes, the term is actually much broader. Politics refers to power relations wherever they exist, including those in one’s own life. Every group is political, for in every group there is a power struggle of some sort. Weber defines power as “the ability to get your own way even over the resistance of others.”

For society to exist there must be a system of leadership and power. Authority is the legitimate use of power that people accept as just or fair. In contrast, coercion is the illegitimate use of power that people do not accept as just. Governments claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of power in a particular territory. Government also claims an exclusive right to punish people for violating its laws. The more its power is seen as legitimate, the more stable a government is. When people reject a government’s claim of power over them, it may result in revolution.


Topic: Do you think most power in America is legitimate and used only by those granted the authority to use it?



Be careful not to confuse the grant of power with the use of power. The president’s power is legitimate because we recognize it but what if he uses that power illegitimately? Your boss has the right to tell you what to do – that’s a legitimate use of power. But what if he/she requires sexual services of you? That’s not a legitimate use of power. The question you should ask is not do we recognize the legitimate right of people in certain positions to use power but rather do people in power use their power legitimately.

There is no right or wrong answer to the question posed by your topic. And I'm more interested in your rationale than I am in your answer. As an example, let's say you're writing a critical thinking essay on the death penalty. You start out in favor of the death penalty because you believe it has a deterrent effect but all of the research you find shows there is no deterrent effect. If you end your essay still in favor of the death penalty, that's okay. If you end your essay still in favor of the death penalty because it has a deterrent effect, that's not okay since your rationale is not consistent with factual information.

  1. Look at the information and research about your topic in the margin notes and presentations from your course and in the links below. Use the information from these sources to write your essay. However, do NOT use any direct quotes, citations or references from these sources. The essay is too short for direct quotes ... use your own words. As for references, I've given you the sources so I'll know where the information came from. (I've tried to give you a wide range of sources and opinions in the reference list below. Inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement of either the sources or the opinions.)

Authority and Coercion (PDF)

A Democratic Conception of Legitimate Political Authority

On Democracy

Liberty vs. Coercion: The Burden of Proof

Power and Democracy

Power, Democracy and Iran

Democracy and Power

For Richer

Governing Without Coercion

Democracy: Its Foundations and Modern Challenges

Socratic Ignorance in Democracy

Kishore Mahbubani: The Sermons of Cowards

No Coercion

Philosophy of Democratic Government

Democratic Policing

Power: Class, Status

The Original Meaning of "Democracy": Capacity to Do (PDF)

Democracy is Not Freedom

On Power: The Independent Institute

Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power

download free Adobe PDF reader

Online Databases: Some of the links above may take you to an article's abstract rather than the complete article. If you want to see the entire article but the site requires registration and/or payment, try your college library's online database. Almost all articles can be accessed through a database ... that's why colleges purchase databases for student use. Call your college librarian and ask for your username and password and for directions.

I do not expect you to use additional sources of information on your topic. If you do, you MUST cite and reference any additional sources using one of the following formats.

APA (American Psychological Association): regularly used by most social scientists

APSA (American Political Science Association): used (in conjunction with APA) by political science publications

MLA (Modern Language Association): not generally used by social scientists but if you are a humanities major you may be more familiar with this format

CMS (Chicago Manual of Style)

Turabian: a variation of the CMS

You can find style sheets and/or links for each of these styles on the Writing page, the link for which is at the top of the main Online Courses page.

  1. You may use any font and line spacing you wish when formatting your essay but the content of your essay must be a minimum of 750 words. You must also adequately cover your topic, though, and you may find it difficult to completely cover your topic in 750 words unless you are extremely concise. If you feel you need more length to cover your topic, you are welcome to write a longer essay. However, you are only required to write an essay the content of which is 750 (not 749) words in length. If the content (that does not include your name, type of assignment, citations, etc ... only the content of the paper itself) is not at least 750 words in length I will return your paper to you unread.

Your critical thinking essay should follow a specific outline. Before you begin the writing phase of your essay, read What Makes A Paper Good? and Critical Thinking Essay Format. The outline given in the second link is the one you need to follow in your essay. Too, take your time proofing your essay for spelling and grammar mistakes. If spelling and grammar are not among your talents, ask a friend who is good with spelling and grammar to proof your essay. “A” papers do not have spelling and grammar mistakes!

Under the Optional Links section at the top of this page, I have posted a link to my grading rubric for the critical thinking essay.


Essay Submission Instructions

By the deadline shown in the Course Schedule on the main page of the syllabus:

  • Send your Critical Thinking Essay addressing the topic given above in the body of a new email to

  • Put only your name and Essay at the beginning of your email.

  • Use the correct subject line.

  • Late essays will lose one point per day late, including weekends and holidays.



Copyright 1996 Amy S Glenn
Last updated:   04/06/2024 0830

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