Public Opinion and Political Action Q&A

1. What is the position of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans in the American political and economic sphere?

African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are on the way to outnumbering all the Caucasian of European dissent in America. Despite having 22% African Americans below the poverty line, they have made many political achievements. When the voting rights act passed in 1965, only 70 African Americans held public office in the 11 Southern states. By the late 1980s, over 2,500 African Americans held elected offices. They have been elected as mayors in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The biggest minority now in United States are the Hispanics, who only after the 2000 census had outnumbered the African Americans. Hispanics are rapidly gaining power in the Southwest and cities such as San Antonio and Denver where they are being elected mayors. Over 9% of the Southwestern states had Hispanic representation in office. Hispanics are economically gaining more wealth but there is a big problem with illegal immigration. Asians, who are considered the most educated minority, are gaining great importance in society. Gary Locke is one of the few Chinese Americans who hold public office. Even though Asians are not very political in the United States, it is true that they are the super achievers of society and that is why 42% of Asian Americans over the age of 25 hold a college degree. Lastly the Native Americans who constitute a very small percentage of out country are the worst off. Before Americans had arrived, there were 12 to 15 million of them. This number has depleted all the way down to 210,000. Only a few Native Americans have found wealth and those are the ones that have opened casinos and discovered oil and other minerals. Native Americans hold almost no political office and are therefore not represented too greatly in American Society.

2. Evaluate the role of polls in democracy.

Polls are a key way in measuring public opinion and political information from the American Citizens. George Gallup had created the polling method. By using samples, and random sampling, polls figure out what the people’s beliefs are. Polls are a great way in estimating what a percentage of a population feels about a certain topic without making the answer too personal. One of the key problems in polling is that only a sample is taken, and this can account for the sampling error that is shown at the end of the polling process. Also polls cause a problem by wording questions differently in which results vary greatly. One of the most criticized types of polls that is conducted at the end of every election is the exit poll. This poll takes every tenth person and asks them how they voted before the polls to vote even close. This causes a major problem for democracy because it discourages people from voting if the percentages are not in their favor. Even though polls are not 100% efficient and are not always approved of, they are very important is political reform and forming public policy.

3. Identify the political beliefs that are preferred by liberals and conservatives

42 percent of America is considered conservative, 34 percent are moderates, and 25 percent consider themselves liberals. What do these numbers really mean though? The liberals in America are generally those of lower economic class. Liberals are mostly democratic. Their foreign policy consists of the beliefs that America should spend less on the military and give more to the poor people. Also they are less willing to commit troops in war. Their social policy supports freedom of choice in abortion and is opposed to prayer in schools. Their Economic policy, views government as a regulator in the public interest, and they feel that there should be a progressive tax so that the rich are taxed more. Liberals say that we should solve the problems that cause crime. African Americans and Jews are the biggest liberal groups. Conservative views are basically the opposite of liberal views. Conservatives generally support the Republican Party and try to benefit the wealthy. A conservative view is a more strict way of government, in which the people seems to be less open minded. Those are the general differences in government between these two groups.

4. Describe the difference between conventional and unconventional political participation.

Conventional participation includes many widely accepted modes of influencing government. These include voting, trying to persuade others, ringing doorbells for a petition, running for office, and other things along those lines. Unconventional participation is those things that wouldn’t be expected in actually participating. Some unconventional ways of participating in government are those activities that are more dramatic, including protesting, civil disobedience, and sometimes even violence. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Mahatmas Gandhi practiced unconventional ways of participation. Most of the time, these types of participation are used in worst case scenarios, when conventional ways are not working. Protest and Civil disobedience are two examples of what the important hero’s listed above had done in order to bring upon reform. Conventional and unconventional ways of participating are important in the development in out society. If people did not use both ways, then America would never get as far as it has today.

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