Kellogg Community College logo


Review of Campaigns:


    1. Campaigns Last Longer

    2. Campaigns Have Become More Professional

    3. Media Costs Have Increased (Especially Television)    

POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES- ARE, the business', union's, trade organization's [et cetera] arm that is involved with shaping government to benefit their organization/member's interests.

SOFT MONEY- IS, monies raised to assist candidates indirectly, and therefore not subject to Campaign Finance laws. 

INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES- ARE, funds spent for or against a candidate by individuals or committees that are not directly tied to a candidate running, and therefore not subject to Campaign Finance laws.

THE IVORY TOWER OF INCUMBENCY: The Benefits of being in office when running for office favor greatly the "incumbent."



MAJORITY of Votes:  IS, 50% + one more vote. 

PLURALITY of Votes:  IS, the most votes regardless of the number.

PRIMARY ELECTION: IS, an election that allows the political parties to get behind "one best candidate" prior to the General Election.  

"OPEN" PRIMARY: IS, open to the non-party members 

"CLOSED" PRIMARYIS, closed to non-party members


 ELECTORAL COLLEGE: IS, a group of individuals (538) elected from each separate state, and the District of Columbia, who will choose -by vote- the President and Vice President of the United States

Remember, though there are no absolutes in political science, it is of the "highest unlikelihood "that a third party candidate will ever win the Presidency! 


Ever heard the phrases "separate branches," or "a separation of powers?" What about the concept of "Checks and Balances?"  YES?  Can you explain the concepts?   If not, don't worry, you've taken the right class.

In structuring the Federal/National government, somebody amongst the Founding Fathers did there homework. They took the "process" of how decisions are made (including how we make our own personal decisions) and broke this process down into five distinct components.  See Below:

THE POLICY PROCESS (ie. Politics Broken Down)

BUILD Policy (Formally)
ADOPT Policy
JUDICIAL POWER (Supreme Court):
EVALUATE Policy (Formally)


In laymen's terms: The Legislative Branch formally identifies problems (Builds), brainstorms solutions for the problem (Formulates), and ultimately chooses a solution (Adopts).  The Executive Branch carries out the solution adopted (Implements). The Judicial Branch will then apply the rules found in the Constitution and its interpretations to see if what was implemented breaks these rules (Evaluates).  

If you'll recall, Chapter 1 of the text discusses the principles of "inputs," "outputs," and "feedback."  In the above box I prefaced the step of Build and Evaluate with the term "Formally." To this end, the Legislature and the Judiciary do act "formally" (that's the authority you and I have given our government) -  BUT, you and I do a lot to both identify the problems around us, and evaluate the policies aimed at fixing those problems. This is what makes a Representative Democracy "Representative."  If I say this once, I might say it a thousand times, "You can whine all you want, but if the legislature don't see a problem. . . then there ain't no problem!"  Same holds true with the "Constitutionality of a law" and the courts. 

Getting back to our originally posed question(s), you now know the "separation of the three branches," AND, if you accept that each of those steps (Build, Formulate, Adopt, Implement, Evaluate) is a "power" then there's your "separation of powers!"  (By definition, POWER- is, the ability to cause change, or withstand it.)  As for the "Checks and Balances" these are found in the safeguards placed into the system that keep one branch from being "all-powerful." Many examples are listed in the text, but the best example of a Check and Balance between the branches is the process of the "Veto."  Though only Congress can create potential law, the President does have the ability to potentially stop the potential law from becoming policy (That's a lot of "Potentials").  The President can "check" the power of the Congress by "vetoing" a proposed piece of legislation, the Congress can "override" the veto with a 2/3 favorable vote in both houses, thereby creating "balance."  Other "Checks and Balances" include impeachment, judicial review, nominations, et cetera.  One should note that a veto does not directly stop "adoption" of a policy - it is a determination not to "implement" the policy put forth.

The text does a good job talking about the structure of the House and Senate, the leadership, their roles, and the relation with the other branches. For a real world review of these items at the state and federal level, click on the links below:

U.S. House

U.S. Senate

State House

State Senate

You and I have discussed how legislators get elected and the roles parties play.  And, as has been said before, where interests groups seek to put pressure on key officials, PARTIES WANT TO WIN GOVERNMENT!  If you're asking "what do you win?" The answer is EVERYTHING!  Remember, "politics- is deciding who gets what" and "government- is the people and institution that carry out this process (the 'policy' process)."  In short, if you win government then you get to decide who in society gets what (or doesn't get it).  Now, because the powers are distinct (Build, Formulate, Adopt, Implement, Evaluate), if you can control one, two, or all of these powers - then you've won (or at least "tied")!  

For example, let's say that there are people going to bed hungry every night (which there are), and you see this as a "Problem."  So, the liberal in you causes you to call your conservative Congressman and tell him/her to create a program where people get free food ("free?"),  but the Congressman (or a majority of Congressmen) don't want to raise taxes -because they believe the working man is taxed too much (which they are)- for a program that "doesn't break the cycle of poverty."   In other words, you see a problem, they don't, and like I said, "You can whine all you want, but if the legislature don't see a problem. . . then there ain't no problem!"

[Now, some states, and even the Constitution have provisions for the Citizens to challenge the great legislative powers of the law makers, called Initiatives (taking it upon your self to formulate legislation) and/or Referendums (putting proposed legislation before the public to accept or reject), which will talk about below when we discuss how a bill becomes a law.]

The only other thing I like to lecture on in this chapter is the process of how a bill becomes a law (and this is a  pretty ugly process.) First, lets look at it in written form. See below: [Note: The following is how a bill becomes a law in MICHIGAN, with few (very few) exceptions, this is the same process the Federal Government follows.]


1. A bill is introduced in either the Senate or the House. Sometimes identical bills are introduced simultaneously. The bill receives a FIRST READING in the House and a FIRST AND SECOND READING in the Senate (at which time the title is read). Then either the Majority Leader of the Senate or the Speaker of the House refer the bill to an appropriate standing committee (Education, Commerce, Health and Social Services, etc.). If the bill is a bud-get bill or has fiscal implications, it will be referred directly to the Appropriations Committee or to an appropriate standing committee and then to the Appropriations Committee.

2. In committee, the bill is discussed and debated. Public hearings may be held. Not every bill in the committee will be considered. The committee may take several different actions:

• Report the bill with favorable recommendation.

• Add amendments and report the bill with favorable recommendation.

• Report the bill with the recommendation that a substitute be adopted.

• Report the bill with adverse recommendation.

• Report the bill without recommendation.

• Report the bill with amendments but without recommendation.

• Report the bill with the recommendation that the bill be referred to another committee.

• Take no action on the bill.

• Refuse to report the bill out of committee.

3. If a bill is reported out favorably or a substitute is offered, the bill is returned to the Senate or House where it receives a GENERAL ORDERS status in the Senate and a SECOND READING status in the House. The Senate resolves itself into the Committee of the Whole and the House assumes the order of SECOND READING. At this time, committee recommendations are considered and amendments may be offered and adopted. The bill then advances to THIRD READING.

4. Upon THIRD READING in the Senate, an entire bill is read unless unanimous consent is given to consider the bill read. In the House, the bill is read in its entirety on THIRD READING unless four-fifths of the members consent to consider the bill read. At THIRD READING the bill is again subject to debate and amendment. At the conclusion of THIRD READING, the bill is either passed or defeated by a roll call vote of the majority of members elected and serving OR one of the following options may be used to delay final action:

• Refer bill back to committee for further consideration.

• Postpone bill indefinitely.

• Make the bill a special order of business on THIRD READING for a

specific date.


• Table the bill.

Following either passage or defeat of a bill, a legislator may move to have the bill reconsidered. In the Senate the motion must be made within the next two session days; in the House within the next succeeding day.

5. If the bill passes, it goes to the other house where the same procedure is followed. If the bill is passed in the same form by both houses, it is ordered "enrolled" in the house in which it originated. It then goes to the Governor for his signature.

6. If the bill is passed in a different form by the second house, the bill is returned to its house of origin. If this house accepts the changes, the bill is enrolled and sent to the Governor. If the changes are rejected, the bill is sent to a conference committee which tries to resolve differences.

If the first conference report is rejected, a second conference committee may be appointed.

7. The Governor has 14 days after receiving a bill to consider it. He may:

• Sign the bill. The bill becomes law either 90 days after the legislature

adjourns sine die* or at a later date specified in the bill. If the bill has

been given immediate effect by a 2/3 vote of the members elected and

serving, it becomes law upon the Governor’s signature.

• Veto the bill (which would then require a 2/3 vote to override). See

No. 8 below.

• Neither sign nor veto, in which case the bill becomes law 14 days

after reaching the Governor’s desk unless the legislature adjourns

sine die within the 14 days. In that case the bill does not become law.

8. If the Governor vetoes a bill while the legislature is in session or recess, one of the following actions may occur:

• Legislature may override the veto by a 2/3 vote of the members elect-ed

and serving in both houses.

• Bill may not receive the necessary 2/3 vote and thus the attempt to

override the veto will fail.

• Bill may be tabled pending an attempt to override veto.

• Bill may be re-referred to a committee.

Yuck. . . Do know that the process of formulation (brainstorming) is highlighted by the amendment/substitution process.  To remember the difference between the two just think of the amendment as a "fine tuning" of a bill (in other words, the legislator[s] offering the amendment believes there IS a problem, but the solution [bill] offered needs just a little tweak), and a substitution as a "major overhaul" of a bill (in other words, the legislator[s] offering the substitution believe there IS a problem, but the solution [bill] offered is the wrong way to go about fixing the problem).  

Now lets take a look at this process in Diagram Form. See Below:  

Double Yuck. . . But that's the system. Do pay attention to the different types of "Committees" the text identifies, FILIBUSTER (IS, "Talking a bill to death." The traditional mode of delay used only in the US Senate, usually by the minority party.), CLOTURE (IS, The way to kill a filibuster. Takes a 60 Senator vote to pass.)  -as well as the structure of leadership in the House and Senate (Noting Minority v. Majority leadership). And that's it!

OH, and remember if needed, there are student resources available simply by clicking the link below.  


But be sure to read the chapter and not simply rely on this summary (it leaves too much out).

| Back to top of page | Email Instructor |


This page is designed and maintained by Jon Williams. 
Last modified date: 10/08/15
©2015 on Kellogg Community College