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Overview The US and CA Constitutions Fall 2000 We turn now to a study of the basic institutional context or infrastructure of tbe US and California systems of government and politics It is important to remember that the political process is contextual It operates within a a complex socio-cultural context that includes such factors as our predominant values and the many regional as well as demographic variations b a basic socio-economic setting namely contemporary American capitalism in co-existence with an important but limited public sector social services and other public goods regulation The US Constitution A constitution sets down the fundamental formal rules of the game for a political system The US Constitution was the outcome of a search for a more perfect union than had been provided by the first fundamental law the Articles of Confederation Your text Wasserman ch 2 points to some of the impediments to an effective national government under the Articles They failed to provide for 1 a national executive - ie no president 2 a national power to impose taxes - ie financial dependence on the states 3 a national system of courts 4 a workable constitutional amendment procedure changes required unanimity among the 13 states There were several motives for seeking to strengthen the national government including a widely perceived need for greater domestic security and order increased international security and the benefits of promoting a nation-wide market There was also a countervailing element rooted in z widespread fear of a strong national government that could become too powerful and possibly even arbitrary In the end the Philadelphia delegates went beyond their mandate by not just revising the Articles but drafting a wholly new constitution - subject to a ratification process that involved some limited
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