Politics and Policy in States and Communities (8th Edition) by John J. Harrigan, David C. Nice (Pearson Longman) An old curse says, "May you live in interesting times." The past few years have certainly been interesting for the United States, and much of what has made it interesting has affected state and local governments all over the country. The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks posed an enormous challenge to state and local law enforcement, public health agencies, computer systems, and local airport authorities, among others. A sluggish economy, made more sluggish by the attacks and continuing uncertainty regarding future terrorist attacks, not to mention two wars, has caused many states and localities to fall short of their expected revenues. As a result, state and local officials are scrambling to raise additional money and/or trim program spending.
State and local governments play a major role in all of the domestic policy issues facing the United States. States and localities have gained a more prominent role over the past two decades, in part because the federal government has provided less leader-ship in some areas of domestic policy and there was no other governmental arena to which to turn. But they are doing so also because of four vital threads that have woven through the fabric of American domestic politics in recent years:
These four themes play important roles in Politics and Policy in States and Communities. Examples of the four themes abound.
Item: During the early and middle years of the twentieth century, many critics drew attention to the weaknesses of state and local governments. However, reformers have worked to modernize and upgrade state and local governments across the country and, in the process, strengthened their abilities to deal with complex policy problems. Today the talk is of rejuvenating government and, as we shall see, of "reinventing" government. Some of the most exciting political leaders around the nation are emerging from state politics. (President Bill Clinton, for example, came to prominence as governor of Arkansas, and President George W. Bush gained recognition as governor of Texas before being elected to the presidency).
Item: States and municipalities have gone into the economic development business in a big way in recent years. They seek to stimulate business activity to create more jobs, attract new industries, and keep existing ones. This has sparked an intense interstate and interregional competition for corporate investment dollars. When General Motors decided to build a factory to manufacture a new automobile called the Saturn, over half the states offered packages to GM in their competition to get the site of the new Saturn plant.
Item: In 1960, a prominent scholar published a book lamenting the end of ideology. Today ideology is alive and well in state and community politics (too alive, in some people's judgment). On virtually every major domestic issue area (education, social welfare, crime, infrastructure, regulation) political leaders divide themselves into a variety of ideological positions on the left-right spectrum, which we will examine shortly.
Rejuvenation of state and local government, the role of those governments in state political economies, and the influence of political ideology and values in state and community politics are the unifying themes of this book. Rejuvenation of state and local government is particularly the dominant theme for Chapters 2 through 11, which deal with the institutions and processes of state and local politics. Political ideology is most relevant in the material for Chapters 12 through 17, which deal with the major policy areas confronting state and local governments (finance, crime, education, social welfare, infrastructure, environmental protection, and economic development). The object of examining the ideological aspect of these issue areas is twofold: (1) to help the reader better understand his or her own value orientations toward these issues and (2) to provide conceptual tools that the reader can use to evaluate these issues as they arise in the reader's own community. The theme of political economy is relevant in several chapters of the book but nowhere more directly than in Chapter 17, which discusses the role that state and local governments play in promoting economic development. Finally, today's great social conflicts over ethnicity and gender will surface in a great many chapters ranging from legislative representation in Chapter 8 to affirmative action in Chapter 10.
Important features of this edition of Politics and Policy in States and Communities:
Politics and Policy in States and Communities contains numerous pedagogical features that aid the instructor in teaching the course and help the student in learning the material:
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