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Edward Ashbee

This chapter focuses on the policy of the administration of George W. Bush for healthy marriage and the family. It suggests that, during the Bush administration, the issue of marriage was often discussed in the context of the same-sex marriage debate and that affirmations of the importance of marriage were usually coded calls for the prohibition of same-sex unions. The chapter discusses efforts to address and eliminate the marriage tax penalty and analyses the administration's establishment of the Healthy Marriage Initiative. It contends that the principle of promoting and strengthening marriage as an institution bolstered the administration's ties with established morality and had a particular resonance with active churchgoers, while provoking little opposition or hostility.

in The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
Edward Ashbee

This chapter examines the abortion policy of the administration of George W. Bush. Though Roe v. Wade remained intact during the Bush years, Planned Parenthood continued to be taxpayer funded and pro-life campaigners made significant progress. Legislative bills that were or would have been vetoed in the previous administration were passed into effect, including the ban on partial-birth abortion and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The chapter argues that abortion battles and the process of polarisation between pro-lifers and the pro-choice movement can, in part, be attributed to the character of the moral beliefs which surround the issue.

in The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
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The politics of morality,the 2004 presidential election and the Bush legacy
Edward Ashbee

This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the sex and moral agenda of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. The result indicates that Bush's emphasis on broad moral principles helped in rallying Republican supporters, and that his approach to moral politics reaped electoral rewards. The chapter explains the role of moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion in mobilising electoral support and in encouraging turnout among white Protestant evangelicals. It discusses the 2004 presidential election exit polls, revealing that 22 per cent of voters saw moral values as the most important issue facing the nation, and another survey which found that 27 per cent chose moral values as the principal issue determining the way in which they voted.

in The Bush administration, sex and the moral agenda
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Lessons for the Conservatives?
Edward Ashbee

This chapter considers the character of US conservatism during the 1990s and the different strands of opinion that emerged in the wake of the 1992 defeat. It also considers the factors that shaped the victorious George W. Bush campaign in 2000, and the implications of these events for the Conservative Party in Britain. Using themes drawn from the Republican governors and the Bush campaign, Duncan Smith argued that the language employed by Conservatives had to take a positive form and shift away from the expenditure cuts that welfare reform might generate. Bush's defeat in the 1992 election, therefore, led some observers to a very different conclusion to that drawn by Newt Gingrich and his co-thinkers. It showed that subsequent Republican candidates had to distance themselves from the more doctrinaire and radical forms of conservatism. The religious (or Christian) right was an important and integral component of the US conservative movement.

in The Conservatives in Crisis
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Edward Ashbee

Chapter 1 considers the background to the writing of the US Constitution in 1787 and the compromises that had to be made. It surveys the Constitution’s defining principles. These include separated institutions sharing powers, checks and balances, and federalism, but also counter-majoritarianism and constraints upon popular sovereignty. The chapter then looks at the Constitution’s individual articles, the powers that are assigned to each branch of government, and the institutional structures that were established, such as the Electoral College. It also discusses the Bill of Rights (along with subsequent constitutional amendments), the nature of the rights that it established and the extent to which these were, or in many cases were not, extended to all citizens. The chapter concludes by outlining contemporary conservative and progressive critiques of the Constitution.

in US politics today (fourth edition)
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Edward Ashbee

Chapter 2 details the powers of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. These include the passage of legislation, oversight of the executive, the capacity to declare war, the ‘power of the purse’, and impeachment. The chapter compares the two chambers and notes the defining features of both, in particular the rules requiring super-majorities in the Senate. The chapter assesses the process of partisan polarisation from the 1970s onwards and the ways in which this has inhibited the passage of legislation and the confirmation of federal court judges and federal government officials. The chapter suggests that Congress faces challenges if considered as a legislature and in terms of its record in scrutinising the work of the executive branch but has been much more effective in its handling of individual and constituency grievances in the states and districts.

in US politics today (fourth edition)
Edward Ashbee

The chapter surveys the powers assigned to the president by the Constitution and those de facto powers that have emerged over time. It argues that the president has, in particular, secured foreign and defence policy powers. This is in part because Congress is institutionally ill-fitted to take quick or proactive decisions. Although there were efforts to rein in the presidency in the wake of the Vietnam War and presidents have sought to secure Congressional backing for military action overseas, the White House still has substantial scope for unilateral action. Presidents are more constrained, however, if domestic policy issues are considered. Partisan polarisation has limited their capacity to construct coalitions in Congress and they have often had to fall back upon executive actions (most notably executive orders) which only offer some opportunities for reform and change. The chapter concludes by considering different presidencies and ways in which historical circumstances create regimes that have either constrained or empowered individual office-holders.

in US politics today (fourth edition)
Edward Ashbee

It was established as early as 1803 that the US Supreme Court, created under Article III of the Constitution, had the power of judicial review, allowing it to strike down laws or provisions within them if they were deemed unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, judicial review was extended to state as well as federal laws. The chapter considers the variables shaping the nomination and confirmation of judges, the history of the Court and the approaches that judges have taken to the process of constitutional interpretation. Whereas those on the left have invoked the principle of a ‘living constitution’ and argue that judgements should be made on the basis of the US Constitution’s underlying principles and implications the conservative right has argued for narrower forms of interpretation or a search for the original intent of the Constitution’s authors. The Trump administration’s appointments to the Court shift it decisively towards the right.

in US politics today (fourth edition)
Elections
Edward Ashbee

The chapter outlines the different stages involved in the process by which the US elects its presidents. It considers the primaries and caucuses as parties choose their nominees and assesses the claim that party elites have generally played a decisive role in determining the eventual victor. The chapter then surveys the character of the general election campaign that follows and the ways in which it is shaped by the Electoral College and leads to campaigns that focus on particular swing states. Alongside presidential elections, it also outlines Congressional election processes and stresses, in particular, the importance of incumbency in shaping election outcomes. The chapter concludes by assessing the variables shaping voting behaviour.

in US politics today (fourth edition)
Parties and interest groups
Edward Ashbee

There has been considerable debate around claims that the established political parties are in decline. Certainly, they no longer undertake some of the core functions they were traditionally associated with. Nonetheless, the Republicans and Democrats are still largely unchallenged and there are almost insuperable barriers facing minor parties. Furthermore, the major parties continue to be very important sources of political identity and they co-ordinate processes of government between the executive and legislative branches. The chapter also assesses organised interests and considers the factors (such as the resources they command) that give particular interests extensive influence within the political system.

in US politics today (fourth edition)