Crash Course Government and Politics


  • Introduction | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which Craig Benzine introduces a brand new Crash Course about U.S. Government and Politics! This course will provide you with an overview of how the government of the United States is supposed to function, and we'll get into how it actually does function. The two aren't always the same thing. We'll be learning about the branches of government, politics, elections, political parties, pizza parties, and much, much more!

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Bicameral Congress | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which Craig Benzine teaches you about the United States Congress, why it's bicameral, and what bicameral means. Learn what the senate and house of representatives are for, some of the history of the institutions, and just how you can become a representative. It's not that easy.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which Craig Benzine teaches you about the U.S. government's separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. In theory, the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch are designed to keep each other in check, and to keep any branch from becoming too powerful. In reality, the system was designed to keep the president from becoming some kind of autocrat. For the most part, it has worked.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Federalism | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which Craig Benzine teaches you about federalism, or the idea that in the United States, power is divided between the national government and the 50 state governments. Craig will teach you about how federalism has evolved over the history of the U.S., what powers are given to the federal government, and what stuff the states control on their own.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Constitutional Compromises | Crash Course Government and Politics

    The United States didn't always have its current system of government. Actually, this is its second attempt. Craig will delve into the failures (and few successes) of the Articles of Confederation, tell you how delegates settled on a two-house system of representation, discuss the issues of slavery and population that have been embedded into our constitution, and how federalists and anti-federalist opposition provided the U.S. with a Bill of Rights.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Congressional Elections | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In this episode, Craig Benzine talks about the importance of elections. He isn't going to focus on presidential elections, but instead those of the strongest part of our government: congressional elections. Craig will talk about the frequency of elections in the Senate and House, typical characteristics of a candidate, and the motivating factors that our congresspeople follow to get re-elected.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Congressional Committees | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In this episode, Craig Benzine discuses the role of committees in congress. We'll talk about standing committees, joint committees, conference committees, and caucuses (and not the candidate-choosing kinds), as well as the staff agencies that help advise these committees and congresspeople. As most bills never even make it to the house and senate floors for a vote, the role of committees, and their respective chairpersons as gatekeeper, is pretty important.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Congressional Leadership | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In this episode, Craig Benzine explores the leadership structure of congress. We'll break out the clone machine to examine the responsibilities of the speaker of the house, the majority and minority leaders, as well as the majority and minority whips in both the Senate and the House. As the leadership heavily influences assignments to committees and acts as the primary point of contact with the media, they wield significant power in influencing the public dialog.

    Grades: 9-12
  • How a Bill Becomes a Law | Crash Course Government and Politics

    The process of how a bill becomes a law can be pretty complex. As if just getting through committee isn't difficult enough, bills have to navigate a series of amendments and votes in both houses, potentially more committees, further compromise bills, and even more floor votes, just to end up on the chopping block of the President. The President can stop a bill in its tracks with a veto, but a presidential veto isn't necessarily the end of a bill's life.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Congressional Decisions | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In this episode, we talk about the three motivating factors of congressional decisions: constituency, interest groups, and political parties. We'll break down how each of these factors motivate certain actions like case-work, public opinion polls, and logrolling.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Presidential Power | Crash Course Government and Politics

    Learn what the powers of the President of the United States are, as defined in the U.S. Constitution. From appointing judges and granting pardons, to vetoing laws and acting as the nation's chief diplomat on foreign policy, the commander in chief is a pretty powerful person, but actually not as powerful as you might think. The constitution limits presidential powers to maintain balance among the three branches of government.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Presidential Powers 2: Crash Course Government and Politics

    Learn about the presidential powers that are not found in the constitution - the implied or inherent powers of the presidency. We'll talk about how the president uses his or her power to negotiate executive agreements, recommend legislative initiatives, instate executive orders, impound funds, and claim executive privilege in order to get things done.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Congressional Delegation | Crash Course Government and Politics

    Congressional delegation is when congress gives or delegates a power to the executive branch through legislation. The president has a lot of stuff to do as the chief executive, and as much as Americans like to talk about personal responsibility, the president can't really do all this stuff alone because it's a huge job!

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Presidents Govern: Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which we learn how the president gets things done. Filling the role of the executive branch is a pretty big job - much too big for just one person. It's so big that the president employs an entire federal bureaucracy. In this episode, we focus on those closest to the president, like the vice president, the cabinet, and the Executive Office of the President.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Bureaucracy Basics: Crash Course Government and Politics

    Bureaucracies tend to be associated with unintelligible rules and time, but they play an important, though controversial, role in governing. From the FDA to the EPA, agencies are established to help the government manage and carry out laws more efficiently, to bring rule-making and enforcement closer to the experts.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Controlling Bureaucracies | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which we learn how bureaucracies are kept in check. In prior episodes, we discussed what bureaucracies are, and why they are formed. In this episode, we finish our discussion of bureaucracy by looking at methods that other branches of government use to manage power.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Legal System Basics | Crash Course Government and Politics

    Learn about the judicial branch of government. It's pretty easy to forget that the courts, and the laws that come out of them, affect our lives on a daily basis. How are court decisions made, and where does each law's jurisdiction start and end? What are the three types of law? Find out in this episode.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Structure of the Court System | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In which we learn about the structure of the U.S. court system and how exactly it manages to keep things moving smoothly. We discuses trial courts, district courts, appeals courts, circuit courts, state supreme courts, and of course the one at the top, the U.S. Supreme Court. It's all quite a bit to manage with jurisdictions and such, but it's important to remember that the vast majority of cases never even make it to court!

    Grades: 9-12
  • Supreme Court of the United States Procedures | Crash Course Government and Politics

    Learn about what happens when a case makes it to the Supreme Court of the United States (or SCOTUS). In this episode, we focus on court procedure. We talk about how to petition to get your case heard, how written arguments, or briefs, are made, what happens on the courtroom floor, and the variety of ways the SCOTUS issues opinions on cases.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Judicial Review | Crash Course Government and Politics

    In this episode, we discuss the Supreme Court's most important case, Marbury v. Madison, and how the court granted itself the power of judicial review. Judicial review is the power to examine and invalidate actions of the legislative and executive branches. It happens at both the state and federal court levels, but today we're going to focus primarily on the court at the top: the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Grades: 9-12

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