I'm Kenneth Janda, the principal author of Chapter 1, "Freedom, Order, or Equality?" The introductory chapters of some American government textbooks are skimpy; this one is meaty and needs close reading. It lays out two of the book's three themes, leaving the other theme for Chapter 2. Before telling you what Chapter 1 covers, I want to explain our philosophy in writing this book.
We did not want to write a standard textbook that simply describes American government by discussing its institutional structure, reporting major political events, and profiling key political figures. Such facts are soon forgotten when the course is over. Instead, we wanted to equip you with an analytical framework that stays with you long after graduation. Our framework for analyzing politics had to be brief, but powerful.
Politics is about conflict. For our first edition in 1987, we used just two themes to analyze political conflict. The first analyzed conflict over what people mainly want from government: Do they value freedom, order, or equality? I treated that conflict in Chapter 1 and still do.
The second theme explores what "democratic government" means from competing viewpoints. Jeffrey Berry discusses that in Chapter 2.
These two primary themes served us well through the first six editions of our text in the twentieth century. In the 21st century, however, foreign militants attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and China had emerged as our economic rival. With American politics enmeshed in global economics and politics, we introduced the secondary theme of globalization into Chapter 1.
Indeed, Chapter 1 begins by explaining what "the globalization of American government" means and how globalization affects politics in America. Because you will experience more "globalization" as life goes on, you should pay heed to this theme as it reappears in the book.
Most of Chapter 1, however, explains the conflicts among the values of freedom, order, and equality. All governments, it argues, restrict freedom. Nevertheless, citizens are willing to surrender some freedom to government in return for certain benefits. Originally, governments enforced order, which enabled citizens to live peacefully. Later, governments began to use their power to promote equality for the poor and disadvantaged.
The popular belief is that "conservatives" want less government while "liberals" want more government. Chapter 1 argues instead that conservatives and liberal differ mainly over the purpose of government. Conservatives actually want more government for the purpose of maintaining order, while liberals want more government in order to promote equality.
Chapter 1 concludes with a two-dimensional classification of political ideology that has places for "libertarians" and "communitarians" as well as liberals and conservatives. This classification reappears elsewhere in the book so study it closely. We hope you enjoy your reading.