California Political Science

For this paper, students are to answer one of the questions below in a 4-6 page paper. Other topics are possible, but must be approved in advance by the professor. Please clearly indicate which topic you are addressing.   Why is partisan polarization in our legislature is so strong, despite California having “weak” parties? Explain this seeming paradox (possibly including denying one or both of those two assertions), drawing on course material from the relevant sections of the course. Please note the way this question is phrased: if you don’t explain the polarization or argue that the legislature is not polarized, you have NOT addressed the question asked of you. Political scientists and economists often refer to the “Law of Unintended Consequences.” A version of this would read: “making changes to systems often makes worse the problem that reformers were seeking to solve.” Pick one of the following (Proposition 140 (1990), Proposition 14 (2010), or Proposition 13 (1978)), and assess whether or not the Law of Unintended Consequences applies in the case you have chosen. In other words: did reformers get what they ultimately wanted?   The paper should be between 1200 and 1800 words (about 4-6 pages). The paper should adopt a conventional font and spacing, such as 12 point Times New Roman, with double-spacing and 1-inch margins. Papers should follow a consistent citation style, such as Chicago, MLA, or APA.  Plagiarism is a very serious issue, and will not be tolerated.   Research is necessary for these papers to the extent needed to answer a question or back up a claim. The second topic, for example, is an empirical question that lends itself well to be answered by assessing what supporters of these propositions wanted (for example, by looking at their ballot arguments) and then comparing it to what we know has happened since then. Both of those parts can be discovered through research; you can look at contemporary stories or the official ballot language for what supporters wanted, for example.  That said, all three of these propositions are covered in our readings and lectures as well. The first topic asks more that you draw from course materials, but research could still be appropriate for a number of different takes on this question. Again, our course readings address this topic, but whatever angle you take may lead to you doing more research.

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