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All OpenStax textbooks undergo a rigorous review process. However, like any professional-grade textbook, errors sometimes occur. In addition, the wide range of topics, data, and legal circumstances in goverment and politics change frequently, and portions of the textbook may become out of date. Since our books are web based, we can make updates periodically when deemed pedagogically necessary. If you have a correction to suggest, submit it through the link on your book page on Subject matter experts review all errata suggestions. OpenStax is committed to remaining transparent about all updates, so you will also find a list of past errata changes on your book page on


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About American Government 3e

American Government 3e aligns to the topics and objectives of many introductory American government courses. We have endeavored to make the government workings, issues, debates, and impacts meaningful and memorable to students while maintaining the conceptual coverage and rigor inherent in the subject at the college level. With this objective in mind, the content of this textbook has been developed and arranged to provide a logical progression from the fundamental principles of institutional design at the founding, to avenues of political participation, to thorough coverage of the political structures that constitute American government. The book builds upon what students have already learned and emphasizes connections between topics as well as between theory and applications. The goal of each section is to enable students not just to recognize concepts, but to work with them in ways that will be useful in later courses, future careers, and as engaged citizens. The organization and pedagogical features were developed and vetted with feedback from a diverse group of American government instructors.

Changes to the third edition

Because the discipline of political science looks closely at our nation’s people, communities, and systems, introductory government texts must remain grounded in scholarship yet attuned to current events and emerging issues. Updates include improvements based on feedback from users, including expanded coverage of historical content on civil rights, and current examples of issues regarding civil rights and civil liberties. The driving principle of these changes is to help students understand that government is neither distant nor unreachable, but that it has personal influences and human impacts. The authors and reviewers sought to confront and illuminate the negative and hurtful aspects of our nation and its history, while demonstrating societal and individual progress. In doing so, the approach seeks to provide instructors with ample opportunities to open discussions, extend and update concepts, and drive deeper engagement.

In addition to ensuring data is as current as possible across the book’s narrative text, graphs and charts have been revised for currency as appropriate. Throughout the book, examples, illustrations, and photographs on selected topics have been updated to ensure they are timely and relevant to students today. American Government 3e incorporates the transition to a new administration in 2021 and associated changes across branches, as well as ongoing and recent societal issues. The COVID-19 pandemic is referenced frequently, providing additional opportunities for students to share their own stories, and for instructors to lead into more current government actions and outcomes. The revisions are focused on careful and balanced treatment of the events and developments of recent years, and the manner in which those developments connect to core concepts.

Engaging features

Throughout American Government 3e, you will find features that engage students by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:

  • Get Connected! This feature shows students ways they can become engaged in the U.S. political system. Follow-up may include an activity prompt or a discussion question on how students might address a particular problem.
  • Finding a Middle Ground. This feature highlights a tradeoff or compromise related to the chapter’s content area. Follow-up questions guide students to examine multiple perspectives on an issue, think critically about the complexities of the topic, and share their opinions.
  • Insider Perspective. This feature takes students behind the scenes of the governmental system to see how things actually work. Follow-up questions ask students for their reaction to this peek inside the “black box” of politics.
  • Link to Learning. This feature provides a very brief introduction to a website that is pertinent to students’ exploration of the topic at hand. Included in every module, Link to Learning boxes allow students to connect easily to the most current data on ever-changing content such as poll research, budget statistics, and election coverage.
  • Milestone. This feature looks at a key historical moment or series of events in the topic area. Follow-up questions link the milestone to the larger chapter theme and probe students’ knowledge and opinions about the events under discussion.

Effective art program

Our art program is designed to enhance students’ understanding of concepts through clear and effective statistical graphs, tables, and photographs.

A chart showing the political affiliations of young Americans. Under the question “When it comes to voting, with which party do you consider yourself to be affiliated?” 40% responded “Democrat” with 22% as “Strong Democrat” and 18% as “not a strong Democrat”. 37% responded “Independent”, with 10% as “Leans Democrat”, 21% as “does not lean either way”, and 5% as “leans Republican”. 21% responded “Republican” with 10% as “not a strong Republican”, and 11% as “Strong Republican”. Under the question “When it comes to most political issues, do you think of yourself as a…?” 32% responded “liberal”, 9% responded “moderate-leaning liberal”, 27% responded “moderate”, 8% responded “moderate-leaning conservative”, and 24% responded “conservative”. A series of three pie charts titled “U.S. 117th Congress by Gender, Race, and Religion”. The leftmost pie chart shows two slices, one labeled “Male 73.3%” and one labeled “Female 26.7%””. The middle pie chart shows two slices, one labeled “White 76.1%” and one labeled “Black 11%, Hispanic 8.6%, “Asian American 3.2%, and Native American 1.1%”. The rightmost pie chart shows two slices, one labeled “Christian 88.1%” and one labeled “Jewish 6.2%, Buddhist 0.4%, Muslin 0.6%, Hindu 0.4%, Unitarian Universalist 0.6%, Unaffiliated 0.2%, Don’t know/refused 3.4%”.  At the bottom of the charts, sources are listed: Pew Research Center. Blazina, Carrie and Drew Desilver. “A Record Number of Women Are Serving in the 117th Congress.” January 15, 2021. Pew Research Center. Schaeffer, Katherine. “Racial, Ethnic Diversity Increases Yet Again with the 117th Congress.” January 28, 2021. Pew Research Center. “Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 117th Congress.” January 4, 2021. A chart titled “Appointments of the Current Supreme Court Justices”. A horizontal timeline runs through the center of the chart. Starting from the left, the first point marked on the line is labeled “Clarence Thomas, Appointed by George H. W. Bush in 1991”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative. The second point is labeled “Stephen Breyer, Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994”. The label is colored blue to indicate liberal. The third point is labeled “John Roberts (Chief), Appointed by George W. Bush in 2005”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative. The fourth point is labeled “Samuel Alito, Appointed by George W. Bush in 2006”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative. The fifth point is labeled “Sonia Sotomayor, Appointed by Barack Obama in 2009”. The label is colored blue to indicate liberal. The sixth point is labeled “Elena Kagan, Appointed by Barack Obama in 2010”. The label is colored blue to indicate liberal. The seventh point is labeled “Neil Gorsuch, Appointed by Donald Trump in 2017”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative. The eighth point is labeled “Brett Kavanaugh, Appointed by Donald Trump in 2018”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative. The ninth point is labeled “Amy Coney Barrett, Appointed by Donald Trump in 2020”. The label is colored red to indicate conservative.

Module materials that reinforce key concepts

  • Learning Objectives. Every module begins with a set of clear and concise learning objectives. These objectives are designed to help the instructor decide what content to include or assign, and to guide students with respect to what they can expect to learn. After completing the module and end-of-module exercises, students should be able to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.
  • Summaries. Section summaries distill the information in each module for both students and instructors down to key, concise points addressed in the section.
  • Key Terms. Key terms are in bold and are followed by a definition in context. Definitions of key terms are also listed in the Glossary, which appears at the end of the chapter.
  • Assessments. Multiple-choice and short-answer Review Questions provide opportunities to recall and test the information students learn throughout each module. End-of-chapter Critical Thinking Questions encourage deeper reflection on the chapter concepts and themes.
  • Suggestions for Further Study. This curated list of books, films, and online resources helps students further explore the chapter topic.

Answers to Questions in the Book

Students are provided the answers for the odd-numbered Review Questions. In order to allow instructors as much flexibility as possible, even-numbered answers and all Critical Thinking Question answers are provided only to instructors via the instructor resources.

Additional resources

Student and instructor resources

We’ve compiled additional resources for both students and instructors, including Getting Started Guides, PowerPoint slides, and an instructor answer guide. Instructor resources require a verified instructor account, which you can apply for when you log in or create your account on Take advantage of these resources to supplement your OpenStax book.

Community hubs

OpenStax partners with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to offer Community Hubs on OER Commons—a platform for instructors to share community-created resources that support OpenStax books, free of charge. Through our Community Hubs, instructors can upload their own materials or download resources to use in their own courses, including additional ancillaries, teaching material, multimedia, and relevant course content. We encourage instructors to join the hubs for the subjects most relevant to your teaching and research as an opportunity both to enrich your courses and to engage with other faculty.

To reach the Community Hubs, visit OER Commons.

Technology partners

As allies in making high-quality learning materials accessible, our technology partners offer optional low-cost tools that are integrated with OpenStax books. To access the technology options for your text, visit your book page on

About the authors

Senior contributing authors

Glen Krutz (Content Lead), Oklahoma State University
Dr. Glen Krutz received his BA and MPA from the University of Nevada–Reno, and his PhD from Texas A&M University. He currently serves as Professor of Political Science, Puterbaugh Foundation Chair, and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Krutz previously held academic appointments at Arizona State University and the University of Oklahoma. He has taught American Government to countless students over the years. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Krutz worked in politics and policy, as a campaign assistant and then Capitol Hill aide to a U.S. senator, and as a research analyst for what would become the Nevada System of Higher Education. An award-winning teacher and researcher, he has authored and co-authored several books, and his work has appeared in numerous leading journals. Dr. Krutz’s current research probes questions of public policy agenda-setting in democratic political institutions, especially Congress.

Sylvie Waskiewicz (Lead Editor), PhD
Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Institute of French Studies at New York University. With a specialization in Franco-American relations and over ten years of teaching experience at the university level, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spent the last nine years editing college textbooks and academic journals in the humanities, social sciences, and world languages.

Contributing authors

Prosper Bernard, Jr., City University of New York
Jennifer Danley-Scott, Texas Woman’s University
Ann Kordas, Johnson & Wales University
Christopher Lawrence, Middle Georgia State College
Tonya Neaves, George Mason University
Adam Newmark, Appalachian State University
Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State University
Abram Trosky, U.S. Army War College
Joel Webb, Tulane University
Shawn Williams, Campbellsville University
Rhonda Wrzenski, Indiana University Southeast


Brad Allard, Hill College
Milan Andrejevich, Ivy Tech Community College
Thomas Arndt, Rowan University
Sue Atkinson, University of Maryland–University College
Edward Bond, Alabama A&M University
Joseph Campbell, Rose State College
James Davenport, Rose State College
Sharon Deubreau, Rhodes State College
Henry Esparza, University of Texas–San Antonio
Terri Fine, University of Central Florida
Mark Francisco, Volunteer State Community College
Sarah Gershon, Georgia State University
Rick Gianni, Indiana University Northwest
Travis Grasser, Collin County Community College
Eric Herzik, University of Nevada–Reno
Matthew Hipps, Dalton State College
Alexander Hogan, Lone Star College–CyFair
Cynthia Hunter-Summerlin, Tarrant County College
Tseggai Isaac, University of Missouri-Rolla
Walter Jatkowski, III, Northwest College
Kevin Jeffries, Alvin Community College
J. Aaron Knight, Houston Community College
Robert Lancaster, Kentucky State University
John Lund, Keene State College
Shari MacLachlan, Palm Beach State College
Carol Marmaduke-Sands, North Central Texas College
James McCormick, Iowa State University
Eric Miller, Blinn College
Sara Moats, Florida International University
Marie Natoli, Emmanuel College
Caryn Neumann, Miami University of Ohio
James Newman, Southeast Missouri State University
Cynthia Newton, Wesley College
Jeffrey S. Peake, Clemson University
G. David Price, Santa Fe College
James Ronan, Rowan University
David Smith, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Leniece Smith, Jackson State University
Kai Sorensen, Central Michigan University
James Starkey, Pasadena City College
Karen Stewart, Collin College
Abram Trosky, United States Coast Guard Academy
Adam Warber, Clemson University
Alexander Wathen, University of Houston–Downtown
Reed Welch, West Texas A&M University
Yvonne Wollenberg, Rutgers University
John Wood, University of Central Oklahoma
Laura Wood, Tarrant County College
Michael Zarkin, Westminster College

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