How politics in America works today, how it got that way, and how it’s likely to change through reform—these are the themes that pervade every chapter of Cal Jillson’s highly lauded American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. Even in the midst of current challenges, America’s past is present in all aspects of the contemporary political system. Jillson uses political development and the dynamics of change as a thematic tool to help students understand how politics works now—and how institutions, participation, and policies have evolved over time to produce the contemporary political environment. In addition, Jillson helps students think critically about how American democracy might evolve further, focusing in every chapter on reform and further change.

New to the 10th Edition

  • Assesses the characteristics and early results of the Trump administration.
  • Covers the 2018 midterm elections and looks ahead to the 2020 presidential race.
  • Explores the political and judicial fights over ballot integrity and gerrymandering.
  • Examines challenges to civil liberties in the wake of Charlottesville, the Muslim ban, and NSA warrantless surveillance.
  • Discusses the MeToo movement in the context of civil rights.
  • Includes important Supreme Court events and decisions including the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch.
  • Presents new material on race, ethnicity, gender, and political participation, especially in the context of social media.
  • Details Republican tax cuts and their likely impact on deficits and debt.
  • Discusses the Trump administration’s climate change strategy and the December 2017 National Security Strategy of the United States, looking ahead to security challenges in Korea and the Middle East.
  • Updates all data in tables and figures through the 2018 midterms.


In a streamlined presentation, Jillson delivers a concise and engaging narrative to help students understand the complexities and importance of American politics. Along the way, several pedagogical features foster critical thinking and analysis:

  • Key learning objectives at the beginning of every chapter focus students on the central learning objectives.
  • "The Constitution Today" chapter opening vignettes illustrate the importance of conflicting views on constitutional principles.
  • Key terms are defined in the margins on the page where they appear help students study important concepts.
  • Colorful figures and charts help students visualize important information.
  • "Let’s Compare" boxes analyze how functions of government and political participation work in other countries—now framed by new critical thinking questions.
  • Reformatted "Pro & Con" boxes bring to life a central debate in each chapter and highlight competing perspectives; new discussion questions in each box prompt students to weigh the different arguments and weigh in.
  • End-of-chapter summaries, suggested readings, and web resources help students master the material and guide them to further critical investigation of important concepts and topics.

chapter 2|35 pages

The Revolution and the Constitution

chapter 4|34 pages

Political Socialization and Public Opinion

chapter 5|38 pages

The Mass Media and the Political Agenda

chapter 6|34 pages

Interest Groups

The Politics of Influence

chapter 7|40 pages

Political Parties

Winning the Right to Govern

chapter 8|39 pages

Voting, Campaigns, and Elections

chapter 9|40 pages


Partisanship, Polarization, and Gridlock

chapter 10|40 pages

The President

Executive Power in a Separation of Powers Regime

chapter 11|29 pages


Redesigning Government for the Twenty-First Century

chapter 12|39 pages

The Federal Courts

Activism versus Restraint

chapter 13|33 pages

Civil Liberties

Ordered Liberty in America

chapter 14|34 pages

Civil Rights

Where Liberty and Equality Collide

chapter 15|39 pages

Government, The Economy, and Domestic Policy