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PO 111: INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS Summer I (2014) Claire Leavitt Boston University.

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Presentation on theme: "PO 111: INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS Summer I (2014) Claire Leavitt Boston University."— Presentation transcript:

1 PO 111: INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS Summer I (2014) Claire Leavitt Boston University

2 GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE Text of the Equal Rights Amendment: –Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. –Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. –Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

3 GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE ERA a largely symbolic amendment in light of the three pillars of the feminist movement Why did women lose the ERA? –Abstract principle vs. practical outcomes –ERA linked to abortion and “activist courts” –Organizational differences between pro- ERA and anti-ERA groups

4 GENDER AND MODERN POLITICAL LIFE What is the gender gap? –Why do more women vote for Democrats than for Republicans? –Most of the gap comes from unmarried women Implicit messaging on gender –Mixed results; women can be helped and hurt electorally by priming voters to consider gender

5 TABLE OF CONTENTS Interest Groups and “Pluralist Politics” History of Special Interests: 19 th and 20 th Centuries Types of Interest Groups –Agricultural groups (farmers) –Unions (workers) –Public interest groups (collective goods) –Businesses The Influence of Money –Citizens United vs. FEC

6 SPECIAL INTERESTS AND PLURALISM Interest groups represent a social and political minority Interest groups make themselves heard by lobbying and informing politicians Interest groups often bring attention to issues that would have otherwise slipped under the radar Good for democracy?

7 SPECIAL INTERESTS AND PLURALISM Madison and factions: –Factions were bad for democracy and bad for the public interest –Factions couldn’t be eliminated because humans naturally have specific interests/preferences that they will want to voice –Government shouldn’t have the power to directly regulate factions Madison’s solution: Social and institutional pluralism

8 INTEREST GROUPS THROUGHOUT HISTORY Colonial Era: –Special interests lobbied for favorable treatment from the British crown –Special interests mobilized grassroots support against the government (Sons of Liberty, e.g.) –Special interests attempted to influence the drafting of the Constitution After the Revolution, the weak federal government and the Bill of Rights downsized the significance of federal power

9 INTEREST GROUPS THROUGHOUT HISTORY 19 th Century: –Interest groups were small, local and distant from the federal government –Fully steeped in civil society and apart from the state As life grew more complex and the federal government grew more powerful, interest groups became larger and started establishing more active presences in Washington

10 INTEREST GROUPS THROUGHOUT HISTORY 20 th Century: –Interest groups became more politically active –Collective endeavors (responses to national crises) inspired political action Great Depression World War II Civil rights movement

11 TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS Agricultural Groups: Relatively disaggregated, but united on the issue of farm subsidies Subsidies: Federal aid to farmers to help them maintain their standards of living in the face of a highly unstable market –Unstable market hurts both farmers and consumers –Subsidies can include incentives for farmers not to produce; governmental purchase of surplus crops; or credits for ethanol production

12 TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS Unions: Represent America’s workers Unions started out apolitical and triumphed legislatively –1935 law strengthened rights of workers to organize; unions to collectively bargain; and created National Labor Relations Board Unions forced into politics due to political setbacks –Taft-Hartley Act included anti-strike and “right to work” provisions

13 TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS Union membership started declining –Legislative efforts to weaken unions and decrease their membership levels –Reputation of unions as segregationist institutions; labor rights movement separated from civil rights struggle Unions used to be economically powerful, which allowed them to stay out of politics; now, they are still politically powerful, but don’t wield much of an economic threat

14 TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS Public Interest Groups –Organized around collective interests as opposed to special interests –Must create constituencies; other types of groups have ready-made constituencies –Collective-action problem: Membership relies on moral incentives, not selective incentives, so commitment to the group generally waxes and wanes according to political circumstances –Focused first and foremost on survival, which puts them at a disadvantage politically

15 TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS Businesses: –Above-the-fray until the 1970s, when Congress noticed how much money businesses were spending on politics –Businesses forced into lobbying to defend their interests against legislative attacks –Legislation approved in 1971 and 1974 to curb the influence of money in politics Creation of the FEC Creation of optional public-financing system Strict limits on campaign expenditures/donations

16 MONEY IN POLITICS FEC regulated “hard money” (money spent directly by campaigns) In 2002, McCain-Feingold Act regulated “soft money” (money spent by parties and party organizations) In response to McCain-Feingold, independent tax-exempt interest groups proliferated –Groups had to be “informational,” not political, but the bar was very low

17 MONEY IN POLITICS Citizens United vs. FEC (2010) –Eliminated caps on contributions by corporations –Case was framed not as an issue of campaign finance regulation but as an issue of censorship –Justice Roberts engineered a strategy to overturn McCain-Feingold, preserve the Court’s legitimacy –Citizens United opinion equated spending to speech McCutcheon vs. FEC (2014) –Eliminated caps on individual contributions

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