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Interest Groups Parties, Interest Groups, and PACS.

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Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups Parties, Interest Groups, and PACS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interest Groups Parties, Interest Groups, and PACS

2 Imagine a person with an intense devotion to a social cause

3 Let’s say that he or she believes strongly in animal rights, or is distressed about the deteriorating environment

4 Or think of someone else whose work is seriously undervalued, who works very hard but is paid very little money

5 What can any of these imagined people do to improve their situation?

6 One solution is to start or join a group with similar interests, with the idea that people together can do more to bring about change than people alone

7 They could organize an interest group to put pressure for change on elected officials & policy makers on all levels of government

8 Interest Group Organization of people who enter the political process to try to achieve their shared goals

9 Interest Group Almost from the beginning, Americans have distrusted their motives and methods of influence

10 James Madison Called interest groups and political parties factions Saw federalism & separation of powers as necessary to control their “evils”

11 Interest Groups Since the number of interest groups & people who participate in them have increased greatly over the past half century, they appear to be even more important today than they have been in the past

12 Parties, Interest Groups, & PACS Interest groups, like political parties, are organizations that exist outside the structure of government But they interact with government in such a way that it is impossible to separate them

13 Parties, Interest Groups, & PACS Policy making is intertwined with both parties & interest groups so that government would operate very differently without them

14 Parties, Interest Groups, & PACS In recent years a third type of outside organization, called political action committees (PACs) have joined parties & interest groups as a major influence on policy making in this country

15 Parties vs. Interest Groups Parties & interest groups have a great deal in common They represent political points of view of various people who want to influence policy making

16 Parties vs. Interest Groups This similarity has led some observers to suggest that interest groups may someday even replace parties as linkage institutions to the electorate

17 Parties vs. Interest Groups However, some significant differences still exist

18 (1) Parties influence government primarily through the electoral process

19 Parties vs. Interest Groups Although they serve many purposes, parties always run candidates for public office Interest groups an PACs support candidates, but they do not run their own slate of candidates

20 Parties vs. Interest Groups (2) Parties generate and support a broad spectrum of policies; interest groups support one or a few related policies

21 Parties vs. Interest Groups Whereas a party may take a position on gun control, business regulations, campaign finance reform & U.S. involvement in conflicts abroad, an interest group almost always focuses on one area

22 PACS Political and money-raising arms of interest groups Legally entitled to raise voluntary funds to contribute to favored candidates or political parties

23 Like political parties, PACs focus on influencing election results, but their interest in the candidates is narrowly based because they are almost always affiliated with particular interest groups

24 PACS Number has increased substantially over the past 30 years Especially since the Campaign Reform Act of 1974 (limits individual contributions to campaigns)

25 This act did allow PACs to exist Most large interest groups formed them as ways to direct (funnel) money to their favorite candidates for office

26 PACS Today more than 4000 PACs represent: Corporations Labor unions Professional & trade associations

27 PACS Biggest explosion or number has been in the business world More than half represent corporations or other business interests

28 Are interest groups good or bad for American politics?

29 Interest Groups Different points of view can be separated into 3 theories with different answers to that question

30 Theories of Interest Group Politics (1) Elitist Theory (2) Pluralist Theory (3) Hyper pluralist theory

31 Elitist Theory Argues that just a few interest groups have most of the power Although many groups exist, most of them have no real power

32 Elitist Theory Government is run by a few big groups trying to preserve their own interests

33 Elitist Theory An extensive system of interlocking directorates (the same people sitting on several boards of corporations, foundations, and foundations) fortifies the control

34 Elitist Theory Believe that corporate interests control many government decisions

35 Elitist Theory Theory strikes at the heart of democracy If only a few groups control the political system, how can true democracy exist?

36 Pluralist Theory Claims that interest groups benefit American democracy by bringing representation to all

37 Pluralist Theory According to pluralists, interest groups have many benefits

38 Pluralist Theory: Benefits (1) Groups provide linkage between people & government: they allow people’s voices to be heard in many ways that otherwise would be lost

39 Pluralist Theory: Benefits (2) the existence of many groups means that any one group can’t become too powerful because others counterbalance it

40 Pluralist Theory: Benefits (3) Groups usually follow the rules—those that don’t get bad publicity that helps to keep them in line

41 Pluralist Theory: Benefits (4)No one set of groups dominates because those weak in one area are strong in another

42 Pluralist Theory: Benefits For example--although business interest groups usually have more money, labor groups have more members

43 Hyper Pluralist Theory Claims that too many groups are trying to influence the political process Negative effects---political chaos & contradiction among government policies

44 Hyper Pluralist Theory Believe that the political system is out of control because the government tries to please every interest & allows them to dictate policy in their area

45 Hyper Pluralist Theory Since all interest groups try to protect their self-interest, the policies that result from their pressure are haphazard & ill- conceived

46 Growth of Interest Groups Interest groups have been part of American politics singe the beginning Their numbers, however, have grown substantially in recent years

47 Growth of Interest Groups Some well-known groups, such as the Sierra Club and the NAACP have existed for a century

48 Growth of Interest Groups Many interest groups, however, are relatively new, with more than half forming after WWII

49 Growth of Interest Groups Interest groups seems to exist for everyone Some are broad-based (National Association of Manufacturers) and others are specific (American Cricket Growers Assoc)

50 Growth of Interest Groups Many groups base their organization on economics More than 3/4s originated from industrial, occupational, or professional membership

51 Growth of Interest Groups In recent years more groups have moved their headquarters to Washington to be as close to the source of power as possible

52 Growth of Interest Groups Today, very few occupations or industries go without interest groups to represent them in Washington

53 Types of Membership Membership in interest groups may be classified in two ways: (1) institutional (2) individual

54 Institutional Interests Most represent a business or corporation Over 500 hundred firms have lobbyists, public-relations experts and/or lawyers in Washington Most of them opened offices since 1970

55 Institutional Interests Other institutions represented in Washington are: Universities Foundations Governments

56 Institutional Interests City governments are represented through the National League of Cities Counties through the National Assoc of Counties National Council on Ed speaks for institutions of higher learning

57 Individual Interests Individual Americans are much more likely to join religious & political associations than are citizens in other democracies

58 Individual Interests Many of the orgs they join are represented in DC & lobby the government for favorable policies for their interest

59 Individual Interests Many of the largest interest groups have individual, not institutional, membership

60 Individual Interests AARP American Federation of Labor NAACP Sierra Club

61 Individual Interests Religious organizations are also well-represented Very influential Christian Coalition

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