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Advanced Placement® American Government and Politics Unit III – Political Parties (8) and Interest Groups (11) Part 2 – Interest Groups.

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Presentation on theme: "Advanced Placement® American Government and Politics Unit III – Political Parties (8) and Interest Groups (11) Part 2 – Interest Groups."— Presentation transcript:

1 Advanced Placement® American Government and Politics Unit III – Political Parties (8) and Interest Groups (11) Part 2 – Interest Groups

2 What is an interest group? Also called an “advocacy group” Organization of people with shared policy goals that try to influence the political process to achieve those goals Parties are policy generalists, while IG’s are policy specialists Huge explosion in recent times; 90% have HQs in Washington DC Interests primarily economic Where to find lobbyists…DC’s K Street.

3 Interest groups: Good or Evil? Alexis de Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America suggested that the ease with which Americans form organizations is a reflection of a strong democratic culture

4 Federalist No. 10 warned of the dangers of "factions” Madison noted that the causes of actions were "sown in the nature of man” trying to eliminate factions would restrict liberty relief from factions should come from controlling their effects Interest groups: Good or Evil? This should mildly disturb you.

5 Interest groups are distinct from parties Political parties fight election battles; interest groups do not field candidates for office but may choose sides

6 The roles of interest groups What do interest groups do? Representation: represent their constituents before government Participation: facilitate and stimulate people's participation in politics Education: educate their members, the public at large, and government officials Agenda building: the process by which new issues are brought into the political limelight Program monitoring: keeping track of government programs

7 How do Interest Groups achieve their goals? Supply credible information (most important role/tactic) detailed/current info is political gold most effective on narrow, technical issues Tactics: Lobbying (political persuasion) Electioneering (getting people into office, keeping them there)—PACs Litigation (look for amicus curiae briefs) THEN: “insider strategy” most common (face-to- face meeting b/w lobbyist and official) NOW: “outsider strategy” (“grassroots” public mobilization, thanks to modern technology; ex. MOVEON.ORG) Target: the undecided legislator or bureaucrat (“lobby ‘em!”) The roles of interest groups

8 Theories of Interest Group Politics Elite Theory Societies are divided along class lines and an upper-class elite rules, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization Pluralist Theory Politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies Hyperpluralist Theory Groups are so strong that government is weakened an extreme, exaggerated form of pluralism

9 Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details) Elites and the Denial of Pluralism Real power is held by the relatively few. Power elite theorists believe that a small number of super rich individuals, powerful corporate interest groups, and large financial institutions dominate key policy areas Elite power is fortified by a system of interlocking directorates of corporations, the wealthy and other institutions Other groups may win many minor policy battles, but elites prevail when it comes to big policy decisions Lobbying is a problem b ecause it benefits the few at the expense of the many

10 Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details) Elites and the Denial of Pluralism Power elite theorists point to the recent financial crisis to illustrate their view of the close relationship between Wall Street interests and Washington policymakers While ordinary Americans received small stimulus checks, Wall Street banks received enormous federal bailouts As noted by the American Political Science Association, “Citizens with lower to moderate incomes speak with a whisper that is lost in the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policymakers readily hear and routinely follow.”

11 Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details) Pluralism and group theory lots of groups / highly organized / no one group wins all the time Groups provide a key link between the people and the government some groups stronger then others (none always dominant) not all groups have equal time with power lobbying is open to all and should not be regarded as a problem

12 Pluralism and group theory While elitists point to the concentration of power, pluralists emphasize that America’s fragmented federal system and division of power into three branches provides many points of access and influence As a result, no one group can dominate the entire system Pluralists point out that interest groups lacking financial resources can use their size and intensity to achieve their goals For example, a determined interest group that lacks legislative influence can turn to the courts for a favorable decision Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details)

13 Hyperpluralism and interest group liberalism pluralism out of control interest group liberalism by Theodore Lowi governments excessively refer to groups government listens / acts / advances nearly all agendas created when government appeases: government agencies proliferate conflicting regulations expand programs multiply budget skyrockets

14 Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details) Hyperpluralism and interest group liberalism Evidence: iron triangles or subgovernments key interest group for particular policy government agency in charge of administrating the policy members of congress that handle the policy relations between groups and government too cozy hard choices rarely made policy paralysis

15 Theories of Interest Group Politics (Details) Hyperpluralism and interest group liberalism When political leaders try to appease competing interest groups, they often create policies that are confusing and at times contradictory As a result, legislators avoid making hard choices that are in the national interest For example, public health groups have successfully convinced the government to launch vigorous antismoking campaign At the same time, interest groups representing tobacco farmers have successfully lobbied the government to subsidize their crop

16 What makes an interest group successful? Group Success (cause) many factors suggest success size of the group Intensity financial resources

17 What makes an interest group successful? Intensity intensity can motivate a large group (abortion) politicians will listen to active, motivated, intense groups single issue group narrow, issue oriented group, dislikes compromise, single-mindedly pursues goal

18 What makes an interest group successful? Group Failure collective good something of value that can not be withheld from a potential group member clean air, higher minimum wage free rider problem when potential members decide not to join free riders benefit, but do not contribute

19 Law of Large Groups created by Mancur Olson bigger the group, bigger free rider problem need a selective benefit to entice membership ①information publications ②Insurance ③travel discounts What makes an interest group successful?

20 Types of Interest Groups Economic Interests Labor Agriculture Business Environmental Interests Equality Interests Consumer and Public Interest Lobbies MINNESOTA

21 Interest Groups and Democracy James Madison’s solution to the problems posed by interest groups was to create a wide-open system in which groups compete Pluralists believe that the public interest would prevail from this competition Elite theorists point to the proliferation of business PACs as evidence of interest group corruption Hyperpluralists maintain that group influence has led to policy gridlock

22 PACs (Political Action Committee) set up by and representing a corporation, union, IG, political candidate that raises & spends campaign contributions on behalf of candidates or causes Rapid growth in PACs, but probably hasn’t led to vote-buying (???); $ is available on both sides of issues Most members of Congress vote ideology or constituency; but it IS a political issue

23 PACs (Political Action Committee) Over 4,600 active, registered PACs Connected PACs established by businesses, labor unions, trade groups, or health organizations receive and raise money from a "restricted class," generally consisting of managers and shareholders in the case of a corporation and members in the case of a union or other interest group Non-connected PACs ideological mission, single-issue groups, and members of Congress and other political leaders may accept funds from any individual, business PAC or organization

24 PACs (Political Action Committee) Super PACs Since 2010, "independent-expenditure only committees” can raise unlimited sums from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as wealthy individuals. made possible by two court rulings that lifted many spending and contribution limits. can also mount the kind of direct attacks on candidates that were not allowed in the past. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties and must disclose their donors

25 Leadership PACs : established by a member of Congress to support other candidates non-connected PACs, and can accept donations from an individual, business or other PACs cannot spend fund to directly support the campaign of its sponsor (through mail or ads) may fund travel, administrative expenses, consultants, polling, and other non-campaign expenses Can also contribute to the campaigns of other candidates Between 2008 and 2009, leadership PACs raised and spent more than $47 million. PACs (Political Action Committee)

26 527 organization can take a stand on an issue, but cannot directly contribute to candidates cannot explicitly endorse a candidate can accept contributions of unlimited size can indirectly criticize candidates by emphasizing an issue that illuminates the difference between candidates


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