Presentation on theme: "Political Participation (Part II)"— Presentation transcript:
1 Political Participation (Part II) In large scale society, direct democracy seems impossibleIn U.S., “the people” are divided into groups with unequal access to resources and powerJoseph Schumpeter criticized classical conception of democracy (citizen participation, “rule by the people”)Political elites more competent than ordinary citizens to make decisionsDemocracy should be thought of as a market; voters are political consumers who choose among competing elitesAuthors stress importance of active citizenship and robust political participationShould not be reserved for election day; should be broader and fullerChapter 4 = political parties and electionsChapter 5 = interest groups and social movementsThe most privileged (more time, money, and organization) tend to be most politically active; politicians tend to be more responsive to their demandsPolitical inequality not a foregone conclusionWhen large numbers are mobilized at the polls, in interest groups, and through social movements, they can make their demands heard; when people go beyond procedural democracy to richer and fuller direct democracy
2 Origins of Two-Party System Schattschneider: “political parties created modern democracy and modern democracy unthinkable save in terms of political parties.”Political parties organize and transmit will of majority to government – the heart of any democracyOrganizations committed to winning electionsEducate and mobilize votersRecruit and nominate candidatesAdvocate policies that link voters to candidates and connect elected officials from same party to each otherParties emerged quickly in U.S. historyProved to be a democratizing forceExpanded participation, mobilized voters, broke down deferential system where only socially privileged and wealthy could participateThroughout 19th century, parties developed solid organizational bases and mass following
3 American Parties in Comparative Perspective Causes of two-party system (not natural nor inevitable)Plurality system of voting – whoever gets the most votes wins (“winner-takes-all”)Voters fear wasting vote on candidates from small parties; tend to choose candidate from two major parties; reinforced by socialization (young people adopting their parents’ party identification)Major alternative is proportional representation (PR) where legislative seats are allotted to parties based on percentage of vote they receive in multimember districts (used in most democracies)Winner-take-all procedure for electing the presidentParties have strong incentive to forge broad coalitionsThird parties must contend with strong media biasDemocratic and Republican parties form a tacit cartel to marginalize splinter parties (e.g., public finance difficult for third parties to get; presidential debates limited to major party candidates)Multiparty systems encourage parties to highlight separate identities and appeal to distinctive segments of population; more ideologically sharp-edgedIn two-party systems, tendency for each party to assemble a plurality by melding votes of centrist elements with those of its core supportersTend to foster moderation, stability, and predictability (while limiting innovation)Tend to preference governance over representation
4 Critical Elections and Party Decay Two-party systems limit voter choices and encourage broad coalitions of diverse and sometimes conflicting groupsAmerican parties tend to contain conflicts by being evasive on issuesThey blur issues, ignore new demands, fail to adapt to new conditionsResult = demands build up, pressure increases, and dissatisfaction with lack of alternatives growsCitizens seek answers outside existing party system through protests and social movementsEventually, one party (usually the minority party) capitalizes on dissatisfaction by seeking to recruit those whose concerns are not adequately represented and champion issues they favorMinority party may be rewarded by winningThe tidal shift is often referred to as a critical or realigning electionCritical or realigning elections are rareCharacterized by unusually high turnout and more intense ideological conflictWinning party reshapes ideological agenda; party conflict reorganized around new set of issuesVoters are realigned and party coalitions shift
5 Change in American Party System High point late 19th centuryParties powerful organizations, reached down into grass roots, communicated through partisan popular press, controlled nomination process and platforms, turnout was high, integrated immigrant wavesDepended on patronage and spoils to motivate activists and voters; urban political machines integrated workers and immigrants in way that insulated business from democratic challengeHigh levels of turnout among low-income voters; little class bias evident in turnout patterns today (SES predictor)Decline set in following 1896 election, pro-business Republican party took overTurnout declined, class bias emerged in turnoutDemobilization caused by: party competition declined; business groups and middle class reformers weakened parties (feared machines and potential radicalism), cut off patronage by instituting merit-based civil service and nonpartisan local races, and erecting legal barriers to voting (in South poll taxes, literacy tests, “good character” tests, etc.) disenfranchising ¾ of all citizens in the south (especially blacks, and poor, uneducated whites), in the North, residency requirements, early registration deadlines, complicated voting and depressed turnoutResulted in more candidate-centered, professionalized campaignsCandidates today raise their own money; hire polling organizations and political consultants (focus groups; market research) to fine-tune message; reach voters through television and internet (relying less on party)Party organizations have become consulting firms at service of candidates; shadows of the pastPrimaries have undermined party control of nomination process; candidates raise their own money; personal ties drive appointments rather than party loyaltyParties haven’t always been weak, but have been decentralized and fragmented (function of separation of powers and federalism)Role of primaries = turnout is low; primary electorate less representative than general electorate (more ideological, educated, affluent)Wealthy candidates and those with close ties to interest groups have clear advantage
6 Turnout and American Voters U.S. ranks fourth lowest in turnout among over 34 democratic countries. Why?Widespread popular cynicismGenerational replacement (younger generation less in the habit of voting; older generation developed habit of voting and confidence in electoral process because parties responded effectively to Depression and WWII); as parties become less effective, younger generation becomes skeptical and cynicalCasting a ballot is especially difficult: register in advance; voter identification requirements; restrictions on convicted felonsElections on Tuesday (not a national holiday or weekend)According to Burnham, this creates a hole in the American electorate where working-class, less educated, and low-income Americans should beWayne: “those who are most disadvantaged, who have the least education, and who need a change in conditions the most actually participate the least. Those who are the most advantaged, who benefit from existing conditions and presumably from public policy as it stands, vote more often”Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy (APSA) (105-6)Today, however, the voices of American citizens are raised and heard unequally. The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government. Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the less affluent. The voices of citizens with lower or moderate incomes are lost on the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policymakers readily hear and routinely follow. [The result is a] growing concentration of the country’s wealth, income, and political influence in the hands of the few…We find that our governing institutions are much more responsive to the privileged and well-organized narrow interests than to other Americans.Fraud and corruptionExtensive evidence that parties have engaged in dishonest means of rigging electionsE.g., hacking electronic voting machines (Diebold), voter suppression (id laws), etc.
7 Money and ElectionsIncrease in importance of money a major trends in current American politics; political campaign spending has skyrocketed (each cycle eclipsing the previous record)Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010)Overturned limit on corporate and labor spendingSupreme Court ruled government cannot prevent corporations from spending their own funds to endorse and promote candidatesPreviously, could run issue ads and contribute to political parties and political action groups, but could not directly endorse candidates and spending funds directly to help elect themBusiness firms and wealthy individuals provide most contributionsContributions as investments (rather than donations)Campaigns last longer, cost more, are less regulated, and are financed by a higher proportion of private (rather than public ) funds than in any other Western democracy(1971) Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) limited political contributions, controlled spending, and required public disclosureEvaded through Political Action Committees (PACs) who can solicit from individuals and channel to candidatesEliminated by Citizen’s United (2010)Soft money (unregulated and unlimited) vs. hard money (contributed directly to campaigns, which is limited and subject to disclosure rules)Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (McCain-Feingold) (2002) aimed to close soft money loophole in FECA; increased hard money limitsOne major effect of political money is to increase chances of better-financed candidatesA second is increasing public cynicism about politics (taints entire political system)Those at top of income pyramid provide bulk of political contributionsPolitical finance connected to increasing economic inequalitiesIncreases in economic inequality and political spending go hand in hand; increase in one contributes to the increase in the otherParty system is not engine of democracyWay parties are financed skews political system toward interests and preferences of affluent Americans and business interests
8 Rise and Fall of New Deal and Reagan Coalitions Two durable coalitions dominated American politics and policyNew Deal coalitionLed by Democratic party ( )Reagan CoalitionLed by Republican party ( )Dominant party won presidential electionsShaped political agenda: defined most pressing issues and policy responsesPolicies designed to reward social base, cement power, and ensure reelectionObama (2008): will this produce durable realignment?
9 New Deal Coalition1932 election (FDR) ushered in decades of Democratic Party ruleNew Deal coalitionBlacks (beneficiaries of programs for poor and unemployed); Southerners; immigrant Jewish and Catholic workers (from Southern and Eastern Europe); Irish (supporters of big city machines); financiers and corporate executivesUneasy partnership (marriage of convenience) between Southern, white, segregationist wing (hostile to federal policies benefiting blacks and undermining South’s feudal structure) and Northern, liberal wing based in large urban areas with millions of first- and second-generation working-class immigrantsFDR administration and successors designed programs to distribute benefits to broad segments of populationJohnson’s reliance on Northern democrats and moderate Republicans to pass legislation outlawing discrimination (Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965)) caused Southerners to desert Democratic partySouthern realignment the single most important factor behind Republican party successCoalition weakened by issues that created political and cultural conflict in Democratic party (Vietnam War, feminism, gay rights, abortion, crime, etc.)Traditional working –class economically liberal but socially conservative (supported federal regulation of markets and welfare state programs but opposed gay marriage and abortion rights)Wealthier, more educated supporters economically conservative but socially liberal supported challenging gender hierarchies and sexual stereotypes but opposed programs to redistribute wealthDecline of labor unions further weakened partyVictim of policy failureConservative Keynesianism offered economic growth with little redistribution, fiscal fine-tuning instead of structural economic change1970s, economic growth faltered, inflation and unemployment increased; without economic growth, New Deal coalition couldn’t satisfy demands of constituents
10 Reagan CoalitionNew Deal faltered, conservatives and Republican Party launched a revolutionNomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964 (marked shift from Eastern Establishment of moderate conservatives to ultra-right conservatives from the South and West who were anti-government, anti-taxes, anti-union, anti-communist)Funding PACs, conservative think tanks, and grassroots groups Reagan elected (1980)Factors driving Republican Party rise to powerWhite males became more Republican (as candidates played to fears of dismantling racial and gender hierarchies); built base among religious fundamentalists; business community united behind Republicans; population growth in suburbs and Sun Belt; Republican Party rebranded by network of highly conservative organizations working with Republican strategists (“political moderates and fiscal conservatives replaced by new generation of hard-line conservatives and radical tax cutters”)Republican revival product of brilliant strategy and patient organizational effort by “ideological extremists” who moved party to the rightRe-centered party ideologically and geographically (secure base in South and Rocky Mountain states)Traditional base wealthier votersConservative turn secured by white Protestants (especially evangelicals), Catholics, regular religious service attendeesWhite men, married couples, rural votersDemocratic supportersNortheast and Pacific CoastLow-income voters (especially labor union members)African Americans and ethnic minoritiesUnmarried peopleJews, youth, and less religiousLiberal and well-educated voters
11 2008 Presidential Election and Challenge to Republican Dominance Table 4.1Obama benefited from shift among women, youth, and unmarried votersPro-Democratic groups growing in size; pro-Republican groups shrinking as proportion of electorateStrong support among racial and ethnic minorities, an increasingly significant proportion of the electorateMcCain supporters tended to be white, male, Protestant, religiously observant, married, from rural areas and small towns, and fairly affluentObama supporters tended to be ethnically and racially diverse, young, female, single, low or high income, and less religiously observantObama’s popular vote margin 53%-47%, majorities in 28 states, 2/3 electoral college delegates ( )Regional voting patterns: Obama beat McCain in six traditionally Republican states (North Carolina, Virginia, Florida; Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada) and three Midwest states (Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio)Democratic advances in House and Senate (at least for awhile)Republicans increasingly split over hard-edged conservatives and pragmatic conservatives, but united in opposition to most Democratic initiatives
12 Polarization and American Politics In presidential elections in most states, a majority of voters consistently support same party’s candidate (red and blue states)Only a few change majorities (swing states)Political polarization tied to ideological polarizationTwo parties’ social bases reinforce their distinctive regional bases of supportWhy different regions have developed relatively stable partisan loyaltiesSouth switched to staunchly Republican race, religious observance (especially evangelicals), conservative on economic issuesFiorina = what has changed is ideological positions more closely aligned with partisan preferences; political parties are more ideologically homogeneous and more distinct from each otherDriven by elites and marginalizing moderatesHacker and Pierson = Republican Party has moved further to right than Democratic Party to the leftTaken over by coalition of hard-right conservative groups, including Christian Right and free-market economic conservatives, organized in churches, interest groups, voluntary associations, and think tanks
13 New Media and Public Opinion Milestones in 2008 electionelection of African American presidenteffective use of new media (internet) by Obama campaignMedia (newspapers, radio, and TV) continue to play a roleNew media (internet, , blogs, instant messages, social media) increasingly important in fundraising, voter registration, mobilizationPolitical significance of new mediaSome argue it produces more involved, informed publicOthers that it increases gap between politically connected and uninterestedHard to differentiate fact from fictionMay offset increased importance of money in politics
14 ConclusionFundamental idea of democracy = preference of citizens deserve equal consideration and citizens should have equal ability to influence outcomesPolitical participation is slanted toward the rich in voter turnout, campaign contributions, and political activismParticipatory input tilted in the direction of more advantaged groups in society (in terms of economic and education, and race/ethnicity)Republican dominance has been the resultObama’s victory a result of weakening link between wealth and pro-Republican vote and because his campaign energized millions of voters who are typically less connectedElection demonstrates that despite unequal resources all adult citizens can potentially raise their political voiceWhen citizens are mobilized, political participation, which often reinforces privilege and inequality, can counteract advantages of class, race, and genderBen Franklin = “It’s a Republic if you can keep it.”Political parties and elections potentially enable citizens to keep and deepen the republican and democratic forms of governmentRequires citizens to mobilize, participate, and challenge the power of money and the tendencies for inequalities in political participation to parallel economic inequalities