Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups and Political Parties"— Presentation transcript:
1 Interest Groups and Political Parties Chapter 7Interest Groups and Political Parties
2 Interest Groups and Democracy Why should we care about interest groups?Are interest groups servants or destroyers of democracy?Whose interests are served?Who is and is not represented by an interest group?Do interest groups have too much, too little, or just enough power/influence over decision-makers?
3 What is an Interest Group? Organized group of individualsWho share common goals or objectivesAttempt to influence government policy/policymakers in all three branches of government at every level (national, state, local)Not a political party, which is a group of activists who organize to win elections, operate the government/hold office, and determine public policyThe heart of pluralist theoryLobbyist = an individual who attempts to influence policy
4 Why Do People Join Interest Groups? Solidary incentives – associate with others who share a common interestMaterial incentives – seeking economic benefits/opportunitiesPurposive incentives – ethical beliefs or ideological principles
5 Interest Groups and You Can you name an interest group?What are its goals?Do you belong to an interest group?What is its name and why did you join?
6 Types of Interest Groups Economic = by far the most powerful, the most influentialEnvironmentalPublic InterestSpecial Interest
8 Economic Interest Groups Business = Business and trade organizations that attempt to influence government policy to their benefitAgricultural = Advocate for farm interests; very influentialLabor = Groups that represent working class interestsPublic Employee = Groups that represent government employees (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFSCME) and teachersProfessional Associations = Groups that advocate for professional associations (American Bar Association, American Medical Association)
10 So What?What does declining union membership mean for the power of labor to defend worker’s rights?How does this impact the power of labor relative to business interests?
11 Environmental Interests Advocates for pro-environmental policiesNational Wildlife FederationNature ConservancyWorld Wildlife FundSierra ClubNational Audubon Society
12 Public & Special Interest Groups Public Interest Groups – advocates for collective, community interests (Examples: Consumer advocacy groups; Common Cause; CALPIRG)Single Interest Groups – narrow focus (Examples: abortion groups; racial/ethnic or age associations)Foreign Governments
13 What Makes an Interest Group Powerful? Size (numbers)Resources (organization and money)LeadershipCohesiveness
14 Interest Group Strategies Direct TechniquesLobbying = meeting officials and attempting to convince them to support your positiontestifying before congressional committeestestifying before executive rulemaking agenciesassisting in the drafting of legislationentertaining legislatorsproviding information to legislators = one of the most important ways lobbyists make themselves valuable to decision makersassisting in nominating individuals to government posts
15 Interest Group Strategies (cont.) Ratings = scoring legislators based on their votes in Congress, then making interested constituents aware of those scoresCampaign Assistance = providing workers for political campaignsPolitical Action Committees (PACs)= a committee that raises money and gives donations on behalf of organizations to political candidates or political partiesPolitical Contributions = the most important form of campaign help from interest groups over the last 20 years
16 Interest Group Strategies Indirect TechniquesGenerating public pressure = trying to influence the government by using public opinion on an issueClimate control = public relations techniques used to create favorable public opinionUsing Constituents as LobbyistsShotgun approach = having large numbers of constituents act in concert by writing, ing, phoning or sending postcards to a legislatorRifle approach = having an influential constituent contact a legislator on a particular issue
17 Interest Groups and Campaign Money Political Action Committee (PAC) = group that represents a business, labor union, or special interest group; currently there are more corporate PACs than any other typePAC contributionsPrimarily given to incumbents$5,000 per election per candidate is upper limit under campaign finance lawsSoft money (money going to parties versus particular candidates)Outlawed in 2002Issue advocacy advertising
18 PAC Growth, 1977 to PresentSOURCE: Federal Election Commission, 2001
19 PAC Contributions to Congressional Candidates, 1986 to 2000 Millions of DollarsSOURCE: Federal Election Commission, 2002
22 Why contribute to campaigns? Why do PACs contribute to political campaigns?Why do PACs contribute so much more to incumbents?Why do PACs contribute to both parties at once?
23 Regulating Lobbyists Provided for public disclosure Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946Provided for public disclosureFailed due to lack of enforcement mechanismUnited States v. Harriss (1954) confirmed its constitutionality
24 Regulating Lobbyists, (cont.) reforms“Lobbyist” = anyone who spends 20 percent of his/her time lobbying members of Congress, congressional staffs, or executive branch officialsRequires lobbyists to register with the Secretary of the House or clerk of the SenateRequires semiannual reports on the nature of lobbying activities
25 Discussion Why are interest groups important in US politics? In what ways do interest groups support democracy?In what ways might they subvert it?Are some interest groups too powerful?Should lobbyists be more closely regulated?How might this be done without violating civil liberties?
26 What is a Political Party? A group of activists who organize to win elections, operate government, and make public policyDistinct from interest groups, which don’t seek office
27 Functions of Political Parties in the U.S. Recruiting candidates for public officeOrganizing and running electionsPresenting alternative policies to the electorateAccepting responsibility for operating governmentOrganized opposition to the party in power
28 Parties in U.S. History 1789-1812 – Creation of parties – Personal politics– National two-party rule– Post-Civil War period– Progressive era1932-present – Modern era
30 Structure of the American Political Party National Party OrganizationNational Convention (including a national chairperson and a national committee)State Party OrganizationState Conventions and CommitteesCounty Committees Precinct and Ward Organizations (including active, paid, and unpaid workers) Party Members (those who vote the party ticket)Local Party Organization
31 Our Two-Party SystemTwo-Party system = a political system where two parties have a reasonable chance of winning“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the…”Other parties: Green, Reform, Libertarian, Socialist Workers, Communist, Socialist, States Rights Democrats/Workers World, Natural Law, and Social Labor Party
32 The Three Faces of Party Party-in-the-electorate = members of the general public who identify with a political party or who express a preference for one party over the otherParty organization = formal structure and leadership of a political party, including election committees; local, state and national executives; and paid professional staffParty-in-government = elected and appointed officials who identify with a political party
33 Core Supporters Democratic core Republican core lower SES (income, education) groups; African Americans; union members; Jews; individuals with less than high school education; college grads with a postgraduate education; womenRepublican corehigher SES groups; college grads with no postgraduate education; professionals; businesspeople
34 Democrats and Republicans Democrats = More likely to approve social-welfare spending, government regulation of business, measures to improve status of minorities and elderlyRepublicans = More supportive of private enterprise; believe federal government should be less involved in social programs
36 Why Two-Party System Endures Historical foundations = sectional/regional and class politicsDichotomous nature of early American conflictPolitical socialization and party identificationCommonality of views among AmericansWinner-take-all electoral systemplurality voting in single member district electionsState and federal laws favoring two party system
38 Minor Parties in the U.S.Most successful have been splinter parties that broke from a major partyBull Moose Progressives (from Republicans)Dixiecrats (States Rights) Party (from Democrats)American Independent Party 1968 (from Democrats)
39 Minor Parties in the U.S., (cont.) Minor parties’ platforms often adopted by major partiesSometimes minor party candidates can have an impact on the outcome of an electionNader and Gore in 2000Roosevelt and Taft in 1912
40 Minor Parties in the U.S., (cont.) Current minor parties:Libertarian PartyReform PartyGreen PartyNatural Law PartyOther parties (Communist, Socialist, Socialist Workers, etc.) are really “minute,” too small to be minor
41 Discussion How do political parties link citizens to government? Can you imagine democracy without parties?Why has party identification declined?Is the two-party system undemocratic?Would American politics be different if proportional representation were used?Would it be more democratic?Would it be less stable?
42 Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources Book’s Companion Site:Wadsworth’s Political Science Site:The Internet Public Library:Democratic National Committee:Republican National Committee: