chap i the problem w american democracy n.
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  1. CHAP I. THE PROBLEM W/ AMERICAN DEMOCRACY A. FAITH - KEEPING • Americans chose: - peace in ‘64 and got Vietnam - law & order in ‘68 and got Watergate - to restore an effective presidency in ‘76 and got a “crisis of confidence,” gas lines and helplessness vs. a hostage-taking Iran

  2. A. Faith - Keeping (cont) • Americans chose (cont) - bold leadership in ‘80 but got a secret “arms for hostages” deal - prosperity in ‘88 and got a slump in ‘99 - “the most ethical administration in history” in 92 and saw a president impeached on grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice

  3. A. Faith - Keeping (cont) • Thus … the problem with American democracy is that it too often does not keep faith with the public B. American Democracy • Democracy divides and distributes power much more broadly than any other form of government

  4. B. American Democracy (continued) • With no single source of control, tyranny nearly impossible in a demo. • Fragmentation and stalemated leadership and … • the consequent failure to follow through are much more typical of democracy

  5. B. American Democracy(continued) • Fragmentation likely in the U.S. where government was divided from the start • Question: Is American democracy working? • Answer: “No” or, at least, “not well enough.” • With weakened parties - the chief instrument of democracy - American democracy delivers less dependably on paths the American public has chosen

  6. B. American Democracy (cont) • Weak parties reducethe practical consequences of voting • The legitimacy of American government suffers …. not because elected officials do not want to keep promises • but because they lack the means viable parties once provided

  7. B. AmericanDemocracy (cont) • With notable exceptions (?) , today’s parties do not produce working governing majorities capable of keeping a promised public agenda • Nor do they have the power to curb special interests • As a result, victories of diverse interest groups have grab-bag effect on policy • instead of enacting a promised public agenda in recognizable form

  8. B. AmericanDemocracy(cont) • Participation declined in last 1/3 of 20th century • Why vote if government does not respond to “people like me” anyway? • Feelings of cynicism and inefficacy have increased • Partisanship and the belief in the utility of voting have decreased

  9. B. Am. Democracy (cont.) • The impossibility of holding officials accountable = 1 consequence • 2nd follows from the 1st: i.e., Democracy itself is an issue in the United States. - Democracy requires political institutions capable of proposing and insisting on public agendas and that, in turn, requires resilient electoral and governing majorities

  10. B. Am. Democracy (cont) As coalition builders working parties: • put the pieces together to achieve majorities • are the electorate’s means of making and implementing public choices When parties are weakened as coalition builders • power of interest groups increases • … majorities do not drive policy-making - - - - minorities do

  11. B. Am. Democracy (cont) • Groups represent much narrower “publics” • Governmental divisions +strong groups+weak parties= problems with American government’s :1. Efficacy of government 2. Accountability of government 3. Legitimacy of government

  12. B. Am. Democracy(cont) • One could argue that popular sovereignty in United States centers NOT in the public or electorate… • …but in the organized public (i.e., universe of interest group constituencies)

  13. C. Democracy, Pluralism and Elitism • Democracy = making and implementation of public choices through majoritarian means • Democracy may be direct or indirect (define.) • Necessarily indirect in the United States ... (Why?)

  14. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism(cont) • Indirect democracy leads readily lead to pluralism • Pluralism= the competition over policy between organized groups • Many would consider pluralism part & parcel of democracy

  15. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • BUT … • pluralism responds to the organized public • democracy responds to the general, or at least the attentive, public - especially as represented through electoral and public opinion processes

  16. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • The organized public is a subset of the general or attentive public • BUT … the organized public is more advantaged demographically …. • … and so, advantaged psychologically and, • … and so, more involved politically • ERGO: two publics are not the same

  17. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • Political associations (i.e., groups) are a legitimate part of pluralist democracy • Groups specialize in the vital function of interest articulation=expression of support, expectations, needs, interests, preferences & demands to government

  18. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • BUT … the group’s leadership - usually an oligarchy - may act more on its own than out of responsiveness to the organized public or even to its own constituency • In that case, the oligarchy replaces the group and pluralism moves toward elitism • Political Elitism=the development of public policy by oligarchies

  19. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • Pluralism and elitism merge as interest group oligarchies or elites articulate interests not just to and from their own members, …. • …butdirectly to public policy elites or oligarchies (e.g., ?) who make policy

  20. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • American government - like any other government - is not wholly democratic nor pluralist nor elitist • Rather … some issues are addressed by democratic process, others by pluralism, others by elitism and still others by some combinations or blends

  21. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • e.g., - Who shall lead and with what agenda? resolved democratically - Policies having to do with various group stakes resolved pluralistically - Policy oligarchies (elites) determine the most specific policies …. unless…...

  22. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • Unless ….(continued) - the oligarchy or elite represents a coalition - the broader the array of interest represented…the broader the oligarchy’s policy concerns - may then enact policy agendas - coalitional elitesmay represent a majority

  23. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • 1992 and ‘94 elections looked like democracy or majoritarianism in action • Public to Clinton: restore the economy • BUT public expected moderate policies • Promise re economy seemed to be kept • BUT public got liberal spending (e.g., health care proposals) initially

  24. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • In apparent attempt to correct Clinton’s expensive, leftward leanings, public elected opposition party to Congress in 1994 • BUT … 1994 results can just as easily be described as pluralism in action. • Republican members of Congress had convinced interests to switch contributions to Republican candidates for Congress

  25. C. Democracy, Pluralism & Elitism (cont) • It is difficult for a president to keep promises if pluralist and elitist elements in decision-making (d/m) supplant the majoritarian election processes organized by parties • P.S.: 2000 election was extremely partisan - but can pres keep promises?

  26. 1. Two Mandates • Compounding the difficulties that arise from pluralism and/ or elitism is that the president must respond not to one but to TWO mandates: • One DOMESTIC • the other INTERNATIONAL

  27. 1. Two Mandates (cont) • It is to this double mandate - NOT to a specific promise - that the public holds presidents to account • Public will forgive breaking 1 or several promises • BUT it will NOT forgive breaching the domesticNORinternational mandate

  28. 1. Two Mandates (cont) • In the last 1/3 of the 20th century a less partisan and more evaluativepublic has required a passing grade on both agenda tests for a president to bereturned to office

  29. 1. Two Mandates (cont) • Since Eisenhower (1952 - 1960) only two have earned passing marks on both tests • Both unable to keep specific promises (Reagan: balanced budget, Clinton: health care reform) • (JFK did not get the chance) • Both RR & WJC were judged to have kept faith w/ public expectations domesticallyandinternationally (not always the personal faith - e.g. Lewinskygate)

  30. 1. Two Mandates (cont) • Today’s public can be very supportive of a president judged to keep 2 mandates • RR reelected & helped successor, Bush (R) • WJC reelected in 1996 plus his party gained 5 seats in the mid-term elections of 1998 during impeachment of him by Republican Congress

  31. 1.Two Mandates • BUT … public in last 1/3 of 20th swift to punish for failing to keep faith with either mandate • LBJ passed domestic but failed international test • RMN was the other way around • GF healed but pardoned domestically • JC failed both Domestic & International tests • GHWB passed “big I” but failed “big D” (Public classic: What have you done for me lately?) • “Dubya”??

  32. 2. Partisanship and Political Consumerism • Weak partisanship results in “shopping” .. • .. discarding of incumbent presidents • Voter/shoppers may “buy” 1 candidate’s appeal over another whatever “brand” (i.e., party) label • Results : change over continuity in gov. more than in more partisan eras and …...

  33. 2. Partisanship & Political Consumerism (cont) • ….and (continued), in today’s “fix-it,” technocratic society, the public expects presidents to solve problems (i.e., lead) BUT .. • withoutsupplying structured and dependable (i.e., partisan) support to do so

  34. 2. Partisanship & Pol.Consumerism (cont) • Public mandates would be easier for pres to honor if public more inclined to stick with a party choice • BUT … w/ decline of partisanship in the last 1/3, 2nd terms were rarer than in middle 1/3 (‘32 - ‘64: Democratic) or the first 1/3 (1900 - ‘32: Republican)

  35. 2. Partisanship & Pol.Consumerism (cont) • A more apartisan and evaluative public disposed to judge a president as failing either at home or abroad or both • Also less likely to empower a winning candidate as president with a partisan maj. in the leg. to enact their promises

  36. 2. Partisanship & Pol. Consumerism (cont) • Increasingly, dividing vote meant divided government • 5 of last 7 presidents (prior to Dubya) have faced opposition Congresses during all or parts of their term(s) • (i.e., Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush & Clinton) Dubya may in 2004

  37. 2. Partisanship & Pol. Consumerism (cont) • Contrast: in 1st 2/3 of 20th only 2 of 9 pres.s were frustrated in staying pres • Hoover was defeated in 1932 • Truman would have lost in 1952 had he chosen to run • Two presidents died prior to running a 2nd time (Harding and Kennedy)

  38. 2. Partisanship & Pol. Consumerism (cont) • Only 3 of 9 presidents in the 1st 2/3 of 20th faced opposition Congresses for all or part of their term(s) • i.e., Woodrow Wilson, Truman S Truman and Dwight David Eisenhower

  39. 3. Weak Parties and Strong Groups • Interest Groups operate in a widened sphere of influence when parties fail to organize consistent, resilient majorities • Fluidity in public support for parties leads to policy-making w/o clear pattern • … groups pursue particular and diverse goals not public mandates nor party agendas (grab bag not agenda politics)

  40. 3. Weak Parties and Strong Groups (cont) • In 1992 candidate Clinton promised the public affordable health care rates. • BUT coalition of anti’s nickeled & dimed • Every bill in Congress is time limited • Pressure groups compromised & delayed health care bill to death.

  41. 3.Weak Parties and Strong Groups (cont) • Moreover, 1 group coalition may win only to see opposing coalition win the same issue the next time. • e.g., organized labor got a minimum wage increase in November of 1997. • Clinton tried to give them another when he needed political support (“Lewinskygate”)

  42. 3. Weak Parties and Strong Groups (cont) • A conservative coalition defeated the 2nd attempt to raise labor’s wages • So… policy zigzagged in 1 year because of shifting fortunes & the resultant opportunism of groups coalitions • Little sign of a public or party agenda

  43. 3. Weak Parties and Strong Groups (cont) • In U. S., pluralism/elitism largely supplanted majoritarianism in policy-making… • .. due to party/group imbalance (mediation) • Narrowly based group power fills the vaccuum left by weak parties - minoritarianism • Historically parties - more than groups - have been chief link between public majorities and gov policy-making elites

  44. 4. Prospects Party/Group Redress • What are prospects for solving mediation problem (strong groups / weak parties)? • One possibility: Restore Parties • That would check groups somewhat and improve majoritarianism. • But is it possible?

  45. 4. Prospects for Party/ Group Redress (cont) • Historically, parties achieve new life via new mandates stemming from realigning issues • i.e., a “realigning” election (e.g., 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896 & 1936) • electorate’s partisanship & voting predispositions were realigned by such elections for the next 28 – 36 yrs

  46. 4. Prospects for Party / Group Redress (cont) • May never be another nat. realignment : - power of media in mediation - multiplication of primaries - finance reforms & individualization of candidate donor bases - candidate more than party-centered campaigns

  47. 4. Prospects for Party / Group Redress (cont) • More than party cues, TV transmits candidate appeals into voter/ viewer’s home • Political consumers less loyal to a party “brand” than traditional partisan voters • Results: one-term presidencies, divided gov’ent and policy-making NOT constrained by a majority agenda

  48. 4. Prospects for Party / Group Redress • SO… democratic and majoritarian politics have lost ground to pluralism & elitism • At times, policy-making is driven by elect/gov majority w/ policy agenda ... • But … often the result of various groups articulating demands to responsive elites in government especially mid-term

  49. 4. Prospects for Party /Group Redress (cont) • chief instrument of democracy = party • Party must regain strength if majoritar - ianism to be revitalized • Realignment less likely today than in past (why?) • Alternative Scenaro: “New Machines”

  50. 5. The “New Machines” • A theory: The New Machines • A set of new oligarchies in government will emerge called the - “President’s Party” - “Speaker’s Party” and … - “Majority Leader’s Party. • These would be the “new machines.”