Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties

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  1. Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties

  2. What is an Interest Group? • an organized group of individuals • who share common goals or objectives • who attempt to influence policymakers in all three branches of government, and at all levels • When a person contacts a representative about a proposed change in the law, that person is Lobbying, or attempting to influence, the government

  3. What is a political party? • a group of activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government and to determine public policy • Differences: Interest Groups sharpen the issues • Political Parties blur the issues

  4. Types of Interest Groups • Economic Interest Groups – groups formed to promote economic interests (These are among the major interest groups) • Business Interest Groups – business and trade organizations that attempt to influence government policy to their benefit • Agricultural Interest Groups- advocate for farm interests • they enjoy disproportionate influence • Labor Interest Groups – groups that represent the working class interests • Public Employee Interest Groups – interest groups that represent employees of governments, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and teachers • Public-sector unions are the fastest growing labor organizations • Interest Groups of Professionals – interest groups that advocate for professional associations, like the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association

  5. Types of Interest Groups (cont.) • Environmental Interests – groups that advocate for pro-environmental policies, including the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy • Public Interest Groups – groups that advocate the interests of the collective, overall community • It is hard to define because there are so many publics • Common Cause – largest, to reorder national priorities toward “the public” • Special, or Single-Issue Interest Groups – narrowly focused interest groups • Examples include abortion interest groups and groups that advocate for individuals who share a racial, ethnic or age association • AARP – The strongest lobbying group in the United States • Foreign Govts. and private foreign interests have lobbyists (EU)

  6. Interest Group Strategies • They try to cultivate long-term relationships with legislators and government officials. • Direct Techniques • Lobbying – meeting officials and attempting to convince of your position on an issue; Lobbying also entails • testifying before congressional committees • testifying before executive rulemaking agencies • assisting in the drafting of legislation • entertaining legislators • providing information to legislators • assisting in nominating individuals o government posts • Ratings – scoring legislators based on their votes in congress, then making interested constituents aware of those scores • Campaign Assistance – providing workers for political campaigns • Political Action Committees –a committee that raises money and gives donation on behalf of organizations to political candidates or political parties.

  7. Indirect Techniques • Generating Public Pressure – trying to influence the government by using public opinion on an issue. The use of polling data • Using Constituents as Lobbyists • shotgun approach means having large numbers of constituents act in concert by writing, emailing, phoning or sending postcards to a legislator • rifle approach involves having an influential constituent contact a legislator on a particular issue • Building Alliances – forming alliances with other diverse groups who share a policy goal

  8. Attempts at Regulating Lobbyists • Lobbyist: Any person or organization that received money to be used principally to influence legislation before Congress (1946) • Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 • provided for public disclosure (“register”) • failed because it did not have an enforcement mechanism • United States v. Harriss (1954) confirmed the constitutionality of the Legislative Reorganization Act: “Influencing federal legislation directly” • Some regulations on lobbying that passed in 1995-96 included: • defining “lobbyist” as anyone who spends 20 percent of his/her time lobbying members of congress, congressional staffs, or executive branch officials • requiring lobbyists to register with the Secretary of the House or clerk of the Senate • requiring semiannual reports on the nature of lobbying activities

  9. Functions of Political Parties in the United States • A group that seeks to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy • Factions are subgroups within parties that try to obtain certain benefits for themselves • Parties are permanent, factions are not. Parties do the following… • Recruiting candidates for public office • Organizing and running elections • Voter registration drives, work at polls, campaign workers • Presenting alternative policies to the electorate • Accepting responsibility for operating the government • Acting as the organized opposition to the party in power • The “out” party is supposed to articulate its own policies and oppose the winning party when appropriate • The party functions are usually carried out by a small “cadre” of party activists which is different from Europe’s mass-membership party organizations

  10. Why Do We Have a Two-Party System? • It’s been around since the early 1800s… • historical foundations of the system • class politics • sectional politics: East/West then North/South then Northeast/South and West then National Politics • But, there has always been some form of class politics • self-perpetuation of parties • Political socialization • commonality of views among Americans • Shared beliefs, values and principles of our governmental system • the winner-take all electoral (plurality) system • This makes it tough for minor parties • state and federal laws favoring the two party system • Major parties need fewer signatures to place candidates on ballots • Not eligible for federal matching funds for elections, debates

  11. Minor or Third Parties in the United States • most successful minor parties have been splinter parties, parties that broke from a major party • Examples on Page 175 • Bull Moose Progressives of 1912 (from the Republicans) • the American Independent Party of 1968 (from the Democrats) • often, minor parties’ platforms are adopted by major parties • sometimes minor party candidates can have an impact on the outcome of an election

  12. Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources: • http://www.wadsworth.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M2&discipline_number=20&product_isbn_issn=0534592651 • http://www.wadsworth.com/politicalscience • http://www.ipl.org/ref/AON • http://www.democrats.org/index.html • http://www.rnc.org