POLI 360 - Lecture 1, Week 1
POLI 360 - Lecture 1, Week 1 POLI 360 001
Popular in American Political Parties
POLI 360 001
verified elite notetaker
Popular in Political Science
verified elite notetaker
This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by runnergal on Monday January 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 360 001 at University of South Carolina taught by David C. Darmofal in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 82 views. For similar materials see American Political Parties in Political Science at University of South Carolina.
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Date Created: 01/18/16
American Political Parties: Lecture 1 Criticisms of Political Parties 1. Americans are skeptical of political parties: Parties represent narrow interests, not collective goods. This was one of the founders’ critical concerns, voiced in George Washington’s farewell address. 2. Party organizations and party leaders are corrupt, benefiting themselves at the expense of society: 19 century reformers sought to limit corrupt parties’ influences, exemplified by Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, kickbacks, etc. 3. Party loyalties limit voters’ abilities to think independently, as well as choose the best candidates and policies: The 20 century “ideal citizen” was an independent voter who chooses candidates and policies based on merit, as opposed to brand (party) identity. For example, the opposite of this ideal would be some Republicans under the George W. Bush administration in 2007 that believed that the economy was in good shape, while most Democrats did not believe that the economy was in good shape. Each Critique is Valid 1 . Parties represent distinct societal interests, as opposed to the collective interest: Democrats historically represent immigrants, workers, Catholics, and northern urban populations. Additionally, Democrats have supported AfricanAmericans since the New Deal was passed, and especially since the 1960s. Democrats are liberals. Republicans historically represent business owners, nonimmigrants, Protestants, and farmers. Additionally, Republicans have represented white Southerners since the 1960s. Republicans are conservatives. 2 . Representation of specific, as opposed to collective, interests is expected: Madison writes in Federalist #10 that factions are natural outcomes of citizens’ differing interests. Madison proposed monitoring factions not by stopping their existence, but rather by allowing them to compete with each other and also by designing institutions that would limit the majority faction’s power. 3 . Parties as Corrupt Institutions: Political parties have always been corrupt. 19 century parties paid people with alcohol to vote multiple times in multiple locations. Some parties even bused these voters to different locations! These parties also physically threatened voters that considered not voting as planned. Moreover, other forms of corruption have allowed party leaders to get rich at their constituents’ expenses. 4 . Parties and the Independent Voter: Reformers developed the idea of the “independent voter.” Independent voters pay attention to policy details, and they judge candidates and policies on their merit. However, many citizens only vote for their own party’s candidates, even if their own interests conflict with the candidate’s platform. For example, some Republicans voted for Ronald Reagan in the presidential election, even though their views aligned more closely with the Democratic candidate. Positive Effects of Parties Parties serve essential functions, which benefit political elites, citizens, and political society (polity) as a whole. Parties and Political Elites’ Needs Aldrich theorizes that parties are elites’ creations that serve elites’ interests. He thinks parties are endogenous; they are created by the elites, for the elites. Political Elites Create Political Parties to Solve These Problems (Aldrich) 1 . Problem of Ambition: Elected office is an esteemed goal, allowing politicians to form policies, gain influence, and make lucrative connections. Since this job is a prized goal, there are always going to be more politicians contesting office than those who can seriously compete for office. Parties are created in part by politicians to limit the number of true challengers. Parties limits challengers by offering endorsements, recruiting activists, and holding primaries to winnow the field. Without parties, it is very hard to winnow the field. For example, the California Recall Elections had no primaries or party endorsements, producing a crowded field. The parties only became active towards the end of the election cycle, with Republicans rallying around Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats rallying around Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. 2 . Social Choice Problem: Elected officials want to enact policies, which is hard to accomplish without parties. Social choice theory shows you cannot guarantee that legislators’ partialities over three or more policies can produce a stable voting outcome (paradox of voting). Therefore, legislators can only produce policy by controlling the legislative agenda. For example, the Speaker of the House, in conjunction with the majority party, could choose to not bring one of the three bills to the floor, allowing one of the other two bills to pass. Calculus of Voting (Riker and Ordeshook, 1968) R = PB + D – C R = rewards from voting P = citizen’s probability of casting a pivotal ballot B = citizen’s policy advantage from the election of his/her favored candidate D = citizen’s psychological gain from voting C = citizen’s cost of voting Since P is close to 0, P multiplied by B equals 0. Therefore, the entire equation, and likelihood of the citizen’s vote, depends on the citizen’s psychological gain and the citizen’s cost. Political elites use parties to manipulate D and C for the benefit of their supporters and to the detriment of their opponents.
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