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Week 10 notes

by: Kirsten Swikert

Week 10 notes Political Science 110

Kirsten Swikert
GPA 3.2

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class notes from 4-19 and 4-21
American National Government
Jeffrey Budziak
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kirsten Swikert on Sunday April 24, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Political Science 110 at Western Kentucky University taught by Jeffrey Budziak in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Western Kentucky University.

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Date Created: 04/24/16
Political Parties: groups of united citizens seeking control of government to influence policy • Potential benefits of political parties in democracy o Organization: help us understand political life o Stability: prevent wild swings in the management of government o Transform preferences into policy: how public opinion translates into law can be tricky § Creation of a party platform o Provide shortcuts for voters: allows voters to overcome information problems • History of political parties (party eras) o George Washington requested that we didn’t develop into hardened political parties after he left office, almost right after he stepped down we formed two hardened political parties o Party eras: extended periods of relative political stability in which one party tends to control government o Important components of a party era § Realignment: long term shift in party allegiance by individuals and groups • Typically caused by parties changing positions on important political issues § Critical elections: elections signaling evidence of realignment • Characteristics of the American party system o The two party system: we have certain rules that make it likely that there will only be two political parties § 1 representative per district § Winner takes all voting in general elections o Third parties § Draw attention to specific issues o Because our parties pick candidates, they tend to be less extreme after picked • The republican party o Were more supportive of civil rights and federal power in the 1860s o Today they believe the opposite, less supportive of expanding rights claims and skeptical of federal power, they’ve become more conservative § Has almost always been more favorable to business and corporate interests • The democratic party o Formed as a commitment to states rights and was skeptical of civil rights o Opposite is true today, it is now an umbrella for many subgroups o Has always contained an element of populism generally missing from the republican party • Interest groups in America o Interest groups: organizations with a common goal trying to influence political goals from the outside § PTAs, neighborhood association, etc. o Nearly 3/4ths of adult Americans belong to something that can be defined as an interest group o Advantages: § Overcome collective action problem: allow people with similar concerns to work together § Resource advantages: allows similarly minded people to pool their resources together § Create leadership: by forming an organization, individuals now have leaders upon whom they can rely o Limitations of interest group participation § Free rider problem: policy-oriented interest groups can bring changes that benefit all (not just group members) § Address with selective benefits when possible o History of interest groups: § Have played a prominent role in American history § Participation of interest groups has varied over time • Pre-civil war: very limited participation • 1880s: large expansion in participation • 1960s: second wave of interest group expansion o Types of interest groups: § Interest groups differ by motivation for joining • Solidarity interest groups: join for social benefits; motivation for many local interest groups • Material interest groups: join for tangible benefits; motivation for specialized interest groups o Interest group politics § Interest groups attempt to influence the political process primarily through lobbying • Attempting to influence the outputs of government, primarily through campaign donations § Types: • Indirect (grassroots)lobbying: interaction with the general public to encourage officials o Interest groups also engage a variety of tactics to try to motivate constituents to put pressure on their representatives § Direct mail: send mail to voters § Distribute fliers § Phone calls/emails/social media o Primary goal: to motivate voters to threaten their representatives • Direct lobbying: direct interaction with public officials o Federal election laws place strict limits on how much any individual or group can donate to a candidate o Political Auction Committees § Specialized organization within interest groups devoted to raising money § Can pend money much more freely on electioneering outcomes than can typical interest groups • The supreme court’s decision in citizen united vs. federal elections commission greatly expanded the power of PACs § Interest groups continue to influence officials once they’re elected • They work hard to influence Congress and the bureaucracy • The iron triangle Congress Activists tax regulation and special Bureaucracy favors


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