POLS 1101 Chapter 8 Reading Summary
POLS 1101 Chapter 8 Reading Summary POLS 1101 08
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Date Created: 09/04/16
interest group Groups of citizens who share a common interest—a political opinion, religious or ideological belief, a social goal, or an economic characteristic—and try to influence public policy to benefit themselves. A proactive group arises when an enterprising individual sees an opening or opportunity to create the group for social, political, or economic purposes. A reactive group forms to protect the interests of members in response to a perceived threat from another group, or to fight a government policy that the members believe will adversely affect them, or to respond to an unexpected external event. The Right to Assemble and to Petition right of association Right to freely associate with others and form groups, as protected by the First Amendment. Factions Defined by Madison as any group that places its own interests above the aggregate interests of society. Madison feared that factions could have the same divisive or polarizing effect in a democracy. right of petition Right to ask the government for assistance with a problem or to express opposition to a government policy, as protected by the First Amendment. the earliest and most basic gateway for citizens seeking to make government respond to them, and it has been used from the beginning of government under the Constitution. Ex) the makers of molasses got together to ask the government to impose higher taxes on imported molasses so they would face less competition. In the nineteenth century, petitions were used for broader and more sweeping issues, such as appeals to end slavery, to ban alcoholic beverages, and to secure the right to vote for women. Lobbying Act of trying to persuade elected officials to adopt a specific policy change or maintain the status quo. Lobbying is a legitimate form of petitioning, and interest groups of all sizes and purposes engage in it, from CSA, to big corporations such as Microsoft and Google, to largescale grassroots groups such as the Sierra Club. Congress or state legislatures typically meet with members’ staff aides to make the case for their policy goals. executive branch meeting personally with key bureaucrats and policy makers. judicial branch lawsuits against government policies that interest groups see as fundamentally unconstitutional or that go against the original intent of the law. Ex) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other liberal interest groups ended school segregation The History of Interest Groups Slavery citizens who opposed slavery formed the American AntiSlavery Society in 1833. Abolitionists held rallies, distributed pamphlets, and collected signatures on petitions to persuade Americans women’s suffrage officially launched at Seneca Falls business community began to strengthen its efforts to influence policy. Large trade associations formed, both regional and national, with members that included sugar manufacturers, mining companies, and railroad owners. Economic Interest Groups Economic interest groups Group formed to advance the economic status of its members. Their membership bases tend to be exclusive because their purpose is to secure tangible economic benefits for themselves; if they grow too large or too inclusive, members’ benefits are necessarily diluted. Trade and Professional Associations - Trade associations focus on particular businesses or industries and make up a subcategory of economic interest groups. Ex) National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, and the Semiconductor Industry Association. - Professional associations are formed by individuals who share similar jobs. Ex) American Bar Association (lawyers), the American Medical Association (doctors), and the American International Automobile Dealers Association (car dealers) Corporations Large corporations are a type of economic interest group in that they try to influence policy on their own as well as by joining trade associations comprising businesses with similar goals. Ex) Walmart, Comcast, and Boeing Unions aims to protect workers through safer working conditions and better wages. Ex) autoworkers might join the United Auto Workers (UAW), truck drivers might join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, health care workers might join the Service Employees International Union, and high school teachers might join the National Educational Association. The biggest threat to unions is the loss of jobs in the industries they represent. Part of the reason for this decline is that government regulations now require the protections that unions long sought in terms of safe working conditions, overtime compensation, and nondiscrimination. As of 2014, more than onethird of states have righttowork laws that allow individuals to choose not to join a union even if their workplace has a designated union in place. American unions are both economically and politically powerful because they can mobilize their members to vote for candidates they see as favorable on issues such as higher minimum wages, standards for overtime pay, better access to health care insurance, worker safety, and international trade agreements. Ideological and IssueOriented Groups Ideological interest groups Groups that form among citizens with the same beliefs about a specific issue. citizens’ groups “public interest groups“ Groups that form to draw attention to purely public issues that affect all citizens equally. (Common Cause, Public Citizen) Ex) environmental protection, transparency in government, consumer product safety, ethics reform, and campaign finance reform singleissue groups Groups that form to present one view on a highly salient issue that is intensely important to members, such as gun control or abortion. (National Rifle Association, Right to Life) Ex) national debt and the federal deficit to members of CSA grassroots movement groups (MoveOn.org, National Organization for Women). ideological groups can encourage political participation in a democratic society. At the same time, these groups contribute to the polarization of the American public. The intensity with which each side holds its position discourages crossgroup dialogue and makes it harder for elected officials to achieve a reasonable and widely acceptable resolution of the issue. Because an interest group seeks a favorable government response on a narrowly defined issue important to that group, the group can also create imbalances that verge on inequalities. Foreign Policy and International Groups Foreign policy groups form to generate support for favorable U.S. policies toward one or several foreign countries. Ex) American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) aims to ensure a strongly proIsrael American foreign policy and uses public advocacy, member mobilization, and campaign contributions to influence members of Congress to support its goals. International groups concerned with human rights work to call attention to violations in the hopes of ending oppression. Ex) Catholic Relief Services sponsors the Global Solidarity Network, which allows college students to communicate with people living in small villages or towns in developing countries. nongovernmental organizations Organizations independent of governments that monitor and improve political, economic, and social conditions throughout the world. Inform Before the Internet, groups provided members with information about government policies and new developments in their issue areas through newsletters and sessions at annual conventions. Interest groups do more than merely report on current policy developments; they also provide members with interpretations of how the developments will affect their mission and goals. Ex) in June 2014, when the EPA issued regulations to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent, which was considered a strong stance against climate change, the Sierra Club posted a notice on its website informing its members and urging them to express their support. inform government officials about the impact of specific public policies Lobbying Groups can use their own employees as lobbyists or contract with firms that specialize in lobbying. The offices of many of these lobbyists are concentrated in an area of northwest Washington known as the K Street corridor There are three common pathways to becoming a Washington lobbyist: working on Capitol Hill, working in the executive branch, or working on a political campaign. In 2007, congressional ethics reforms prohibited paid trips and meals for members and staff. inside strategy A strategy employed by interest groups to pursue a narrow policy change and influence legislators directly rather than using a wider grassroots approach. When an inside strategy does not work, groups adopt a more public or outside lobbying strategy by getting the press and their members more directly involved. Ex) a nonprofit group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington consistently tries to get the press to focus on whether government officials are obeying ethics and campaign finance laws economic groups typically adopt an insider lobbying strategy and limit their activity to key actors in Congress and the executive branch. In contrast, citizens’ groups typically adopt the outsider strategy to take advantage of the strength that comes from their large memberships. Campaign Activities Candidates and their campaign organizations must comply with reporting and disclosure requirements, which are monitored by the FEC. 501(c)(3) organizations Taxexempt groups that are prohibited from lobbying or campaigning for a party or candidate. charities, religious organizations, public service organizations, employee benefit groups, and fraternal societies, they can produce voter education guides or other nonpartisan educational materials that explain issues brought up during a political campaign and keep the public informed. they can produce voter education guides or other nonpartisan educational materials that explain issues brought up during a political campaign and keep the public informed. political action committees (PACs) Groups formed to raise and contribute funds to support electoral candidates and that are subject to campaign finance laws. Buckley v. Valeo (1976) upheld limits on donations to congressional campaigns. Unaffiliated PACs, groups that make campaign contributions but are not associated with specific interest groups, also grew in size as a means of coordinating campaign contributions from individual citizens who wanted to express their campaign support as part of a larger group. Given the amount of money that PACs spend on campaign support, many observers have expressed concern that PACs exert a disproportionate influence over legislators, which creates an imbalance in government responsiveness toward some groups. Interest groups tend to lobby and contribute to members of Congress who are leaning in their direction, so it is difficult to prove the impact of a campaign contribution. Ex) Club for Growth is a PAC devoted to lowering taxes because of its influence on Republican members who were advocating for lower government spending. In October 2013, the federal government shut down for 16 days at an estimated cost of $2 billion because a group of these congressmen refused to vote to fund it and refused to raise the borrowing limit for the federal government (the debt ceiling). campaign finance laws impose limits on what interest groups can do in terms of issue advocacy, the practice of running advertisements or distributing literature on a policy issue rather than for a specific candidate. McCainFeingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002) restricted corporations and unions from using television and radio ads for “electioneering communications”—commercials that refer to a candidate by name—within thirty days of a primary and sixty days of a general election. In 2007, in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled that if a campaign advertisement could be reasonably viewed as issuebased, it was protected under the guarantee of free speech and could not be prohibited under the McCainFeingold Act. In 2010, the Supreme Court removed virtually all limits on issue ads, and individuals, corporations, and unions can spend as much money as they want on issue ads. McCutcheon et al. v. Federal Election Commission, by removing the overall limits on the amount of money one individual could contribute to all federal elections; there are still limits on how much money can be given to one candidate, but an individual can now contribute to every single candidate running for federal office, as well as political parties. Natural Balance or Disproportionate Power In the 1950s, David Truman agreed with Tocqueville and Madison, describing interest group formation as natural. if the commonality disappears, the group disappears. Olson argues that the costbenefit structure that underlies group formation contradicts Truman’s claim that all groups naturally form and sustain themselves. Robert Dahl argued that in a pluralist society, the battles over public policy by the varied interest groups that emerge to represent their members will produce a consensus that serves the public’s common interest. Pluralist View of democratic society in which interest groups compete over policy goals, and elected officials are mediators of group conflict. C. Wright Mills worried that a power elite controlled power in the American democracy. Theodore Lowi worried that government is more responsive to louder voices and that policy making is elitist and fundamentally antidemocratic. Exclusive groups act only in the best interests of their members, even if nonmembers thereby lose out. E. E. Schattschneider described this aspect of interest groups as an actual threat to democracy. special interests Set of groups seeking a particular benefit for themselves in the policy process. SelfService or Public Service The question of legitimacy of an interest group’s activities comes when a victory for one group means a loss for another, or more broadly a loss for the general public. automobile manufacturers argued that increased fuel efficiency is more expensive to produce and that CAFE standards would cut into their profits and might even decrease sales. As the economic health of the domestic automobile industry slowly improved, the Obama administration felt freer to speed up the timetable for implementing those standards. As a result, the EPA issued regulations, first in 2010 and again in 2012, that require automobile manufacturers to produce vehicles that get 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 Open or Closed Routes of Influence iron triangle Insular and closed relationship among interest groups, members of Congress, and federal agencies. Lobbyists and interest groups want to maximize their benefits from federal programs; members of Congress want to maximize their power to shape the programs; and federal bureaucrats want to maximize their longevity as administrators of these programs. Critics of the influence of interest groups in a democracy often describe iron triangles as unbreakable and argue that they contribute to the inefficiency of the federal government because they sustain programs that should be eliminated or enlarge programs beyond what is necessary to meet their intended purposes. President Eisenhower’s stature as a decorated general who commanded U.S. and Allied forces in World War II gave him credibility on the issue of defense spending, and his depiction of the militaryindustrial complex as a type of iron triangle drew a great deal of notice. issue networks View of the relationship among interest groups, members of Congress, and federal agencies as more fluid, open, and transparent than that described by the term iron triangle. Heclo argues that interest groups, members of Congress, and bureaucrats all share information constantly, and that their interactions are open and transparent, not closed. revolving door Movement of members of Congress, lobbyists, and executive branch employees into paid positions in each other’s organizations. The term revolving door has a negative connotation, suggesting that an iron triangle of influence consists of the same set of people moving from one branch of government to another and then to the private sector. System does not stop to include outsiders with new perspectives; in other words, it can act as a gate against wider political participation. Senator DeMint represents a new version of the revolving door where elected officials who are closely tied to ideological agendas leave their office to head up organizations that seek to influence public policy at the grassroots level as well as inside the beltway—and earn a much higher salary in the process. Leadership Accountability Benefits that come from being a group leader range from salary as a paid staff member to prestige and influence over the group’s goals and strategies. Transparency about the group’s political and financial activities in pursuit of its goals is an important democratic element of an interest group iron law of oligarchy Theory that leaders in any organization eventually behave in their own selfinterest, even at the expense of rankandfile members; the larger the organization, the greater the likelihood that the leader will behave this way. Robert Michels coined the phrase iron law of oligarchy Membership Stability Too many members may create internal disagreements about policy goals, but too few may weaken the group’s ability to exert influence in the policy system. selective benefits Benefits offered exclusively to members of an interest group. Material benefits, such as direct monetary benefits from policies that the group advocates, discounts on travel or prescriptions, and even monthly magazines. Solidary benefits are less tangible. Expressive benefits are the least tangible in that they consist of having a specific opinion expressed in the larger social or political sphere. public goods Goods or benefits provided by government from which everyone benefits and from which no one can be excluded. free rider problem Problem faced by interest groups when a collective benefit they provide is so widespread and diffuse that members and nonmembers alike receive it, reducing the incentive for joining the group. Financial Stability Most organizations also rely on dues. Grassroots groups that seek to attract as many members as possible keep their dues relatively modest. Interest groups also achieve financial stability by creating notforprofit businesses within the organization. Influence in the Public Sphere One indicator of influence is being quoted in the press. Ex) Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), mentioned earlier in this chapter, were heavily featured in the press because they persuaded 236 U.S. House members and 41 U.S. senators in the 112th Congress to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge—a promise not to vote for any tax increases. indicators of influence is being asked to testify in Congress or being cited by an elected official when discussing a key issue of concern.
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