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Chapter 7 TXBK Notes

by: Tiara Notetaker

Chapter 7 TXBK Notes POSC 103

Tiara Notetaker
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These are the basic notes to Chapter 7 of our POSC 103 Textbook - Introduction to American Government 8th Edition by Turner. Chapter 7 - Interest Groups and Political Parties
American National Government
Joseph Rudolph
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Tiara Notetaker on Monday September 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POSC 103 at Towson University taught by Joseph Rudolph in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see American National Government in Political Science at Towson University.


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Date Created: 09/26/16
Chapter 7 – Interest Groups and Political Parties 7.1 Interest Groups in American Politics  Interest groups – associations of people who hold common views and work together to  influence government actions ­ 30% of Americans are involved (more common in the US than in other democracies)  Pluralist democracy – American society is made up of many groups because of the  different races, religions, cultures, languages, etc. ­ Power is in the hands of labor organizations, veterans, industries, etc., not the elite ­ Policies are made as a compromise between groups. Exp. Laws to reduce automobile  emissions benefit environmentalists, health care specialists, the elderly, automobile  manufacturers/dealers, labor unions, and petroleum companies.  Characteristics of interest groups: ­ Size: bigger groups are more effective (more active members, money, and votes) o Movement – when several interest groups join together for a cause (exp. Civil rights movement, environmental movement, feminist movement) ­ Membership: Formal (pays dues, etc.) or non­formal (sense of belonging) ­ Organization: Internal communication, ability to coordinate, democratic or autocratic  control over its members ­ Political attachment: political action committees are formed to petition the  government if interests are threatened ­ Views: either agree or disagree with mainstream society  Actions interest groups take: ­ Direct mail: personally addressed letters or emails to solicit support and donations ­ Political action committees: send money to candidates o Federal Election Campaign Act: prevents the misuse of campaign funds ­ Lobbying: attempting to influence legislation that’s under consideration by personal  contact with decision making bodies by group representatives o Iron Triangle: interest group representatives, legislative committees, and  government administrators influence political decisions o Class action suits: legal action on behalf of individuals whose common  interest is only a grievance against the other party o Amicus curiae brief: a group offers friendly advice on how to decide a case  Major interest groups ­ Economic. Grass roots lobbying: business groups encourage their members to  contact their elected officials ­ Social groups. Concern: gender, race, ethnic discrimination, economic advancement  (exp. NOW – National Organization for Women, and NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) ­ Religious groups. Concern: religious freedom (exp. Christian Right: conservative  groups that promote prayer in schools, the teaching of creationism in science classes,  and the teaching of abstinence in sex education) ­ Ideological groups. Public policy based on their philosophy of government action ­ Single issue groups. Refuse to compromise their goals (Exp. Antiabortion movement) ­ Public interest groups. Concern: issues that affect the general public 7.2 Perspectives on Interest Groups  View: Interest groups as the foundation of democracy ­ The US is pluralistic and the more people who are informed about, and active in,  politics, the better ­ Interest groups represent the people ­ Cross­cutting cleavage: two individuals rarely disagree on all issues, but overlap in  some interests. This prevents polarizing conflict and taking sides. ­ Interest group competition and cross­cutting cleavages provide balance ­ Interest group elitism: elite members pursue interests over other members’ interests, elite groups pursue interests over other groups’ interests  View: Interest groups vs. Public Interest ­ Who gets to define the “common good”? ­ Should a good be done for a small number of people?  View: Interest group grid lock ­ The government, in an attempt to please all, pleases none ­ The political process can be stuck if too many groups/all are unwilling to compromise 7.3 Political Parties  Political party – an organization seeking to influence public policy by putting its own  members into governmental authority  Socialization functions – how parties socialize voters into politics and form public  opinion in order to win elections  Electoral functions – how parties bring order to campaigns in order to win elections ­ Integrate interests (a single issue won’t get enough votes), but, even then, one party  won’t offer everything every voter wants  Governmental functions – how parties organize the government (to be responsible for  the people) after winning the election 7.4 Basic Characteristics of the American Party System  Plurality election – candidate wins if it gets the most votes  Majority election – candidate wins if it gets more than half the votes cast (majority)  Run­off election – leading candidates face off when the previous election did not  produce a winner  Proportional representation – a party gets seats in a legislative body based on the  number of votes they received in an election (more common in other countries,  encourages third parties because they can gain seats as long as they gain votes).  Third party – a minor party that attracts only a small share of votes (Exp. Populist Party, Progressive Party, Socialist Party, etc.)  Importance of third parties ­ Forces the major parties to address certain issues ­ Sometimes takes votes away from a party, causing the other party to win  Party Structure ­ Parties are divided into national, state, and local organizations and groupings ­ Formal party organization: people belong to a party because they hold an office ­ National convention: meeting that occurs every 4 years, focuses on the upcoming  presidential election. During which, a platform is written, a president and vice  president candidate is chosen, and the national committee is designated o Platform: a statement of the party’s proposed program o National committee: the body that oversees the party’s affairs and elects the  party chairperson (Democrat chairperson: Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  Republican chairperson: Reince Priebus) ­ Political machine: organization that controls its membership by giving benefits (exp.  Government jobs) to its supporters ­ State committees: the body that oversees the state political party’s affairs and elects  state chairperson ­ Party in the electorate: individual citizens who identify with a political party o Coalition: subgroup of a party based on common social, economic, and  religious characteristics. (Democrat coalition = working class, rural/southern,  Catholic. Republican coalition = upper class, big businesses, Protestant) ­ Party in the government: elected officials (president, governors, mayors, senators,  city council members, etc.) and the organizations they establish 7.5 American Political Parties: Past, Present, and Future  Party systems – period where there’s a pattern of support for political parties ­ First party system (1789­1824): Federalists (pro­centralized government, elite rule)  vs. Antifederalists (pro­decentralized government, democratic rule). Antifederalists  turned into Democratic Republicans and governed during the Era of Good Feelings ­ Second party system (1824­1860): Democratic Republicans fell apart. Andrew  Jackson (pro­working class, machine politics) formed the Democrat party vs. the  Whigs (pro­businesses, political reform). Slavery split the US: North vs. South ­ Third party system (1860­1896): Former Whigs and Abraham Lincoln formed the  Republican party (opposed slavery, promoted government­controlled commerce) vs.  Democrats (made up the Confederacy) ­ Fourth party system (1896­1932): Republican dominated, pro capitalist system ­ Fifth party system (1932­1968): Great Depression, FD Roosevelt supported  government intervention = Democrat dominated  Realignment – a major change in the pattern of support for a party due to dealignment   Dealignment – a short period of turmoil causes the current party system to break down  and a new one to be established (occurs around every 36 years)  Decline – the idea that US political parties are collapsing and may eventually disappear.  Parties are possibly in decline because: ­ The modern welfare system by the government means parties no longer have to  directly serve communities in order to gain support ­ Technology (social media, TVs) mean parties don’t have to rely on party workers to  knock on doors to gain support ­ The public funds campaigns so candidates don’t have to rely on the party for money ­ Candidates are picked in open conventions (primary elections) now, not caucuses o Caucus – a meeting of members of a party to pick the party’s candidates ­ The amount of youth who share their parents’ political views has declined  Resurgence – the idea that US parties are making a comeback, not a decline  Sixth party system (1968­present) – the government is divided by parties ­ Democrat president, republican congress (or vice versa) ­ Congress that is evenly split between both parties


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