Ch 10 Goverernment in America
Ch 10 Goverernment in America POL 1101 - GP
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Yesenia Rodriguez on Wednesday September 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POL 1101 - GP at Georgia Institute of Technology taught by Georgia A Persons (P) in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views.
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Date Created: 09/28/16
CH 10: Interest Groups Politics in Action: How the Beverage Industry Mobilized to Stop a Sugar Tax Our nation’s capital has become a hub of interest group activity. Americans are more likely than citizens of other countries to participate in civic association or community service group Americans are the more likely than others to have worked with a group to express political views. James Madison defined interest groups as working “adverse” to the interests of the nation as a whole 10.1 The Role of Interest Groups The right to organize groups is protected by the Constitution, which guarantees people the right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Interest refers to a policy goal Group is a combination of people Interest Group – an organization of people with similar policy goals who enter the political process to try to achieve those goals. Parties fight their battles through the electoral process; they run candidates for public office. Interest Groups may support candidates for office, but American interest groups do not run their own slate of candidates, as occurs in some other countries. A key difference between parties and interest groups is that interest groups are usually policy specialists, whereas parties are policy generalists. The number of interest groups in the United States has been increasing rapidly over the past half century. One of the major factors behind this explosion in the number of interest groups has been the development of sophisticated technology. technology did not create interest group politics, but it has surly made the process much easier. 10.2 Theories of Interest Group Politics Pluralism argues that interest groups activity brings representation to all. Groups compete and counterbalance one another in the political marketplace. Elitism argues that a few groups(wealthy) have the most power. Hyperpluralism asserts that too many groups are getting too much of what they want, resulting in government policy that is often contradictory and lacking in direction. Pluralism They believe that groups win some and lose some but that no group wins or loses all the time. Group theory of politics: o Groups provide a key link between people and the government. o Groups compete o No one group is likely to become too dominant. o Groups usually play by the rules of the game. o Groups weak in one resolve can use another. In sum, pluralists argue that lobbying is open to all and is therefore not to be regarded as a problem. Elitism Real power is held by relatively few people, key groups, and institutions. In sum the elitist view of the interest group system makes the following assertions: o the fact that there are numerous groups proves nothing because groups are extremely unequal in power. o Awesome power is held by the largest corporations. o The power of a few is fortified by an extensive system of interlocking directorates. o Other groups may win minor policy battles, but corporate elites prevail when it comes to the big decisions. Thus, lobbying is a problem, say elite theorists, because it benefits relatively few at the expense of many. Hyperpluralism Argue that the interest group system is out of control. The problem is in interest group liberalism – a situation in which government is excessively deferential to groups, with virtually all pressure group demands seen as legitimate and the job of government to advance them all. Interest groups liberalism is promoted by the network of subgovernments in the American political system that exercise a great deal of control over specific policy areas. Iron triangles – composed of key interest group leaders interested in policy X, the government agency in charge of administering policy X, and the members of congressional committees and subcommittees handling policy x. All elements of the iron triangle have the same goal: protecting their self-interest. Their major criticism of the interest group system is that relations between groups and the government have become too cozy. Position on group politics is as follows: o Groups have become too powerful in the political process as government tries to appease every conceivable interest. o Interest group liberalism is aggravated by numerous iron triangles – comfortable relationships among a government agency, the interest group it deals with, and congressional subcommittees. o Trying to please every group results in contradictory and confusing policy. 10.3 What Makes an Interest Group Successful? Many factors affect the success of an interest group. Size of group, its intensity, and financial resources. Smaller groups are more likely to achieve their goals than larger groups. The Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groups Have organizational advantages over larger groups. A potential group is composed of all people who might be group members because they share some common interest. An actual group is composed of those in the potential group who choose to join. A collective goo is something of value, such as clean air, that cannot be withheld from anyone. Why join the group, pay dues, and work hard for a goal when a person can benefit from the group’s activity without doing anything at all? A perfectly rational response is thus to sit back and let other people do the work. This is commonly known as the free-rider problem. The primary way for large potential groups to overcome the free-rider problem is to provide attractive benefits for only those who join the organization. Selective benefits are goods that a group can restrict to those who pay their yearly dues, such as travel discounts, and group insurance rates. Intensity single issue group – a group that has a narrow interest, dislikes compromise, and single- mindedly pursues its goal. Financial Resources one of the major indictments of the American interest group system is that it is biased toward the wealthy. There is no doubt that money talks in the American political system, and those who have it get heard. It is important to emphasize that even on some of the most important issues, big interests do not always win. Offer several explanations for why the correlation between big money and lobbying success is so weak. They find that lobbying is a very competitive enterprise. In numerous instances one big interest faced off against another. A high degree of diversity within sides active in the lobbying game, as groups with substantial financial resources often allied themselves with poor groups with whom they share a common goal. 10.4 How Groups Try to Shape Policy No interest group has enough staff, money, or time to do everything possible to achieve its policy goals The four basic strategies are lobbying, electioneering, litigation, and appealing to the public. Lobbying The term lobbying comes from the place where petitioners used to collar legislators. They were dubbed lobbyists because they spent so much of their time waiting in lobbies. Lobbying is a “communication, by someone other than a citizen acting on his or her own behalf, directed to a governmental decision maker with hope of influencing his or her decision. Lobbyists in other words are political persuaders who represent organized groups. Two basic types of lobbyists: regular paid employee of a corporation, union, or association. The second type is available for hire on a temporary basis. 4 ways lobbyists can help a member of congress: they are important source of information; they can help politicians with political strategy for getting legislation through; they can help formulate campaign strategy and get the group’s members behind a politician’s reelection campaign; they are a source of ideas and innovations. A skilled lobbyist is paid for knowing whom to contact and with what information. Lobbying is said that is purpose is not to change anyone’s mind but rather simply to help political allies. Sometimes it can persuade legislators to support a certain policy. Electioneering Because lobbying works best with those already on the same side, getting the right people into office and keeping them there is also a key strategy of interest groups. Electioneering – aiding candidates financially and getting group members out to support them. A means for interest groups to participate in electioneering is provided by political action committees(PACs) A PAC is formed when a business association or some other interest group decides to contribute to candidates whom it believes will support legislation it favors. Symbiotic relationship between the PACs and the candidates: candidates need money, and PACs want access to officeholders. PAC contributions are basically investments for the future ant the incumbents are most likely to return the investment. In addition to their role in financial campaigns, interest groups participate in elections in numerous other ways. Among these are recruiting interest group members to run as candidates for office, issuing official group endorsements, providing volunteer labor to participate in campaign work, and sending delegates to state and national party conventions to try to influence party platforms. Litigation If interest groups fail in Congress or get only a vague piece of legislation, the next step is to go to court in hope of getting specific rulings. A amicus curiae briefs (friend of the court briefs) Class action lawsuits, which enable a group of people in a similar situation to combine their common grievances into a single suit. Going Public Groups are also interested in the opinions of the public. Because public opinion ultimately makes it way to policymakers, interest groups carefully cultivate their public image and use public opinion to their advantage when they can. 10.5 Types of Interest Groups Among the most important clusters are those consisting of groups that deal with either economic issues, environmental concerns, equality issues, or the interests of consumers and the public generally. Economic Interest Government often provides subsidies and every economic group wants to get its share of this distinct aid and government contracts. Labor - Unions are the main interest groups representing labor. - The major aim if American union organizations is to press for policies to ensure better working conditions and higher wages. - Union shop – requires employees of the business that has a union contract to join the union and stay in it as long as they work there. - Right to work laws – which outlaw union membership as a condition of employment. - Labor union movement has expanded in the public sector. Business Environmental Interests Have promoted policies to control pollution and to combat global warming, wilderness protection, and species preservation. Equality Interests 14 amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. American history shows that it is easier said than done. Consumer and Other Public Interest Lobbies Public interest lobbies – organizations that seek “a collective good, the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership of activists of the organization” 10.6 Understanding Interest Groups For democracy to work well, it is important that groups not be allowed to assume a dominant position Interest Groups and Democracy A democratic process requires a free and open exchange of ideas in which candidates and voters can hear one another out, but PACs distort the process Elite theorists particularly note that wealthier interests are greatly advantaged by the PAC system. Hyperpluralist theory maintain that whenever a major interest group objects strongly to proposed legislation, policy makers will bend over backwards to try to accommodate it. Interest Groups and the Scope of Government The municipality of the American interest group system and the openness of American politics to input from interest groups individuals many channels for political participation and thus facilitate representation of individual interests. However, one can also argue that the growth in the scope of government in recent decades accounts for a good portion of the proliferation of interest groups.
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