Intro to American Politics
Intro to American Politics POL 1013
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Interest Groups Interest Group is an organization whose members share common concerns and try to in uence government policies affecting these concerns Interest groups also are known as lobbies lobbying is one of the ways interest groups shape legislation and bring the views of their constituents to the attention of decisionmakers Lobbying The activities of a group or organization that seek to persuade political leaders to support the group s position Lobbying Congress Interest groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to lobby members of Congress on a range of issues These groups try to affect the legislation being generated in Congress Sometimes lobbyist speak with congresspeople directly but lobbyists also testify at congressional hearings The Senate publishes ethics guidelines to explain the complex federal laws that govern the interaction among congresspeople and lobbyists Many corporations and foreign countries donate money to interest groups and thus help sponsor lobbyists in Washington 0 The most common and effective interest group technique is lobbying or seeking to in uence and persuade others to support your group s position Universities businesses foreign countries trade associations hire lobbyists and anyone else wanting their voice heard on Capitol Hill The most popular ways to lobby congress include testifying at legislative hearings talking 0 directly to government officials helping to draft legislation alerting state legislators of a bill39s effects on their districts having in uential constituents contact a legislator s office mounting grassroots campaigns letter writing donating money litigation endorsing candidates and more Lobbying the Executive Branch Although some lobbyists have direct access to the president most have access only to the lower levels of the executive branch Interest groups particularly target regulatory agencies which have the ability to set policy affecting commerce and trade throughout the country Some scholars have claimed that lobbying of regulatory agencies has resulted in agency capture effectively handing control of the agency over to the industries it was intended to regulate o In the executive branch lobbyists work closely with the administration to try to in uence policy at the formulation and implementation stages of the process There are many points of access in the executive from the White House to the agencies and beyond Lobbying the 3011115 Interest groups work to in uence the courts in a number of ways Interest groups often file amicus curiae friend of the court briefs presenting an argument in favor of a particular issue Sometimes interest groups file lawsuits against the government or other parties For example the NAACP worked for years to bring civil rights cases to the Supreme Court The American Civil Liberties Union also makes extensive use of the courts 0 Many court cases are supported by an interest group or interest groups submit a friend of the court brief to lobby the courts Interest groups also attempt to in uence judicial appointments aiming for judges who might be sympathetic to their issues grassroots lobbying Interest groups also mobilize individuals at the grassroots through doortodoor campaigns or petition drives Fax campaigns and Internet lobbying are also becoming popular The goal is to get constituents to argue your case for you They are often quite in uential Lobbyists employ a number of tactics and offer lawmakers a number of benefits to achieve their goals including persuasion information material incentives economic leverage disruption and litigation Candidate recruitment In uence on Elections Endorsement In uence on Elections 7 Get Out the Vote In uence on Elections A push at the end of a political campaign to encourage supporters to go to the polls Rating candidates In uence on Elections 7 Campaign contributions In uence on Elections Racial Ethnic and Minority Interest Groups 7 0 Examples Economic Interest Groups which seek some sort of economic advantage for their members are the most common type of interest group Money has significant in uence in capitalist societies so economic interest groups are numerous and powerful These groups are usually well funded because members willingly contribute money in the hopes of reaping greater political in uence and profit 0 Economic groups work to win private goods which are benefits that only the members of the group will enjoy When a labor union agrees to a contract for example its members benefit from the contract whereas nonunion members do not Ifthere is no private good incentive people might choose not to join especially if there is a membership fee or dues There are four main types of economic groups business groups labor groups agricultural groups and professional associations 0 Business Groups Interest Groups Business and other groups also rallied in the 1970 s and 1980 s In 1972 they created the Business Roundtable to encourage business leaders to directly lobby government officials Most large corporations have their own lobbyists in Washington and give huge sums to favored politicians I Trade Associations Labor Unions Interest Groups The political clout of organized labor has been falling since its 0 heyday the late 1950s after the merger of the AFL and the CIO Union membership has been falling for decades as the economy has been shifting from industry to service and now hightech O O In 1997 only 139 of its workers were unionized In 1996 the unions seemed to reclaim some of their clout They went back to basics ran grassroots campaigns and did lots of soft money advertisements In 1998 they moved away from the ads and vested more heavily in grassroots campaigning Union members went to the polls in record numbers voting mostly Democratic I Right to work states min wage Agriculture Groups Interest Groups Agricultural groups represent the interests of farmers Farmers have been organized for centuries to protect themselves against price uctuations and other issues In the United States farmers groups such as the Grange movement have played an important role in politics which continues today The federal government spends large amounts of money supporting farmers and in uencing what crops are grown Not all agricultural groups agree on the same policies Some groups such as the Farm Bureau tend to work most closely with large agribusinesses whereas others such as the Farmers Union and the Grange do more to protect family farms Professional Interest Groups 7 Many professionals have formal organizations that set ground rules for the profession regulate practices and promote standards of conduct Professional associations also lobby the government on issues related to their profession The American Medical Association for example fights against laws it feels undercut physicians autonomy Similarly the National Education Association a professional association for teachers lobbies for policies it feels will benefit teachers and students N on economic Interest Groups sometimes called citizens groups are interest groups that fight for causes instead of working for material gain Unlike economic groups which work for private goods noneconomic groups seek public goods also called collective goods which benefit everyone in society not just members of the group Instead of material incentives these groups offer their members a variety of selective incentives including the following benefits 0 O O O O Purposive bene ts The emotional and psychological benefits members receive knowing they have contributed to a cause they feel is worthwhile Solidarity bene ts The social benefits members receive after meeting new people and friends they worked with to promote the cause Informational bene ts The educational benefits members receive after having learned more about the issues that matter to them There are four main types of groups public interest groups singleissue groups ideological groups and government groups Public Interest Groups Public interest groups claim to work for the good of the whole society not just one part of it Not surprisingly public interest groups often have very different ideas as to how to improve society Many public interest groups tackle a number of related issues Greenpeace for example works to protect ecosystems around the world and to educate the public about dangers to the environment The nonpartisan public interest group Democracy 21 seeks to strengthen democracy by lobbying for election and campaign finance reforms Citizen amp Advocacy Interest Groups When people form interest groups that are not associated with how they make a living but rather with some common concern or characteristic they could be called citizen interest groups They cover a wide range of interests and sizes At the one extreme might be a local nature group that meets monthly to learn about birds or plants and build some houses for bluebirds At the other extreme are complex groups that have state national and local affiliates like the National Ri e Association NRA the Audubon Society or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP The largest citizen group in terms of membership is the AARP which once stood for the American Association of Retired Persons A few years ago it dropped the formal name because it had expanded to include older people who are not retired However it kept the wellknown acronym AARP as a name rather than an acronym because the label was so well known 0 Single Issue Groups Singleissue groups work solely on one specific issue These groups tend O to be very strongly driven composed of members who are passionately committed to the particular cause Over the last few decades the number of singleissue groups has grown greatly there are now groups covering a broad range of issues Wellknown singleissue groups include the National Ri e Association which lobbies against gun control legislation and Operation Rescue which works to ban abortion Ideological Groups Whereas singleissue groups have a very narrow focus ideological groups have much broader aims rooted in a strongly held philosophy Ideological groups often work to change cultural norms values and prevailing stereotypes Conservative ideological groups include the Christian Coalition and the Traditional Values Coalition whereas liberal ideological groups include the NOW and the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People Religious Groups Interest Groups The growth and success of public interest groups civil rights organizations and women39s rights movements in the 1960 s and 1970 s led to a conservative backlash in the late 1970s and 1980s Religious and ideological conservatives became a potent force in US politics with the founding of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell in 1978 This group was widely credited with helping Ronald Reagan win the presidency In 1990 Pat Robertson of the TV program The 700 Club formed a new group called the Christian Coalition Religious conservatives accounted for one third of votes cast in the 1994 elections Following IRS troubles in the 1990s the Christian Coalition had its taxexempt status revoked and the group began to restructure as a forpro t entity with a smaller nonpro t a iliate The religious right continues to pressure Congress and others in power for bans on abortions repeal of the marriage penalty tax and a constitutional amendment allowing prayer in schools This leaves a quandary for the Republican Party The religious right can really deliver votes but they turnnn 39 L 39 4 quot themoneyfor campaigns 0 r quot t other governments Many cities and state governments for example have lobbyists in Washington to act in their interest Mntfnreign quot quot White House 39 inter is in Congress and the SOME MAJOR iNTEREST GROUPS r Exam a Group D Business NationaiAssocrauon oi Manuia 5 Economic international Brotherhood Labor ofTeamsters American Farm Bureau Agricultural Federa m Professiurial Association Public Interest League of Worrien Voters Nonenonnmi Smg elssue The Environmental en e Fund American BarASSoCialion ldeolog39ica Christian Coa ton Government Naliorlal League DiCit39ieS VI Products ofInterest Groups iReVolVing Door Iron Triangle FreeRider problem Revolving Door Employment cycle in which individuals who work for government agencies that regulate interests eventually end up working for interest groups or businesses with the same policy concern Iron Triangle 7 the relatively ironclad relationship andpatterns of interaction that occur among agencies interest groups and congressional committees and subcommittees Freeqiuer l p p Lquot contributing to the group that won those goods are known as free riders The free rider phenomenon is particularly troublesome for noneconomic interest groups specially ideological interests groups which have 39 39 39 quotquot 39L 39 mnan and energy to winning a public good that will bene t everyone o Politicians also listen to people and groups who can donate lots of money Interest groups are not allowed to donate money to campaigns directly but they can contribute money through their political action committee PAC 0 Pluralism is the idea that democratic politics consists of various interest groups working against each other balancing one another out so that the common good is achieved Campaigns 0 political campaigns 0 Primary election iNomination Campaign General Election General Election Campaign In a primary the voters choose who will carry the Party39s banner in the general election I closed primaries only party members are allowed to vote 0 Closed primaries allow the party maximum control and promote party strength open primaries allows independents and members of other parties to vote 0 Open primaries are considered more democratic since participation is open to all voters regardless of party af liation I blanket primary voters may vote in either party39s primary but not both on an of ce by of ce basis I runoff primary a second round contest between the two candidates with the most votes 0 Nomination campaign Phase of a political campaign aimed at winning a primary election Convention delegates selected at state primaries and caucuses from January through early summer of election year are chosen in a variety of ways based on rules enacted by each party I winner take all primary win gets all delegates proportional representati0npR candidates are awarded delegates according to the percentage of the vote they won provided they reached a minimum threshold usually 15 I caucus the oldest most partyoriented method of choosing delegates A caucus is usually a closed party meeting to select delegates 0 General election Election in which voters decide which candidates will actually ll elective public of ces Once the parties have chosen their candidates the general election is held The general election is a contest between parties and ll a public of ce 0 General election campaign Phase of a political campaign aimed at winning election to of ce 0 The Personal Campaign The candidate makes personal appearances often with family and supporters to meet voters hold press conferences and give speeches O O The Organizational CampaignBehind the scenes every candidate needs an organization that can write press releases distribute literature organize events raise money and contact voters Among the many people working on this aspect of the campaign are consultantscampaign managers nance chairs and more Many paid but more of these workers are volunteers The Media Campaign All campaigns use media whether paid or free print or electronic Paid media are television and radio commercials extolling the candidate39s virtues or the opponent s vices Free media is coverage on the news or press The campaign tries to attract lots of free media but only positive free media so they often try to 39spin or in uence the coverage 0 How do campaigns operate 0 O O 0 Key players for a campaign I The Candidate the person running for office I The Campaign Staff paid staff political consultants and dedicated volunteers who work behind the scenes to support the candidate 0 Campaign Manager The individual who travels with the candidate and coordinates the campaign Runs nearly every campaign at the state and national level Finance Chair The individual who coordinates the nancial business of the campaign 0 Communications Director The person who develops the overall media strategy for the candidate 0 Press Secretary The individual charges with interacting and communicating with journalist on a daily basis I Campaign Consultant A privatesector professional who sells to a candidate the technologies services and strategies required to get that candidate elected I Pollster A campaign consultant who conducts public opinion surveys Volunteers answer phone calls staff candidate booths at festivals and county fairs copy and distribute campaign literature and serve as the public face of the campaign I Voter Canvass door to door to solicit votes or use computerized telephone banks to call targeted voters with scripted messages GOTV A push at the end of a political campaign to encourage supporters to go to the polls Tracking polls and focus groups 0 Campaign Finance 0 post Watergate and FECA 7 Congress did not enact serious broad campaign nance regulation until the 1970s in the wake of the Watergate scandal The Federal Election Campaign Act FECA and its amendments established disclosure requirements the Presidential Public Funding Program provided partial public funding for presidential candidates who meet certain criteria Federal Election CommissionFEC 7 an independent federal agency was created to enforce the nation s election laws 0 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act BCRA 2002 7 regulates political advertising and funding r O I Originally 7 limited the broadcast of issue advocacy ads within thirty days of a primary election and sixty days of a general election and set hard limits on campaign contributions from a number of sources including individuals political parties political action committees and members of congress Supreme Court s Decision 2007 the thirty and sixty days limits placed on issue advocacy ads were unconstitutional o 2008 7 the court overturned the provision that limit the amount of a candidate s own money that could be spent on running for office Citizens United v FEC 2010 7 declared the ban on electioneering communication made by corporations and unions unconstitutional as a result campaign spending surpassed all recent records spending approximately 6 billion on 2012 election Sources of Campaign Funding 0 Hard money 7 funded directed for use in campaigns electioneering but limited by law7GOP has more donors 0 Soft money 7 unlimited by law until 2002 used for overhead expenses 7 had helped democrats close the hard money gap 0 GOP 7 has a proven mailing list of several million begun in the 1960s supplemented by the RNC interactive Main Street Website What is the money is spent on 0 National state and local polls and have a wealth of data they sell cheaply to their party s candidates Media divisions that specialize in design and production of ads Training political volunteers and paid operatives Developing research reports on their opponents Get out the Vote GOTV efforts especially GOP Where is the money coming from 39 7ared quot from39 J J J citizens Limits O O O o 201 12012 0 2500 per election to each candidate 0 117500 in gifts to all candidates pacs and parties per twoyear election cycle Pa1ties 7 candidates receive substantial donations from the national and state committees of the Democratic and Republican Parties I Limits 0 5000 for House Candidate 0 43100 to Senate Candidate Personal savings 7 The US Supreme court ruled in Buckley V Valeo 1976 that no limit could be placed on the amount of money candidates can spend from their own families resources since such spending is considered a First Amendment right of free speech I Buckley V Valeo PAC s 527 s501 s SuperPACS I 501 c Group Interest groups whose primary purpose is not electoral politics Focuses on raising awareness of candidate s positions on issues of interest to the group Nonpro t taxexempt interest group that can advocate for candidates is not required to disclose the names of contributors and may make electioneering communications within boundaries 527 Political Committee primary purpose of in uencing electoral outcomes Tax exempt organization created expressly to in uence the nomination election or appointment of political candidates but not subject to Federal Election Commission disclosure rules may not make electioneering communications Super PACS 7 are a special kind of political action committee stabled to make independent expenditures or spending for campaign activity that is not coordinated with a candidate s campaign Public Funds Donations from general taX revenues to the campaign qualifying presidential candidates Matching funds Donations to presidential campaigns whereby every dollar raised from individuals in amounts less tha 251 is matched by the federal treasury Reaching the Public Campaign Ads Children Biography Flip opping Real People AttacldFear Celebrity 7 the media play a large role in determining what the voters actually see and hear about the candidate 0 Traditional Media 7 newspapers magazines radio and TV I Strategies to Control Media Coverage 7 o Isolate Candidate 0 Stages Media Events 0 Spin 7 put forward the most favorable possible interpretations for their candidate and most negative for their opponent on any circumstance occurring in the campaign 0 Work the press to sell the point 0 Appearances on Talk Shows and Comedy Shows I Candidate Debates 0 News Media 7 Intemet blogs and social media I Internet 7 getting information out email fundraising recruiting volunteers and communicating with supporters I Social Media 7 facebook twitter and youtube 0 Obama s Reddit Ask Me Anything chat 0 Campaign Advertisements I Contrast Ad Ad that compares the record and proposal of the candidates with a bias toward the candidate sponsoring the ad Inoculation Ad Advertising that attempts to counteract an anticipated attack from the opposition before the attack is launched Negative Ad Advertising on behalf of a candidate that attacks the opponent s character or platform Positive Ad Advertising on behalf of a candidate that stresses the candidate s qualifications family and issue positions with no direct reference to the opponent Voting and Elections 0 Elections in Democratic Theory 0 Consent of the People 0 Legitimacy 0 Voting 0 The US in a comparative perspective I retrospective judgment A voter39s evaluation of the performance of the party in power I prospective judgment A voter39s evaluation of a candidate based on what he or she pledges to the about an issue if elected o Turnout The proportion of the votingage public that casts ballot Why so low 0 O 0 Lack of diversity in parties Registration obstacles Frequency of elections Voting Factors that in uence who votes and who they vote for O O O O O 0 Income and Education Race and Ethinicity Gender Age Civic Engagement Interest in Politics Does low turnout matter 0 Voter apathy I Other Commitments Dif culty of Registration Dif culty in Voting Number of Elections Voter Attitudes Weakened In uence of Political Parties 0 What would it change I Make Election Day a Holiday Enable Early Voting Permit Mail and Online Voting Make Registration Easier Modemize the Ballot Strengthen Parties Increasing participation Congressional Elections Rules of the Game 0 O O O Incumbency Already holding an of ce Coattail effect The boost that candidates may get in an election because of the popularity of candidates above them on the ballot especially the president Plurality vs Majority Single member districts vs Multimember districts Presidential Elections Rules of the Game 0 O Electoral College The object of the presidential election is to win a majority in the Electoral College Electors were to be men of character with a solid knowledge of national politics who would choose a prominent national statesman for president not a mere politician The Framers designed the Electoral College to work without political parties to cover both the nomination and general election phase of the president39s selection and it was constructed to choose a nonpartisan statesmanlike president Electors