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Unit III: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Media 10-20% PowerPoint Presentation
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Unit III: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Media 10-20%

Unit III: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Media 10-20%

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Unit III: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Media 10-20%

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  1. Unit III: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Media10-20% Ch. 9, 11, 12

  2. Decentralization/Weakening of Parties PARTIES: HERE AND ABROAD • Parties are groups of people who seek to control government through winning elections and holding public office. • Parties: • provide a label in the minds of voters • Choose a set of leaders in government • Are organizations that recruit and campaign • US parties have weakened • More independents • Weaker organizations since the 1960s • Federal system decentralizes power • Parties regulated by state and federal law

  3. II. FUNCTIONS OF POLITICAL PARTIES • Nominate candidates • Previously: party caucuses, nominating conventions, Now: primary elections • Expansion of primaries means this role is seriously diminished • Party leaders no longer control nominations; more candidate-centered politics than party-centered politics • Raise and spend campaign funds (less so now) • Register voters • Simplify decisions for voters • Unify diverse interests • FDR’s grand coalition • Means parties must take more moderate positions

  4. Act as moderating influence on government • Nominate moderate candidates who appeal to mainstream • Reduce diffusion of power in government • Theory: unifying force to overcome separation of powers/checks and balances • Reality: divided government, split-ticket voting (office-bloc ballot) • Provide patronage • Most government jobs filled by Civil Service • Inform public: party platforms • Agents of political socialization • Linkage institution between people and government

  5. RISE OF POLITICAL PARTIES I. Origins Historical Development: the Six Party Systems in US History • Dangers of “factions” mentioned by Madison in Federalist #10 and Washington’s warning about the “baneful effects of the spirit of the party” • Federalist #51: a geographically large republic reduces abuses of factions • Yet, parties became necessary to get things done. • Necessity of an institution that unifies gov in order to overcome the systems of separation of powers and checks/balances that divide gov • 1796-1820: 1st party system-Federalists vs. Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans • 1824-1856: Jacksonian Democrats v. Whigs • 1860-1892: Republican dominance as the party against slavery and the party that put the Union back together • 1896-1928: 2nd period of Republican dominance with its coalition of big business and the working classes against Democratic rural interests • 1932-1964: Democratic dominance under FDR and the New Deal. FDRs grand coalition included urban dwellers, labor unions, Catholics, Jews, the poor, Southerners, Blacks, farmers

  6. 6. 1968-PRESENT: ERA OF DIVIDED GOVERNMENT/DEALIGNMENT • Split-ticket voting • Presidents of one party (typically Republican) with Congresses of the other party (typically Democratic) • Era of party dealignment, as voters are increasingly becoming independent (rejecting rather than changing party) • Nixon and Reagan built a coalition of disenchanted white suburban middle class, Southern white Protestants, big business • Clinton won twice-resurrected FDRs coalition and women voters • 2000-Bush did not win popular vote, 50-50 Senate, narrow Republican House majority • 2004: unified Republican government • 2006: divided gov • 2008: return to unified gov • 2010: divided gov – rise of Tea Party in 2009 • 2012: divided gov – 112th the real “Do-Nothing Congress” • 2014: ???

  7. II. RELATIVE PARTY STRENGTHS A. National Gov B. State Gov • President: Democratic • House: (113th Congress 2013-15) 201 Dems, 233 Rep, 1 vacancy (Jul ‘13) • Senate (113th): 52 Dems, 46 Rep, 2 independent • Divided gov typical of the past few decades. The usual pattern has been Republican presidents and a Democratic Congress. • Governors: 19 Dems, 30 Rep., 1 Independent • State legislatures: Democrats control 18 states, Rep control 27 states, 5 are split or nonpartisan

  8. III. PARTY WEAKNESSES A. Parties lack strong rank-and-file members/grassroots organization B. Many traditional functions of parties have been lost or weakened • Anyone can join by registering • No duties or dues • Most activities only occur at election time • Most Americans are spectators, rather than participants, in party activity • Small percentage of “strong Dems” or “strong Rep” • Increase in percentage of Independents (though most are “leaners”) • Nomination of candidates • Now by primary elections • Funding of campaigns • Trend toward candidate-centered campaigns (especially after FECA/BCRA) • Unifying gov • We often have divided gov, and intra-party conflict can be strong • Providing patronage • Jobs now filled by Civil Service (Pendleton Act, 1883)

  9. C. Weak Party Discipline D. Intra-Party Divisions • Split-ticket voting-voters less loyal to party • “vote the man, not the party” • Few penalties for politicians who stray from party line • Candidates nominated by people, not party • Candidates finance campaigns on their own • Don’t rely on parties • Between party regulars and candidate loyalists/issue advocates • Between Dem liberals and moderates (“Blue Dog” dems in Congress) • Between Rep conservatives (Tea Party) vs. moderates


  11. E. OTHER FACTORS • Rise of campaign consultants to take over many party functions • Public disenchantment with parties and politics in 1960s • Growth of interest groups • Development of mass media • Candidates rely on media, not party, to get message out • Evidence of “dealignment:” rejection of parties rather than changing party membership (realignment) • growth of political independents Counter arguments to dealignment theory: 1. even though % of independents has increased, 2/3 of independents are actually “leaners”

  12. IV. NATIONAL PARTY STRUCTURE3 COMPONENTS OF PARTIES A. Party-in-Government: B. Party-in-Electorate: Party leaders occupy positions in: • Presidency • Congress • State governors • State legislatures • Local governments • Registered Democrats • Democratic identifiers/leaners • Registered Republicans • Republican identifiers/leaners

  13. C. PARTY ORGANIZATIONS: PARTIES ARE DECENTRALIZED ALONG FEDERAL LINES • National level • National Convention. Highest Authority • National Committee. When convention not in session • National Chairperson. (DNC: Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL); RNC: Reince Preibus) • Congressional Campaign Committee (for House seats) • Senate Campaign Committee • State Committee • Local Committees: city, ward, precinct levels • Neither DNC nor RNC can “punish” state/local committees if they stray from the party line (decentralization)

  14. V. NATIONAL CONVENTIONS • Sets the number of delegates for each state and rules for how those delegates shall be chosen • Historically, party bosses and corrupt political machines controlled nominations while the young, poor, and minorities were underrepresented • Progressive Era Reforms : • Direct primary elections • Nonpartisan elections at state and local level • Civil Service expansion – Pendleton Act (1883) • At State level, implementation of measures to increase direct democracy: initiative, referendum, recall • 17th Amendment • Hatch Act (1939): illegal for federal civil service workers to engage in political campaigns or activities

  15. REFORMS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SINCE 1970 (MCGOVERN-FRASER COMMISSION) • Prohibited unit rule at the convention (winner-take-all – Republicans still use in some states) • Developed a “quota system” to ensure that the young, women, and minorities were represented in party affairs (especially the national convention) • Superdelegates give the “party regulars” a chance to do what is good for the party, and not necessarily the people. • 1986 Fairness Commission: lowered the threshold requirement from 20% to 15% for candidates to receive proportional delegates.

  16. PARTY RESURGENCE • National party organizations are better funded than in the past. • Soft money (now banned) important factors in elections in 1990s • National parties compensated for loss of soft money by raising more hard money • Both parties, with better funding, hold training sessions for candidates: how to plan, raise funds, organize • Very strong party unity scores within Congress: 70-80% • Party I.D. is still the strongest predictor of voting behavior

  17. MINOR PARTIES A. Types B. Contributions • Ideological parties: • Apply a general philosophy to a wide variety of issues (Communist Party, Socialist Party) • Issue-oriented party: • Single policy parties (Free-Soil, Know-Nothing, Prohibition) • Economic protest parties: • Regional economic concerns (Greenback, Populist) • Factional: centered around a strong personality (Perot, TR) • Raise issues that other parties must address, and often incorporate into their own party platforms (Populist Party: direct election of senators, income tax) • Voice for the fringe elements in society • Safety valve for discontent in society

  18. C. Effects of Minor Parties D. Obstacles: • Rarely win elections • Influence the outcome of presidential elections : “spoiler role.” • 2-party tradition • Single-member, winner-take-all district system for congressional seats (more associated with two-party systems),as opposed to the multi-member, proportional system common in W. Europe • Electoral college winner-take-all system (Perot won 19% of vote in ‘92 but 0 electoral votes) • Getting candidates on ballot • Money • Media coverage • Exclusion from TV debates

  19. IMPACT OF PARTIES ON GOVERNMENT A. Congress B. Executive Branch • Majority party has a majority on all committees and subcommittees • Majority party has chairmen on all committees • Minority party has “ranking member” on each committee, who becomes chair when party control changes • Majority party controls key leadership positions • Staffers are partisan • Nearly all appointments to White House Office are partisan (many from election campaign) • Nearly all appointments to top positions in other parts of exec branch are partisan • Development of Civil Service System has greatly reduced party influence over the bureaucracy

  20. C. Judicial Branch D. State and local governments • Nearly all appointments are partisan • Most state government positions are partisan • Many local government positions are nonpartisan (school board, city council)


  22. INTEREST GROUPS • Defined: a group with common interest that seeks to influence government • Madison (Federalist 10): dilemma of wanting liberty and order. • Political factions were inevitable, but their effects must be controlled. A geographically large republic is more likely to be able to cure the “mischief of faction.” • Pluralism: growth of interest groups prevents the concentration of excessive power in the hands of few, and thus enhances democracy

  23. REASONS FOR GROWTH • The U.S. is a large, diverse nation with many kinds of cleavages • Americans are “joiners” (Tocqueville) • Diversity of population: social, racial, economic, and geographic cleavages • Multiple points of access to the government • Diffusion of power in government: plenty of places for a group to argue its case means more groups to exercise influence • When governments (bureaucracy) create agencies, it creates entry point for interest groups (New Deal, Great Society created agencies, created need for interest groups to form to protect their stakes) • Development of non-profit organizations • Weakness of political parties: when parties are unable to get things done, interest groups have filled the power vacuum • Reforms of the 1970s: FECA and the explosion of PACs • Interest groups beget interest groups • Technology: mass communication and media

  24. INTEREST GROUPS A. Institutional: B. Membership: Goal: to promote economic interests of its members Types: • Agricultural (American Farm Bureau (largest)) • Labor (AFL-CIO, UAW, Teamsters) • Unions have seen decline in membership (shift to service industry, lack of popular approval) • Business (Chamber of Commerce, Nat’l Assoc. of Manufacturers) • Professional (AMA, ABA) Goal: to protest the status of its members and to convince government to take remedial action Examples: • NAACP • NOW • Sierra Club • NRA • MALDEF • ACT UP

  25. TYPES OF INTEREST GROUPS C. Single Issue D. Public Interest Goal: to get government action on one overriding issue Examples: • Right to Life League • NARAL • NRA • MADD • PETA • NORML Goal: to bring about good policy for society as a whole Examples: • Common Cause: campaign finance reform • Public Citizen (Nader): consumer advocacy • League of Women Voters: encourages people to become informed, to register to vote, and to vote • Various Environmental groups: Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, WWF 501(c)(3) groups: tax exempt, cannot be involved in election campaigns (Girl Scouts, FBLA)

  26. E. Ideological F. Governmental Goal: to convince government to implement policies that are consistent with their philosophies Examples: • Christian Coalition, People for the American Way, ACLU • Think Tanks: Public-interest organizations that conduct research on policy questions, most are ideologically based (Brookings Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute) • National League of Cities, National Association of Governors • PACs

  27. Reasons for Joining: A. Irrationality of Joining: B. Types of Incentives: • Single person may not make much difference • People likely to receive benefits from the group anyway • “free rider” problem: need for groups to offer incentives for people to join • Solidary incentives • Material incentives: • Purposive incentives:

  28. TACTICS OF INTEREST GROUPS • Use of mass media • Grassroots mobilization • Boycotting • Litigation • Use of amicus curiae briefs • Campaign contributions • Endorsement of candidates • “targeting” of unfriendly candidates • Issuing “report cards” to rate candidates/congressmen • Initiative, referendum, and recall at state and local levels • Lobbying • Mass mailings.

  29. FACTORS INFLUENCING INTEREST GROUP STRENGTH • Nature of membership • Size: • More members=more money, more votes. • More members also means greater cross-pressure among members and possibly less focus • Spread: the degree to which a group’s membership is either concentrated or dispersed • Cohesiveness: degree to which members are committed to the “cause” • Leadership • Resources: money, expertise, reputation, connections

  30. LOBBYING I. Defined: Attempting to influence government. Interest group lobbying is generally most effective on narrow, technical issues that are not well-publicized. • Iron triangle: informal coalition of interest groups/congressional committee/federal agency that seeks to influence public policy. • These are sometimes known as issue networks, policy networks, subgovernments

  31. II. TYPES OF LOBBYING • Cooperative Lobbying: • Groups with a similar purpose combining their efforts • Grassroots lobbying: • GRASSROOTS MOBILIZATION: • Building support among the public for social change or to prevent change. May be leveraged into change at the legislature, in the courts, in the economic system, or other areas of society. It is developing awareness of an issue among large numbers of people in order to support an action. • Organizing lobbying efforts at the local level to put public pressure on government officials • “Netroots” lobbying: • Political activism organized through blogs and other online media

  32. III. Functions of lobbyists: IV. Regulation of Lobbying: • Influence government • Provide information to government • Testify at hearings • Help write legislation (a “third house of Congress”) • 1946 Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act: • Required registration and disclosure, but was full of loopholes • Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995: • Tightened up registration and disclosure requirements • Restrictions on gifts, meals, and expense paid travel that members of Congress may receive from lobbyists • Former agency employee must wait two years before lobbying that agency

  33. V. THE CASE FOR LOBBYISTS: • They provide useful information to the government • They provide a means of participation for the people • They provide a means of representation on the basis of interest rather than geography. A “linking mechanism” between the people and government. A “third house of Congress.” • 1st Amendment protection (assemble and petition) • Madison in Federalist 10: the “remedy” of curing evils of faction by eliminating their causes is worse than the disease. Potential loss of liberty is worse than the abuses of lobbyists.

  34. VI. THE CASE AGAINST LOBBYISTS: • Rich and powerful interests are over-represented. • Average and poor people are under-represented • By safeguarding liberty, equality is sacrificed • Single-issue lobbies, in particular, contribute to political polarization • Lobbies contribute even further to diffusion of power, making it even more difficult for government to get things done • National interest is sacrificed for narrow interests

  35. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES I. Explosive growth of PACs: groups that raise funds for favored candidates • In 1974, only 600 PACs existed. Now: more than 4,600 • Reason: congressional legislation that had the intent of preventing a few wealthy campaign contributors from helping candidates “buy” elections. Instead, Congress wanted to “open up” campaign contributions to the masses, as represented by PACs

  36. NUMBER OF PACS: 1974-2006

  37. C. FECA OF 1974: • Individuals could contribute no more than $1,000 (now $2,600 for 2013-14) • Individuals could also, however, contribute $1,000 to a PAC with no limit on the number of PACs they could contribute to • PACs could contribute 5x (now ~2x) what an individual could contribute, and there is no limit on the total amount that a PAC can contribute in any one year • In addition, there is no limit on the amount of independent expenditures that a PAC can make


  39. II. EXPLOSIVE GROWTH OF PAC CONTRIBUTIONS • In 1972, PAC contributions to congressional races totaled only $8.5mn. By 2004, that figure was $384mn. • 50 House candidates raised > $500,000 each from PACs in 1998 (only 4 lost) • 38 Senate candidates raised > $500,000 each from PACs in 1998 (7 lost) • PACs even donate to candidates facing no opposition at all. Why? • Perspective: most congressional campaign money comes from individual contributions.


  41. Campaign Contributions (Factors Affecting Who Gets PAC Money) III. PAC STRATEGIES • Incumbents • Winners • Those who share a similar philosophy • Those who are likely to grant access • Those in positions of special influence, e.g. party leaders, committee chairs, important committee seats • PAC money makes up a higher % of congressional campaign funds than presidential campaign funds. • Voter education projects (mailings, fliers, commercials) • Independent expenditures, issue advocacy ads • “bundling” • 527 groups: • Run issue advocacy ads • Not regulated by the FEC • Not subject to contribution limits as PACs; many are run by interest groups to get around limits/regulations

  42. IV. Who has PACs? V. Dangers of PACs: • Corporations: ~50% of all PACs. Largest growth in these since 1970s. • ideological organizations • Professional/trade/health associations • Labor unions • Leadership PACs: formed by congressional leaders • Ethical concerns: does a contribution “buy” anything? • Special access of PACs that the average person lacks • Drives up the cost of campaigning; more time spent by Congress on fundraising • Over-representation of those wealthy enough to have PAC representation • Under-representation of those who lack it • Further incumbency advantage

  43. VI. IN DEFENSE OF PACS • Provide a means of participation and representation for the average person (linkage institution) • Without PACS, maybe only the wealthy could afford to run for office • 1st Amendment right to petition the government • Contributions are nonpartisan • No conclusive evidence that PACs change congressional votes. More likely to make a difference in obscure issues with little public awareness than in issues of major importance with much public awareness • Provide political education • Diversify political funding. With over 4,600 PACs, many interests are represented.

  44. CH. 12: THE MEDIAWHO ARE THE MASS MEDIA? “Old” Media: II. The “new media” • Declining circulation of newspapers and news magazines • Trend towards mergers and consolidation means less competition • TV: Decline of 3 major networks with cable TV • Examples: Cable TV, the Internet: • blogs, YouTube, CNN, FNC, The O’Reilly Factor, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Rush Limbaugh, talk radio… • Characteristics: • More interactive • More emphasis on entertainment “infotainment” • Personalized • Emotional • Informal • Opinionated • topical