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Political Parties

Political Parties. Chapter 9. Washington’s Farewell Address 1796.

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Political Parties

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  1. Political Parties Chapter 9

  2. Washington’s Farewell Address1796 “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.”

  3. An organization that sponsors a candidate for public office under the organization’s name. What is a political party?

  4. The five Functions of political parties • Nominate- (Obama) name or recruit candidates, present candidate to the voters • Inform- inform and stimulate the voters about a candidate, pick and choose issues • Approve- keep the party bonded by approving actions of candidate • Government- many voters decide winner by party, Congress works on a partisan basis, and appointments are made according to party • Watchdog- party watches the conduct of those in power, attempts to convince voters to oust those in charge Living Room Candidate

  5. Reasons for a Two-Party System History Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists See Figure 9.3 (page 202) System Plurality, winner-take-all system Voters do not want to “waste” vote on minor party. Only “third party” to win was the Republican party in 1860. Election Laws Minor parties often find it difficult to flourish because election laws have been written by officials who are members of the major parties. Ballots, debates, funding Public Opinion

  6. Critical elections • Critical elections- An election that produces a sharp change in the existing pattern of party loyalty among groups of voters; changed pattern is called electoral realignment. • When have there been critical elections (page 198-199): • 1800 (EP) • 1828 (VS) • 1860 (EP) • 1896 (VS) • 1932 (VS) • Critical elections can often led into eras of dominance for one of the major parties. Between 1800 and today, there have been four eras in which one party or another has dominated national politics. • Democrats- 1800- 1860 • Republicans- 1860- 1932 • Democrats- 1932-1968 • Republicans- 1968-today ?

  7. Republican Dominance? (1968-today) • 1968 Richard Nixon (R) • 1974 Gerald Ford (R) • 1976 Jimmy Carter (D) • 1980 Ronald Reagan (R) • 1988 George H.W. Bush (R) • 1992 William Clinton (D) • 2000 George W. Bush (R) • 2008 Barack Obama (D)

  8. Political Spectrum The continuum extends from left to right. Liberal Conservative What do these classifications stereotypically imply?

  9. Political Spectrum Political Spectrum

  10. Political Parties are NOT based upon: • Political parties use the issues as tools to persuade voters and eventually their vote. • Parties will shift positions to wherever public opinion sits. • Ex: • The Republican Party will back a moderate/ liberal Republican candidate for an elected office in a predominantly Democratic area. • (Senator Arlen Specter, PA. 1980-2010, Governor Mitt Romney Governor, MA. 2003-2007)

  11. Major Party Platforms Democrats Republicans Pro-life Strong National Defense Smaller gov’t…less taxes Vouchers Big business Traditional Family values 2nd Amendment Rights • Pro-choice • Anti-war • Social programs • Public Education • Pro-unions • Same Sex marriage • Stricter Gun Control Links to the Party Platforms for 2012 www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/

  12. Minor Parties Minor parties are third party choices that tend to fall into one of four categories: (1) Ideological parties- devoted to an overriding set of beliefs that are radically different from the general view of society Communist Party (2) Single issue-parties- pushes one or few issues, generally avoids all other issues Know-Nothing, Prohibition (3) Economic protest parties- during times of economic hardship these groups form to protest the current conditions Populist party (4) Splinter/faction parties- Branches off of one of the major parties T.Roosevelt’s- “Bull Moose” Progressive party Ross Perot- Reform Party

  13. Why are parties getting weaker? • Independents • Ticket-splitting • Divided government • Cynicism & political apathy • Decentralized party structure • Mass media • Interest groups

  14. Interest GroupsChapter 11 “Suppose you go to Washington and try to get at your government. You will always find that while you are politely listened to, the men really consulted are the men with the biggest stake – the big bankers, the big manufacturers, the big masters of commerce.”

  15. Interest Groups • Definition: Any organization that seeks to influence public policy through lobbying. • Two types – institutional and membership • Institutional - deals with individuals or organizations representing other organizations such as: business firms and unions • Membership – deals with social, business, veteran, charitable, religious issues • Differences among Americans has led the proliferation of interest groups • Huge variety of issues including abolition, prohibition, gun rights, farm issues, religious associations, environmental groups, political reform, balanced budget, businesses, unions, even older Americans See table on page 267 and 268

  16. Reasons for Interest Groups • Cleavages • Constitutional System • Non-Profit Perks • Section 501 (c) (3)- Tax-exempt, no lobbying or campaign contributions • Section 501 (c) (4)- Not tax-exempt, but can lobby and give campaign contributions • Weakness of Political Parties See table on page 261

  17. Why Join? • Solidary incentives—enjoyment, companionship • Solidary incentives require organizations to structure themselves as coalitions of small local units • Facilitated by the importance of local governments in the U.S. • Examples: League of Women Voters (LWV), NAACP, Rotary, Parent-Teacher Association, American Legion • Material incentives—money, things, services • Organization may also influence how laws are administered to bring benefits to members • Examples: farm organizations, AARP • Purposive incentives—goal/purpose of the organization itself • Though this group also benefits nonmembers, people join because: • They are passionate about the goal(s) of the organization • They have a strong sense of civic duty • Cost of joining is minimal

  18. Funding of Interest Groups Interest groups have long been involved in a variety of social movements such as: abolition, the environment, feminism, and unions Funding for interest groups comes from four sources: • Dues (*minor) • Foundation grants • Federal grants and contracts • Direct mail

  19. What makes interest groups powerful? Size Power of AARP – 25% of the population 50 and over Intensity Single-Issue groups: groups that focus on a narrow interest, dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics Groups may focus on an emotional issue, providing them with a psychological advantage Intensity encourages non-conventional means of participation, i.e.—protests Money Not all groups have equal amounts of money. Monetary donations usually translate into access to the politicians, such as a phone call, meeting, or support for policy. Form a PAC (Political Action Committee) – donate money to campaigns and advertising Wealthier groups have more resources— and presumably more access—but they do not always win on policy.

  20. Interest Groups Linkage Institution Methods of Promoting Policy Interest groups pursue their goals in many arenas. Interest groups and political parties promote U.S. democracy by linking citizens to the political process. Interest groups are distinct from parties. Political parties fight election battles; interest groups do not field candidates for office. Interest groups are policy specialists; political parties are policy generalists. Methods of Promoting Policy 1. Electioneering 2. Lobbying Government: The Iron Triangle (p. 190 ) • Congress • President/Agency 3. Publicity/Ads 4. Grassroots activities/mass mobilization 5. Use of the courts • amicus curiae briefs • class action suits Discussion of AP Reading: Interconnections

  21. Regulating interest groupsU.S. v. Harriss(1954) • In 1953, The Supreme Court upheld the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946), but narrowed its scope significantly. • The Court determined that it applied only to paid lobbyists who directly communicated with members of Congress on pending legislation. • This created a number of loopholes including: • It does not regulate people who give money to influence legislation, only those who solicit or collect money. • It does not define "principally." A lobbyist can argue that his principal goal is not influencing legislation. • It does not include those who communicate with Congressional staffers.

  22. The “Revolving Door” Here’s an interesting phenomenon?? Many people leave public office, get hired by a PAC and then return to Washington to lobby. It can happen over and over again (ex. Donald Rumsfeld). This can lead to a conflict of interest and an unfair manipulation of government agencies.

  23. Imagine you are a member of the President’s cabinet. The Treasury secretary advises that the President makes cuts in federal spending to save the economy. He/she must make some tough choices and you must advise him. The spending areas under review are: 1. Social Security 2. Environmental Protection Agency 3. Women’s health clinics 4. Education 5. Medicare You must get rid of one, cut spending in two, maintain spending in one, and raise spending in one. Discuss what interest groups you feel would lobby your administration before you make your decision. Consider their arguments. Explain the reasons for your choices and the potential political consequences for your decisions. Critical Thinking

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