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American Government - Chapter 8 - Interest Groups


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American Government - Chapter 8 - Interest Groups

  2. 2. ORGANIZED INTERESTS: WHO ARE THEY? <ul><li>An interest group is a formally organized association that seeks to influence public policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Interest groups include diverse organizations such as corporations, labor unions, and civil rights groups that reflect the spectrum of interests that make up our pluralistic society. </li></ul><ul><li>How did Putnam and Madison view organized groups and interests? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a public interest group? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sierra Club, American Council of Education </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Better educated and wealthier Americans are more active in interest group politics. </li></ul>
  3. 3. THE ROOTS OF INTEREST GROUP POLITICS IN AMERICA <ul><li>By the early 1800s, voluntary associations were well established in the United States. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abolitionist groups at front. Race, class, gender </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Economic change and advances in transportation brought rapid growth in the number of voluntary and political organizations in the mid-1800s. </li></ul><ul><li>What is lobbying? </li></ul><ul><li>Political parties v. interest groups? </li></ul><ul><li>Labor unions and other voluntary associations supporting workers appeared in the late 1800s . </li></ul>
  4. 4. THE ROOTS OF INTEREST GROUP POLITICS IN AMERICA <ul><li>The New Deal spawned hundreds of interest groups with a stake in federal policies. </li></ul><ul><li>The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s led to an explosion in Washington-based advocacy groups. </li></ul><ul><li>What are advocacy groups? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have they enhanced or decreased political participation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Checkbook democracy? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. WHOSE INTERESTS ARE REPRESENTED? <ul><li>The largest interest group is composed of trade associations, particularly business interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Professional associations, labor unions, and education groups also maintain a strong presence in Washington. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtually every nation in the world maintains a Washington office to oversee its relations with U.S. leaders. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Which Interests Are Best Represented?
  7. 7. WHOSE INTERESTS ARE REPRESENTED? <ul><li>Over 40 percent of all Washington lobbyists represent business interests. </li></ul><ul><li>Many interests at the bottom of the economic spectrum enjoy minimal or no representation at all. </li></ul>
  8. 8. WHY JOIN? <ul><li>Interest groups employ various incentives to sustain membership and commitment. </li></ul><ul><li>Incentives include: material benefits; solidarity (building friendships and networking opportunities); and the individual satisfaction of working to make change. </li></ul><ul><li>Contrary to rational choice theory, interest group leaders rank material benefits to be the least important incentives. </li></ul><ul><li>Leaders of all kinds of groups rank purposive incentives highest, with solidarity incentives close behind. </li></ul>
  9. 9. INTEREST GROUP STRATEGIES <ul><li>What are collective goods? </li></ul><ul><li>A strategy is a group’s overall plan; the specific actions it undertakes are tactics. </li></ul><ul><li>Inside strategies emphasize direct personal encounters with public officials. </li></ul><ul><li>Outside strategies are activities that show popular support for a cause and indirectly create public pressure on elected officials. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which do you believe is more effective? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resources useful in advancing a group’s cause include money, numbers, prestige, and leadership. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Balz/Brownstein – Storming the Gates <ul><li>What is the primary purpose of the NRA? </li></ul><ul><li>What is its secondary purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>“ The question is whether we are going to be subjects of the government or whether we are going to be citizens and the government is going to be subject to us.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mentality of citizens, due to decline of political party strength. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interest groups can have multiple purposes </li></ul>
  11. 11. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>Lobbying is increasingly the province of permanent and salaried professionals. Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Former government workers are well suited to be lobbyists because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They have specialized knowledge in a policy area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The have a thorough knowledge of the political process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Former lawmakers and staffers often join firms that lobbied them when they were in government. </li></ul><ul><li>What is the revolving door theory? Problematic? </li></ul>
  12. 12. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>How do members of Congress view lobbyists? </li></ul><ul><li>Members of Congress value lobbyists because of the resources they provide, like electoral support in the form of campaign contributions and information. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As a lobbyist, if you lose your credibility, you lose your ability to make a difference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Opportunities for lobbying Congress have increased in recent years due to rule changes that make individual members more important. </li></ul><ul><li>The expansion of the federal bureaucracy greatly increased lobbying aimed at cabinet departments and executive agencies. </li></ul>
  13. 13. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>What is the iron triangle theory? </li></ul><ul><li>Small groups of experts called issue networks may dominate policy creation and implementation. </li></ul><ul><li>Are policy interests more uniform or diverse in issue networks? </li></ul>
  14. 14. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>The need for regulation: Politics has a dirty reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Congress has passed several laws regulating lobbying activity, including a ban on accepting gifts, meals, or trips from lobbyists (2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Also created waiting period between congressional and executive branch members. How much does this help diminish the revolving door impact? </li></ul><ul><li>1970’s - closer attention being paid to campaign finance </li></ul><ul><li>Congress has attempted to regulate campaign financing and political contributions by individuals, political parties, and political action committees. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How well is this reform working? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Growth of PAC’s; multiple contributions (individual and PAC’s) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>Some interest groups initiate litigation as a tactic to advance their goals. </li></ul><ul><li>What is political disadvantage theory? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Litigation is expensive, so groups with abundant financial resources are most likely to undertake it. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of the recent important Supreme Court cases have been test cases brought by organized interests in an attempt to set new precedents. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>Grassroots mobilization involves organizing citizens to exert direct pressure on public officials for or against a policy (outside strategy) </li></ul><ul><li>Mobilizing the grass tops involves setting up meetings between high-profile constituents and members of Congress. </li></ul><ul><li>Astroturf lobbying involves using deceptive practices and lack of transparency to manufacture grassroots support for an issue. </li></ul>
  17. 17. LOBBYING AND OTHER TACTICS <ul><li>Organized groups may form coalitions to expand access to resources and information, increase their visibility, and enlarge the scope of their influence. </li></ul><ul><li>Protests, which have always been a part of U.S. politics, are the ultimate form of grassroots activity. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protest usually accompanies issues that are highly charged emotionally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protest is a common tactic among those with few resources and little direct access to power </li></ul></ul>