Government and Politics
Week 6: Group-Government
Lecture 1: Political Parties
& Interest Groups
elections, and party politics
parties vs. interest groups
with me that "soft money is not a problem in America"
does not "go directly to the
is no quid pro quo implied with soft money" as with
standard, direct donation
says, several "classmates also found these claims
quixotic as well"
money is routed by political action committees and
parties to candidates coffers"
bodies serve merely as loopholes to route unlimited
amounts of money to candidates, thus circumventing
and parties work hand in hand with the candidates
whose interests (and financial well being) they
soft money comes attached to a clear quid pro
Clinton administration's consistent support of
the interests of trial lawyers,"
Republicans' impassioned defense of Big
citizens are not fooled:"
politicians can be bought and sold."
like Russ Feingold and John McCain are a bright
spots in a dark sea of cronyism."
"address this in class on Tuesday if possible"
- Who is
early 17th century novel, Don Quixote de la
Mancha, told of the chivalrous adventures of a
country gentleman caught up in old-fashioned
the term "quixotic," has come to mean idealistic
without regard to practicality.
and McCain are the quixotic ones.
reality in politics:
a large number of eligible voters, campaigning to
win an election can cost a lot of
in the cost of a campaign to individual
number of voters
geographical size of the electoral
candidates' popularity prior to the
opponents' popularity prior to the
free advertising that benefits
support from a political party
produces these empirical propositions:
more money an incumbent spends in an election, the
less likely is victory.
on campaign spending reduce the likelihood that
challengers will defeat incumbents.
on PAC contributions to candidates for Congress are
opposed more by women and minority candidates than
by white male candidates.
the financing of American elections:
subject is very complex
improve campaign finance, you must understand the
general, reformers are apt to do more harm than
differences between the American and European
approaches to campaign financing
campaigns in the US tend to cost more than
campaigns in European nations.
US has a larger electorate.
US elects more public officials per
in the US are contested by individuals;
elections in Europe are contested by
US has long general election campaigns; Europe
has short campaigns
in the US often compete in costly primary
in the US usually must purchase TV time;
candidates in Europe are often awarded TV
the US, money goes to individual candidates; in
Europe, money goes to parties
the US, laws are stronger concerning the disclosure
of campaign funds
the US, laws place more limits of the amount of
funds a citizen can contribute.
- My basic
argument is this:
campaign finance system that we have reflects the
political system that we have.
system is not only structurally decentralized, it
is psychologically individualistic.
think they should vote for the person, not the
run to elect themselves, not their
in Congress act to insure their own
rarely act to serve their party's
seldom act to serve the national
campaign finance legislation in 1974 reflected
original bill provided for public funds to go to
the parties of the presidential
was amended to go instead to the candidates of
the major parties.
can be done to reform our campaign finance system
without changing our political system.
is merit in permitting contributions to parties as
opposed to individual candidates.
given to parties breaks the direct link between
contributors and candidates.
candidates need not solicit funds themselves
individual contributors' funds become mixed with
funds from other contributors
dilutes their contributions and renders them
reduces the "quid pro quo" nature of the
become somewhat more important in our system, but
by no means dominant in our system.
pervasiveness of interest groups in American
"an organized body of individuals who share some
political goals and who try to influence public policy
from a "political party":
OF POLICY FOCUS: Interest groups are narrower
groups have narrower goals, which are based on the
special interests that are common to those in the
they advocate policy positions that promote their
special concerns, interest groups are said to
engage in INTEREST ARTICULATION.
articulate an interest is to express it
on the other hand, have broader policy goals, based
on the diverse interests of the coalition of people
who support the party.
parties must somehow balance diverse, and often
conflicting, interests of people in their
coalition, they are said to be INTEREST
aggregate interests is to collect and
OF POLITICAL FOCUS: Interest groups are broader
groups operate at all stages of the political
process -- elections, policy-making, policy
concentrate on the electoral process and on the
allocation of offices within government after
fact, the most distinguishing characteristic of
parties is that they nominate candidates to run as
AVOWED representatives of the party.
an "interest group" were to do this, it would
become a political party by definition.
parties are more aggregative of interests than political
parties in other countries.
- In the
U.S. multiple, often conflicting interests are
collected and balanced off within the Democratic and
European governments with multiparty systems, voters
have a choice of parties that articulate interests of
specific groups of voters.
Anglo-American democracies, which all tend to have
two-party systems: UK, Canada, New Zealand,
Australia--are also aggregative.
these countries, voters tend to know in advance of
elections which interests will be represented in
multiparty countries, it is uncommon for a single
party to control the government after an
government must be formed from coalitions of
don't know in advance which parties will join to form
a government, so voters don't know what interests will
be represented in government when they
parties offer voters fewer choices, but the choices
are linked more directly to what government does after
parties are also less powerful than political parties in
don't control nominations of their own
can't even collect money to support campaigns without
cries to curtail "soft money"
- These two
characteristics of American parties--broadly aggregative
nature and lack of internal power--have consequences for
parties fit the pluralist rather than the majoritarian
model of democracy.
are only additional players on the interest group
offer groups political access, but access does not
guarantee political benefits.
when in control of the legislative and executive
branches, American parties do not fit the model of
"responsible party government" and are able to
carry through legislative programs.
are better positioned to block legislative programs
than to carry them out.
classification of interest groups and examples:
(e.g., National Association of
(National Education Association)
senior citizens, women, civil rights, (blacks, Jews,
interest (Common Cause)
(Moral Majority, People for the American
groups (Pro- and Anti-Abortion groups)
- Where do
interest groups operate in the American political
branch--origin of term "lobby"
branch--including the bureaucracy
branch--through arguments before the