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POL S 202: Intro to American Politics


POL S 202: Intro to American Politics Political Parties & Interest Groups Week 5: April 29, 2010 Political Parties Interest Group: An organized group of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: POL S 202: Intro to American Politics

POL S 202 Intro to American Politics
  • Political Parties Interest Groups
  • Week 5 April 29, 2010

American Politics in the News
Interesting News Stories 1. 2. 3.
Political Parties
  • Interest Group An organized group of individuals
    sharing common objectives who actively attempt to
    influence policy
  • Political Party A group of like-minded political
    activists who organize to win elections, operate
    the government and determine public policy
  • Faction A group or bloc in a legislature or
    party acting in pursuit of some special interest
    of position

Political Interest Groups
  • Interest Group An organized group of individuals
    sharing common objectives who actively attempt to
    influence policy
  • Lobbyist An organization or individual who
    attempts to influence legislation and the
    administrative decisions of govt
  • Can be viewed as both positive and negative for
    American democracy
  • Positive represent many important issues
  • Negative too much influence for elites

Political Parties in the U.S.
  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • Green
  • Reform
  • Libertarian
  • Natural Law
  • Independent
  • Other

Political Parties in the U.S.
  • Two Party System A political system in which 2
    only parties have a reasonable chance of winning
    a given election
  • Why is this the case?
  • Single Member District (also called Winner take
  • vs. Proportional Representation

Political Parties in the U.S.
  • Single Member District vs. Proportional

D v. R
Democrat 40 Republican 35 Green 10 Reform 5
Libertarian 5 Natural Law 5
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
D v. R
Functions of Political Parties
  1. Recruiting candidates for public office
  2. Organizing and running elections
  3. Presenting alternative policies to the people
  4. Accepting responsibility for operating the
  5. Acting as the organized opposition to the party
    in power

Party Organization
  • Party Organization The formal structure and
    leadership of a political party, including
  • Election committee
  • City or County party leaders
  • State party leaders
  • National party leaders
  • Paid professional staff
  • Candidates and Elected Officials

Political Parties in Washington
  • Washington is a competitive state, divided
    closely between Democrats and Republicans
  • Currently, political parties are active and
    strong players in Washington State politics
  • Historically, political parties have been weak
  • Blanket or Open primary Allows voters of any
    party to vote for any candidate in the Primary
  • Closed or Direct primary Allows only voters
    registered with a party to choose the candidates
    in a Primary elections
  • In 2003, 9th Court of Appeals over turned the
    blanket primary in Washington

History of Interest Groups
  • Madison, Federalist 10, spoke of mischief of
    factions and saw special interest groups as
    self-centered and dangerous to a healthy republic
  • de Tocqueville observed the phenomenon of group
    association in America and thought it was the
    backbone of a successful democracy
  • 2/3 of Americans belong to a group or association
  • Most Americans are not active members though
  • Interest Groups are dominated by people with high
    levels of education, resources, political
  • The interests of IGs are not always for the
    public good

Types of Interest Groups
  • Economic Largest type of IG, more
  • Business
  • Agriculture
  • Labor
  • Public Employees
  • Professional Assoc.
  • Public Interest Generally have less
  • Environmental
  • Consumer Protection
  • Civil Rights

Types of Interest Groups
  • Single Issue Advocacy Narrow focus
  • Abortion (pro-life / pro-choice)
  • Gun Control / 2nd Amendment
  • Senior Citizen ? More likely public interest
  • Other Governments
  • Foreign governments (concerning trade)
  • American State governments (federal money)

The Role of Interest Groups
  • Primary goal is access to policy decisions, via
    access to politicians and the media
  • Direct vs. Indirect influence
  • Lobbying (Direct)
  • Campaign contributions (Direct)
  • Rating scorecards (Direct)
  • Generating public pressure (Indirect)

Lobbying Techniques
  • Private meetings with public officials to
    persuade officials of IG viewpoint
  • Testifying before committees (cong or exec)
  • Assistance in writing legislation or regulations
  • Inviting public officials to extravagant social
    occasions (100 foot yacht) to discuss issues
  • Provide political information to government
    officials within the IG area of expertise
  • Make suggestions of political nominations

The Iron Triangle
Discussion Questions for Fri
  • 1. What role do Political Parties play in
    off-year elections such as 2007? Should they
    endorse/oppose ballot issues or not?
  • 2. Should the state of Washington pursue an open
    primary or closed primary system of elections?
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
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