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The Political System


The Political System This is a macro-level perspective that allows for the integration of the subjects in Government and Politics. Inputs Demands would include issues ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Political System

The Political System
  • This is a macro-level perspective that allows for
    the integration of the subjects in Government and

Political Environment
Demands are articulated or expressed by
individual actors such as voters or Interest
Groups Spokespersons or by Groups Demands seek
some valued output Support provides the system
with support
Inputs Demands Supports
  • Demands would include issues raised on policy
    agendas such as
  • lower taxes or changes in the taxing structure,
  • prescription drug medicare coverage,
  • protection from NAFTA regulations,
  • constituent requests for help with individual

  • Demands are expressed in some way by political
    actors -- citizens, groups, prominent
  • The expression can be conventional or
    unconventional methods of making demands
  • Conventional would include traditional lobbying,
    individual letter writing, or individual
  • Unconventional could include demonstrations,
    boycotts, picketing and the like.

  • The supports are considered to be essential by
    systems analysis. These can be considered as
    fuel on which the system operates.
  • Examples of supports include
  • Voting
  • Campaigning or working for candidates
  • Patriotic statements.

  • Paying taxes
  • Not complaining but speaking well of the
    government, officials, and policies.
  • The System cannot function without some level of
    support from the citizenry.
  • Again, getting students to look for supports or
    supporting activities is sort of an interesting
    scavenger hunt.
  • A good example of understanding the purposes of
    voting would include selecting officials AND
    providing the system with support.

Intermediaries Political Parties Groups IG/PACs Ma
ss Media
Intermediary Institutions
  • These are informal or formal filters that screen,
    skew, articulate demands and supports.
  • They are often extra-constitutional (outside
    the constitution).
  • Some can claim they are essential to the system
    and to politics, but in theory they are NOT vital.

  • All three of these intermediary institutions
    clearly fit into politics and we can provide
    any number of examples of how they function in
    terms of filtering demands and supports.
  • Political Parties aggregate demands from a fairly
    wide set of interests and people
  • Liberal Democrats and Moderates, even
  • Arch-Conservative Repub. and Moderates.
  • All interests are NOT aggregated inside the two
    major parties.

  • Parties bundle policy preferences and candidate
    preferences into a single act -- voting.
  • Parties perform other functions in the Political
    System as well, but consider that they are
  • funneling and channeling (and filtering out or
    screening) demands and
  • providing supports.
  • Interests articulate demands and provide supports
    for the system.

  • This means the demands expressed by an interest
    group may be louder and heard more clearly than
    if expressed by individual actors.
  • These kinds of demands are so evident that it is
    hard NOT to find examples.
  • Lobbying for specific policies is certainly
  • Leading and organizing demonstrations is

  • IG Supports, come in various forms
  • Mobilizing members (voters) is the best example.
  • Getting members to work on campaigns or make
    monetary contributions.
  • PACs are the current prime example of Campaign
    contributions as a form of support in return
    for access or influence.
  • Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Govt PAC (2000) may
    illustrate the Supreme Courts efforts at change
    this filtering device.
  • Soft-Money also illustrates the blending of
    support and Demands.

  • These examples can go on forever.
  • The Mass Media is a last example of a tremendous
    filtering device in the Political System.
  • The Media influence behavior and beliefs and
    knowledge of individuals and officials.
  • The Media may distort information flowing both
    directions in this process.
  • The Media certainly sets many institutional
    agendas and raises agenda items for various
    actors to consider.

The Policy Making Institutions Congress President
Judiciary Bureaucracy
The BLACK Box or Policy Making Institutions
  • This is the traditional heart of American
    Government and Politics.
  • Using the Political System perspective the
    institutions can be seen as responding to demands
    and supports from various actors and interests.

  • The institutions, though separate still depend on
    each other for support, demands, and action.
  • This means understanding the presence of BOTH the
    Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances.
  • These are different concepts.
  • These institutions cannot ignore FEDERALISM and
    the presence and the power of states, although
    that is often forgotten in the study of US
    Government and Politics.

  • Inter-institutional cooperation and conflict is a
    very important features of these policymaking
  • The responses of each set of institutions to
    various kinds and sources of demands and supports
    is a central piece of the government and politics

  • As one example of this, BUREAUCRACY has
    constituents, but they do not elect (vote
    directly for) bureaucrats.
  • Constituents are the clientele of the agency who
    are regulated by the agency or receive benefits
    from the agency.
  • These may be individuals or
  • organized groups or corporations or
  • both individuals and groups.
  • They provide the agency with political support by
    advocating the agency before Congress.

  • The agency responds by providing benefits or
    favorable regulatory policies to these
  • The agency may also articulate clientele demands
    to Congress, claiming agency expertise that
    requires statutory (policy) changes that will
    benefit the clientele.
  • Agency and Clientele support each other before
    Congress for policy authority and for budgets.
  • Clientele do VOTE for legislators which
    indirectly supports agencies.

  • This rough outline is a sophisticated framework
    for explaining a large part of the infamous Iron
    Triangle or Sub-government.
  • You can develop your own symbiotic connections
    between other institutions and constituents or
  • The Courts
  • The Chief Executive (President)
  • The Congress (each house is different)

Public Policies or OUTPUTS
Public Policies
  • Here, the best way of testing these is NOT
    necessarily teaching a number of substantive
  • Some textbooks have a chapter on Foreign Policy
    and another on Domestic Policy.
  • Perhaps teaching ONE substantive policy area --
    let the students choose? -- will work.

  • Feedback provides intermediates and actors with
    information, benefits, policies that they were
    seeking or demanding.
  • These actors may be satisfied with the policies
    or they may be dissatisfied.
  • The result of these feedback loops are more,
    modified demands and supports.

  • Groups and actors may be quite happy with the
    policy or the institutional response to their
    demands. That may provide the system with
    quietude or stability.
  • Dissatisfaction may produce something from
    grumbling to riots depending on the level of
  • Generally, a Political System that produces no
    satisfactory results is in trouble of collapsing.

  • Our system, no matter what the level of grumbling
    and dissatisfaction is not likely to crumble,
    although some dissatisfied groups may want it to
    do that.

  • The Political Environment is important and need
    not be ignored in this scheme.
  • This includes Political Culture and Public
  • It includes population demographics as well if
    you want to bring that in to the discussion.
  • This part of the system is the background and the
    setting in which demands, processes of
    policymaking, and outputs occur.