a term used to describe the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, the bureaucracy, and interest groups. For example, within the federal government the three sides often consist of: various congressional committees, which are responsible for funding government programs and operations and then providing oversight of them; the federal agencies (often Independent agencies), which are responsible for the regulation of those affected industries; and last, the industries themselves, as well as their trade associations and lobbying groups, which benefit, or seek benefit, from these operations and programs.
History of The Bureaucracy
-From the beginning of the U.S. until the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 the bureaucracy had a few thousands. The election of Jackson brought the spoils system brought new government employees. From 1816-1861 growth in the bureaucracy reflected the growth of America not the Government itself.
-The progressive era from 1890-1920. The government enacted regulatory laws like the Sherman Antitrust act of 1890 and Instilled the Pendleton Civil Service Act in 1883 which created the merit system.
-The New Deal. F.D. Roosevelt implemented government programs to combat the depression as well as reforsm to the financial industry and promote economic growth. This expanded the government immensly.
-The Great Society during Johnsons Presidency expanded it further though programs enacted for education, mass transit, and voting rights. Did not promote African American Voting growth.
-The Reagan Revolution. Did not slow the growth of the bureaucracy and since then the bureaucracy has been growing...( New programs such as No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit)
1st 3 party Periods
The First Party System, 1789-1828
Political parties formed soon after the founding of the United States. The first political parties were the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans. Federalists favored a strong central government and a national bank. Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans took the opposite positions based on their preference for concentrating power at the state level. These political parties differed from the modern party system in that few citizens thought of themselves as party members, and candidates for office did not campaign as representatives of a political party.
The Second Party System, 1829-1856
The Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans transformed into the Democratic Party, the ancestor of the modern-day organization. As the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party dissolved, most of its politicians became Democrats, while the others formed another party known as the Whigs.
The new Democratic Party embodied two important innovations:
It cultivated electoral support as a way of strengthening the party's hold on power in Washington.
It built organizations at the state and local level to mobilize citizens to support the party's candidates. This innovation became known as the party principle, the idea that a political party exists as an organization distinct from its elected officials or party leaders.
These developments gave way to the first party in the electorate. A spoils system was created whereby party supporters were rewarded with benefits like federal government positions.
The Third Party System, 1857-1892
The issues of slavery split the second party system. Antislavery Whigs left the party and formed a new organization, the Republican Party, which also attracted antislavery Democrats. The demise of the Whigs and the rise of the Republican Party illustrates that parties exist only because elites, politicians, party leaders, and activists want them to.
Last 3 party systems
The Fourth Party System, 1893-1932
While the Civil War settled the issue of slavery, it did not change the identity of the major American parties. In the postwar era, the Republicans and the Democrats remained the two prominent parties. The parties divided on concerns such as the withdrawal of the Union Army from southern states and the size and scope of the federal government.
The Fifth Party System, 1933-1968
The New Deal Coalition assembled groups who aligned with and supported the Democratic Party in support of New Deal policies; these included African Americans, Catholics, Jewish people, union members, and white southerners. This transformation established the basic division between the Republican and Democratic parties that would persist for the rest of the twentieth century. Democrats generally favored a large federal government that took an active role in managing the economy and regulating individual and corporate behavior. Republicans believed that many of these programs should either be provided by state and local governments or kept entirely separate from government.
The Sixth Party System, 1969 to the Present
Changes in political issues and technology drove the transition from the fifth to the sixth party system. Democrats came out against the "separate but equal" system of racial discrimination in southern states, and in favor of programs designed to ensure equal opportunity for minority citizens. Furthermore, Democrats argued to expand the federal government into health care funding, antipoverty programs, education, and public works. Republicans opposed expanding the role of government into society. Both Republican and Democratic parties became parties in service, involved in recruiting, training, and campaigning for their party's congressional and presidential candidate.
How is the President Elected
Presidential candidates are nominated through primaries and caucuses. At the state level, the primary and caucus nominees win delegates, who subsequently cast votes in the national convention to determine their party's candidate for the general election. Then each party hosts its own national convention, where delegates vote for the party's nominee. Rather than voting directly for presidential candidates, voters actually vote for the candidate's pledged supporters (electors), who then vote for the president in the electoral college.
What are political parties?
Political parties are organizations that run candidates for political office and coordinate the actions of officials elected under the party banner. American political parties are best described as a collection of nodes, groups of people who belong to, are candidates of, or work for a political party, but do not necessarily work together or hold similar preferences. Scholars describe these organizations as being comprised of three separate and largely independent pieces:
Interest Groups vs. Political Parties
Interest groups and political parties share the goal of changing what government does, but there are three critical differences:
-Political parties run candidates for office and coordinate activities of elected officials. While interest groups also electioneer, they do not run candidates.
-Major political parties hold certain legal advantages over interest groups when it comes to influencing policy, such as guaranteed positions on electoral ballots.
-The elected members of political parties have a direct influence over government activity because they propose, debate, and vote on policies. Interest groups have an indirect influence: they must either persuade elected officials to support their point of view or help elect candidates who already share their goals.
1883 Pendleton Civil Service Act impact
Created the hiring on the basis of merit rather than loyalty. This attracted governemnt employees who where primarily motivated in shaping policy. Driving these changes was a shift in citizens' demands. People wanted a greater role for government, both in regulating the behavior of large corporations and delivering more services to citizens.
Religion in politics
Churches inculcate beliefs and shape worldviews. They provide plausibility structures, i.e. ways of dealing with life's puzzles and they offer social norms. Religious traditions may provide guidance for believers about appropriate behavior in secular realms, such as politics. If a church attracts people who experience similar conditions of life, whether poverty or affluence, that shared status may lead congregants to develop a common outlook on politics and social issues. Identity
Religion tells us who we are and who I am.
Religion tells us how we ought to behave.
Religion tells us who or what behaviors are not "of us."
Through theology and practices, churches can breed cohesion in terms of political attitudes between members.
Media's influence on public opinion
he influence of the media's political coverage on the average citizen is called media effect. Much of the media's impact is centered on what is omitted from reports and news stories, rather than what is presented.There are four main media effects that largely shape a citizen's viewpoint:
Filtering: journalist's and editor's decisions about what information to report
Slant: giving favorable coverage to one candidate or policy without providing a balanced perspective
Priming: the altering of the public's image or a candidate caused by negative or positive coverage of the candidate
Framing: influence caused by the way a story is presented, including or excluding details, explanations or context
These media effects do not imply that all reports are deliberately spun and intended to sway the audience one way or another. Rather, space or time limitations in print or broadcasts will often result in unintended media effects.
Media Coverage of American Politics
In a democracy, the media's job is to transmit relevant news to the public, so they can make decisions based on full information. Often, media coverage falls short of this goal.
Many scholars suggest that the distrust Americans have with the government is due to the presentation of information by the media rather than the government actions themselves.
Attack journalism, in which "bad news makes for good news," focuses on scandals and controversies.
Campaign coverage often over examines the horse race qualities of the campaign, in which poll results and questions of who is leading take precedence over substantial issues and stances of the opposing candidates.
Media coverage also emphasizes soft news, the use of sensational and entertaining reporting over hard news, the presentation of important information, figures, and facts.
This over-emphasis on soft news, horse races and attack journalism reflects the interests in the news industry to not only inform the public, but also make money. Sensationalistic news stories are far more popular and sell better, than policy-centered news.
The Internet offers the widest array of factual and analytical information of any source. In addition to the information discussed on air, most major media networks run blogs written by their reporters for further information.
The Internet allows ordinary citizens to report their political experiences firsthand, rather than forcing them to go through an intermediary, like the editorial board of a newspaper. It also encourages the development of the "home-grown media" for aspiring political reporters to publicize their analysis.
Despite the wealth of information available online, there is no conclusive evidence that citizens are better informed politically than they were before the rise of Internet-based news.
-Thirty percent of adults are not regular Internet users.
Information is so plentiful that crucial information often remains hidden.
-Misleading information can be posted easily on the Internet, and not a lot of fact-checking organizations exist that can strike down information of questionable reliability.
-There is a general lack of demand for information. Despite the wealth of information available and the ease of accessing it, most Americans are not interested in reading "boring" stories about politics.
Collective Action Problem
Groups of individuals stand to benefit through the provision of public goods, which for many interest groups amounts to changes in government policy. Securing and providing such goods requires coordination among many different people and organizations—it requires collective action. Even when people generally agree on the desirability of the public good, and when the costs of producing the good are negligible, cooperation is neither easy nor automatic.
The logic of collective action can be explained by the prisoner's dilemma. In this situation, all participants will be better off if they cooperate or coordinate their behavior, but each individual participant also has an incentive to defect or refuse to cooperate, in hopes of enjoying the benefits of the other participants' efforts without contributing themselves.
Regardless of how many other people join a collective effort, any given individual is better off free riding—refusing to join an organization, and still enjoying the benefits of any success the group might have. But, if everyone acts on this calculation, no one will join the group and the organization will be unable to lobby for grants or anything else.
Collective action problems involving interest groups are usually more difficult to resolve than the prisoner's dilemma because there are typically more participants, and there is no way for each participant to know whether others are free riding.
Some interest groups have developed mechanisms to engender cooperation:
Some organizations offer immaterial benefits for participation:
Solidary benefits include the satisfaction derived from the experience of working with like-minded people, even if the group's efforts do not achieve the desired impact.
Purposive benefits include the satisfaction derived from the experience of working toward a desired policy goal, even if the goal is not achieved.
Coercion is a method of eliminating nonparticipation or free riding by requiring participation. For example, workers in certain industries are required to join their respective union.
Selective incentives are benefits that can motivate participation in a group effort because they are available only to those who participate, such as member services offered by interest groups.
Interest group entrepreneurs play a critical role in successful collective action. They are leaders of an interest group who define the group's mission and its goals and create a plan to achieve them.
How People develop Public Opinion
Through Socialization, events, group identity, Politicians and other political actors. Political socialization show that many people's political opinions start with what they learned from their parents and surrounding culture. For example, there is a high correlation between one's party identification and the liberal-conservative ideology of their parents. People can revise their opinions in response to what happens to them and in the world around them. Political realignments are a good example. A realignment is a nationwide shift in which large numbers of people move from identifying with one political party to identifying with another. Social categories or groups, such as gender, race, or education level, may influence an individual's opinion. Politicians and other political actors, such as political parties and party leaders, interest groups, and leaders of large organizations, because of their presumed expertise, influence opinions and changes in opinion. They work to shape public opinion in order to win support for their proposals.
Measuring Public Opinion
Most information about public opinion generally comes from a mass survey, an in-person or phone interview with hundreds or even thousands of voters. Mass surveys aim to measure the attitudes of a particular population or group of people. Because it is often impossible to interview every member of a large group, surveys typically involve a sample of between a few hundred and several thousand individuals.
Large-scale surveys use various types of questions to measure public opinion. One type of survey question measures preferences using an issue scale, a survey response format in which respondents select their answers from a range of positions between two extremes.
Surveys are composed of random samples, small subsets of the population being studied, in which every member of the population has an equal chance of being studied. Because samples of populations are surveyed rather than every member, the survey results may not be completely accurate. A calculation that describes what percentage of the people surveyed may not accurately represent the population being studied is known as the sampling error. Increasing the number of respondents lowers the sampling error.
Problems with Measuring public opinion
The accuracy of survey results relies strongly upon building a random sample. One method of random sampling is random digit dialing, in which the interviewers call respondents by dialing random telephone numbers in order to include those with unlisted numbers. Other techniques include selecting households at random from census data or face-to-face interviewing. All of these tactics are prone to error since, for example, not everyone has a telephone and many people are not available at their homes for face-to-face interviews if they work during the day.
In order to keep costs down, some organizations have used a robo-poll, a survey in which a computer program, rather than a live questioner, interviews respondents by telephone. Others use online surveys to collect data. Although these methods are cheaper, serious doubts exist about the randomness of the samples these techniques produce.
Another problem with surveys is that people are sometimes reluctant to reveal their opinions and instead choose to give socially acceptable answers or answers the interviewer wants to hear. In order to address this issue, pollsters often attempt to verify answers whenever possible and frame questions in a variety of indirect ways so that respondents are comfortable providing honest answers.
History of the media
Since their inception, American newspapers have pushed political ideologies, from urging colonists to defy English rule to determining a new government for the new nation. The post-Civil War period saw the rise of yellow journalism, which used bold headlines and entertaining writing to appeal to a wider audience. In addition, muckrakers or investigative journalists openly criticized politicians and policies to raise public concern. The idea of journalistic impartiality and accuracy began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when journalism schools were first formed, and also when Arthur Ochs purchased the New York Times.
Post-World War I America utilized radios and eventually TVs to receive information from national media sources. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was initiated in 1934 to regulate the new technologies, called broadcast media. The chief purpose of the FCC was to ensure no single broadcast corporation could monopolize a community and only provide their point of view. The FCC enacted the fairness doctrine, which is now no longer in place, to ensure all broadcast stations presented multiple political points of view. Also, the FCC mandated the equal time provision, which required stations to give equal amounts of airtime, outside of news reports, to competing candidate
In 1996, Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act in order to deregulate media and communications. The Telecommunications Act accelerated two trends:
Concentration: corporations are permitted to own more than one media source in a single community.
Cross-ownership: corporations are permitted to own multiple kinds of media sources in a single community (i.e., TV and print).
These trends gave rise to media conglomerates like NBC, ABC, CBS, and so on, which relay information in multiple forms.
The FCC is increasingly moving to deregulation, though it still enforce penalties and fines for broadcasting "obscene material" (i.e., radio "shock jock" Howard Stern, Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction").
Sources of media
Print Media: Newspapers, Magazines, and Books
National newspapers, such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal tend to have a large, worldwide staff. By contrast, smaller papers tend to emphasize local events and rely on wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters for their coverage of national or international news. The Internet is forcing the newspaper industry to dramatically revamp its business model, but newspapers are still the most widely used source of information.
Magazines, such as Time, Newsweek, or the Economist have widespread circulation and offer in-depth, coverage of the news. By contrast, most expressly political magazines, such as the Republic and the Nation have very small audiences.
Political books are generally very popular. Sarah Palin's autobiography and Al Gore's book on global warming dominated the New York Times best-seller list in 2009.
Broadcasts range from simple, fact-based reporting as on NBC, CBS, and ABC to radical, one-sided, and humorous as on The O'Reilly Factor, The Daily Show with John Stewart, and The Colbert Report.
Programs are often centered on a single, strongly opinionated individual who fields questions and comments from listeners and offers his or her own insights. The majority of politically based radio programs are conservatively oriented.
Offers every kind of previously mentioned media, though usually in limited fashion. There are many blogs that report on politics, but they tend to rely on information collected by outside sources, rather than doing their own reporting. The Internet also provides a forum for the average citizen with a connection to voice his or her opinion for the world to hear.
Are media sources the same?
Information in print sources like books or newspapers is difficult to change on short notice.
Different sources offer different depths of analysis (i.e., a 30-minute TV broadcast covers a topic broadly compared to a 12-page article from a magazine).
The availability of resources shape what news is passed on to the consumer (many Internet sites, local media, and other smaller operations use major TV and newspaper sources to base their reporting).
Politician Reporter Relationship
Reporters and politicians share a complex relationship. Reporters want complete and accurate information, while politicians only want their version of events to be reported. Reporters that do a good job of cultivating relationships with government officials often get the best information. Occasionally, highly classified information, can leak to major media outlets if a government official provides it, generally on the condition of anonymity.
Is the media Biased
In general, conservatives think the media is liberally biased, while liberals think the media is conservatively biased.
The hostile media phenomenon occurs when people view balanced coverage as biased against their preferred policy or candidate.
Many publications or broadcasts, like Countdown with Keith Olbermann or The O'Rielly Factor, make no secret that they are left- or right-leaning.
In the aggregate, however, there is little evidence to suggest the A
The principal policy-making body in each party organization is the national committee, comprised of party representatives from each state. Parties include a number of constituency groups (the Democrats' term) or teams (the Republicans' term), which are organizations within the party and which work to attract the support of particular demographic groups considered likely to share the party's issue concerns.
Many other groups are loosely affiliated with one of the major parties. Political action committees (PACs) are interest groups or divisions of interest groups that can raise money to contribute to campaigns or to spend on ads in support of candidates. The amount they can receive from each of their donors and their expenditure on federal electioneering are strictly limited. 527 organizations are tax-exempt groups formed primarily to influence elections through voter mobilization efforts and issue ads that do not directly endorse or oppose a candidate. Unlike political action committees, they are not subject to contribution limits and spending caps. While these groups often favor one party or the other, they are not part of the party organization and do not always agree with the party's positions or support its candidates.
Role of political parties in democracy
Contesting Elections, Virtually everyone elected to a state or national political office is either a Republican or Democrat. Recruiting and nominating candidates
The process of recruiting candidates has become very systematic, with national party leaders playing a central role in finding and recruiting candidates, Campaign assistance
One of the parties' primary activities is helping candidates with their campaigns. Along with supplying campaign funds, party organizations give candidates other kinds of assistance, ranging from offering campaign advice to conducting polls. Party Platforms
A party platform is a set of objectives outlining the party's issue positions and priorities. Although candidates are not required to support their party's platform, party platforms generally reflect the brand name differences between the parties, giving citizens an easy way to make judgments about candidates.
Role of Political Parties cont.
Conditional party government refers to the theory that lawmakers from the same party will cooperate to develop policy proposals. Preferably, these policies will be attractive to backbenchers, legislators who do not hold leadership positions within their party caucus or conference. There is no guarantee that compromise will be reached.
Throughout the year, the parties in government meet to devise strategies for legislative action. Leaders in Congress use their power to control when proposals are considered, which amendments are allowed, and how long debate will proceed to ensure speedy consideration and to prevent the opposing minority party from delaying votes or offering alternatives.
Political parties can play an important role in coordinating the actions taken in different branches of government. Such coordination is important for enacting new laws: unless supporters in Congress can amass a two-thirds majority to override a veto, they need the president's support. Similarly, the president needs congressional support to enact proposals that he or she favors. Thus, the president routinely meets with congressional leaders from his or her party and occasionally meets with the entire caucus or conference.
One of the most important roles of political parties in a democracy is giving citizens identifiable groups to reward or punish for government actions, thereby providing a means for voters to focus their desire for accountability.
Minor Party Roles
Minor political parties in America are so minor that they are not significant players on the political stage. Very few Americans identify with minor parties, especially since most minor parties exist for only a short period of time. People vote for minority party candidates because they find those candidates' positions more attractive than those of the major parties, and also because they believe that neither major party can govern effectively.
Duverger's law states that in a democracy with single-member districts and plurality voting, such as the United States, only two parties' candidates will have a realistic chance of winning political office. Single-member districts comprise an electoral system in which every elected official represents a geographically defined area, such as a state or congressional district, and each area elects one representative. Plurality voting is a voting system in which the candidate who receives the most votes within a geographic area wins the election, regardless of whether that candidate wins a majority (more than half) of the votes. Thus, many people will consider a vote for a minor party candidate to be a wasted vote. Moreover, minor party candidates face significantly higher legal hurdles to get on the ballot.
What do elections do
Elections allow citizens the opportunity to choose who represents them and allow citizens to reward or punish incumbent politicians.
Most races are an incumbent race, which is a race between someone who currently holds office (the incumbent) and a challenger (someone who does not hold the office).
When deciding between the two, voters often choose who to vote for by evaluating the incumbent's performance in the past term, which is called retrospective evaluation.
How do elections work
In Congressional races, there are two steps to getting elected. First, the primary of each political party determines which of several candidates will receive the nomination to run in the general election. In the general election the voters determine who the actual officeholder will be.
In most circumstances, voters cast their votes in various polling places near their homes on Election Day. A recent trend, however, is early voting, in which citizens vote in advance of Election Day. Another recent trend is to cast absentee ballots, where voters mail their ballots rather than vote in a polling place.
Setting the Stage
Following each election, a party's control of a seat is determined to be safe or vulnerable based on a number of calculations. Political parties and candidates make strategic decisions based on these assessments. Before the Campaign
There are many things incumbent politicians can do before the actual campaign to make themselves more secure. (permanent campaign, political business cycle, talent primary)
The General Election Campaign
During the actual electoral campaign, candidates utilize a number of strategies to win their election. (Retail politics, wholesale)
Campaign Advertising: Getting the Word Out
Campaign advertising is one of the primary methods for candidates to reach the electorate.
PAC's vs. 527's
PAC's-is an organization in the United States that campaigns for or against political candidates, ballot initiatives or legislation. Can only take limited money.
527- a type of American tax-exempt organization named after "Section 527" of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. A 527 group is created primarily to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office. Can take unlimited funds but can't directly associate with the candidate.
How do voters decide?
Voting is rather paradoxical: it is a costly activity, as time spent learning about the candidates and going to the polls could be spent elsewhere. Furthermore, individual people have a very small influence on the electoral outcome. How Do People Vote?
Gathering information on all the candidates is costly, so citizens rely on voting cues as shortcuts to a reasonable vote.
Types of Interest Groups
Interest groups can be divided into three categories based on the types of concerns that drive their lobbying efforts: economic groups, citizen groups, and single-issue groups.
Economic groups seek public policies that will provide monetary benefits to their members. Labor organizations fall under this category.
Citizen groups seek change in spending, regulations, or government programs concerning a wide range of policies (also known as public interest groups). Issues of interest may vary from legislation that defines marriage between a man and a woman to the elimination of estate taxes.
Single-issue groups form around a narrowly focused goal, seeking change on a single topic, government program, or piece of legislation. For example, the National Right to Life campaign lobbies for regulations on abortion rights.
Historically, economic interest groups outnumbered citizen groups and single-issue groups. While the number of all types of interest groups has increased in recent years, the increase in citizen groups has far outpaced the growth in economic groups. This may be attributed to the increased role of the government in citizens' everyday lives.
Centralized vs. Confederations
There are two main models of interest group structure: centralized groups and confederations.
Centralized groups are interest groups with a headquarters, usually in Washington, DC, as well as members and field offices throughout the country. In general, these groups' lobbying decisions are made at headquarters by the group leaders. Most well-known organizations like the AARP and the NRA are centralized groups.
Confederations are interest groups made up of several independent, local organizations that provide much of their funding and hold most of the power.
Both structures have advantages and disadvantages. A centralized organization controls all of the group's resources and can deploy them efficiently, but it can be challenging to find out what members want. A confederation has the advantage of maintaining independent chapters at state and local levels, so it is easier for the national headquarters to learn what members want. Conflict, however, is more rampant in confederations because when chapters send funds to headquarters, they can specify how the funds must be used.
Interest group staff falls into two categories: experts on the group's focal policy areas, and people with useful government connections and knowledge of procedures. The practice of transitioning from government positions to working for interest groups or lobbying firms is known as the revolving door. Over 40 percent of representatives leaving the House or Senate join a lobbying firm after their departure. The term K Street, named for the street in DC where lobbying firms were once concentrated, refers collectively to Washington lobbyists.
Interest groups can be distinguished on the basis of the size of their membership and the members' role in the group's activities.
A mass association is an interest group that has a large number of dues-paying individuals as members. Not all mass associations give members a say in selecting a group's leaders or determining its mission.
A peak association is an interest group whose members are businesses or other organizations rather than individuals.
Some interest groups have no members at all. Sometimes it makes more sense for interest groups to seek funding from foundations, corporations, or a few wealthy individuals rather than from broad-based membership.
Interest groups use resources including people, money, and expertise to support their lobbying efforts.
People are among the most important resources an interest group can utilize. Group members write letters to elected officials, send e-mails, travel to Washington for demonstrations, and so on. They may also offer expertise or advice. Interest groups' ability to use people as a resource is limited by two major challenges: it is expensive to recruit members, and it is difficult to motivate members' participation.
Money is important because virtually everything interest groups do can be purchased as services. Well-funded groups can purchase resources they lack.
Expertise can take many forms. Areas of expertise may include knowing members' preferences, or having information on policy questions and legislative proposals. This information is an asset group leaders can use to negotiate with elected officials or bureaucrats. Not all interest groups utilize expertise. Some groups focus on mobilizing people outside government, expecting that elected officials will respond by developing policy solutions.
Inside strategies are the tactics used within Washington interest groups to achieve their policy goals.
Direct lobbying, attempts by interest group staff to influence policy by speaking with elected officials or bureaucrats, is very common. Interest groups try to help like-minded legislators secure policy changes that they both want. Little time is spent trying to convert opposing legislators and bureaucrats, though such efforts are often inexpensive and can force interest groups with opposing views to engage in counteractive lobbying, which requires them to use some of their limited resources to maintain supporters.
Interest groups sometimes draft legislative proposals and regulations, which they then deliver to legislators and bureaucrats as part of their lobbying efforts.
Interest groups often prepare research reports on topics of interest to the group. Members of Congress are more likely to accept a group's legislative proposal if they believe the group's staff have some research to back up their claims.
Interest group staff often testify before congressional committees in order to inform members of Congress about important issues to the group.
Groups can sue the government on grounds that the government's actions are not constitutional, or that the government has misinterpreted the provisions of the existing law. Even when an interest group is not directly involved in litigation, amicus curiae briefs provide some clues as to what position a given organization supports.
Interest groups can also work together in their lobbying efforts. Generally, such collaboration is short-term and aimed at achieving a specific outcome.
Grassroots lobbying is a strategy that relies on participation by group members, such as in a protest or a letter-writing campaign. This strategy is effective because elected officials hate to act against a large group of citizens who care enough about an issue to express their position.
The effectiveness of grassroots lobbying depends on perceptions of elected officials about how much a group has done to motivate participation. For example, astroturf lobbying is designed to look like the spontaneous, independent participation of many individuals when in fact those individuals' behavior has been coordinated from the top down by some central organization. Astroturf lobbying is often ignored because it says more about a group's ability to make participation accessible rather than the number of people who strongly support an issue.
Mobilizing public opinion is an attempt to change what the public thinks about an issue.
Electioneering involves supporting candidates for election. Federal laws limit groups' electioneering efforts:
Most interest groups are organized as a 501(c) organization, a tax code classification that makes donations to the group tax deductible but limits the group's political activities (the formal limit is 20 percent of the group's activities or budget).
Interest groups can get around these limits by forming either a separate political action committee (PAC) or a 527 organization. PACs can raise money to contribute to campaigns or to spend on ads in support of specific candidates, but the amount of money a PAC can receive from each of its donors and the amount if can spend on federal campaigning are strictly limited. 527s, conversely, are not subject to contribution limits or spending caps. These tax -exempt groups form primarily to influence elections through voter mobilization efforts and issue ads that do not directly endorse or oppose a candidate.
Some interest groups use the strategy of taking the late train by donating money to the winning candidate after the election in hopes of securing a meeting with that person when he or she takes office.
Media coverage publicizes a group's concerns without costing that group any money.
Interest groups may also propose policy by bypassing the government entirely:
An initiative is a direct vote by citizens on a policy change proposed by fellow citizens or organized groups outside government. Getting a question on the ballot typically requires collecting a set number of signatures from registered voters in support of the proposal. The initiative process favors well-funded groups that can advertise their proposal, and no mechanism exists for a national-level initiative.
A referendum is a direct vote by citizens on a policy change proposed by a legislature or another government body. Referenda are common in state and local elections, but no mechanism exists for a national-level referendum.
What determines interest group sucess
Interest groups are more likely to succeed when their request has low salience, or attracts little public attention. Legislators and bureaucrats do not have to worry about the political consequences of giving a group what it wants if the issue is not well known.
Conflict works against lobbying efforts. Lobbying is subject to two kinds of conflict:
Disagreements between interest groups, some preferring to spend more on a given program, some less
Differences between what a particular interest group wants and public opinions or preferences of the general public
What does the bureaucracy do?
The task of the bureaucracy is to implement policies established by congressional acts or presidential decisions. Generally, legislation determines only the guidelines for meeting governmental goals, allowing bureaucrats to develop specific policies and programs. The bureaucracy includes a wide range of activities, from regulating the behavior of individuals and corporations to buying everything from pencils to jet fighters for the government. The task of the bureaucracy is to implement policies established by congressional acts or presidential decisions. Generally, legislation determines only the guidelines for meeting governmental goals, allowing bureaucrats to develop specific policies and programs. The bureaucracy includes a wide range of activities, from regulating the behavior of individuals and corporations to buying everything from pencils to jet fighters for the government.
Expertise and Consequences
State capacity refers to the knowledge, personnel, and institutions that the government requires to effectively implement policies. A bureaucracy of experts is one component of the state capacity. Many critics of the modern bureaucracy cite the abundance of red tape, which refers to the unnecessarily complex procedures, or standard operating procedures, which are the rules that lower-level bureaucrats must follow when implementing policies, regardless of whether they are applicable to the situation at hand.
The problem of control refers to the difficulty faced by elected officials in ensuring that when bureaucrats implement policies, they follow these officials' intentions but still have enough discretion to use their own expertise. Red tape exists as a mechanism to control bureaucrats.
The problem of control is a classic example of the principal-agent relationship, which describes the interaction between a principal (like the president or Congress), who needs something done, and an agent (like a bureaucrat), who is responsible for carrying out the principal's orders. Each principal faces the challenge of motivating the agents to act in the principal's interests. Because the agent is an expert at the task he has been given, he has private information inaccessible to the principal. The problem then becomes identifying the proper amount of control so that the bureaucrat has guidelines, but his creativity is not stifled.
Another problem that may be encountered in the bureaucracy is regulatory capture, a situation in which bureaucrats favor the interests of the groups or corporations they are supposed to regulate at the expense of the general public.
The Executive Office of the President (EOP) contains organizations that support the president and implement presidential policy initiatives. The Office of Management and Budget, for example, is responsible for creating the president's annual budget proposal to Congress, reviewing proposed rules, and other budget-related tasks. Below the EOP are fifteen executive departments, from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The heads of these fifteen organizations make up the president's cabinet.
Below the executive departments, but not subordinate to them, is a set of independent agencies, government offices or organizations that provide government services and are not part of an executive department. They carry out specialized functions, such as the Federal Reserve, which manages the money supply, banking system, and interest rates.
The federal government serves an enormous range of functions. Furthermore, the division of activities among executive departments and independent agencies does not have an obvious logic. Such organization, or lack thereof, often reflects elected officials' attempts to shape agency behavior. In general, organizations that are housed within an executive department can be controlled by the president to some extent through his or her appointees, and independent agencies have more freedom from oversight and control by the president and Congress.
Civil Service Regulations
Federal salaries are supposed to be comparable to what people earn in similar, private sector positions. Education determines the positions for which a person is eligible to apply. A set of tests is used to determine who is hired for low-level clerical and secretarial positions, while higher-level jobs are filled by comparing the qualifications and experience of candidates who meet the educational requirements for the position.
Civil service regulations provide job security. After three years of satisfactory performance, employees cannot be fired except "for cause." It is possible, however, to reduce the size of the federal workforce through reductions in force (RIF), which are occasionally carried out when an entire office or program is terminated.
The reason so many regulations exist regarding civil service is to separate politics from policy. Making it difficult for elected officials to control the hiring and firing of government employees hinders them from furthering their own political goals.
Controlling the Bureaucracy
The problem with eliminating bureaucrats' discretion is that this also limits the positive influence of their expertise. Particularly when new policies are being developed, taking away bureaucratic discretion is costly for legislators or presidential appointees, because it forces them to take the time to work out the policy details themselves.
Elected officials must find ways to reduce or eliminate bureaucratic drift, the tendency of bureaucrats to implement policies in a way that favors their own political objectives rather than following the original intentions of the legislation. Two common strategies involve changing the way agencies are organized and staffed and using standardized procedures for monitoring agency actionsMonitoring
One of the most important ways elected officials prevent bureaucratic drift through oversight, which refers to congressional efforts to make sure that laws are implemented correctly by the bureaucracy after they have been passed.
Oversight is achieved through requiring bureaucrats to give advance warning of proposed changes before they take effect. This allows for revision of plans.
Ideally, all agencies would be inspected as often as possible. Police patrol oversight is a method of oversight in which members of Congress constantly monitor the bureaucracy to make sure that laws are implemented correctly. Such oversight is costly, in terms of both money and staff time.
More frequently, fire alarm oversight is employed when members of Congress respond to complaints about the bureaucracy or problems of implementation only as they arise rather than exercising constant vigilance.
Legislation or an executive order can send a clear directive to an agency or remove its discretion; tasks and programs can be moved to an agency more closely aligned with elected officials' goals; political appointees at an agency can be replaced; and agencies can be reorganized. In extreme situations, members of Congress can fail to renew an agency's statutory authority, in effect putting the agency out of business.
One of the most significant difficulties in dealing with bureaucratic drift is disagreement between members of Congress and the president about whether or not an agency is doing the right thing. Such disagreements between the president and Congress can give an agency significant freedom, as long as it retains the support of at least one branch of government.
An agency may be able to fend off elected officials' attempts to take political control if it has a reputation for expertise. Also, if an agency can appeal to groups in society that benefit from agency actions, they can ward off control.
Anomolies in Bureaucracy
Bureaucratic shortfalls are often the result of the complexity of the tasks bureaucrats undertake. The use of standard operating procedures is rooted partly in the complexity of bureaucrats' tasks—but also in the desire of agency heads and elected officials to control the actions of lower-level staff.
Rules and procedures are needed in any organization to ensure that decisions are made fairly and that they reflect the goals of the organization. However, it is impossible to find procedures that will work this way in all cases, particularly for the kinds of policy decisions made by bureaucrats.
In sum, when government agencies do things that look bizarre or counterproductive, it would be wrong to immediately conclude that the organizations involved are inept or willfully shirking their responsibilities. Rather, they may be doing the best they can to achieve formidable goals, carrying out procedures that are often—but not always—productive, or responding to directives from elected officials.
Using the 1803 case Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice Marshall established judicial review, giving the Court the power to strike down a law or executive action that it finds unconstitutional.
At issue in the case was the Judiciary Act's authorizing of the Supreme Court to issue writs of mandamus—orders directed at lower courts, government officials, or government agencies to perform some act required by law —,effectively expanding the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction.
Judicial review has allowed the Court to gain equal footing in the system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.
Judiciary act of 1789
Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which provided details about how the federal judiciary would be organized, creating the Office of the Attorney General, circuit courts, and district courts in which most federal cases are tried. The Act also expanded the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction, allowing the high court to hear appeals from and change or uphold the decisions of lower courts.
How judges are appointed
State-level judges can be selected a number of ways: appointment by the governor, appointment by the state legislature, partisan elections, nonpartisan elections, or via the Missouri Plan, where the judge is selected by the governor from a list compiled by a nonpartisan steering committee.
While elections mean that judges will be more responsive to public opinion, they may also undermine the courts' role as protector of unpopular minority rights. Moreover, election of judges also raises the potential for conflicts of interest if campaign contributors have cases before the court.
Federal judges are appointed by the president with the "advice and consent" of the Senate.
Many nominations are fierce battles, as federal judges have significant influence and lifetime tenure.
The Constitution does not list any qualifications for serving on the federal court.
Presidents have broad discretion in whom they appoint, and often attempt to influence the ideological direction of the Court.
While the president can make a good guess about how a justice is likely to rule on a given case or constitutional question, presidential guesses are not always accurate.
The Senate rarely rejects federal court nominees because of qualifications, but often does so for political and ideological reasons.
Though district and appellate court nominations have been contested lately, the norm of senatorial courtesy is still commonly upheld, meaning that the
Rules of Acess
The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving conflicts between two states, foreign ambassadors, or foreign countries, and therefore gets to handle these cases first. Justices may choose to assign cases in which they have original jurisdiction to lower courts.
Cases on appeal are those cases that Congress requires the Supreme Court to hear.
A writ of certification is issued when an appeals court asks the Supreme Court for instructions on a point of law before deciding a case.
A writ of certiorari is issued when at least four of the nine justices agree to hear a case that has reached them via an appeal from the losing party in a lower court's ruling. It is by far the most common route to the Court.
Criteria of cases
There are three primary criteria for the selection of cases, requiring actual "cases and controversies":
Collusion requires that the litigants not agree on the desired outcome of the case, indicating that they are not cooperating or conspiring.
Mootness requires that the controversy still be relevant when the Court hears the case.
Ripeness requires that the central issue or controversy has actually taken place. The Court will not act preemptively.
Hearing in the Supreme Court
Justices prepare for a case by reading briefs which outline the arguments of and are filed by both parties. Outside interests may also submit amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs, which offer arguments in defense of one side or another.
When the case is scheduled, the justices hear oral arguments from the lawyers from each party, each side generally getting a half an hour to present.
Following the arguments, the justices meet in conference to discuss and vote on the cases.
After justices indicate their vote choice, the most senior justice in the majority decides who will write the majority opinion.
This facilitates a number of goals:
It ensures smooth operation of the Court.
It plays to the justices' individual areas of expertise.
It allows the Court to act strategically based on external relations, internal politics, and the personal policy goals of the opinion assigner.
Once the majority opinion has been drafted, it is circulated and the justices have the option of joining the majority, writing a separate concurring opinion, or dissenting.
Rulings based on precedent involve using previous decisions on similar cases to inform current decisions.
Language of the Constitution
Strict constructionists argue that the Constitution should be interpreted based on its language alone.
In places where the wording of the Constitution is unclear, strict constructionists believe that judges should be guided by the original intent of the Founders.
Critics of strict constructionists argue in favor of a living Constitution that takes into account the changes in society and national circumstances rather than the text alone.
Roles of Court as Policy Makes
The Court has difficulty enforcing decisions: sometimes it can force its views on other the branches of government, while other times it requires their support.
The Court relies on its reputation to gain compliance with its decisions; it often relies on executive or congressional action to support them.
Without executive or congressional support, the Court is often powerless to enforce its rulings.
Generally, the Court is careful not to encroach on the power of either the president or Congress unless it is necessary.
It does strike down congressional or presidential action occasionally, as when it required Nixon to submit his secret tapes of the Watergate break-in.
Hard vs. easy issues
Hard issues-presume voting is the final result of a sophisticated decision; that is represents a reasoned and thoughtful attempt by voters to use policy preference to guide electoral decision.
Easy issues-issues so ingrained over a long period of time it structures voters "gut-responses to candidates and political parties"
Civic knowledge provides the raw material that allows citizens to use their virtues, skills and passions in a way that is connected meaningfully to the empirical world.
"Informed opinions, participation, and consent of citizens is by definition the best measure of what is in the public's interest. And the opportunities provided by citizens to make such informed choices is the best measure of how democratic a system is."
How do people overcome the "information hurdle"
Mental shortcuts that allow individuals to make decisions without a great deal of information.
Individuals use cues to help them make decisions without a great deal of information.
"Concepts such as reputation, party, or ideology are useful heuristics only if they convey information about knowledge and trust."
Why are people not informed
The time and mental effort required to absorb and store information, whether from conversations, personal experiences, or the media.
"Many political facts require that citizens be reasonably vigilant surveyors of the changing political landscape: party control of Congress changes, elected and appointed officials are replaced, political alliances form and disintegrate, and so forth."