"Five Steps to a 5" AP US Government and Politics flashcards

(Discontinued) The 600 flashcards from the "Five steps to a 5" flashcard set for AP Gov. Many of the terms are just things that you "need to know" but are not vocabulary words. You'll see what I mean.
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Government
Any institution or process that involves power, rule, and authority.
Autocracy
Rule by a single individual.
Oligarchy
Rule by a small group or small ruling class (Examples: Aristocracy, Theocracy).
Anarchy
The absence of government.
Democracy
Rule by the people, either directly, or indirectly through their elected representatives.
Direct Democracy
Citizens vote to make decisions on public policy, directly making laws themselves. Not very effective for governing large populations.
Traditional Democratic Theory
Government depends on the consent of the governed
Elite Theory
A small group of people identified by wealth or political power, who rule in their self-interest
Representative Democracy
Citizens elect representatives through popular election, and those representatives make laws to govern the people.
Republic
A government system with no monarch and some type of representative government under a constitution.
Natural Rights
The concept, thought of by John Locke, that people are born with and entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and property ownership.
Social Contract Theory
The idea that governmental authority is derived from an implicit contract with the governed - a social contract.
Limited government
The idea that power of government is limited to those powers the people have granted it.
Constitution
A document that defines a framework for how a government will be set up and how it will operate.
Popular Sovereignty
The idea that government derives its authority from the people, and that the governed are sovereign over the rulers.
Magna Carta
A landmark document that limited the power of the British monarch and gave rights to the British noble citizens.
Petition of Right
Document that extended protections of the Magna Carta to British commoners (gave everyone civil rights).
Mayflower Compact
Document signed by colonists aboard the ship the Mayflower before disembarking onto America that established a government with the consent of the governed.
House of Burgesses
Legislation established in Virginia in 1619 that created the first representative government in the American colonies.
John Locke
British Enlightenment philosopher whose writing of Natural Rights influenced the founding fathers of the United States.
First Continental Congress
Delegates from 12 American colonies (Georgia did not attend) joined to protest British colonial policies.
Second Continental Congress
Delegates from all 13 colonies joined together to declare independence from Great Britain.
Declaration of Independence
A document that declared to the King of England the independence of the American colonies, and outlined the mistakes of the British king.
Articles of Confederation
The first national constitutional that created a very weak national government that unified the colonies during the Revolutionary War.
Shays' Rebellion
Rebellion by farmers in Massachusetts that demonstrated the inability of the weak national government to maintain order under the Articles of Confederation.
Constitutional Convention
A meeting in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, but ended up throwing it out and creating the constitution we have today.
Ratification
A method of enacting a constitution or constitutional amendment into law.
Great Compromise
A compromise between plans to create a large national government, and plans to create a weak national government that created a bicameral legislature.
Bicameral Legislature
A legislature with two "houses" or bodies of representatives.
Unicameral Legislature
A legislature with only one "house" or body of representatives.
Three-Fifths Compromise
A compromise at the constitutional convention that allowed slaves to be counted for 3/5 of a person for the purposes of taxation and representation.
Commerce and Slave Trade compromise
A compromise in the constitution that prohibited the government from stopping the slave trade or imposing export taxes 20 years after ratification.
U.S. Constitution
A document written by delegates at the Constitutional Convention that established a national government in the United States.
Parts of the U.S. Constitution
The preamble, the 7 articles, and 27 amendments that make up the U.S. Constitution.
Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
Constitution was accepted by 9 of the 13 states before it went into effect.
Federalists
People who supported the ratification of the U.S. constitution and wanted a stronger national government.
Anti-Federalists
People who opposed the ratification of the U.S. constitution and wanted a weaker national government.
Federalist Papers
A series of 85 newspaper essays written by leading Federalists arguing for ratification of the new constitution.
Process for amending Constitution
Amendments can only be passed or ratified if a 2/3 majority of both houses agree, and a 3/4 majority of states must approve.
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Additions added to the U.S. Constitution, today there are 27 of them.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution that highlighted the freedoms given to American people.
First Amendment
Guarantees the most basic rights in a democracy: Freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly.
Fourteenth Amendment
Amendment that granted Equal Protection of rights to extend the Bill of Rights to the states, and the Due Process Clause which created a fair judicial process for the accused.
Basic Principles of U.S. government
U.S. Constitution embodies federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and representative democracy that is based on the concepts of popular sovereignty, limited government, and natural rights.
Separation of Powers
The principle that powers are divided between three separate and independent branches of government that is embodied in the Constitution.
Checks and Balances
The principle that each branch of government is subject to restraint by the other two branches.
Three Branches of Government
Executive Branch enforces law, Legislative Branch makes the law, and Judicial Branch interprets the law.
Charles-Louis Montesquieu
French political thinker of the Enlightenment that developed the concept of separation of powers and checks and balances.
Concepts of how U.S. government works
Traditional view: Power comes from the people who govern through their elected representatives.
Behavioralist view: Interest groups compete by bargaining and compromising to form public policy that promotes their agenda.
Pluralism
A political culture with a multitude of political interests.
Hyperpluralism
A political culture in which there are too many interests and gridlock occurs.
Federalism
Powers of government are shared between a national government and state governments.
Why Federalism in the U.S.
The founding fathers wanted to retain existing state governments created by the Articles of Confederation, but also wanted a national government.
Powers of the Federal Government
Delegated (or enumerated) Powers, Implied powers, and Inherent powers
Delegated Powers
A.k.a. Enumerated Powers: Powers specifically granted to the Federal Government by the Constitution.
Implied Powers
Powers not specifically stated, but "necessary and proper" to carry out delegated powers.
Necessary and Proper Clause
A clause in article 1, section 8 that grants power to "make all laws which are necessary and proper" to carrying out delegated.
Inherent Powers
Powers inherent in a national government, although not explicitly stated in the Constitution. (Inherent = existing as something permanent)
Concurrent powers
Powers granted to both the national and state governments.
Reserved Powers
Powers the Constitution reserves for the states (Article 1 and Tenth amendment).
Prohibited Powers
Powers denied to the national and/or state governments by the Constitution (Article 1, Sections 9--10)
Relations between States
Constitution sets framework for relations between states and which include the Full Faith and Credit clause, and Privilege and Immunities Clause.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
States are required to recognize the laws and legal documents of other states (i.e. birth certificates, marriage licenses, and driver's licenses).
Privileges and Immunities Clause
States are prohibited from unreasonably discriminating against residents of other states.
Extradtion
The return of accused persons who have fled a state/country to avoid prosecution.
Interstate Compacts
Constitution allows state governments to enter into agreement with other states.
Constitutional guarantees to States
Article IV makes certain guarantees to the states that must be enforced by the federal government
Supremacy of Federal government
Supremacy clause gives federal laws and treaties supremacy over state laws and constitutions. (Article VI)
Supremacy Clause
Article VI declares the Constitution to be supreme law of the land.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Landmark case established supremacy of the national government over state governments.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1894)
Landmark case giving federal government exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce.
Power to Regulate Interstate Commerce
An enumerated power in the Constitution established in the case Gibbons v. Ogden giving the federal government power to regulate interstate commerce.
Evolving ideas of Federalism
The concept of Federalism has evolved as U.S. political culture has changed, including dual federalism, new federalism, and cooperative federalism.
Dual Federalism
The concept that national and state governments are each supreme within their separate spheres of government.
Cooperative federalism
The concept that national and state governments shared political policy making power and should cooperate with one another.
New federalism
Republican administrations since 1972 have made efforts to reverse cooperative federalism and give states more authority over federal grants.
Devolution
Transfer of power to political sub-units (e.g. national to state).
Fiscal Federalism
The national government's use of grants to influence state and local government policies and programs.
Grants-in-aid
Money provided by the federal government to state/local government for a specific project or program.
Categorical Grants
Grants not for a specific programs, but for a specific purpose; states write grant proposals and compete for funding for projects.
Block Grants
General grants given to states that can be used for a variety of projects or programs in a braid policy area.
Revenue Sharing
Federal money is given to states with no strings attached: state governments can spend it how they wish.
Mandates
Requirements imposed by federal government on state and local governments.
Enforcement of Mandates
While states are not legally required to follow most federal mandates, in practice they do so since they want to remain eligible for federal grants.
Unfunded Mandates
Mandates that states must implement at their own expense (versus mandates with federal funding to carry them out).
Advantages of Federalism
Federalism pros:
1) Avoids concentration of power
2) Keeps government close to people
3) Allows states to serve as laboratories for new programs and training grounds for national leaders.
4) Allows adaptation to regional differences
Disadvantages of Federalism
Federalism cons:
1) It's very complex in that there are many governments to deal with
2) There's duplication of offices and functions
3) Conflicts of authority often arise
4) Inconsistency from state to state in regulations, education, etc.
Political Culture
A set of basic values and beliefs shared by most citizens in a country.
Basic Values of U.S. Political Culture
American Political Culture:
1) Majority rules, but also minority rights and individual freedoms.
2) Limited government, rule of law, constitutionalism, fair elections
3) Capitalist economy, but with government control and involvement
4) Equality before the law, multiculturalism, and compromise.
Political Socialization
The process by which someone acquires their political values to develop their own personal political identity.
Public Opinion
Attitudes and belief shared by the public related to public policies and politics.
Public Opinion Polling
Used to predict election results and measure public opinion on issues.
Sampling
The key to accurate public opinion polling is obtaining a representative sample of the population being measured.
Straw Polls
Polls without a random sample.
Accuracy in Public Opinion Polling
Random sampling so that a group polled reflects the entire population.
Ideology
A set of basic values and beliefs
Liberal
Person supportive of reform and change in public policy.
Moderate
Person whose political views fall between liberal and conservative
Conservative
Person who approaches change cautiously and supports traditional values and lifestyles.
Radical
Person who favors rapid, fundamental change in the existing social, economic, or political order.
Reactionary
Person who advocates a return to a social order or government that existed previously.
Political Spectrum
The range of political positions from liberal to conservative.
Shifts in the Political Spectrum
Over time, the political spectrum shifts as values and attitudes change.
Opinion Leaders
Individuals who influence other people's opinions
Political Party
Voluntary association of people who seek to elect officials into the government.
Common Usages of "Political Party"
When to use "political party":
1) To refer to the voters who identify with the party
2) To refer to the elected and appointed office holders of the party
3) To refer to party organization--people who work actively for the party by raising money, registering voters, etc.
Party Organization
People who actively work for a political party my raising money, registering voters, etc.
One-Party System
A political field where one party dominates
Two-Party System
A political field where two parties dominate
Multiparty System
A political field where more than 2 parties compete for power
Coalition Government
Government organized and run by more than one party
U.S. Two-Party System
The United States political field is dominated by two parties
Advantages/Disadvantages of Two-Party System
Pros of Two-Party System:
1) Greater stability and focus on center of political spectrum.
Cons:
1) Voters have a limited choice of candidates.
Two Systems to Allocate Party Representation
Two systems for allocating party representation:
1) Single-member districts
2) Proportional representation
Single-member Districts
Nation divided into legislative districts with a winner elected in each district to represent them in the national legislature.
Proportional Representation
Legislative representation based on the proportion of the popular votes that each party wins nationwide.
Activities of Political Parties in U.S.
Political Party activities:
1) Nominate candidates via party primaries or party conventions.
2) Support party's candidates running for office by raising money, registering voters, get-out-of-the-vote drives, political advertising, etc.
3) Organize the government.
Party membership
Party membership based on self-identification, which is if you believe yourself to be part of a certain party, then you are,
Independent
A person who is not a member of any political party
Influences on Party Membership
Influences on Party Membership:
1) Family Tradition
2) Political ideology
3) Race, ethnicity, income level, education level, religion, occupation, etc.
Political Parties and the Constitution
Political parties are not mentioned in the constitution, but most of the founding fathers didn't want political parties to form and George Washington warned of the dangers of party affiliation.
Emergence of Political Parties
Political parties rose out of debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over ratification of the Constitution and continued until today.
Federalist party
Led by Alexander Hamilton, this early political party supported a strong national government.
Pre-Civil War Democratic Party
Led by Thomas Jefferson, this early political party supported strong state governments
Whig party
Led by Henry Clay, it was a weak political party that opposed the early democratic party but disbanded before the civil war.
Republican Party
Founded just before the Civil war, and rose to prominence under Lincoln, nicknamed the Grand Old Party.
Post-Civil War Democratic Party
Opposed the Republican party and rose to dominance around the time of FDR and after (1932-1968).
New Deal Coalition
A coalition of groups that supported FDR's New Deal, including most liberal minority groups like blacks, Jews, Catholics, labor unions, and women.
Divided Government
A problem we face today, where there is no dominant political party leading to gridlock in government.
Gridlock
When there is no dominant political party and both parties seek to oppose the other and nothing gets done.
Electoral Realignment
Dramatic shift in voting patterns as a new political party coalition is formed, and usually replaces a dominant party.
Electoral Dealignment
Used to describe the decline in numbers of voters identifying with any political party
Critical Election
Sharp changes in the existing patterns of party loyalty due to changing social and economic conditions
Dealigning Election
Party loyalty becomes less important to voters and they vote for other party candidates or independents.
Third Parties
A small party that seldom wins seats in Congress and often do not last long.
Third party contribution to U.S. Politics
Third party contributions to U.S. politics:
1) Third parties have been instrumental in producing new ideas and reforms.
2) Success rather than failure often brings end to third parties; if they're successful then a major party will adopt their views and take over.
Third Party Role as "Spoiler"
Third party role as "spoiler": Third parties steal votes from major parties and effect politics in that sense.
Types of Third Parties
Types of Third Parties:
1) Ideology-based parties
2) Splinter parties resulting from splits in national parties
3) Single-Issue parties
4) Parties that form to protest some issue
Ideological Parties
Third Party based on a particular ideology
Splinter Parties
Third parties that form as a result of major parties splitting.
Examples of Splinter Parties
Examples of Splinter parties:
1) Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party branching from the Republican Party
2) Strom Thurmond's States' Rights Party branching from the Democratic Party
Single-Issue Parties
Third parties that form from a single public policy issue
Protest Parties
Third parties based on a protest movement against established order.
Structure of U.S. Political Parties
U.S. Political Party Structure:
Decentralized power and not much influence over state parties and individual officeholders
Political Party Leadership
Political party leadership is often the President, and the party not in the White House lacks a strong central figure.
Party Platform
A document that spells out the party's stance on public policy issues.
National Committee
A non-congressional committee that is responsible for managing party affairs between conventions, keeping membership from all states, chooses a national party chairman, and has its members elected by state party organizations.
National Chairperson
Elected by a party's national committee and is responsible for leading the committee and the D.C. headquarters staff
Seniority System
A system in which chairmanship of a congressional committee is given to the member with the most seniority, or longest time served.
Congressional Campaign Committees
A party committee in the House and Senate that works to elect the party's candidates into Congress.
State and Local Organization
State and Local laws determine party structure at the local level
Split-Ticket Voting
Voting for candidates of different parties for different offices
Straight-Ticket Voting
Voting for candidates of the same party for all offices.
Role of Political Parties in Governing
Role of Political Parties in Governing:
1) Congressional leadership is organized by party
2) Party membership is a key factor in the selection of Presidential appointees
Suffrage
The ability to vote
Universal Suffrage
The extension of the right to vote to all adult citizens
Suffrage in the U.S. Constitution
Leaves voter eligibility to states but specifies that all voters qualified to vote for largest house of state legislature can vote for House of Representatives.
Extension of Suffrage before Civil War
Suffrage has been gradually extended since the founding of the U.S.
Extension of Suffrage after Civil War
Extension of Suffrage after Civil War:
1) Racial restrictions eliminated (legally) in 1870 with 15th amendment.
2) Women gained suffrage in 1920 with 19th amendment
3) Minimum age for voting lowered to 18 in 1971 in the 26th amendment.
Fifteenth Amendment
Guarantees right to vote for all races (1870)
Nineteenth Amendment
Allows women to vote (1920)
Woman Suffrage Movement
Organized in mid 19th century to gain suffrage for women.
Twenty-Sixth Amendment
Lowered age requirement for voting to 18 in all states. (1971)
Twenty-Third Amendment
Granted suffrage in 1961 to Washington D.C. residents in presidential elections.
Literacy test
A reading test that some citizens were required to pass in order to vote and used to discourage blacks from voting.
Poll tax
A tax on voting, used to discourage blacks from voting.
Popular vote
Direct vote of the people (or populace).
Electorate
The voters of a nation, state, city, county, or other district referred to collectively (ie a bunch of voters).
Candidate Voting v. Issue voting
Candidate voting: Purpose is to choose the winning candidate for office.
Issue/Policy voting: Purpose is to enact/reject proposed laws or constitutional amendments.
Issue/Policy Voting
Voting on issues or policies rather than candidates for office.
Referendum
Proposed law or state constitutional amendment referred by state legislatures to the people for a vote.
At-Large
All the voters of a state or county elect their representatives
Initiative
Proposed state law or constitutional amendment by citizens through a petition process
Candidate voting
Voting for a candidate to represent the district rather than voting on issues or policies
Ways of Participating in an Election
Ways of Participating in an Election:
1) Voting
2) Campaigning (talking to voters, registering voters)
3) Contributing money
4) Running for office
Sampling Error
Percentage of possible errors in the polling process
Two Types of Elections
Primary Election: Selects the party's candidate for the general election.
General Election: Selects which candidate is elected to office
Primary Election
Election in which voters choose their party's candidates for offices, also known as "direct primary."
Types of Primary Elections
Types of Primary Elections:
1) Closed primary: Only voters registered in the party may vote in party's primary.
2) Open Primary: Voters choose which party's primary ballot they want
3) Blanket Primary: Only one ballot so voters may vote for candidate of either party and split votes between parties.
Front-Loading
Choosing an early date to hold the primary election
General Election
Election in which candidates for office are elected
Run-off Election
Election between top 2 winners held when no candidate receives the majority
Majority v. Plurality
Majority v. Plurality:
Majority: Candidate must get over 50% of the votes to win
Plurality: Candidate has to get the most votes compared to the other candiadtes
Special Election
An election outside the regular schedule of elections.
Nonpartisan Elections
Elections in which candidates have no party affiliation
Mid-Term or Off-year Election
Federal election held in the middle of the president's term of office
Coattail effect
When the popularity of the victorious presidential candidate helps his party's candidates for Congress win as well.
Recall Election
Special election initiated by petition that allows citizens to remove an official before his/her term has expired (but not an option for President or congressman).
Progressive Movement
Reform of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that sought to make government more democratic.
Federal Election Laws
Sets uniform date for elections in all states for federal offices and other election issues.
State Election laws
Each state makes its own laws regarding elections, including whether or not to allow referendums, initiatives, recall elections, direct primaries, etc.
Voter Turnout
The percentage of the voting-age citizens that actually vote, usually lower than other European nations
Trends in U.S. voter turnout
Turnout has been gradually decreasing in the U.S.
Attitudes producing Low Voter Turnout
Attitudes producing Low Voter Turnout:
Political apathy: Lack of interest
Mistrust of Government: All candidates deemed untrustworthy or unresponsive
Lack of Political Efficacy: Belief that their vote will not make a difference
No perceived differences between candidates
Political Efficacy
Belief that a person can influence politics and public policymaking
Political Apathy
Lack of interest or concern regarding politics and policymaking
Groups with Below Average Turnout
Groups with Below Average Turnout: Generally, groups with below average turnout include younger people, racial and ethnic minorities, males, and persons with lower incomes.
Groups with Above Average Turnout
Groups with Above Average Turnout: Those with higher education, those active in their communities or religious institutions or labor unions, those with strong party identification
Voter Registration Process
Registration required in order to vote, and the process is determined by the individual states.
Efforts to increase Voter Turnout
Focuses on making both voter registration and voting easier (ie Motor Voter Law)
Get-Out-the-Vote
A campaign near the end of an election to get voters out to the polls
Motor Voter Law
A law allowing people registering for a driver's license to also register to vote.
Campaign Finance
Money that political candidates use for funding their expensive campaigns.
Campaign Finance Reform Laws
Laws that change the ways in which candidates for office can gather funds, and are meant to decrease political corruption.
Federal Election Campaigning Act (FECA)
1971 act that requires a disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Supreme Court ruled that FECA could not ban a candidate's personal funds from his/her campaign because it violated the First Amendment.
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
Independent regulatory agency founded in 1975 that enforces federal campaign finance laws
Political Action Commitee (PAC)
An organization created to raise campaign funds for candidates; regulated by the FEC and not allowed to spend the funds in accordance to the candidate's wishes.
Limits on Campaign Contributions
Limits on Campaign Contributions:
1) Campaign contributions can be made only by individuals and PACs
2) $5000 per candidate per election limit for PACs; $2000 for individuals
Soft Money
Since 2002, refers to money given to a 527 organization focusing on the issue of advocacy, not candidate advocacy.
Bipartisan campaign finance reform act
2002 act regulating contributions to political parties as well as candidates.
527 Political Organizations
Nonprofit organizations that engage in issue advocacy, not candidate advocacy - a fine line often blurred.
Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns
Attempt to limit dependence of candidates on contributions from wealthy interest groups.
Campaign Fund-Raising Summary
Candidates can only accept money from individuals and PACs, not interest groups, corporations, etc.
Election of President
President, with vice president as a running mate, is the only nationally elected office and is a unique process compared to all the other campaigns and elections in America.
Beginning of a Campaign for President
Set up an exploratory committee to begin lining up support and money.
National Convention
Each party holds one every four years to select its presidential candidate the summer before the general election
Selecting Delegates to the National Convention
Each state determines how it will select its delegates to Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Caucuses
Local Party meetings to select delegates to state convention, which selects delegates to national convention.
Presidential Preference Primary
Most states now use primaries, rather than caucuses, to select delegates to the party's national convention.
Campaign for the Presidency
Candidates focus on swing states and states with large populations (Due to winner-take-all rule in electoral college). Generally candidates moderate their views and move to the political center to win over a wider spectrum of voters.
Swing States
States that could "swing" to either the Democratic or Republican candidate in the general election. Candidates spend much of their time campaigning in these states.
Popular vote for the President
General election identifies the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in each state. Slate of electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote are chosen to cast the state's votes in the electoral college.
Electoral college
Sole function is to elect the president and vice president of the U.S.
Make-up of the Electoral College
538 members. Each state entitled to the same number of electors that it has senators and congressmen/women.
Winner-Take-All System
All of a state's electors vote as a block for winner of popular vote in the state.
Electoral College Process
Presidential candidates choose slates of electors in each state. Popular vote in state decides which candidate's electoral slate wins. Electors' ballots counted in Congress. Congress declares winner, or refers to House if no candidate has majority.
When the House Picks the President
If no candidate has a majority in the electoral college, the House of Representatives elects president from top 3 candidates.
Advantages/Disadvantages of Electoral College
Avoids prospect of a national recount of popular vote which may take months and produce no conclusive winner. But winner may not be the person who won the popular vote.
Elections in Historical Perspective
Maintaining elections: no change in majority-minority party balance. Deviating elections: minority party takes power for a short period, but in the long term remains the minority party. Realigning elections: minority party becomes new majority party.
Maintaining elections
Elections that maintain the status quo regarding the balance between majority and minority parties.
Deviating elections
Elections in which the minority party takes power for a short period, but there is no long-term realignment that makes the minority party the majority party.
Realigning elections
Minority party becomes the new majority party and a new governing coalition is formed. Critical elections that change existing patterns of party loyalty, usually as a result of a watershed event like the Great Depression in 1932 or the Civil War in 1860.
Interest Group
An organized group of citizens whose goal is to shape public policy towards a particular end. Interest groups try to influence the polices of government, focusing on issues of concern to their membership.
Membership in Interest Groups
Some organized interest groups restrict membership, others are open. Not all citizens who share a common goal join an organized interest group. Many citizens are members of various interest groups at the same time.
Functions of Interest Groups
Represent membership, serving as a link a link with government. Provide information to government to promote their causes. Raise public awareness of their cause. Provide channels of political participation for their membership.
Economic Interest Groups
Most interest groups formed on basis of shared economic interest. Include organized labor (such as AFL-CIO), business groups (such as the U.S Chamber of Commerce), professional organizations (such as the National Education Association), etc.
Interest Groups that Promote Causes
Can promote a specific cause of concern to their members (such as the National Rifle Association), the welfare of a specific group (such as Veterans of Foreign Wars), or their view of the public interest (such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
Strategies of Interest Groups
Influencing elections: endorsing and supporting specific candidates. Lobbying: influencing policymakers. Litigation: going to court to either force or block an action of government. Going public: building public support for a cause.
How Interest Groups Influence Elections
Endorse candidates and encourage members to vote for them. Form Political Acton Committees (PACs) to raise campaign contributions for endorsed candidates.
Lobbying
Attempting to influence policymakers. Interest groups engage in lobbying at national, state and local levels. Lobbying can be directed towards the legislature (to influence making of laws) or towards the executive (to influence enforcement of laws).
Types of Lobbying
Direct lobbying: use of personal contacts to talk directly to policymakers. Grassroots lobbying: mobilizing interest-group members to talk to policymakers. Coalition lobbying: working together with related interest groups.
Direct lobbying
Includes personal contact and communication with policymakers in both legislative and executive branches. Includes public testimony before congressional committees as well as private communications with legislators and their staffs.
Lobbyist
A person, usually employed by an interest group, who engages in direct lobbying.
Grassroots lobbying
Interest group leadership mobilizes members to contact policymakers. Contact policymakers via e-mail, telephone, mail, fax, or personal visit.
Coalition lobbying
There are thousands of interest groups; coalitions of interest groups are often formed to increase clout.
How Interest Groups Use Litigation
To block an agency's action, or in some cases, force an agency to take action to enforce a law. To advance a goal when Congress is unsupportive, such as the NAACP's litigation against racial segregation in the 1950s.
How Interest Groups Build Public Support
Try to bring attention to an issue or story in a way that they believe will resonate with the public. Use press conferences, television ads, television interviews, endorsements from noted personalities, etc., to gain support.
Regulation of Interest Groups
Political Action Committees (PACs) of interest groups to support endorsed candidates are subject to campaign finance laws and regulation be FEC. Laws require lobbyists to register and disclose information about their activities and funding.
Mass Media
Includes all forms of communication that convey information to the general public. Examples: newspapers, magazines, radio, televisions, Internet.
Purpose of Mass Media in a Democracy
Link interest groups and political parties; link citizens and government. Freedom of the press (which covers all media) is an essential element of a democracy.
Mass Media and Changes in Technology
Changes in technology affect how citizens get news, form political opinions, and interact with government. Currently, the rise of cable TV and the Interest are producing fundamental changes with unknown long-term effects.
Current Trends in U.S Mass Media
Decline of newspapers: readership shrinking and survival of many many papers in doubt. Rise of the Internet: more people are getting their news from websites. Growth of cable TV: multiplicity of news programs provides range of choices unavailable previously.
Print media
Newspapers started in colonial times and reached peak influence in the early 20th century; in decline since 1950s. Magazines devoted to public affairs started in mid 19th century, attracted mass readership in 20th century; but now also in decline/
Radio
Led to immediate reporting of news. Allowed president to speak directly to public; Franklin Roosevelt successful used radio to influence public opinion in "Fireside Chats." Continues as important news delivery vehicle.
Television
Leading source of news for U.S. public. Televised speeches and news conferences give president ability to communicate directly with public. Televised candidate debates important, especially in presidential race.
Rise of Cable TV
Produced multiple news programs, including ones with particular biases. Development of news networks with 24-hour news coverage.
Internet
Growing source of news for Americans. Provides vehicle for political parties and interest groups to communicate with members and quickly take action. Interactive: citizens can now easily and quickly "speak" to officials, form political groups, organize, etc.