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Chapter 16

Special Interest Groups

 

Interest Group- an organization that tries to influence public opinion

 

Social Capital

The “web of cooperative relationships between citizens that facilitates resolution of collective action problems”

 

*Democracy in America*

           Alexis de Tocqueville

 

 

Robert Putnam“small scale associations create a civic virtue  for the public good”  they are healthy for social and economic growth

 

 

David B. Truman’s

Disturbance theory on interest groups is that they form in part to counteract the efforts of other groups

 

 

Multi-issue v

Single-issue groups

 

NAACP – NOW or the Christian Coalition actually deal with many issues (related areas)

 

NRA – Army of God are single issue groups dealing with a specific area

 

 

Economic interest groups

Primarily promote the financial  interests of its members

Public interest groups

Have an agenda that does not financially benefit the members of the group.

 

 

 

Special Interest in America

 

Theodore Lowi Reading

 

Do you think that special interest groups can become institutionalized ?

 

Use the Lowi article  to support or refute

 

Do "pressure groups" really have an upper-class bias?

 

 

Read and use

The Semi-sovereign People

E.E. Schattschneider

 

 

@

Do Americans agree on anything?

 

 

Free rider problem

When the public benefits from the work of a few concerned citizens.

 

“Politics”

stop at the nation's borders

 

The logic of Democracy

*Do the needs of the many really outweigh the needs of the few?

 

Violence as a means of protest has been very much part of US

 


Presidential assassinations

(and attempts) are violent ways of undoing an election.

 

 

 

 

The Town Meeting

and special interest

 

*        Great on the local levels

 

National scene - a tough call!

 

(1992 Presidential Election)

Ross Perot very good at it

 

1996 Clinton v Dole

 

2000 Bush v Gore

 

2004 Bush v Kerry?

 

 

 

 

In Democracy

 

conflicting opinions can cause disorganization and confusion

 

(Romans- Counsel/Dictator)

                                      during war

 

 

 

 

The French Revolution

a perfect example of chaos

 


 

 

Weimar Government  -  Germany

(Reichstag during the 1920s-30s

an example of inefficiency)

 

*        Walter Lippmann -

Essays in the Public Philosophy

the people can elect the government, they can remove it...they can approve or disapprove of its performance. But they cannot administer the government.  They cannot themselves perform....

"A mass cannot govern"

 

 

 

 

Democracy is a fraud.....the only good and decisive government is a dictatorship.

A.H.

 

 

 

 

 

On Governing America- 3 ideas

 

1.People--->                                       Elected Representatives


 

2.C. Wright Mills 

The Power Elite--->Establishment

 

 

3.       Robert A. Dahl 

Who Governs --------> the agenda

Interest Groups

Pressure Groups  

                   Lobbies

 

All Influence government

 

 

In 1996,

33% knew their Congressman

24% knew both names of Senators

 

 

In 1992 Presidential Election

189 mil Americans could vote

123 mil Americans  registered

104 mil Americans voted- 55%

 

2000 Election approximately 52%

*        Only about 1/2 of the US population votes


                                                             

2004 Election – 58%

                                                             **

 

                                                             **

 

 

Power organizations can mount campaigns in Congress to promote or overturn legislation.

 

 

How?

Campaign Contributions, and they are perfectly legal

 

George M. Steinbrenner

 

 

cases of


influence peddling

(Hiring a former White House Staff person  as a Lobbyist)

 

 

                                                            and

                                                    by association

 

 

Former

Bronx Congressman Mario Biaggi

 

Lyn Nofsinger

White House Staff - Dept Defense

 

Wedtech - Naval Contracts Co.

Lobbying

 

 

Lobbyists seek to influence officials of the legislative and executive branches, regulatory agencies and even the courts.

 


They get to know the people responsible for making decisions

 

                                                              *

 

American Medical Association AMA

represents 297, 000 Doctors

 

AMAPAC - contributed 2.4 mil to congressional candidates in opposition of


a National Health Plan

 

 

The Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition can and will support candidates with money

Trade Associations

Are groups that represent specific industries

 

NAM,          FTC

                                                            **

 

 

Political Clout in the DC area

 

-        Powerful lawyers set up shop in the DC vicinity.

 

-        High priced advice and high power representation

 

-                     Clark Clifford

-                     Michael Carvin 74’

 

                                                            **

 

 

Public Interest Groups-Lobbyists

Ralph Nader

Unsafe at any Speed


*Public Citizen

Congress Watch, consumerism

 

*Critical Mass Energy

 

 

*Health Research Group

improved medical care

 

*Center for

 Study of Responsive Law

 reviewing Nader organizations

 

*Freedom of

 Information Clearinghouse

seeks info from govt

 

*Center for Auto Safety

 

*Public Interest Research Groups

PIRGS

student public interest groups

 

 

Organized opposition for suits

*Anti-trust

*Chemical


*Agriculture

 

 

 

Single Interest Groups

 

NRA, RTL

 

Will support a candidate and can make a difference in an election

 

                                                   They care only

                                                about their agenda

 

 

Top Ten

               Lobbyists Organizations

               PACS

               Corporate PACS

               Special Interest

 

 

 

 

*        National Conservative

Political Action Committee

                                                       (NCPAC)


Directed campaigns for and against elected officials

 

"Target 80" - the Reagan Sweep

 

                                                             **

 

In politics,   Money = Success

 

Buckley v Valeo (1976)

The Court ruled placing limits on support was unconstitutional

 

How is PAC money used in an election?

 

*        a $5,000 limit to candidate

                                                             

                                                            but

 

*        no limit to the amount of PACS able to contribute a prospective candidate

 

                                                           and

 

*        unlimited pre-campaign money


 

 

PAC money is "interested money"

They give money to committee chairman with specific legislative outcomes in mind

 

Corporations

-active in elections

 

 

*First National Bank of Boston

                                                 v Bellotti (1978)

The Court struck down a Mass Law

that prohibited corporations from funding a public referenda

 

 

 

Fred Werthheimer in 1979 wrote

Of Mountains: The PAC Movement in American Politics

PAC contributions follow an "investment pattern" aimed at long-term influence with members of Congress

 

                                                             **


How do you control it?

 

 

1946 -                   Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act

(not very effective)

 

 

1991 - General Accounting Office

(watchdog for Congress)

 

 

BCRA – McCain-Feingold

(Bipartisan Campaign

                             Reform Act 2002)

 

 

 

 

1995 -                   regulate lobbyists

-tightened rules

 

*        had to register if they spent much of their time lobbying

 

however

 

*        still allowed many activities

 

Interest Groups do have value

 

*        through collective bargaining

 

                    watchdog politics*

                         idea initiating

 

 

 

Theodore J. Lowi

competing interests may result in an impotent government

 

 

E. E. Schattschneider

90% of the people cannot get into the pressure system

(John McCain – 2000)

 

                                                        *******