cahpter 5 - Chapter 5 PUBLIC OPINION and Political PUBLIC...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 5 PUBLIC OPINION and Political PUBLIC Participation Participation By Greenberg & Page 1 The Vietnam War and the The American Public American • Background The – The United States had given large-scale military aid to the French colonialists and then to the South Vietnamese government to fight nationalists and communists in Vietnam. government U.S. – U.S. “military advisers” occasionally engaged in combat, but the American public knew little about the guerilla war. the permissive – A permissive consensus existed, in which people were willing to go along when their leaders told them that action was needed in order to resist “communist aggression.” needed 2 The Tonkin Gulf Resolution As An Example The of Manufacturing A Pretext for Aggression Against the Vietnamese People Against • Tonkin Gulf incident and escalation of the war In – In 1964, the Department of Defense loudly announced that North Vietnamese PT boats had engaged in “unprovoked attacks” on U.S. ships. PT Air – Air attacks promptly were launched against North Vietnamese PT boat bases and an oil storage depot. and Congress Tonkin authorizing – Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, authorizing the president to take “all necessary measures.” take The Tonkin – The Tonkin Gulf Resolution established a legal basis for full, outright U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. military 3 The American Sheep Fall in Line • Public reaction in the United States: Public – Public support for the war increased after the Tonkin incident. incident. Years Maddox – Years later, it was revealed that the U.S.S. Maddox had steamed near the coastline, deliberately provoking North Vietnamese radar defenses; the second attack, interestingly, never even happened, i.e., a complete fabrication or gigantic lie! fabrication 4 The American Sheep Begin to Wake-Up The As A Result of the Heroic Resistance of the Vietnamese Majority Against U.S. Aggression Aggression • Escalation of antiwar sentiment – The number of U.S. troops in Vietnam rose rapidly. – Tet offensive President – President Johnson announced that he would limit the bombing of North Vietnam, seek a negotiated settlement, and withdraw as a candidate for reelection. settlement, 5 The Nixon Interlude • Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968. By – By 1969, a substantial majority of the public favored monthly reductions in the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam. Vietnam. – Peace agreement was signed in January 1973 North – North Vietnamese army took control of Saigon two years later and reunified Vietnam into the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Republic 6 Highlighting the Role of Public Highlighting Opinion in Policy-Making Opinion • The Vietnam vignette in the textbook illustrates The several important points about public opinion. several How – How government officials can sometimes lead or manipulate public opinion opinion – How events and circumstances affect opinion – How the press can influence public opinion How – How public opinion can have a strong impact on policymaking, even on foreign policy on 7 Democratic Theory and Public Democratic Opinion Opinion • Public opinion can be defined as the political • attitudes expressed by ordinary citizens. attitudes Public opinion is a crucial part of democratic Public government. government. What – What has happened to the role of “the people” in the American so-called republican democracy? What is the meaning of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people?” One – One important test of how well democracy is working is how closely government policy corresponds to the expressed wishes of its citizens. citizens. 8 The Nature of Public Opinion in The the United States the • Many leading thinkers have expressed strong Many • doubts about the quality and stability of public opinion. opinion. Modern survey researchers turned up evidence of Modern public ignorance, lack of interest in politics, and reliance on group or party loyalties rather than informed judgments about issues. informed The authors of The Struggle for Democracy point The The to evidence that this assessment of public opinion is exaggerated. is 9 • What People Know About Politics • Gauging what people think: Early – Early attempts to determine public opinion by guesswork or from the views of personal acquaintances are defective. acquaintances The – The views of personal acquaintances, media voices, or rally audiences are often not representative of the whole public. representative 10 Development of Modern Surveys • Most of the guesswork can now be eliminated by conducting Most • an opinion poll or sample survey. opinion sample Violation of the rule of random sampling in surveys can lead Violation to inaccurate results in opinion polls. to – Scientific polling techniques became the standard after the famous Literary Digest errors. Literary – Straw polls fell out of favor. – Perfectly random sampling is not feasible. • Bias in interpreting surveys 11 Individuals’ Ignorance • Modern survey results consistently show that most Modern • • • Americans do not know or care a lot about politics. Americans People have particular trouble with technical terms, People abbreviations, and geography. abbreviations, The things that most Americans don’t know may The not be vital. not Lack of detailed knowledge or ideology does not Lack mean that public opinion is unstable or irrelevant. mean 12 Collective Knowledge and Collective Stability Stability • Americans’ collective policy preferences Americans’ collective are very stable over a long period of time. are • The evidence is clear that many of the The Founders’ fears of capriciousness or fluctuations in public opinion are no longer justified, if they ever were. justified, 13 How People Feel About Politics • The system in general Level confidence – Level of public confidence – Political efficacy — the public’s feelings about whether the government pays any attention to ordinary people, and to whether involvement such as voting has any effect. to Feelings – Feelings of anger, alienation, and mistrust are closely related to many people’s judgments that the institutions of government have not been performing well. government 14 Dissatisfaction With Government Dissatisfaction Performance Performance • Evaluations of government’s performance includes Evaluations • • • citizens’ judgments of how the government is doing. citizens’ Trends in presidential popularity tend to fluctuate more Trends than party loyalties or policy preferences. than The public’s evaluation of the president depends on how The well things are going. well Evaluations of Congress have not been surveyed as Evaluations regularly as those of the president, but it appears that Congress has often been unpopular. Congress 15 Party Loyalty and Party Decline • Party identification is the sense of belonging to a party. belonging • Party balance among voters has important effects on who rules in Washington, and especially on which party controls Congress. Congress. 16 Basic Values and Beliefs • Americans’ basic beliefs and values are Americans’ basic more fundamental than opinions about specific policies. specific • There is often a high degree of consensus There consensus about basic beliefs and values. about – – – – – Freedom Economic liberty Capitalism Equality Democracy 17 Policy Preferences • According to democratic theory, one of the chief According determinants of what governments do should be what the citizens want them to do — that is, what citizens’ policy preferences. policy preferences The textbook uses a series of graphs to illustrate The the general stability of collective public opinion stability and to show how sharply the public distinguishes among different policies. among 18 • Trends in American Trends Public Opinion Public • Trends: Some – Some surveys have revealed strong liberalizing trends over a period of many years concerning civil rights and civil liberties. civil Americans – Americans are socially conservative on a number of issues. issues. Public – Public opinion sometimes changes rapidly in the sphere of foreign policy. of 19 Sources of Political Attitudes • Political socialization — political learning, the process by which appropriate means of political behavior are learned. behavior Examples – Examples include saluting the American flag or standing when the national anthem is played. standing The – The process begins when a person is very young, but people continue to form and change their political attitudes throughout their lives. attitudes 20 Agents of Political Socialization • • • • • Family Schools Workplace and home Events Economic and social structure 21 How People Differ • The authors of The Struggle for Democracy The The describe public opinion as a collective whole, but they also point to important distinctions among different sorts of people in different circumstances. circumstances. Race and ethnicity interwoven with differences in religious faith and values. values. 22 • • Religion — ethnic differences are often Further Effects on Opinion Further Formation Formation • Region — although regional differences have been reduced, there are still substantial differences. differences. • Social class — compared with much of the world, there has been little political conflict in the United States among people of different incomes or occupational groupings, but there are some differences. groupings, 23 Further Effects on Opinion Further Formation Formation • Educational level — the strongest single predictor of participation in politics predictor • Gender • Age — the young and old differ on certain matters that touch their particular interests, such as the draft in wartime or the drinking age age 24 Public Opinion and Policy • One test of how democracy is working is One how closely a government’s policies correspond to the wishes of its citizens. correspond • The textbook looks at the relationship is The between what American citizens want and what the U.S. government does. what • The effects of public opinion on policy 25 Opinion Manipulation • Even if public opinion is a proximate influence Even proximate • • on policy, we still need to know what factors affect public opinion itself. affect Can public opinion be manufactured by the Can media or easily manipulated by interest groups media or political leaders? or Chapter 5 concludes that public opinion is a Chapter substantial and important proximate influence on policymaking, but that responsiveness to public opinion is incomplete. opinion 26 ...
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This note was uploaded on 12/21/2010 for the course POLITICAL 1 taught by Professor Melvinaaron during the Fall '08 term at Los Angeles City College.

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