INTEREST GROUPS3 - ,wemustfirst ,butinwhat .I ANDTHEMEDIA...

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12/2/2010 1 AND THE MEDIA To Understand “Interest Groups,” we must first understand the reality of democracy We say democracy is “majority rule,” but in what sense is there any real “majority” in a society? No person is in the majority or the minority. I may be in the majority on one issue and in the may be in the majority on one issue, and in the minority on another. In reality, there is no majority. The Reality of Democracy: PLURALISM “Democratic society” is, in reality, “pluralistic society.” That is, there is a plurality of different minorities in society, and each of us is a member of a number of them, with a host of different particular interests. Political parties and candidates for political office win office by appealing to various minorities to build a coalition of minorities large enough to form a majority. The Reality of Democracy: Pluralism Democracy is not a system of “majority rule”; Democracy is a system of MINORITIES RULE
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12/2/2010 2 Pluralism If you run for office, you don’t win because 51% of the voters agree with you on everything. You win because you were able to appeal to different minorities that had particularly intense feelings about a number of issues. Pluralism Let’s say you ran for Governor of Florida, and you make a campaign that appeals to: The 10% Who are particularly concerned about class sizes in schools The 10% who are particularly concerned about protecting the environment The 10% who are particularly concerned about rising property taxes The 10% who are particularly concerned about maintaining low tuition in the public colleges Etc. That’s how you REALLY win an election—by appealing to all the different minorities of people who have PARTICULARLY INTENSE CONCERNS ABOUT CERTAIN ISSUES Pluralism So, how do we really let our politicians know about our particular concerns? THAT IS WHERE INTEREST GROUPS COME IN! Interest groups are formal organizations that have particular interests, and who try to cause government to enact public policies consistent with those interests. Pluralism and Interest Groups Each of us has a host of particular interests. For example, Prof. Beck : Grew up with poverty, and thus has a particular concern about that issue; Grew up in a large urban community and has a sensitivity to the particular problems facing inner cities; Is from a historically oppressed ethnic and religious minority; Is a college professor and concerned about maintaining “academic freedom”; Is a college professor and concerned about maintaining academic freedom ; Is a person who deals with lots of young people and who has become extremely aware of the need to maintain and strengthen avenues of access to cultural history; Is a Political Scientist, who has, through his studies, come to an understanding of the necessity to have a clean, non corrupt political system in order to have a real democracy;
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