PS 220 lecture notes - Policy Participants: Interest Groups...

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Policy Participants: Interest Groups Interest groups are made of people who share strong views on specific issues. They are organized as a politically cohesive group, able to attract and keep members who will influence the policy process. Also need strong financial structure and effective leadership. Good example: NRA Importance of interest groups in the political process: Provide functional representation not available through the geographic representation of Congress Interest groups provide representation based on our work, hobbies, etc. Provide representation between elections Keep politicians continuously honest; force politicians to take positions on specific issues during their terms Important because politicians do a lousy job addressing issues in elections Power of interest groups in the United States More powerful in the United States than in any other system Presence of very powerful capitalist class Wealthy people have money and economic power Most uneven distribution of wealth in a democracy Bill Gates could end the economy by ceasing to produce software Campaign costs Weakness of American political parties Can not effectively find and promote candidates Unable to fund campaigns on their own Can not narrowly define their ideals Allows interest groups to do those things in place of the parties Interest groups can get the vote out better Interest groups contribute money Interest groups provide issue/position papers Interest groups effectively fill the gap left by parties System setup Interest groups can influence any of the following: Two branches of legislature Executive branch Court system Bureaucracy 50 state governments 80,000 local governments Membership Interest groups are more representative of the “haves” than the “have-nots” Interest groups need money to stay afloat, education to be effective and analytical, an understanding of the political system and time to participate Creates a system where only the wealthy can participate; a single mother certainly couldn’t The Policy Process Discovering and application Discovering new things and applying them in the worlds The government plays role by promoting research in the United States National Institute of Health is an important source of discovery and application Conducts research itself National Science Foundation: awards research grants to academics National Aeronautics and Space Association: great example of government assisted discovery Private research Not aided in any way by the government Whenever there is a discovery, problems can occur in application, which leads to problem identification for legislation Example: When applying genetic research, questions of morality are raised.
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Discovery of the internal combustion engine lead to a whole host of application problems: Air pollution Safety issues Roadway creation 7 million pounds of salt used for streets Changes in communication 65% of homes in the United States have a computer Nearly all homes have a television or radio
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PS 220 taught by Professor Malekafzali during the Fall '08 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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PS 220 lecture notes - Policy Participants: Interest Groups...

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