Ensure your responses are thoughtful. There is no ‘right or wrong’ analysis to each item. What matters most is your rationale based on the reading and gained knowledge from observing and absorbing the news – based on facts.1. Discuss the history of interest groups. Why do they exist at all?
2. Tocqueville said that America is a nation of joiners. What did he mean? Investigate other
nations to see whether they differ from the United States.
3. Contact a local interest group or the local chapter of a larger group. A number of groups may
be found at this site: http:// www.twyman-whitney.com/americancitizen/links/lobbies. htm.
What are their goals? What are their strategies for achieving those goals?
4. Examine the data on the “revolving door” by going to the OpenSecrets.org website. Under the
“Influence & Lobbying” menu, click on “Revolving Door.” On the left-hand menu, click on
“Lobbying Firms” and select one of the firms. You will see a list of its lobbyists. Examine the
lobbyists’ employment timeline and history. In addition, there are tabs for information on the
industries they represent and their expertise. Examine several lobbyists’ profiles. What do you
see? Did they spend time in government service before their current employment as a
lobbyist? If so, explore their time in government. Does it appear related to their expertise
and/or their clients? Can you make the case that their past government work constitutes a
current asset to their lobbying work?
1. Why did political parties become such a central part of our political environment if the
framers derided them as “factions”? In other words, what do they do that might make them so
Compare “third” or “minor” parties to the major parties. How are third or minor parties’ goals,
organization, and success compare to that of the two major parties?
Compare our largely two-party system to other systems (e.g., Great Britain’s three-party
system or Israel’s multiple-party system). How do their party systems affect their politics?
As noted earlier, our history is full of attempts to disenfranchise African Americans (see
chapter section: “Added Barriers: Some Intended, Some Not”). Some were obvious (white
primaries), but some seemed more innocuous to whites (publishing names and addresses of
registered voters). Today, there are still provisions that might not concern whites while they
seriously concern blacks. For instance, many states have toughened their identification
requirements in the name of combating voter fraud. Why might this concern African
Americans? How does this affect voter turnout? How does this impact confidence in voting
or in government overall?
Many campaign finance regulations were enacted in the name of preventing the appearance of
elections being “bought” by wealthy contributors. Is there any validity to this concern?
Explore campaign contribution and the role of money in election campaigns and how voters
view who government “works for”.
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