GREETINGS to all…let’s take a break from the exam by now –all those darn numbers and demographics, then start in with the next “block” of the course. Get out the roadmap… First where are we? And a brief review…In chapter 3 section 4 of the etext reference, the course system diagram illustrates the 3 blocks, based on the nature of the essential subtopics, or elements for each block. We have been dealing with STRUCTURAL elements in weeks 1-4, that is, the building blocks for a modern society–thus the need to cover the state constitution in the Structure. The constitution represents the people, the economy and the political culture.
Block 2 is all about THE POLITICAL elements, that is, where a democratic government is chosen (elections) and shaped/influenced by the people and economy (interest groups, political parties). The political block is fascinating because it is always churning, always in motion. Think about a football game–this is the line of scrimmage, or the “trenches” for you die hard fans (players too) I used to play rugby, and was a member of the scrum, and believe me, I know a trench when I see it! To continue the analogy in politics, the political block is where people participate in their government, in the most frequent and most efficient manner. We are members of groups, we vote, we are represented.
INSIGHTS: We often think the government (the top block on the diagram) is in control of us, but that’s not really true. The POLITICAL ELEMENT is. The minute the political system is controlled by the actual rulers, we no longer have a democratic republic. Lets look at how, by first reading section 2 of chapter 3 in the e-text, and all of chapter 21 in American Democracy Now.
There is a step-by-step on how interest groups emerge in a democracy, with a capitalist/free market economy. We are a nation of groups, dating to the earliest days of the new nation…to appreciate this, read over the excerpt from Federalist #10, in section 3 of the e-text.
PART 1 ASSIGNMENT: Think and list a modern (contemporary) version of each of the “interests” Madison presents… an example of a money interest would be bank owners–and of course there are others in this interest area (credit union, pawn shops, etc). You can be very creative in thinking of a few “lesser interests” keeping in mind that Madison knew that other things would emerge in the economic and non-economic realms. Just write out your list of modern version, on the submit window.
Next, move to section “types of interest groups” in AMD text and read carefully about the types of interest groups–ECONOMIC, and NON-ECONOMIC. Try to realize the the subtle distinctions among the sub-groups–what makes them different from the other subgroups? What is the common denominator they share? The most important observation is–when are they in competition or conflict with each other.
For example, Labor groups are typically those that organize as unions, and who work for a business/employer. They aren’t businesses themselves. Professional groups are all members of a career that requires a license or certificate to “practice”…they may be their own boss, but that is secondary. We all have to establish the most salient aspect of WHO WE ARE… What defines us the most important ways in the politics of governing.
For PART 2 of the assignment, list two examples of economic groups that would tend to conflict, and two examples of non-economic groups that would conflict. In other words, how dogs & cats are “natural enemies”…In interest group politics, the core purpose of a group will likely make it compete or conflict with the core purpose of another group. Also, think back to political subcultures from block 1. Ask yourself, who or what exactly does the group represent? This also helps you avoid the temptation of opinion, versus using an objective, evaluative process
For part 2 of this assignment, let’s look at some actual groups.You are going to adopt 2 interest groups–one economic, and one non-economic. PLEASE DON’T CHOOSE ONE OF THE EXAMPLES FROM THE TEXT. You will be searching and looking over the websites for various interests in Texas. For reference about types of groups, please read section 5 of chapter 3.
For an economic interest, you may want to choose a professional or agribusiness group, that reflects your degree plans or current employment arena. You can search “Texas professional associations” or “agriculture associations” “energy associations”, etc.
To find non-economic interests, try searching under “public service associations or groups”, wildlife conservation, tax justice, civil liberties, race or ethnic equality, women’s health/safety, church groups, or any issue area you might be interested in..P.S. don’t forget to type Texas in the search phrase!
After you choose your groups, find their websites, and submit the URL (address) for each, for WEEK 5 part 2 assignment. Along with the address, include your overall evaluation of the group. Can you quickly determine the key issues the group is focused on? Does the website express the benefits of membership? Would you join it, if it appeals or pertains to you/your family/profession?
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