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Poli 10
short answer topics
Political Studies
Undergraduate 2

Additional Political Studies Flashcards




Why does the US political system encourage a two party system?
Duverger's Law: Since in the US the winner is chosen by a plurality vote (he who gets the most votes wins, not necessarily majority)there is a tendency for the competitors to be reduced to two parties to avoid wasted votes, so voters turn to the least objectionable of the two main parties.
Two-party system is kept in place by those parties (who want to keep it down to two for their own benefit) so they preserve electoral rules that discriminate against third parties. For example: banning fusion tickets, which would allow smaller parties to boost their votes by nominating candidates also nominated by majority parties. Also, good ideas/positions from third parties are stolen by one of the other two.
It's a winner take all system that ensures that uncommon/unconventional ideas remain non-influential, so policies and governments do not change rapidly.
The relationship among bureaucrats, members of congress, and interest groups
They can form extremely strong alliances based on the iron triangle (see flashcard: mutually beneficial relationship between interest groups, bureaucrats and congressman)
Issue Networks: A group of interest groups that come together to influence policy. They can influence more congressmen which makes it easier to get their desired policies passed.
How they shape policy: When congress establishes a regulatory agency, the agency's dealings are with the industries that they are supposed to regulate. Since industries have an enormous stake in how they are regulated they become the primary source of political pressure on the regulators. The regulated sectors are the primary repository of information that the agencies need. Also the agency has to maintain the health of the agency that it regulates. Because of this regulators become allies if not agents of the sector they regulate. They are effectivel captured by the interests they are supposed to regulate.

See Olsen reading
Changes in the News Media over the Past 30-50 years
Then: Used to have a lot more investigative reporting (giving public what they need to know) There was no cable at this time, used to report on "hard news" (public affairs coverage), close relationships with a few politicians who actively sought to influence the news.

Now: Increase in negative news coverage/campaigns
Change from what you NEED to know to what you WANT to know
Britney Spears effect--> more expose reporting, war coverage/images, strained relationships between press and politicians, journalists are watch dogs looking for something/someone new to exploit. Greater competition: more sources and more outlets. Bypassing the news media is expensive. New technology may help politicians communicate directly (myspace debates). CABLE has changed everything: focus on specific niches, more choices of channels/search for entertainment has caused news to become a business and so report soft news more (entertainment, human-interest stories)

o Hamilton reading, changed from what we NEED to hear to what we WANT to hear
The Logic of Congress' institutional design and internal organization (including the differences, where they apply, between the two houses)
The structure of congress was first decided by the great compromise. They have different term limits; the house serves for 2 years and the senate serves for 6 years because the framers thought that the members of the senate were smarter than the members of the house. Also the senate is more perceptive to the whims of the public and they have closer relationships with their constituents because there are fewer of them whereas the house is more insolated. The house uses more committees and subcommittees than the senate does because they have more members. This leads to the house having more people who are specialized in specific areas. Also the senate has the filibuster which is an effective tool for the minority party to block unfavorable legislation from passing.

o Constitutional set up, congressional committees, bicameral legislature
o Transaction costs rectified by congressional committees, specialized people makes more sense, tragedy of the commons? time is a scarce resource, they have a lot of information to cover

committes system, bicameralism
Constitutional and Non-constitutional sources of President
Constitutional: President as commander in chief, veto, "take care clause" (president must take care to see that all laws are faithfully executed)

Non-constitutional: Executive orders, executive agreements, executive privilege, ability to go public, setting agenda, head of state prestige

Can call congress into special session
Must make State of the union address
The President is the commander in chief of the nations armed forces. Altought the President is the commander and chief only congress has the power to declare war. This however is a hollow check because presidents still go to war. The Vietnam was and the Korean war were never declared by congress. Also the President is the head of state. This gives the President an advantage in conducting foreign policies. As the head of state they have the right to receive ambassadors and other public ministers. However Washington interpreted this as he had the sole right to decide if the United States could recognize a government. Also congress has the power to ratify treaties but the president got around this with executive agreements which are simply statements of understanding between the administration and a foreign government and this sidesteps congress. The President also has the “take care clause” which just states that the president must take care to see that all laws are faithfully executed. The President also enacts executive privilege which refers to the President’s right to withhold information from congress and the courts. The constitution says nothing about this but they argue that it is necessary to keep the separation of powers.
Strategies and Requirements for Mounting a Successful Election Campaign
o Negative campaigning, slogans and cognitive short cuts, focus groups, “I’m Like You”, 3 requirements: money, message, candidate, define and give examples (Clinton playing sax, slogans: read my lips, you’re republican/I’m republican= cognitive short cuts)

*Negative Campaigning - negative campaigning is the act of attacking an opposing candidate’s platform, past political performance, or personal characteristics such as characterizing Kerry as a flip-flop voter or attacking his service in Vietnam. Negative campaigning is a useful tactic because people remember it more than positive campaigning, however this can also make voters less enthusiastic to vote for any particular candidate.
*slogan/cognitive shortcuts (read my lips no new taxes – George H.W. Bush) – Candidates use slogans because they are they are easy for the average voter to remember and they get their message out there. Also, voters use cognitive shortcuts to determine who to vote for, the most common of which being party identification.
*focus groups – candidates use numerous focus groups which are a small group of ordinary citizens to test out their campaign ads, messages, and what to use to negatively campaign. This helps the candidates see what messages have a positive affect on the voters
*I’m like you (Clinton with the saxophone) – Candidates also like to give the voters the impression that they are like them. They try and relate to the voters because this makes them seem more likable.
Money – needed no matter what
The Role of Money in Congressional Versus Presidential Elections
o Presidential covers the country, congressional is only districts (smaller amount of people)
o Voting elections/ campaign

Taps into individuals, their own pocketbooks, political action committees, party organizations
Spend less( if incumbents spend a lot they lose)
Partial public funding of presidential campaigns
Spend more
The candidates in Presidential elections spend a lot more money than the candidates in congressional elections. In congressional elections incumbents who spend a lot of money are less likely to win whereas in the presidential election it doesn’t really matter.
Congressional Problems
o Need for information
o How do you get bills through
o How do you resolve conflicts within congress
o Collective action problems

Collective action problems – Transaction costs (535 members) – Tragedy of the commons (time is a scarce resource. They need to know a lot of information. Coordination problems.
Committees solutions – smaller groups = lower transaction costs. Act as a gatekeeper (a lot of bills die in committee). Specialization/Expertise. Lower number of individuals still help protect party interests
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