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18 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
What is political participation? What role does it play in a democracy?
those activities by private individuals & groups that aim to influence the selection of governmental personnel, the outcomes of political decision-making, or impact one’s community

It plays a part in a democracy by pressure to vote one way or another to influence someone, to help produce policy & have a voice for Democratic party
What is the range of activities that can be considered political participation?
Traditionally, formal, institutionalized methods

Extra-institutional methods

Informal methods
What do we gain with a broad definition of political participation?
We should because otherwise, we exclude many actions that have a political goal or impact

Because conventional political participation was not always possible for many in U.S. society

Because we take a broad view of what is political; split between public and private is artificial

PP is good for political outcomes and individuals’ growth as citizens
When the APSA Task Force report says that: “Disparities in participation ensure that ordinary Americans speak in a whisper while the most advantaged roar,” what do they mean?
Citizens’ voices are not raised equals

Gov’t does not hear citizens’ voices equally
Who participates more? In which ways? Why? What inequalities exist along economic lines in the U.S.? Why do the authors argue these patterns matter? What are their three main recommendations for improving the health of American democracy? Be able to explain these.
People with more money, occupational success, and high levels of formal education participate more

Inequalities of income, wealth, race, and more persist, and are growing today in the United States. These patterns matter because this means that our democracy is not functioning well

To improve the health of American democracy:

1.Gov’t can create policies to reduce inequality
2.There is a greater role by non-governmental institutions
3.The media – should have more time for debates & should take a role as “watch dog” instead of a “lap dog”
What are the three models through which social scientists have argued that elections might
ensure that the government does what people want? Be able to define and explain each of
these, with attention to the problems that exist with each.
Three models:

Prospective – voters decide what the party will do in the future
-Parties are responsible
-Parties say one thing and do it
-Negative: You assume that people are voting for one party because they are the lesser of two evils
-Negative: There could be conflicts between parties

Electoral Competition – unified parties compete for votes by taking the most popular positions they can by trying to take positions that will appeal to the median voter (average voter)

-Negative: Assumes people are informed and know where the parties stand
-Negative: Impacts where people are going

Retrospective – Look back at the performance of a party and base voting on that

-Negative: Hard to vote on one party
-Negative: No guarantee that future people elected will be better

All 3 Models share these problems:

1.They require more unified political agendas than we have
2.People w/ money, activists, people involved, and people who are leaders of interest groups have more power (or voice) than the average person
3.Difficult to know that all votes are accurately counted
In what ways are U.S. elections different from those in other countries? What is the impact of
these differences on electoral outcomes?
1.Higher quantity
2.Separate and independent from one another
3.Fill gov’t positions with fixed terms of office
4.Elections held on a fixed date
5.Almost always “first past the post” (we’re only concerned with who wins the most votes, “winner takes all”)
How has the right to vote expanded through U.S. history? Why is voting important to democracy? What is voter turnout? What trends can we see in voter turn-out in the U.S. context? Why such trends? What can be done to increase voter turnout as discussed in class and in Greenberg + Page?
Americans are more likely than people in other countries to participate actively in campaigns due to the expansion of the right to vote to include women, African Americans, and young people (18 to 20 year olds)

Voter turnout – the proportion of eligible voters who actually vote in a given election

There is low voter turnout due to:

1.Slow expansion of franchise
2.Barriers to voting
3.Lack of attractive choices
4.Too much complexity
5.Alienation – “politics is a dirty place” – you feel it is foreign to you
6.Lack of mobilization by political parties (some communities are not visited by the political parties)
7.Poor quality of candidates

We can increase voter turnout by:

1.Getting young people, people of color, & others to vote

Why try?

1.For certain people to be re-elected
2.The more people vote, the more it is the popular vote (more accurate)
How do Greenberg and Page suggest that money matters in politics today? How does our
system of campaign financing help or hinder democracy? Why? Which components of
democracy need to be considered to answer this question?
Money may overcome the popular will. Most agree that money creates problems in U.S. presidential elections. The main problem is probably not that too much money is spent but that the money comes from private sources that may influence government policy making after the election is over.

Money matters a great deal in the presidential nomination process but not so much during the post-convention run for the White House.

450 million spent in 2004 election
Most money for presidential campaigns comes from taxpayers, but other sources include:

1.Personal wealth of candidates
2.Political parties
3.Interest groups
4.Individual donors
What do political parties do? What are the major reasons why the U.S. has maintained a two-
party system with few successful third parties? Be able to describe the current party system in the U.S. What information did we discuss and did Greenberg + Page cover that can help us to make predictions about the future of political parties in the U.S.? In what ways can political parties help or hinder democracy?
Political parties – organizations that try to win control of government by electing people to public office that carry the party label
1. They recruit and run candidates
2. They organize and coordinate the activities of public officials under a party banner

Only two parties because:

1. Electoral rules – only one winner between two parties
2. Restrictions on minor parties (ex. With money)
3. Absence of a strong labor movement
4. Candidate centered elections – people don’t want to “stray from the ‘herd’” and it would take a lot of effort to start up a 3rd party (it is too difficult)

How did we get where we are today?

-Six major party systems “punctuated” by brief periods of transition from one party era to another

-Realignment – the process by which one party supplants (takes the place of) another as the dominant party in a political system

1816-1828 – “Era of Good Feelings”
1968-present – Democrats vs. Republicans

Current party system in the U.S.: Dealignment + parity – Democrats vs. Republicans (1980-now)

Overview of U.S. party system:

-Primarily a two-party system
-Few successful third-parties
-Most minor parties are of four types
1. Protest
2. Ideological (ex. Libertarian party – liberty is primary, gov’t should be limited)
3. Single-issue (ex. Prohibition party – to get rid of alcohol)
4. Splinter parties – party that splinters off from a bigger party

What might we expect in coming years?

1. Party loyalties among groups
2. 2004 Presidential Election (Electoral Vote) – America divided by party and geography

Political parties (for Democracy) can:

-Keep elected officials responsive (via elections)
-Be a way to include a broad range of groups under one umbrella, broader than an interest group or social movement
-Stimulate political interest and increase participation
-Erase accountability, attribution of responsibility
-Help people make sense of complexity in politics, using parties as “shorthand” for decision making
-Make government work/encourage cooperation
How and why are interest groups so involved in U.S. politics? What patterns and trends exist in regard to interest groups in the U.S. (especially type, number, inequalities, and impact). What is the difference between the “inside game” and the “outside game”? What is the difference between “grassroots,” “grass-tops” and “Astroturf” interest groups? What is the difference between a “special interest” or “private interest” group and a “public interest” group, according to Greenberg + Page? What did the Pluralists believe? When Schattschneider is quoted in your text as saying “the flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper class accent,” what does he mean? What do Greenberg + Page say are other
possible flaws in the pluralist heaven? What is an iron triangle?
-Interest groups (pressure groups or also called “lobby”) – apply pressure to influence behavior of public officials like the President, members of Congress, etc.
-Interest groups are private voluntary associations that try to shape public policy.

Inside game – direct, personal contact between interest group representatives and government officials
-By lobbying congress, executive branch, & judiciary

Outside game – involves interest group mobilization of public opinion, voters, and important contributors in order to bring pressure to bear on elected officials
-Emails sent & the media

Two Types of Groups

-Special (Or Private) Interest Group – Focus on gaining protections or material advantages from government for their own members, rather than society at large

-Public Interest Group – Focus on protections and gains for a broader public or society in general

Types of Public groups

-Grassroots – membership organizations that rally ordinary voters for a cause
-Grass-tops – organize powerful people for a cause
-Astroturf – Looks like grassroots but are actually “front organizations” funded by larger Washington-based interest groups

The Pluralists’ beliefs on interest groups
-Interest groups are an essential feature of modern democracy and tool of democratic representation (like elections)
-They allow people to express their wants & interests to policy makers and political leaders consistently on a given issue
-Interest groups are easy to create and Americans are free to do so
-There are many entry points for interest groups to impact the policy making process due to federalism, checks & balances, and the separation of powers
-Therefore, all interests in society can have their views taken into account by same public official
-Citizens vote for government officials
-People (both citizens & non-citizens) may belong to interest groups which try to influence public official’s actions around a given issue

E.E. Schattschneider’s quote “that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper class accent” means that political equality is undermined by the interest group system, and democracy is less fully developed than it might be, even taking into account the new importance of the outside game (which, as we have said, tends to “socialize conflict”).

Flaws in the Pluralist Heaven

1. Representational inequalities - Organized labor has lost much of its lobbying clout in recent years, mainly because of declining membership. Passage in 2005 of several pro-business bills that it strongly opposed showcases labor’s declining power. The vast majority of advocacy groups tend to gravitate toward members and contributors who have much higher incomes.
2. Resource inequalities
3. Access inequality

Iron Triangle – An alliance based on common interests formed among a powerful corporation or interest group, an agency of the executive branch, and congressional committees or subcommittees. (Ex. American Dairy Association / Department of Agriculture / Senate and House agriculture committees
In the interest group arena, where do corporations fit in? When Lindblom is quoted in your text as saying, “The large private corporation fits oddly into democratic theory, Indeed it does not fit,” what does he mean? What evidence does your text provide to support or oppose this argument?
-Charles Lindblom has argued that corporations wield such disproportionate power in American politics that they undermine democracy

-Business corporations fit, according to Charles Lindblom’s 1977 book “Politics and Markets” – “fits oddly into democratic theory. Indeed, it does not fit.”
-Twenty years later, Neil Mitchell concluded that “business interests [in the United States] are not routinely countervailed in the policy process. Their political resources and incentives to participate are usually greater than other interests.”

The largest corporations are far ahead of their competitors in a variety of ways:

1. The number of interest organizations that represent them
2. The number of lobbyists they employ
3. The level of resources they can and do use for political resources
4. Their ability to shape public perceptions and opinions through instruments such as issue advertising and subsidization of business-oriented think thanks
5. The ease of access they have to government officials

-If corporations perceive that their collective interests are at stake and they are able to present a united front, they are simply unbeatable
According to lecture, what factors contribute to a social movement coming into existence and having an impact on politics? What sorts of tactics do social movements utilize? What are the impacts of social movements on American politics and democracy?
Social movements – Loosely organized collections of people and groups who act over time, outside established institutions, to promote or resist social change
-Factors include
1. Numbers
2. Energy
3. Commitment
4. Creativity

-Social movements are generally mass, grassroots phenomena with “non-traditional resources” (Ex. L.A. murals, Burma monks, artist Bankse)

Understanding social movements – Tactics, organizing, and impact

1. The existence of social distress (lives are difficult and/or not safe, way of life is threatened or disrespected) but social distress is NOT sufficient
2. Availability of resources for mobilization – can include leadership, space to discuss issues of importance, media access, etc.
3. A supportive environment – a sense of it being the “right” time, time being “ripe” and some level of broader support & tolerance, or governmental desire to deal with grievances
4. A sense of efficacy among participants – must be some feeling among a SM’s membership that their actions can “make a difference” and that broader society and political leaders will listen and respond to their grievances (ex. Sit-ins during Civil Rights Movement)
5. A spark to set off the flames and spontaneity – a catalyst or symbolic action that resonates and drives people to rally behind, to act – some kind of spontaneity (ex. Rosa Parks)

Impacts of Social Movements

1. Some social movements become involved with the government and are more politically involved (Ex. Civil Rights groups, NOW (National Organization of Women) organization)
2. Prompt a counter-movement due to success of (Ex. Abortion from Women’s Movement)
3. Too narrow or outside of being successful (Ex. Militia movements)
4. Hard for elected officials (to take a different stance)
5. Difficult to do if there are more powerful groups against you
6. May have to resort to extra groups for help
7. Social context of today – because of this you have to be more creative
8. May also be done through hip-hop activism

Social Movement Tactics include:

-Voting, campaigns, action plans, etc.
According to the Sonksen “Alchemy at the Arroyo Seco Confluence” article, what have been the changes that can be seen in the state of the L.A. River in the last 200+ years? What is FoLAR? What were graffiti artists and community activists doing at the L.A. River in recent months? What happened to their efforts?
The L.A. River changed from a river with lush vegetation and a fertile valley with flowing water. 226 years later, it is a concrete channel that resembles a paved sewer.

FoLAR = Friends of the Los Angeles River, a loose confederation with sculptor and architect Pat Patterson and gallery owner Roger Wong. The idea was to establish a 40-year performance-art piece.

A vivid new mural hung along a half-mile stretch of the Arroyo Seco confluence, courtesy of more than 300 artists working in partnership with Friends of the Los Angeles River. County Supervisor Gloria Molina visited FoLAR's office on Oct. 22 and voiced her displeasure with the new river imagery. Within days, the heart of this mural was destroyed.

As our story goes to press, about 30 percent of the FoLAR mural remains. High-powered spraying machines cleared away the artists' work. FoLAR claims to have completed all the required paper-work for the mural, which, according to the Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Matt Fuderer, lay in county jurisdiction. Supervisor Molina, through her press secretary, Roxanne Marquez, declined to comment on what she termed "the graffiti controversy."
According to the “Who Will Rock the Vote in 2008?” article, who “rocked” the vote in 2004 and what methods did they use? How many new voters did they claim to register? What does the article suggest has changed for 2008?
In 2004, over 4 million new young voters turned out at the polls on Election Day. By a
10 percent margin, those voters chose John Kerry over President Bush, becoming the
only age demographic to choose Democrats over Republicans, a reversal of previous
presidential elections in which Democrats and Republicans split the youth vote.

In part, that shift was driven by the work of hundreds of musicians and a handful of
nonprofit organizations which, for over a year leading up to the 2004 election, delivered
peer-to-peer, and sometimes issue-oriented, messaging at concerts. Combined, these
organizations claim to have registered well over 1 million new voters in 2004 (Rock the
Vote alone claims 1.2 million). Just as important, by delivering hard-hitting progressive
messages that linked politics to the daily lives of millions of punk, hip-hop, indie rock,
and jam band fans, they reached many young people who were traditionally ignored by
our electoral system. Together, they politicized live music communities to a degree
unseen in decades and helped to reengage a new generation in politics.

Music and Activism: A Snapshot of the National Players

Air Traffic Control Tower: Working primarily behind the scenes, this group provides
advice to artists on how to effectively engage in political activism.

Elementz and Yo! The Movement: These community organizations successfully use the
four pillars of hip-hop to get 14- to 24-year-olds off the streets, providing an outlet for
expression and civic education. Such community-based organizations may be the local
face of hip hop organizing in 2008, but these myriad efforts are often disconnected and
tend to focus on issue activism, not electoral politics.

HeadCount: This grassroots organization, founded and run entirely by and for artists
and fans in the jam band community, has registered 50,000 voters since it started in
2004. In 2008 it plans to be on 12 national tours and hopes to register an ambitious
200,000 live music fans.

Hip-Hop Summit Action Network: Russel Simmon's 500 pound Gorilla of Hip-Hop
organizing with a mixed reputation among activists. The Action Network registered tens
of thousands of voters at its massive Summits in 2004 and teamed up with ACT for a
final 70 show GOTV Tour in October of 2004. Lately, the organization has focused less
on elections and more on the economic empowerment of young people of color.
Music for America: MFA sat at the heart of live-music organizing between 2004 and
2006, delivering a peer-to-peer, progressive message to over 3 million concert goers at
over 4,000 shows. The organization recently lost its funding and will either massively
scale back or close up shop completely in 2008.

Punk Voter: in 2004, Punk Voter helped build a movement among punk fans with its
anti-Bush compilation Rock Against Bush, which sold over 650,000 copies. In a recent
interview, Fat Mike stated that Punk Voter will function primarily as a news site in 2008.

Rock the Vote: Contrary to popular belief, Rock the Vote has thus far primarily
functioned as a mass media organization or, at times, celebrity spokesman vehicle, not
as a grassroots organizer. In 2004, some RTV street teams canvassed live music events,
but their real contribution was an incredible 1.2 million online voter registrations
through its website. The organization was largely absent in 2006. Now dormant, no one
knows what form Rock the Vote will take in 2008.

In 2008, 50 million Millennials (those aged 18 to 31) will be eligible to
vote. Some studies show Millennials are already rivaling Baby Boomers in size.

I can see a number of ways that progressives could fill this gap in our 2008 youth

A new national organization with a more sustainable financial model than MFA,
employing many of the same, tested tactics and organizing strategies, gets
bootstrapped into existence or supported by progressive megafunders. An unlikely
scenario, since it would have made more sense to attempt to "fix" the problems with
MFA or maintain support through 2008 rather than start from scratch with a new brand
and an untested organization.

New partisan grassroots groups along the lines of Concerts for Change might spring up
in support of individual candidates. This will undoubtedly happen no matter what; the
question is one of geographic diversity and numerical scale. Concerts for Change held
approximately 100 shows in 2004. We would need 25 Concerts for Change in 25
different states focusing on multiple musical genres to replicate what MFA did. It's not
impossible, but without a national force driving activists to bootstrap those
organizations into existence, it's highly improbable. Some cities and states are bound to
get left behind. Centered on particular candidates and campaigns, these orgs also would
be as ephemeral as their predecessor, turning into a pumpkin after Election Day.

Political campaigns add outreach at concerts to their youth field operations. This is a
solid strategy that was deployed in Ohio in 2004 by a group called VoteMob. It's not the
same as a peer contact from a fan working inside a venue in partnership with an artist,
but it touches many college and noncollege youth not reached by traditional campaign
field operations. It's a valuable tactic that I hope campaigns will adopt.

Local grassroots groups strike deals with venues or local artists and make concert
outreach part of their strategy. Organizations like Forward Montana and the Oregon Bus
Project, who already understand the value of cultural outreach, could expand their work
and their membership base through a local concert strategy. This is also a tactic we
might see in young communities of color through organizations like Cincinnati-based
Elementz, Minneapolis-based YO! The Movement, or Milwaukee-based Urban

Music communities themselves might cut out the "middle men" and create their own
political vehicles just like HeadCount did for the Jam Band community. This strategy
could be facilitated by the work of Air Traffic Control Tower -- a group that advises
music artists on how to engage in political action.
To my mind, the last two options are the most likely to occur, and would create the
most stable, sustainable models for youth outreach through music communities. If there
is anything we learned at MFA, it's that local, venue-based organizing is probably the
most sustainable form of outreach through music communities, and local grassroots
operations with ties to the community, rather than national organizations based in D.C.,
are a better vehicle for forging those connections. Without a venue, organizations are at
the mercy of a tour schedule that skips from one venue to the next on a given night or
sometimes leapfrogs entire cities or regions altogether. And local people, who you can
meet in person and who have roots in the community, are more likely to gain the trust
of venue owners and managers than D.C.-based consultants who are more interested in
maximizing turnout in any way possible than coherently integrating political activism
into the music scene.
According to the Chang “Constant Elevation” article, what is “hip-hop activism”? How has hip-hop activism updated and transformed old paradigms of youth organizing, youth development, and cultural work?
Hip-hop activism is a tag that young organizers, thinkers, cultural workers and activists have adopted to distinguish their generation’s emerging work for social justice. It describes a broad range of social change practices, including youth organizing, cultural work, arts education, popular education, intercultural exchanges, youth development, and celebrity projects and events. Above all, hip-hop activism is a frame to understand the hip-hop generation’s reaction to their world, and their desire to create alternative spaces for cultural development and progressive social change.
Be able to describe the prevailing themes or tendencies in coverage by the mass media. What
roles played by the media can serve the purposes of democracy? What is the difference between mainstream and alternative media? How does the internet compare to other mass media forms? What impact is there to the corporatization of the news media?
Prevailing themes:

Approval of the American Economic System
Negativity and Scandal
Limited, Fragmented, and Incoherent Political Information

Role the media plays in democracy:

1. Watchdog over government
2. Clarifies electoral choices
3. Provides policy information
4. Also Provides Propaganda
5. Actively counteract political inequalities & goes beyond using echo chamber to get their voice out there

Debates – provide information and counteract political inequalities

Much of the internet, compared to other mass media forms, is uncontrolled, unconfirmed, speculative, passionate, and sometimes hysterical. These characteristics make the medium quite compelling as a source of news and information, but one that must be used with great care.

Most of the biggest stations and newspapers, as well as the television and cable networks, are owned by large media corporations, some of which, in turn, are subsidaries of enormous conglomerates. There is an effect of corporate ownership and increased media concentration.

Some characteristics:

-Uniformity and diversity
-Profit motives
-Political news making
-Limited geography of political news
-Dependence on official sources
-Beats and routines
What is What “void” do its founders say they want to fill? Why does the Smith-Spark BBC News article say about young U.S. voters in terms of their percentage of the electorate in 2008? Their partisanship in 2006? Their involvement in politics as compared to their older brothers and sisters? What do polls cited suggest are the top issues of concern for young voters?
What is

The Scoop08 is the first-ever daily national student newspaper. Part of a network of hundreds of young people across the nation - and counting - Scoop08 correspondents and commentators are dedicated to providing in-depth and innovative coverage of the 2008 presidential election. And there is still room for you.

What “Void”?

"We noticed there was a void when it came to national, grassroots, student journalism that really could have an impact on issues of importance," said co-founder Alexander Heffner, 17.

Partisanship in 2006 & Involvement in Politics as compared to their older brothers and sisters

People aged 18-29 will make up 25% of the electorate in 2008, according to the University of Maryland's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (Circle), up from 21% in 2006.

Put into numbers, this meant 4.3m more under-30 voters turned out in 2004 than in 2000, while 1.6m more under-30s voted in 2006 than in 2002, says Rock the Vote, a non-partisan organisation that aims to educate and mobilise young voters.

Kat Barr, Rock the Vote's director of research and education, says it appears to be a continuing trend.

"We have seen through polling, through volunteerism rates, all kinds of indicators... that 18- to 29-year-olds are far more involved in politics than their older brothers and sisters," she said.

So what are the issues motivating this newly energised young generation?

Rock the Vote polling and focus groups put the Iraq war as young voters' number one concern, followed by economic issues such as the cost of college and healthcare.

Next - and this is where differences can be seen with older age groups, says Ms Barr - come concerns about the environment, global warming and immigration.

Thomas Patterson, of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, says the Iraq war played a big part in stirring up the youth vote in 2004 - and could do so again if the Bush administration decides to "stay the course" in Iraq.

Young voters have also warmed to changes in the presidential debate format, with 77% saying they preferred to see questions put by members of the public, as happened in July's video-based YouTube debate, compared to 57% of those aged 65 and older.

Developments such as the use of social networking sites, including Facebook and MySpace, in campaigning have also been embraced by younger voters.