Political Science | Pol Parties & Interest Groups
Y301 | 3363 | Hershey
Political parties and interest groups, to many people, are like warts on the
body politic. The writers of the Constitution felt pretty much the same
way. The long-standing criticism is that these groups create conflicts
where there are none, and cause the gridlock that so often paralyzes
government. Then why is it that the writers of the Constitution in fact
created political parties within a decade of founding the republic, and why
do most Americans still consider themselves to be either Democrats or
Republicans? Even though split-ticket voting is common in elections now,
why is it that the national party organizations are better-funded and more
active in campaigns than they have been for most of our history? And when
eastern European nations have been able to throw out their Communist rulers,
why have these nations so quickly produced political parties of their own?
Our job in this course is to understand what parties and interest
groups are capable of doing as intermediaries between citizens and the
government, and what they actually do in practice. We'll look at third
parties, political action committees, social movements, campaign finance,
and the relationships between parties and interest groups as well.
There will be a substantial amount of reading in this course. Two
essay exams and several short research projects will be assigned.