Political Science | Pol Parties & Interest Groups
Y301 | 3448 | 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.