Political Science | Pol Parties & Interest Groups
Y301 | 9816 | 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 has been common in elections for decades, 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 nations such as Russia, Poland, and Romania have thrown off
their previous rulers and taken steps toward becoming democracies,
why have these nations so quickly produced political parties of their
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.