Political Science | Political Parties and Interest Groups
Y301 | 9890 | 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, most Americans still consider
themselves to be either Democrats or Republicans, and 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 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.