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Political Parties and Interest Groups

Political parties are groups of individuals who attempt to influence government policy through the election of their selected candidates. These candidates must answer the philosophical question, "Who have I been elected to serve?" Should their primary loyalty be to the party that helped get them elected or to the constituents they were elected to serve? At the same time, interest groups seek to influence elected officials and, ultimately, public policy. Interest groups are organizations of individuals with shared goals who try to influence public policy through, for example, lobbying, letter writing, grass roots campaigns, and endorsement of elected officials for example. Common types of interest groups are economic groups, social policy or ideologically based groups, public interest groups, and labor unions.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the article, "Direct Democracy and Political Parties in America." Consider the origins of direct democracy in America and how it has affected American political parties.
  • Review the article, "Challenges to the American Two-Party System: Evidence From the 1968, 1980, 1992, and 1996      Presidential Elections." Consider the stability of the two-party system in the United States. Think about how third parties can affect elected officials and interest groups.
  • Review the article, "The Relationship Between Political Parties and Interest Groups: Explaining Patterns of PAC      Contributions to Candidates for Congress" to explore how interest groups influence political parties.
  • Think about the influence of political parties on  elected officials.
  • Consider the influence of interest groups.

With these thoughts in mind:

By Thursday 3-1-18 post a 500-word explanation of whether elected officials with a party affiliation should be more loyal to their political party or to the constituents they are elected to serve. Then explain the influence of interest groups on political parties and elections.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

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