Special interest groups are often blamed publicly for trying to exert too much control on the federal government. The reality, as always, is a little more complex. We will take a look at what interest groups are and how they function in our society. We will also analyze the factors that lead to interest group success and question whether or not they have too much influence.
In the realm of American politics, two parties dominate the landscape: Republicans and Democrats. But other countries have multiple party options for voters, and, whether you realized it or not, we do, too. In this unit, we will look at the role of political parties in American politics, and analyze their effects on the democratic system. We will also give some time and attention to those other parties (or third parties, as they are often called) that don't get much air time in the press.
Campaigns and Elections
Elections are a cornerstone of the democratic process, and they are our third of four linkage institutions in this course. In theory, elections allow the American people to make their voices heard. However, many critics argue that the modern electoral system, especially at the national level, effectively disenfranchises many Americans from the outcome of elections. In this unit, we will investigate how the system works, how and why people vote (and don't vote), and the effect of monied interests on the campaign process.
Over the years, the media has become more and more influential in the political process. The advent of 24-hour news channels, the Internet, and social media provide Americans with an abundance of information. People question the motives and biases of reporters and yet rely on them to understand what is happening in our world. In order to understand the role of the media in American politics, we have to remember that media outlets are, first and foremost, business ventures, and that fact further complicates the whole situation.