Taking Sides: Party Competition, Interest Group Strategy, and the Polarization of American Pluralism Clarence E. Dammon Dean Academic Year 2023 Accepted Congress; political economy; public policy In Federalist 10, James Madison argues that one virtue of representative democracy is the means by which it controls the “mischiefs of faction.” Madison argues, in effect, that the design of the American political system enables the governance of a large, diverse society by ensuring that no single set of like-minded actors will seize absolute power. Underlying such an environment, however, are several key assumptions. Chief among them is the ability for individual societal interests to coalesce freely and episodically around individual causes. Operationally, this implies that when groups seek to work with legislators in the policymaking process, they do so on a legislator-by-legislator basis, aligning themselves with other legislators and groups without consideration of a broader agenda, "vision," or worldview. In spite of this depiction, my recent research has provided strong evidence that this interest-based pragmatism has deteriorated considerably. In short, interest groups have seemingly chosen to act more like parties, aligning themselves consistently with one "side of the aisle" over the other. Given the resources that interest groups can offer political parties, the latter have a clear incentive to incorporate the former. What’s less clear is why groups not already deeply embedded in one of the two major parties would permit this to happen. To resolve this puzzle, this project develops and tests a theory of interest group partisanship in which, as party competition intensifies, members of each party condition access on signals that reduce the group’s credibility to the other party. To test the hypotheses from this theory, the project requires the collection of the largest dataset of interest group bill positions every assembled, spanning the course of three decades. In doing so, we are able to examine whether and how individual interest groups and businesses have chosen to align themselves with parties over time--and why they have done so. Jesse M. Crosson My research assistants will search for, collect, and clean instances of interest-group position-taking on bills before the U.S. Congress. This will involve deep dives into archival materials such as letters to Congress and into the legislator speeches in the Congressional Record. As part of the project, we will occasionally travel to nearby archives of prominent members of Congress and search for / scan letters from interest groups to members of Congress. https://cla.purdue.edu/academic/polsci/research/labs/pair-program/index.html
At least 3.5 GPA, interest in legislatures, policymaking, or money in politics, attention to detail 1 8 (estimated)