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Pre-Viewing Activity and Discussion (30 minutes)

Before viewing the video, discuss the following questions:

  • According to Madison, how should factions be controlled?

  • What kinds of activities do interest groups use to influence policy-making?

  • The general impression of interest groups is that they are the domain of big business and organized labor. Is

this true?

  • Think about your own interests. Are they represented by any organized group? What are they?

Watch the Video (30 minutes) and Discuss (30 minutes)

The video includes three segments. If you are watching on videocassette, watch each segment and then pause to discuss it, using the questions below. If you are watching a real-time broadcast on the Annenberg/CPB Channel, watch the complete video and then discuss.

1. The Battle Over Crusader

Most long-lasting interest groups focus on advancing the economic interests of their members. Because their members have a strong economic incentive to band together, they are likely to be well-funded professional organizations that can employ lobbyists and mount sophisticated public relations campaigns. The battle over the Crusader weapons system presents an example of how one economic interest used its resources to influence the policy process. In the end it was decided that Crusader would remain “canceled,” but United Defense would still retain a $475-million contract to continue the development of Crusader’s cannon. That contract would employ workers in several congressional districts, which was a major concern of Congress members. The Army gained progress toward a new weapons system, while the consultants, lobbyists, and public relations specialists who worked on behalf of United Defense got nice commissions for their work.

Discussion Questions

  • Why did members of Congress come to the defense of United Defense?

  • What kinds of tactics did United Defense use to fend off efforts to kill the Crusader?

  • In the end, was United Defense successful?

  • What is the iron triangle?

    • 2.

      Organizing From the Heart: The Battle Over Reauthorization of the 1996 Welfare

Reform Law

Citizen action groups advocate on a wide range of social and environmental issues, and use many of the same tactics as economic groups to reach decision makers. But often they must rely more on mobilizing their mem- bership to act in an organized and concerted way. The battle over reauthorization of the Welfare Reform Act illustrates the mobilization efforts of one citizen action group.

Discussion Questions

  • Who does the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support represent?

  • What motivated Ladon James to become involved in the campaign?

  • Since this is a citizen action without large cash reserves, what tactics did the group utilize to influence policy-


Democracy in America

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Unit 14

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