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Watch the Video and Discuss, cont’d.

3. David and Goliath Go at It Again: The South Pasadena Freeway Fight

Sometimes the most effective groups are local grassroots organizations dedicated to a single cause. Lacking financial resources and permanent organizations, these groups rely on committed citizens to write letters, make phone calls, and sometimes to demonstrate, all in pursuit of their cause. The fight over a freeway plan in the Los Angeles suburb of South Pasadena is a good example of a grassroots organization in action.

Discussion Questions

  • How is the grassroots organization in this story different from a citizen action group?

  • What kinds of tactics did the Anti-Meridan group use to fight the freeway?

  • What do you think has motivated these people to keep up the fight over a couple of generations?

Post-Viewing Activity and Discussion (30 minutes)

1. Tocqueville Would Be Proud: Today’s Interest Group Universe (20 minutes)

On his short visit to the United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at Americans’ propensity to form associations (i.e., interest groups) for any cause, interest, or public purpose. In his influential and still widely read book, Democracy in America, he writes:

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations ... and I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object to the exertions of a great many men, and in inducing them voluntarily to pursue it.

The following list of organized interest groups illustrates Americans’tendency to organize themselves into groups for just about any foreseeable need or cause. Specific Web site information is available to help you investigate the goals and methods of these groups. Can you find other groups to add to these categories?

Gender Men

Age 14- 25

American Men’s Studies Association: www.mensstudies.org National Men’s Resource Center: www.mensstuff.org

Jobs for America’s Graduates: www.jag.org Students Against Destructive Decisions: www.saddonline.com

National Coalition of Free Men: www.ncfm.org Fathers’ Rights and Equality Exchange: www.dadsrights.org

Women American Association of University Women: http://www.aauw.org/ Concerned Women for America: www.cwfa.org/about.asp National Organization for Women: www.now.org National Foundation for Women Legislators: www.womenlegislators.org Tradeswomen: www.tradeswomen.org

Boys and Girls Club of America: www.bgca.org National 4-H Council: www.fourhcouncil.edu/

26-49 Active 20-30 Association: www.active20-30.com National Association of Baby Boomers: www.babyboomers.org

50+ American Association on Aging: www.asaging.org Alliance for the Aging Research: www.agingresearch.org/aboutus.cfm Amvets—American Veteran: www.amvets.org/ National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform:

www.nccnhr.org/ National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare: www.ncpssm.org/about/index.html

Unit 14

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Democracy in America

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