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American Government 2 Test Vocabulary


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Organizations that try to achieve at least some of their goals with government assistance.
Interest Groups
The efforts of interest groups to influence government.
Raise money through direct mail and the Internet and spend it on political ads for and against issues or political candidates.
Political Action Committees (PACs)
Seek economic benefits for their members or clients. Examples include business, labor, and agriculture.
Private Interest Groups
The most numerous and among the most powerful interest groups in Washington.
Principal competitor with business but runs a distant second in influence and continues to lose ground.
Labor interest group
Lobby for political and social causes rather than direct financial gain for their members.
Public interest groups
Lobbies for reduced taxes not just for its members but for everyone who pays taxes.
National Taxpayers Union
Lobbies for the rights of political prisoners around the world even though none of its members are prisoners.
Amnesty International
Public interest groups are classified as:
either multiple-issue groups or single-issue groups.
Groups advocating women's equality range from large, mass-based organizations interested in a broad array of issues to smaller groups with more specific and narrow interests.
Women's Groups
The largest women's group, with 250,000 members, has chapters in each state. Funded chiefly by membership dues, it conducts research and lobbies at national, state, and local levels in a number of policy areas including reproductive freedom and economic
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Gays and Lesbians are represented by:
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and Lambda Defense Fund.
National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Green Peace, Earth First! are all:
Environmental Groups, examples of multiple-issue groups.
Its members are passionate in their opposition to gun control. Single-issue group.
National Rifle Association
Peaceful but illegal protest activity, in which those involved allow themselves to be arrested and punished.
Civil disobedience
Two or more interest groups that have joined together to achieve a particular goal.
The number of members in a group compared to its potential membership.
Market Share
"Professionals" who run the party organization and part activities at the national, state, and local levels.
Party Organization
The American system. Only two parties win seats in Congress, and only two parties compete effectively for the presidency. The development and persistence of two parties is rare among the nations of the world.
Two-Party System
Party system mostly in Western Europe.
Multiparty systems
The outcome of an election where only one individual is elected from a district or state, the individual who receives the most votes.
An election system based on election from multimember districts. The number of seats awarded to each party in each district is equal to the percentage of the total the party receives in the district.
Proportional representation
Massive shifts in party loyalty among the voters that usher in a period of party dominance.
Political organizations based on patronage that flourished in the big cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The machine relied on the votes of the lower classes and, in exchange, provided jobs and other services.
Political Machines
The configuration of parties in a political system.
Party System
Party leaders, once in office, openly awarded government jobs and other benefits to their supporters.
Political Patronage
Reform movement designed to wrest control from political machines and the lower-class immigrants they served. These reforms reduced corruption in politics, but they also seriously weakened the power of political parties.
Progressive Movement
The broadly based coalition of southern conservatives, northern liberals, and ethnic and religious minorities that sustained the Democratic Party for some 40 years.
New Deal Coalition
Psychological link that individuals feel toward a party; no formal or organization membership is implied.
Party Identification
Term used to refer to the diminished relevance of political parties.
Voting for a member of one party for one office and another party for a different office.
Split-ticket voting
Term that implies a choice between political parties, voters who comprehend that choice, and elected officials who vote for their party's position.
Responsible Party Government
Heads each national party organization.
National Party Chair
The highest level of party organization; chooses the site of the national convention and the formula for determining the number of delegates from each state.
National Committee.
Occurs when individuals correctly identify the positions of the candidates and their own position and cast a consistent vote.
Issue Voting
Voting on the basis of past performance.
Retrospective Voting
The right to vote.
The period after the Civil War when black rights were ensued by a Northern Military presence in the South and by close monitoring of Southern politics; ended in 1877.
A Device used in the South to prevent blacks from voting; such clauses exempted those whose grandfathers had the right to vote before 1867 from having to fulfill various requirements that most people could not meet.
Grandfather Clause
A tax that must be paid before a person can vote; used in the South to prevent blacks from voting.
Poll Tax.
The 24th Amendment now prohibits poll taxes in federal elections.
A device for preventing blacks from voting in the South. Under the pretense that political parties were private clubs, blacks were barred from voting in Democratic primaries, which were the real elections because Democrats always won the general election
White Primary
Made it illegal to interfere with anyone's right to vote.
Voting Rights Act (VRA)
A congressional district whose boundaries are drawn so as to maximize the political advantage of a party or racial group; often such a district has a bizarre shape.
Methods of drawing district boundaries that minimize black representation. With cracking, a large concentrated black population is divided among two or more districts so that blacks will not have a majority anywhere.
Cracking, stacking, and packing
a congressional district whose boundaries are drawn to give a minority group a majority in the district.
Majority-minority district
Voting for candidates from different parties for different offices, and secrecy in making one's choice were impossible.
Split Ticket Voting
Election reforms introduced in the early twentieth century as part of the Progressive movement; included the secret ballot, primary elections, and voter registration laws.
Progressive Reforms
To increase registration, a national law allows people to register at public offices, such as welfare offices and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Motor Voter Law
A direct primary where voters select delegates to presidential nominating conventions; voters indicate a preference for a presidential candidate, delegates committed to a candidate, or both.
Presidential Preference Primaries
The day when most southern states hold presidential preference primaries simultaneously.
Super Tuesday
Reviews any challenges that may arise regarding the right of specific delegates to participate.
Credentials Committee
Formulates convention and party rules, such as those governing delegate section.
Rules Committee
Drafts the party's platform.
Platform Committee
Also known as "swing states". During a presidential election, these are states whose Electoral College votes are no safely in one candidate's pocket.
Battleground States (Swing States)
A group of electors selected by the voters in each state and the District of Columbia; the electors officially elect the president and vice president.
Electoral College
One who casts his or her vote for a personal choice, even someone who was not on the ballot.
Faithless Elector
The situation in which elected officials are constantly engaged in a campaign; fund-raising for the next election begins as soon as one election is concluded.
Permanent Campaign
A term used in the media to refer to a president having clear directions from the voters to take a certain course of action.
Reform-minded journalists in the early twentieth century who exposed corruption in politics and worked to break the financial link between business and politicians.
A 1921 scandal in which President Warren HArding's secretary of the interior received large contributions from corporations that were then allowed to lease oil reserves.
Teapot Dome Scandal
Regulation of the overall amount of money that individuals and groups give to candidates.
Contribution Limits
Spending on political campaigns by groups not under the control of the candidates.
Independent Spending
The requirement of names of campaign donors be made public.
Public Disclosure
Created in 1975, the commission enforced federal laws on campaign financing.
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
Created to regulate campaign financing. It limited the amount of gifts and banned soft money contributions to the national parties but not to certain types of private groups.
McCain-Feingold Act
Contributions to national party committes that do not have to be reported to the federal government because they are used for voter registration drives, educating voters on the issues, and the like, rather than for a particular candidate.
Soft Money
A committee established by corporation, labor union, or interest group that raises money and contributes it to a political campaign.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
Tax-exempt groups, named after the provision in the tax code, that are organized to provide politically relevant advertising, usually with the aim of helping particular candidates or parties. Technically they are supposed to be independent but in reality
527 Groups
Practice of rewarding jobs to supporters.
Spoils System
Situations in which officials making decisions that directly affect their own personal livelihood or interest.
Conflicts of Interest
Using one's access to powerful people to make money.
Influence Peddling
Refers to both the area within the electoral boundaries and its residents.
435 seats are allocated to the states based on the latest census.
The process of redrawing the boundaries of congressional districts within a state to take account of population shifts.
The work of answering questions and doing personal favors for constituents who write or call for help.
Constituency Service/Casework
Funding for special projects, buildings, and other public works in the district or state of a member of Congress.
Pork Barrel
The leader and presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by the majority party.
Speaker of the House
The committee in the House of Representatives that sets the terms of debate on a bill.
Rules Committee
Meetings of members of political parties, often designed to select party nominees for office.
Party Caucus
The member of the majority party in the House of Representatives who is second in command to the Speaker.
Majority Leader
The leader of the minority party in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Minority Leader
Members of the House of Representatives who work to maintain party unity by keeping in contact with party members and attempting to win their support.
Permanent Congressional Committees
Standing Committees
The process in which a congressional subcommittee rewrites a bill after holding hearings on it.
Historically, the member of the majority party with the longest service on a committee became its chair.
Seniority Rule
Continuous speech made by one or more members to prevent the Senate from taking action on a bill.
A method of stopping a filibuster by limiting debate to only 20 or more hours; requires a vote of three-fifths of the members of the Senate.
A committee composed of members of both houses of congress that is formed to try to resolve the differences when the two houses pass different versions of the same bill.
Conference Committee
Congress's responsibility to make sure the bureaucracy is administering federal programs in accordance with congressional intent.
Acts that enable agencies and departments to operate, either by creating them or by authorizing their continuance.
Acts that give federal agencies the authority to spend the money allocated to them.
Unwritten customs that help keep Congress running smoothly by attempting to diminish friction and competition among the members.
Informal Norms
Groups of members of the House of Representatives who are united by some personal interest or characteristic.
Special Interest Caucus
Taking an issue debate to the public through media as Congress does when it televises floor debates and important hearings.
Going Public

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