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Friday, November 24, 2006


Political Map Response

It would seem from looking at the politics portion of the map that the nation is predominately Republican, with a huge concentration toward the center of the country. This would clearly show us that the Republican party has a more encompassing interest that the Democratic party. With such a large portion of the nation leaning toward the right side, this would lead us to wonder if the Republican party has to large of an encompassing interest. With to large of an encompassing interest, it becomes harder to continue to please the constituency because of the more varied interests. This could perhaps be part of the explanation of the recent fall of the Republican party in Congress. In The Logic of Collective Action, Olson explains the concept behind a large latent group. Olson explains to us that the larger a group gets, the harder it is to mobilize and organize the group. Therefore, the large latent group ends up being run by the very top or elite member of the organization who represent only a very small group of the true organization. And thus the organization ends up being run by individuals who may have a less encompassing interest. I think that the Republican party has become a large latent group that is run only by the top echelon of Republicans. Especially in the Congress this has become a problem. By having such a hard time mobilizing voters in the Senate and House races to vote, both parties have ended up with a large amount of incumbents whose interests slowly narrow over time. As the incumbents remain in Congress longer, they tend to represent more and more only their immediate constituency, leading to a very poorly organized and not very well represented party. I think part of this problem is due to the rational ignorance by the voters, especially in non-presidential elections. Most people tend to have the mind set of "Well I'm not any better or worse off with this guy in Congress, so we might as well keep him there." If this is the mind set that we as a country are going to take, then it seems that we are the only ones to blame for any dissatisfaction with whoever is in office. I think that the Republican party has become so focused on the war in Iraq that they are almost forgetting about the important issues here at home. I do realize that the war in Iraq and our poorly planned exit strategy are major contributing factors to the dissatisfaction with the Republican party, I however, believe that by becoming such an encompassing interest the Republican party has lost sight of any real goals and objectives for the future which has led to them losing control of Congress and quite possibly very soon the presidency as well.

I'm not sure I will go along with the idea of "too encompassing an interest." Although I do understand your suggestions that a larger group or organization faces difficulty in being managed.

Recall that Olson also discussed a strong party boss, and noted that this could be a good thing if the strong party boss represented an encompassing interest. Of course, there don't seem to be strong bosses in Congress these days.

Certainly rational ignorance opens the door for the leaders of any party in Congress to use the power of government in more ways for their own personal well-being. And, while this may well be part of the recent election, if the Republican party has a more encompassing interest than the Democrat party, perhaps we could expect to see the more encompassing interest pick policies to support that tended to advance economic prosperity more than a party with a less encompassing interest. Would you agree?
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