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Linkage institutions and political parties

Government and citizens connect through linkage institutions like elections, media, interest groups, and political parties. Parties play a key role by creating platforms, educating voters, recruiting candidates, managing campaigns, and influencing government operations. This interaction shapes our government's actions and policies.

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Video transcript

- [Instructor] In many videos, we have talked about the makeup of government, either the federal or the state level. We've talked about branches of government. We've talked about checks and balances. What we're gonna talk about in this video is how people interface with the government, and in particular, what are the channels that allow them to communicate their preferences? So this is the government here. And of course the government is made up of people in the various branches. But let's say this is all of us as citizens right over here. Now, we're always interfacing with the government, or we're always interfacing with something that the government does. When we pay our taxes, we are interfacing with the government. When we try to, when we renew our passport, we are interfacing with the government. But what are the ways that we can communicate our preferences? Well, one very obvious way is through elections. Obviously we can vote someone in, we can vote someone out. We can tell the government, are we happy with what they've been doing or are we not? What issues are important to us and which issues are not? Another institution that's considered a way to link the citizens or the people of a country with its government is the media. Is the media. And I'll actually draw a two-way arrow here, because it's a way for the government to communicate with everyone else, and it's also a way for views to be heard and amplified, which the government might take note of. And these things would influence each other. Obviously the media is capable of influencing elections. Now, another way is interest groups. Another thing that we have talked about in previous videos. So this is interest groups. And it could actually be a two-way arrow where... Let me write this down. Interest groups. And we could be talking about groups like AARP, the NAACP, or the NRA. People could be members of that or contribute to that interest group, and they are going to lobby the government, they're going to try to influence elections, they'll oftentimes participate in the media, and interest groups are also going the other way, where they're trying to get their members to go in one way or another, to adopt views of the interest group or maybe influence elections in ways that the interest group might like. The fourth major channel for the citizenry to have this connection with the government is through political parties. Political parties. And these four different ways of connecting the government with people, ways for the people to communicate their preferences to the government, these are often listed in government classes, and collectively, they're known as linkage institutions. Linkage institutions. And they're called that because they link people with their government. But what I'm gonna focus on in this video in particular are political parties and the roles that they play. And we're all familiar with political parties in the United States. The two major political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans. But what do they fundamentally do? How do they play this role as linkage institutions? Well, the parties will have their platforms, so each of your political parties will have a party platform. And I encourage you to do a web search for the party platform, the Democratic platform or the Republican platform. It's really interesting to read, especially when you see how 180 degree opposite the two different groups can have on some very similar issues. But it's a way of saying, what do they believe in? And once they articulate this platform, it can have multiple effects. It can influence the members of the party, because common citizens indeed do become affiliated with various parties. But it could also influence the politicians that are members of that party in government. So it can affect both of those. Related to this idea of a party platform influencing citizens is this idea of voter mobilization and education. With an upcoming election, they'll go to people who are either already members of the party, who affiliate with a party or might be sympathetic to a party, and say, look, here are the big issues that are going to be affected by this upcoming election. Don't you care about it? If you vote for the other person, these things are going to go against you. Let's educate you on our view of what is good for the local government, what is good for the state, what is good for the country. Political parties also do candidate recruitment. A purist view of parties is, look, they care about changing the agenda or preserving an agenda, and so it's really important for them to field candidates that are capable of representing that agenda and capable of winning. If they don't do that, the political parties will eventually become irrelevant because if they don't have actual people who win elections and get into government, well, they'll also probably start losing followers, because people don't like to be part of a party that really does not have much influence. And so political parties are always going out there and saying, okay, the opposition party has a candidate like this. Here are the big issues on the table. Let's see if we can get a candidate that can really take advantage of the circumstances in that region and has a high chance of winning while at the same time really representing what the party believes in. A fourth thing that parties will do, and this is related to candidate recruitment, is campaign management, where you will have professional political operatives associated with political parties, and they'll go from, they might be involved even in the candidate recruitment, but once they get those candidates, they'll say, hey, we're gonna help you win. Now, a fifth major function of political parties, at least in the United States, just as these arrows from the party platform to the general electorate, this is really, this right over here really is that voter mobilization and that voter education. This arrow right over here, where the party platform is influencing the government as it operates, a lot of this happens through the committee and party leadership system in legislatures. You have roles like majority party leader, majority party whip, minority party leader, and a lot of what they are doing is trying to take that party platform, what the party wants done, and make sure that all of these folks in government, who not, who, just like the citizenry, don't always believe the exact same thing. They might be representing very different regions. They might have different personal views. But to try to bring them in line with the party platform. And the idea is that if they unify around things and have a united front, that they're going to have more influence. Now, of course, that can sometimes go the other way, where both major parties are doing that, where it's all or nothing, you can get to a situation of gridlock, which we've talked about in other videos. But the big takeaway here, the common classification for the institutions that link the people to the government, linkage institutions, that allow individuals to communicate their preferences to policy-makers, are elections, the media, interest groups, and political parties. And political parties in particular. They have a platform. What do they represent? They mobilize and educate voters. They recruit candidates and manage their campaigns. And then once those candidates win, they have this leadership structure that tries to get them to be aligned, especially around that party platform.