Definition and Types of Interest Groups:
Interest groups are associations of people who share political or socio-economic goals with each other. They come together for one cause and seek to lobby members of legislature to be sympathetic to their purpose by contributing to their campaigns and political parties. They are of different types namely we have,
economic associations such as trade unions chambers of commerce etc
Professional associations such as those of doctors, lawyers etc
Public Interest groups (PIG) such as Friends of Environment etc
Special Interest groups (SIG) which are formed within a larger or main group focussing on a narrower focus of interest.
Functions of Interest Groups
The functions of interest groups are many and we will only view a few.
They represent the ideologies of a particular group of people towards a common goal.
They give the members representation in cases such as industrial cases where the workers are their members such as in trade unions.
They keep the members up-to-date with the current going on in their areas of speciality such as advancement of medicinal procedures for the doctors groups.
The interest groups get their political power mainly from having a wide base of members who are interested in looking out for their welfare and they therefore will contribute towards ensuring their needs are met. They then will present their suitable candidates with financial support when elections are held or contribute towards a political party that they may be favoured in terms of legislature.
They the interest groups are influential in California especially due to the heavy presence of professionals who vary in various fields of employment and have representation in professional bodies which give them a voice in the everyday affairs of the state.
The basic tactics interest groups have on their governments include raising funds for campaign rallies as well as political parties. They also present candidates of their choice when election time draws near that they may also have a say in the legislative processes of the country.
Interest groups do not threaten our state democracy government. They function as checkers and balancers that things and events may not go on the extreme side for their members. They also serve as a platform by which people share and express their views.
Definition of a political party:
A political party by definition is a political organization or movement that is set up by people who share the same views and opinions on how they should be governed and therefore set this party up with the goal of attaining and maintaining political power. This is done by taking part in activities such as protests, electoral campaigns among others.
The main function of political parties is to join people. People are brought together those who favour certain ideologies and opinions to others under one umbrella party. They then through this party are at liberty to express their opinions and views.
Goal formulation. When in government the party prepares policy that helps in the running of the government through election manifestos etc.
Representation. The party represents the country internationally and domestically. Through the leaders they present who are chosen by the people who vote for them they are the face of the country and its people.
Keeping the government in check. When the political party is not in power it keeps the current government in check by monitoring the policies and motions carried out by the government in place.
Types of Third Parties:
The term â€œthird partiesâ€ refers to parties other than the big two parties in the United States namely the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
There are several types of third parties mainly those with:
Large voter turn out: Constitution Party, Green Party, and Libertarian party.
Right wing parties. They advocate for positions associated with American conservatism including both old right and new right behaviours: America First Party, American Heritage Party, American Patriot Party etc
Centrist parties. Any party that is independent, populist or supports neither right nor left wing parties, or do not have a political platform. E.g. Centrist, Modern Whig etc
Left Wing parties. They are parties that support liberal, socialist, Marxist or communistic party platforms. E.g. World Socialist Party of the United States, Socialistic Equality party, Communist Party USA etc
These third parties have not been very successful considering they almost never send anyone into office. They are also blamed by the bigger parties for splitting the vote in the course of major elections giving them a bad reputation.
They however do have an effect on elections since they educate the voters on the smaller issues the bigger parties have forgotten, they split votes, they provide a platform for people who are not satisfied with the policies of the bigger parties to express them at the vote.
In California we have 6 political parties, the Democrats, Republican, American Independent, Green Party, Libertarian Party and Peace and Freedom party. Californiaâ€™s third parties are generally weak as they do not get people elected to office, they also do not have clear, identifiable leadership, and also they do not control the leadership process.
In Californian legislature these political third parties are not important considering they are not well represented in the houses. Currently only one seat is held by a member of the Independent Party and so influence is minimal.
Political parties are necessary in todayâ€™s politics as they provide a platform for democracy for the people to share their views and opinions.
The budget is asserted as being the most major central policy decision in the Californian government as it is meant to allocate funding to the various smaller governments as well as the state projects in the efforts of providing equal resources for its citizens.
Through the works of the Budget committee over a period of 18 months an extensive study is conducted so as to come up with a budget.
The process involves departmental budget creation, review within the department, forwarded to the department of finance, Governor on January 10 each year presents his/her budget proposal, senate and assembly budget committees debate the proposal,
They then review the budget bill, in the month of May the Governor publishes the reviewed budget bill, budget conference committee reviews what was presented by the Governor, trailer bills are assigned, and then finally the big five settle down and debate and come up with the final budget reading. These big five are the Governor, Senate President Pro-Tem, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the Assembly and the Assembly Minority Leader. (CCWRO, 2009)
Main sources of revenue for the state of California include;
taxes such as property tax, sales and use tax, business licences tax, etc
regulatory and user fees such as property related fees, user fees etc
rents for use of city property such as franchise fees etc
fines forfeitures and penalties following convictions
Main expenditure uses include;
public service improvements such as housing, taking care of the homeless
paying the civil servants who work in them such as the policemen and fire-fighters
maintenance of existing public areas such as transport systems etc
The purpose of trailer bills is to help in the implementation of the budget. They accompany the budget which will need changes in the law.
Some of the reforms made in the state of California that affect the budget preparation include;
Increase in the education budget. I support this reform as it reduces fees for the residents who are in the education system.
Reduction in the number of votes required to pass a budget. This reform I do not support as it will favour those only who share a common goal and not everyone in general.
Major factors contributing to the growth of the state budget include are;
Cater for the rising number of people who are migrating to the state
Need to provide adequate and reliable services to the residents of the state
Maintain and improve the current existing services being already offered.
Kinds of Local Government in California and their structure:
California has the following four types of government County government which is split into two namely the General Law County and the Charter Counties. Then we have the Municipal government and finally the township governments.
They come down in structure from:
State government then General Law counties then Charter counties then Municipal government and finally the township government.
These governments are structured in a way as to fit the needs the people of each area and region so as to ensure they are properly catered for and reached by the services provided for by the mainstream government.
Which ones are important?
I feel the governments we need the most are the Municipal and Township governments. The reason for this is that these kinds of government are better suited to address the immediate needs of the people who are within the area these governments will cover. Proper and adequate services are better obtained by the citizens of these areas.
Reforms I would implement on the local governments given the opportunity:
I would given the chance enforce the judiciary in a way to generalise and give equal representation to everyone in the state under the same kind of laws and not subject them to the many different offences listed under each kind of government.
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