CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO

PPA 210:
Political Environment of Policy Making

Spring, 1999

Professor Ted Lascher
3035 Tahoe (Business) Building
278-4864 (voice, office)
278-6544 (fax, office)
(530)7588-5687 (home-- no calls after 8:00 p.m.)
tedl@csus.edu
liznted@juno.com
Meeting time and place:
Monday, 6-8:50
Tahoe (Business) 1027

Office hours: Monday 4-6 & by appointment

OVERVIEW

One of the recurring themes in American history is the desire to remove politics (that great beast!) from policy making. Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in the real world. In that environment, politics matters. Decision makers commonly hold different values and interests, and attempt to advance them through a variety of means (e.g., deployment of resources, advantageous issue framing, bargaining). Outcomes frequently reflect participants' skills, clout, etc.

This course asks students to embrace the notion that politics matters, and then go beyond that. My aim is to develop your ability to diagnose the political factors that affect outcomes. The ultimate goal is to improve your effectiveness in the policy arena.

In emphasizing politics, I do not wish to argue that substantive arguments about the merits of policy are irrelevant. Indeed, during the semester we will consider evidence that policy deliberation not only should matter but does matter in the real world. Yet it’s also crucial to understand how the political situation affects reasoning about the merits of policy choices.

This course focuses mainly (although not exclusively) on the development stage of the policy process, and particularly efforts to secure enactment of legislation. I find legislative battles especially useful for illustrating key analytical points. However, students should remain aware that politics enters other forums and stages, including policy implementation.

CONDUCT OF THE SEMINAR

The term "seminar" is accurate. Conventional lectures will be limited to those situations where lecturing is the most effective way to convey key information and arguments. Most classes will be discussion oriented. While I will guide the conversation, summarize points and draw lessons, the bulk of class time will be devoted to exchange about course topics.

Student participation is therefore not a luxury; it is essential to a successful course. I expect that students will come to class consistently, be prepared to discuss the week's readings, and be prepared to accept special in-class assignments such as leading a critique of a particular argument from the literature.

READINGS

All readings are available at the Hornet Bookstore. Most of the required readings are in a course packet. The packet contains articles and book chapters, as well as a number of case studies from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (KSG).

The following books are also required.

Stephen Ansolabehre, Roy Behr, and Shanto Iyengar, The Media Game: American Politics in the Television Age (New York: MacMillan, 1993)

Lydia Ch�vez, The Color Bind: California’s Battle to End Affirmative Action (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, 2nd edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1995)

ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING

There will be two short written assignments, an in-class mid-term examination, and a take-home final examination. The final examination will be based in part on "Auto Safety," the last case in your reading packet. Written assignment due dates are specified in the syllabus.

Course grades will be determined in accordance with the following weights:

Short written assignment #1 15%
Mid-term examination 20%
Short written assignment #2 15%
Final examination 30%
Class participation 20%

MAKE-UP ASSIGNMENTS AND MISSED CLASSES

Late assignments will not be accepted. At my discretion, a student who misses a deadline may be given a make-up assignment. Whether or not a penalty will be assessed depends on the reason (e.g., a family emergency constitutes a good reason; a competing requirement for another course does not).

You should inform me prior to class if you must miss class on a specific day. Except under very unusual circumstances, a student who misses three classes will be penalized one entire grade (e.g., a B+ for the course will become a C+), and a student who misses more than three classes will receive a failing grade.

DETAILED CLASS INFORMATION

I. THE POLITICS OF POLICY MAKING: AN OVERVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

A. INTRODUCTION: THE CONCEPT OF THE POLICY ENTREPRENEUR

February 1

Reading

"From Research to Policy: The Cigarette Excise Tax" (KSG case)

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did the work of Eugene Lewit and his colleagues have an influence on the policy process? What prevented their findings from being mired in obscurity?
  2. Who was (or who were) the entrepreneur(s) in this case, and why?

B. THE KINGDON FRAMEWORK

February 8

Reading

Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, chapters 1-6

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the distinction Kingdon draws between "conditions" and "problems?" Why is this distinction important?
  2. What is the "policy community?" How does that community influence the policy process?
  3. How do entrepreneurs push forward policy ideas?

February 15

Written assignment #1 due

Reading

Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, chapters 7-10

Discussion

Come to class prepared to discuss your assignment

II. WORKING THE PROBLEM STREAM: GETTING MEDIA ATTENTION

February 22

Readings

"The Voting Rights Act of 1965" (KSG case)

Ansolabehre, Behr, and Iyengar, The Media Game, chapters 1-3

Discussion Questions

  1. How and why were the media important with respect to the events at Selma? How did the way television news was organized affect what was reported?
  2. In general, what does the television news industry consider "news," and why?
  3. Does television news tend to be "biased" in its treatment of politicians? If so, how?

March 1

Readings

"Siege Mentality: ABC, the White House and the Iran Hostage Crisis," (KSG case)

Ansolabehre, Behr, and Iyengar, The Media Game, chapters 6, 7, 9, 12 (skim remainder)

Discussion Questions

  1. Whom was using whom in the "Siege Mentality" case?
  2. What are the consequences of heightened politician sensitivity to television coverage?
  3. What, if anything, should be done to change the relationship between television and politicians?

III. WORKING THE POLITICAL STREAM: OVERCOMING APATHY, GETTING PEOPLE MOBILIZED

A. ADDRESSING THE COLLECTIVE ACTION PROBLEM

March 8

Readings

Mancur Olson, "The Logic of Collective Action," in Pressure Groups (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 23-37

Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984), pp. 3-19

In-Class Exercise

The Collective Action Game

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the "collective action problem?" Why is it important?
  2. What is the prisoner's dilemma game? How does it relate to the collective action problem?
  3. How can the collective action problem be overcome?

B. MOBILIZING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION

March 15

Readings

"Blip on the Screen- or Wave of the Future? Electronic Democracy in Santa Monica" (KSG case)

Marshall Ganz, "Voters in the Crosshairs: How Technology and the Market are Destroying Politics," The American Prospect (Winter, 1994), pp. 100-109

Bruce Bimber, "The Internet and Political Transformation: Populism, Community, and Accelerated Pluralism," Polity 31 (1998), pp. 133-160

Discussion Questions

  1. Under what circumstances are ordinary people likely to participate in political decisions?
  2. How do "mobilizers" encourage citizen participation?
  3. Can "electronic democracy" encourage greater participation? If so, when, how, and by whom?

March 22- Special Class Time and Topic

Class meets: 4-5:30 p.m., University Union (room to be announced)

Topic: focusing events

Readings:

Thomas A. Birkland, "Focusing Events, Mobilization, and Agenda Setting," Journal of Public Policy, 18 (1998), pp. 53-74

Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, pp. 90-100 (review carefully)

Guest speaker: Tom Birkland, SUNY Albany

C. WHAT ISSUES MOVE THE MASS PUBLIC?

April 5 (no class March 29; spring break)

Mid-Term Exam During the First Half of Class

Reading

John R. Zaller, "Monica Lewinsky’s Contribution to Political Science," PS: Political Science and Politics 31 (1998), pp. 182-189

Discussion Question

What does the Lewinsky scandal suggest about what moves public opinion?

IV. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART ONE: BUILDING A

WINNING COALITION

April 12

Reading

Ch�vez, The Color Bind, skim chapters 1-2 and the afterward, read chapters 3-8 more carefully

Discussion Questions

  1. In the Proposition 209 campaign, how did each side believe it needed to frame the issue to be most successful? Why?
  2. To what extent did Proposition 209 serve as a good grass roots organizing tool? Why?
  3. How does a campaign to win an initiative contest differ from other types of political campaigns?

V. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART TWO: NEGOTIATIONS

A. SIMPLE NEGOTIATIONS

April 19

Readings

Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 21-46

Discussion Question

What does it take to achieve success in a two-party, zero sum negotiation?

In-Class Exercise

"The Salty Dog"

B. MORE COMPLEX NEGOTIATIONS

April 26

Readings

David Lax and James Sebenius, The Manager as Negotiator (New York: The Free Press, 1986), pp. 29-45

"MAPO-Administration Negotiation, General Information" (to be distributed prior to class)

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it take to be successful in a multi-party, non-zero sum negotiation?
  2. What lessons from the "Salty Dog" exercise are applicable to "MAPO?" What lessons are not applicable?

In-Class Exercise

"MAPO-Administration Negotiation"

VI. MOVING FROM AGENDA TO DECISION, PART THREE: DELIBERATION ON THE MERITS OF POLICY CHOICES

A. WHAT DO WE WANT FROM DELIBERATION?

May 3

Written assignment #2 due

Film

"Twelve Angry Men" (recent version; to be viewed prior to class)

Reading

Edward Lascher, "Assessing Legislative Deliberation: A Preface to Empirical Analysis," Legislative Studies Quarterly (Winter, 1996), pp. 501-519.

Jon Elster, "The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory," in Foundations of Social Choice Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Discussion Questions

  1. If the jurors in "Twelve Angry Men" made a "good decision," why did this happen?
  2. What exactly is "deliberation," and how would we know it when we saw it?
  3. Why should we care if policy makers deliberate?

B. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ACTUAL POLICY DELIBERATION?

May 10

Readings

"Against All Odds: The Campaign in Congress for Japanese-American Redress" (KSG case)

"California Welfare Reform" (KSG case)

Discussion Questions

  1. Why were the advocates of redress for Japanese-Americans able to overcome the odds and win a legislative victory?
  2. To the extent there was something compelling about the arguments used by redress advocates, what was it?
  3. In the welfare reform case, why did a period of negotiation follow a period in which Agnos and Swoap attempted to reach consensus about a desirable welfare reform plan?
  4. To what extent was it necessary for Agnos and Swoap to "leave town" to make progress? Why?

VII. WRAP-UP

May 17

Reading

Robert Reich, Locked in the Cabinet (New York: Knopf, 1997)

a. Discussion of sweatshops: pp. 269-270, 314-316
b. Interaction with Dick Morris: pp. 275-277

Discussion Questions

  1. How does Reich’s discussion of sweatshops illustrate course themes?
  2. What issues regarding the purposes of political entrepreneurship are raised by the interchange between Reich and Morris?

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