SOC 2010 Lecture Notes - Mutual Assured Destruction, Aarp

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28 Jan 2013
Special Interests
Special Interest Groups a political alliance of people interested in some economic or social issue
(e.g., the NRA, AARP, AMA)
Political Action Committees (PAC) organizations formed by special interest groups, independent of
political parties, to pursue political aims by raising and spending money
• The U.S. principle of democracy is violated by the special interests, which by financial support of
political candidates attempt to deflect the political process for their own benefit. The existence of
lobbyists does not ensure that the national interest will be served or that the concerns of all groups will
be heard.
Voter Apathy in the US
- Compared to other industrialized countries, voter turnout rates in the U.S. are the lowest. There are
three major reasons:
1) Most American voters believe (correctly or incorrectly) that their vote does not count or matter; they
feel powerless to Political Action Committees.
2) There are two major political parties (republican and democratic) which represent a coalition of
interest groups.
3) Voluntary registration for voters and bureaucratic constraints involved in registration may turn away
many potential voters.
War and Peace
War is violent conflict among nations or organized groups; peace refers to the absence of violent
• Although people think of peace as the normal state of affairs, with wars breaking out from time to
time, wars have always been part of human history. Indeed, in its short history, the United States has
been involved in ten large-scale wars and many more minor conflicts (e.g., those in Grenada, Panama,
Somalia, and Bosnia). Globally, there has never been a point during the last century when nations were
not in conflict somewhere around the world.
• Although war is a common event in human history, the level of violence typical of wars has sharply
increased over time. In the twentieth century, weapons have become very lethal: machine guns
replaced single-shot rifles; new kinds of chemical weapons and explosive bombs have been developed;
and missiles can rain death and destruction on entire cities. Such armaments are called weapons of
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