Monday, April 12, 2010

Kernell: Going Public

Here is a quick summary of Kernell's book, Going Public

a. Kernell (2007) “Going Public”

i. A shift away from Neustadt’s bargaining focus to a more confrontational tactic – going public.

1. Still using same pluralist world view: competing factions mobilize and counter-mobilize, persuading and arguing until policy arrives at what the typical citizen would want.

ii. Going public: A strategy whereby a president promotes himself and his policies in Washington by appealing to the American public for support.

a. Also can be any political elite making a conscious appeal for support to their constituents.

b. Conflicts with bargaining because:

i. Includes fluff, not substance that is necessary for bargaining

ii. Doesn’t extend benefits for compliance, but imposes costs for noncompliance

iii. Entails posturing – which makes bargaining more difficult

iv. Undermines legitimacy of other politicians.

2. Use of this strategy is on the rise because of: institutional change

3. Can force a reluctant Congress to go along with a certain policy

a. Against Neustadt’s idea of a “bargaining president”

4. Change caused by changes to communication and transportation

5. Involves major and minor speeches, travel and appearances, and a conscious appeal to the public.

6. Uses the public opinion to influence other lawmakers (indirect lobbying).

iii. Institutional change which caused going public to be a strategy:

1. Move from institutional pluralism (where every Congressman has the institutions to back themselves up) to individual pluralism (decline of party system).

2. Traditionally politics in Washington were conducted in a system of mutually beneficial interactions and bargains. (Institutional pluralism)

a. Political elite were the decision makers

b. Coalitions shape the system and options available to presidents

iv. New Washington represents seniority, party system, and institutions are on the decline

1. Congressmen support themselves by gaining access to constituents.

2. Less interested in sacrificing short-term goals for long-run bargaining.

v. Constraints on going public:

1. It can politically embarrass the president if it fails

2. The message must be popular for this to have any effect

3. Message/ballot fatigue

4. Loss of flexibility (however Reagan often staked out a strong position and then caved in)

5. Should be last resort.

vi. Going public is on the rise because:

1. Bargaining between the executive and legislative branches has grown ineffective.

a. Since 1956 an increasingly divided government makes it harder to negotiate.

2. Presidents are nominated by general public and not political elites, so no longer beholden to party leadership.

3. Also technology has made it easier

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