Progressing from previous writing, this review examines public opinion polls and other sources of information, emphasizing their relationship to citizen expectations. From this point, a review of interest groups positions is compared to citizen expectations. Finally, methods of incorporating stakeholders’ positions into public policy are reviewed.
Recently Team A looked at the policy-making process and how the United States Constitution, and the three branches of American government are the foundation of our policy making process. Many factors go into the policy making process and before the government can even debate a potential policy, an issue has to be approved. The free trade agreement has opened up foreign markets to United States exporters. Trade agreements reduce barriers to the United States exports and protect United States interest. Trade is essential to the United States economy with a large amount of imports and exports, the American people benefit by having the ability to purchase goods at an affordable price. Previously Team A looked at the policy making process, the stakeholders involved in the policy-making process, the free trade agreement, and its decision-making officials. This week’s review evaluates citizens expectations related to free trade agreements.
Interest Group Position and Citizen Expectations
Interest groups are groups of citizens that go to Capitol Hill and push their own agenda and outlook on policy issues. Interest groups influence the direction of the policy process. According to Theodoulou and Kofinis, “As pluralists would suggest, segments of the citizenry develop an interest and passion for a particular issue of concern, and the ability to associate and organize leads to an ability to influence the opinions and perceptions of others” (2004). This is what interest groups do, they represent the citizens. Citizens always have an expectation concerning any public policy. Then they join an interest group for their voices to be heard. Citizens Trade Campaign is a national coalition of families, farmers, laborers, and consumers opposing the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA). They are an interest group that allows citizens to voice their opinions to Congress about why they oppose free trade. The mission on the Office of the United States Trade Representative states “American trade policy works toward opening markets throughout the world to create new opportunities and higher living standards for families, farmers, manufacturers, workers, consumers, and businesses” (Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2012). This is exactly what citizens are expecting, for their economy to grow, for jobs to be created and kept in the United States. Some citizens believe free trade agreement are just a political way for politicians to promise other countries job growth within their country. Citizens have different expectations, and interest groups are just a way for citizens to voice their opinion to Congress. Citizens can join interest groups based on their beliefs and standards. As the majority of public policies are made based on the issues of the public, indicates that “The lack of participation within American politics has especially profound implications for the policy process. At a minimum, those who do not participate in the political process delegate their power over decision makers to those interest groups, political parties, government officials, and citizens who do actively participate” (Kofinis & Theodoulou, 2004). This statement gives a very clear view on how interest groups differ from citizens. Interest groups want their voices to be heard by Congress, and they understand the political policy making process. Citizens have expectations, and views but not enough citizens take part in the political process.
Analyze public opinion polls and other sources of information
As concerns of Free Trade continue to grow, the public has begun to reach for more relative information rather than believing solely what is shared by public leaders. Some of the public believe that much is left unsaid and more to share regarding free trade policies. There are many aspects of public policy-making with its foundation from the United States Constitution and includes the three branches of American government and other non-governmental participants. Not only is the Constitution the foundation for public policy making, it ensures policies will extend beyond the formal constitutional structure of government. Answering the questions of whether policies aid the public’s constitutional rights or hindering their rights as American. Public policies are put into place to protect and benefit the public.
Thanks to the Internet, public polls, interest groups, and other sources of information, research entailing free trade, what it has done and what it is doing to the national economy can be contrasted. The Internet has many sites supporting the benefits of free trade, aiding facts of survival in the economic issues of world that gives thanks to free trade. These types of articles, press releases, or discussions posted on The Charles Stewart University website for economics discusses the benefits of free trade, specifically it sets forth to prove principles of how free trade guides the work of people and stimulates economic growth. This site mentions how “international trade increases the size of a firm’s market, resulting in lower average cost and increased productivity, ultimately leading to increased production” (Edge, 2011). Initially, citizen expectations for free trade agreements was that of a better nation, factored by the support shown, Public opinion argues that the biggest gains in free trade comes to business owners and not the people or the national economy. This has weakened domestic economic stability because of the dependence of the trading partners, moving jobs overseas for production cost efficiency and better business opportunities presented by other countries.
Next interest groups, of which vary in interest deal with specific principles pressing important issues of particular groups views. The agricultural interest groups supported the idea of free trade to create a bilateral free trade with countries such as Israel, Canada, and Mexico. Their support lobby’s to help reform and release tariffs from partner countries to develop a stronger trade between what each country may need. The United States agricultural interest groups were very interested in gaining trade for the use of Mexico’s corn sector. Again, citizen expectations were to bring value to our company. Citizens argue the reason for the implementation of the trade supported by the interest groups dealt with the political gain of particular parties trying to move production to cheaper areas by promising jobs to the trading countries as well.
Medium Interest Group
According to Bonk, Griggs, and Tynes, “To help control the communications between the media information and the public a resource group known as Communications Consortium Media Center was founded in 1988 in response to the extraordinary, growing power of the media and the emerging communications technologies to shape public attitude and public policy” (1999). This group is thought of a medium to help explain pieces of policies that the citizens or others may not fully understand. Of the policies communicative descriptions, free trade was important because of the competitive opinions of need. This interest group seeks to give reason and facts to the public to use before passing opinions. The public figures recession examples of the problems in the United States of America has led to decreased demand for exports, leading to falling incomes, lower GDP, lower incomes, and rising unemployment, all in relation to free trade .
Public Opinion Polls
American citizens believed this agreement was good for relationships in the beginning with other countries, building valued rapport for the nation. However, citizens are beginning to change thoughts revealing that the trade leaves the Americans with less job opportunities and at the mercy of need from goods from other countries. The citizen opinion polls like ones found in the Huffington Post (Fletcer, 2011) detailed poll examples stating “public opinion certainly continues to turn against free trade: an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll in September 2010 found 53% of Americans believing free trade agreements hurt the U.S., with only 17% believing them beneficial. (The split had been 30% vs. 39% in the dot-com boom year of 1999) 86% named outsourcing to low-wage nations the key cause of America’s failure to emerge fully from recession and create jobs, significantly outranking choices like the federal deficit.”
Each public leader motions to continue free trade and often benchmarks the progress. The entire range of public policies and government programs are judged in terms of their efficiency and effectiveness (Theodoulou & Kofinis, 2004) so benchmarking is a valued way to compare such policies. The Free Trade Agreement has been one of the best ways for the United States to inaugurate trading barriers with foreign countries. Free trade has also established a more stable and secures relationship with the other countries involved; however, the citizens believe the original intent was used to leuer them in belief but the expectations have proven failures based on facts of the free trade.
Incorporating Positions into Public Policy
Once a problem or issue is on the public agenda, stakeholders’ interest becomes part of the policy-making process. This phase of the policy-making process has to do with the development of a solution that best fits the problem or issue and is politically acceptable. This is expressed by stating the best solution to a problem or issue often results from compromises and bantering between stakeholders where the best solution is sacrificed for an acceptable policy (Theodoulou & Kofinis, 2004, p. 131).
Depending on the type of stakeholder, the method used to influence decisions in the formulation and design phase of policy-making varies. Stakeholders generally can be grouped as internal or external to the decision making process. The first group includes institutional players, such as the executive branch of government, legislative branch of government, the federal courts system and bureaucrats. These are the policy-makers charged with the formulation and design of policies; the exception is the federal court that enforces constitutional law and judicial review of policies. This group is influenced by internal and external players. The second group includes the noninstitutional players, such as interest groups, lobbyists, the media, think tanks, and the public. The role this group of noninstitutional players is one of influencers of policy makers. With the mixture of stakeholders involved in the policy-making process, it can be seen how this process fast become very complex. Another aspect of the process has to do with the perspective each stakeholder brings to the process and how each individual and group of stakeholders influences the formulation and design of a policy.
When institutional players address problems and issues on the public agenda, emphasis is placed on developing a policy with an objective of resolving the problem or issue. As the process of formulation and design progresses, institutional player often enlist the knowledge and experience of other internal and external sources of information. Internal players are institutional players, enter the formulation and design process as a means of providing clarity to the problem or issue. Policy-makers also draw on the knowledge and experience of noninstitutional players, external players, for insight related to the problem or issue. Another aspect considered with enlisting the knowledge and experience of internal and external sources of information relates to these groups possible impact on the policy’s outcome. As a means of measuring the level of support for a solution, policy makers will utilize the media to inform the public of the intent of a proposal and to garner support for their position. As the policy-making process progresses and enters the policy adoption phase, this group interacts with other institutional players as a method of measuring both support and working toward a politically feasible policy. This interactive process, in the form of bargaining and bantering, involves debates and discussions between institutional players resulting in either a formed policy or no action being completed to resolve the problem or issue.
On the other hand, noninstitutional players, participate in the policy-making process during the adoption phase. For this group, their emphasis is to incorporate their positions into the proposed policy. To this end, noninstitutional player develop close associations with policy-makers as a means of pushing their positions forward, utilize the media to push their perspective and garner support of like–minded groups and individuals who can use their influence with policy-makers. Noninstitutional players also build coalitions as a means of increasing their influence with policy-makers. This method blends each individual or groups perspectives with the purpose of affecting the outcome by building a majority opinion.
In summary, the policy-making process has been reviewed in relationship to free trade and citizen expectations. Specifically, this review evaluated how public opinion polls and other sources of information relate to citizen expectations. Examined how free trade interest groups differ from citizen expectations. Finally, methods were presented on how stakeholders incorporate their positions into public policy.
Bonk, K., Griggs, H., & Tynes, E. (1999). The Josey-Bass guide to strategic communications. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database
Edge, K. (2011). Free trade advantages. Retrieved from http://hsc.csu.edu.au/economics/global_economy/tut7/Tutorial7.html
Fletcher, Ian. (2011, April 5). Why public support for free trade will collapse soon. The Huffington Post.
Office of the United States Trade Representative. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/biographies-key-officials
Theodoulou, S., & Kofinis, C. (2004). The art of the game: Understanding American public policy making. Belmont, CA: Thomson.