“While voting is the way that the most people participate in the political process, it’s hardly the only way,” wrote Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government Andrew Rudalevige in a recent contribution to the Monkey Cage, a political science blog published by The Washington Post.
Other ways of politically engaging include campaigning for a candidate, donating money, writing letters and attending meetings. This type of participation tends to be far higher in the US than in other countries, he added, which is why America has been described as a nation of joiners.
But are there potential downsides to this behavior? Rudalevige asked. “There are at least four times as many interest groups in Washington today as there were in the 1950s,” he pointed out. “Are all these interest groups a problem?”
Over the summer The Monkey Cage has been regularly publishing an episode per week of Founding Principles, a series of short videos presented by Rudalevige explaining how American government works. This episode—the tenth of fifteen—examines the role of the American citizenry in the political life of the nation outside of the ballot box.