Friday, April 25, 2014

Coalitions - Citizen's Guide to Politics


 (From: Rubin, Barry R.; “A Citizen’s Guide to Politics…” M.E.Sharpe)

p. 132:  “A coalition is an alliance, usually limited in time and purpose, between organizations with different agendas, working together for a common policy advocacy goal. The term coalition encompasses a great diversity of alliances formed to advance a shared public policy goal. Coalitions can be formal or informal, permanent or temporary….Coalitions can unite diverse civil rights or environmental groups as they formulate and advance complex, long-term agendas. Or they can provide a mechanism to coordinate short-term activities, such as opposing a Supreme Court nomination…or supporting the balanced budge amendments to the Constitution…”

“Networks often precede coalitions, just as individuals or organizations sharing information and common concerns may gradually coalesce into an association or organization – an interest group – designed to influence policy.”

“A coalition is an alliance between organizations, each of which brings its own agenda and decision-making processes to the coalition table. Since coalition members are organizations, not individuals, they do not have the same freedom of movement that individuals have. Interest groups that join coalitions must be sure that the coalition shares the fundamental goals of the organization and its members.…Coalitions are at the mercy of their members and can achieve only what the members permit them to achieve. Their only resources-people and money – are those that members provide.”

“Large, permanent coalitions, such as trade associations, have permanent staff, office space, and resources, all dedicated to achieving the coalition’s goals. Member organizations pay substantial dues to support the coalition and its infrastructure.”

“But most coalitions are ad hoc, voluntary assemblages of organizations, with little power to compel the member organizations to commit time and resources to the coalition or to fulfill their coalition commitments. They are usually staffed by ‘volunteers’ from the member organizations, some of whom may even be detailed to work exclusively on coalition projects.”

“The all coalitions are composed of different organizations with different agendas working together, there are numerous ways to organize and manage coalitions. The best coalitions are flexible enough to adapt to their members’ needs and the common goal that has brought them together…”

p.140:  “Coalitions begin with organizations whose issue agendas largely overlap. The initial recruitment process locates those whose agendas, while different, still show substantial areas of agreement. Finally, coalitions attempt to recruit organizations whose agendas rarely overlap with those of core coalition members. In some cases, core coalition members may even try to persuade other organizations to stretch their issue agendas to include the coalition’s issue.”

“Why would coalitions recruit so widely for allies, even going so far as to include organizations with whom they have never worked on any issue? Just imagine the reaction of a legislator who opens his office door only to find lobbyists on both sides of the abortion issue working together on another issue. ‘Unlikely alliances’ make decision makers and the public sit up and take notice: If people who disagree on so many things agree on this issue, then maybe there’s some merit in their position.”

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