… It is certainly true that policies can become durable by building supportive clienteles. MIT political scientist Andrea Campbell has shown how Social Security transformed senior citizens into the most active participatory age group in American politics. As we argue in our recent essay in Perspectives on Politics, however, new programs do not create a new politics automatically. To generate a clientele that actively defends its benefits, programs must not only deliver resources, they must change the way recipient groups perceive their social identities and their relationship to the program. If voters don’t see a program as helping them, it is less likely they will storm the barricades when opponents try to take it away. CONT.
Eric M. Patashnik (U. of Virginia) & Julian E. Zelizer (Princeton), The Monkey Cage