The iron triangle is a term used by political scientists to describe the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, federal bureaucratic agencies and interest groups. The military-industrial complex is a prime example. This lesson is designed to give students insight into the policy-making process and think critically about the influence of non-elected officials.
Assign background reading from your textbook, or another appropriate source, for the previous night’s homework.
At the beginning of the class, view the following C-SPAN video clip and lead students in a lecture/discussion on the iron triangle.
The Iron Triangle (0:59) High school government teachers Andrew Conneen and Daniel Larsen discuss the makeup of the Iron Triangle.
Show students the C-SPAN video clips below illustrating the iron triangle of the military-industrial complex.
Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4 students each.
Model and distribute the Iron Triangle Handout to each group.
Instruct each group to research a specific iron triangle relationship using the C-SPAN Video Library. Some examples may include Social Security, Agriculture, Education, Gun Laws, and Banking Regulations.
Students will complete the handout and, using the guiding questions included below, present their findings to the class in the form of an oral presentation.