Expressing Opinions contacting government officials call e-mail fax write visit power in numbers become part of an interest group Interest Groups = organizations of people with common interests who try to influence government policies and decisions. (pressure group or lobby) Lobbyist = A person paid to represent an interest group’s viewpoint.
interest groups versus political parties both seek to influence government interest groups – more interested in influencing public policies political parties – more interested in electing candidates kinds of interest groups each group works to promote the interests of its members economic interest groups National Association of Manufacturers United Mine Workers of America American Farm Bureau Federation issue-oriented groups NAACP – works to promote racial equality NOW – seeks to protect the rights of women public interest groups promote the interests of the general public not just one part of it protect consumers, wildlife, and the environment Special Interest Groups business associationsveterans' organizations labor unionsteachers' associations farm organizationsconsumer groups
interest groups method of influence hire lobbyists to speak for them and to represent their interests lobbyists work at all levels of government most are located in Washington, D.C. highly skilled people with a staff of research assistants former members of the legislatures or public agencies lawyers, public-relations experts, journalists, or specialists in particular fields methods of influence present their group’s arguments to Congress argue in support of bills they favor and against bills they oppose ask members of Congress to sponsor bills favored by their group supply information for the bill and may help write the bill often contacted by government officials to learn what their groups think about issues affecting them supply information and help write bills testify and present evidence at committee hearings prepared with facts and well-developed arguments Influencing Government
interest groups place advertisements in the mass media in support of their positions billboards, TV and radio spots, newspapers, magazines, Internet develop websites and blogs to present their message utilize social media to connect to the public often promise to help government officials in their next election campaigns supply workers and contributions urge local groups and individuals to send letters and telegrams to public officials hope that public support will influence the lawmakers' decisions may use any legal means to influence public officials and the public itself Influencing the Public
Regulating Interest Groups tracking interest groups federal and state governments require lobbyists to register 1. must indicate for whom they are working 2. must report how much money they spend on their lobbying efforts Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 tightened regulations by closing many loopholes prevents groups from circumventing laws helps prevent corrupt activities criticisms of interest groups and lobbyists these groups play too great a role in the lawmaking process too much attention is paid to the interest group that is the most organized and best funded “money talks” some important interests do not always receive the same amount of attention from government officials importance of interest groups and lobbyists help citizens make their opinions known to government leaders