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Interest Groups and Political Parties

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1 Interest Groups and Political Parties
Chapter 7 Interest Groups and Political Parties

2 What is an Interest Group?
an organized group of individuals who share common goals or objectives who attempt to influence policymakers in all three branches of government, and at all levels When a person contacts a representative about a proposed change in the law, that person is Lobbying, or attempting to influence, the government

3 What is a political party?
a group of activists who organize to win elections, to operate the government and to determine public policy Differences: Interest Groups sharpen the issues Political Parties blur the issues

4 Types of Interest Groups
Economic Interest Groups – groups formed to promote economic interests (These are among the major interest groups) Business Interest Groups – business and trade organizations that attempt to influence government policy to their benefit Agricultural Interest Groups- advocate for farm interests they enjoy disproportionate influence Labor Interest Groups – groups that represent the working class interests Public Employee Interest Groups – interest groups that represent employees of governments, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and teachers Public-sector unions are the fastest growing labor organizations Interest Groups of Professionals – interest groups that advocate for professional associations, like the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association

5 Types of Interest Groups (cont.)
Environmental Interests – groups that advocate for pro-environmental policies, including the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy Public Interest Groups – groups that advocate the interests of the collective, overall community It is hard to define because there are so many publics Common Cause – largest, to reorder national priorities toward “the public” Special, or Single-Issue Interest Groups – narrowly focused interest groups Examples include abortion interest groups and groups that advocate for individuals who share a racial, ethnic or age association AARP – The strongest lobbying group in the United States Foreign Govts. and private foreign interests have lobbyists (EU)

6 Interest Group Strategies
They try to cultivate long-term relationships with legislators and government officials. Direct Techniques Lobbying – meeting officials and attempting to convince of your position on an issue; Lobbying also entails testifying before congressional committees testifying before executive rulemaking agencies assisting in the drafting of legislation entertaining legislators providing information to legislators assisting in nominating individuals o government posts Ratings – scoring legislators based on their votes in congress, then making interested constituents aware of those scores Campaign Assistance – providing workers for political campaigns Political Action Committees –a committee that raises money and gives donation on behalf of organizations to political candidates or political parties.

7 Indirect Techniques Generating Public Pressure – trying to influence the government by using public opinion on an issue. The use of polling data Using Constituents as Lobbyists shotgun approach means having large numbers of constituents act in concert by writing, ing, phoning or sending postcards to a legislator rifle approach involves having an influential constituent contact a legislator on a particular issue Building Alliances – forming alliances with other diverse groups who share a policy goal

8 Attempts at Regulating Lobbyists
Lobbyist: Any person or organization that received money to be used principally to influence legislation before Congress (1946) Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 provided for public disclosure (“register”) failed because it did not have an enforcement mechanism United States v. Harriss (1954) confirmed the constitutionality of the Legislative Reorganization Act: “Influencing federal legislation directly” Some regulations on lobbying that passed in included: defining “lobbyist” as anyone who spends 20 percent of his/her time lobbying members of congress, congressional staffs, or executive branch officials requiring lobbyists to register with the Secretary of the House or clerk of the Senate requiring semiannual reports on the nature of lobbying activities

9 Functions of Political Parties in the United States
A group that seeks to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy Factions are subgroups within parties that try to obtain certain benefits for themselves Parties are permanent, factions are not. Parties do the following… Recruiting candidates for public office Organizing and running elections Voter registration drives, work at polls, campaign workers Presenting alternative policies to the electorate Accepting responsibility for operating the government Acting as the organized opposition to the party in power The “out” party is supposed to articulate its own policies and oppose the winning party when appropriate The party functions are usually carried out by a small “cadre” of party activists which is different from Europe’s mass-membership party organizations

10 Why Do We Have a Two-Party System?
It’s been around since the early 1800s… historical foundations of the system class politics sectional politics: East/West then North/South then Northeast/South and West then National Politics But, there has always been some form of class politics self-perpetuation of parties Political socialization commonality of views among Americans Shared beliefs, values and principles of our governmental system the winner-take all electoral (plurality) system This makes it tough for minor parties state and federal laws favoring the two party system Major parties need fewer signatures to place candidates on ballots Not eligible for federal matching funds for elections, debates

11 Minor or Third Parties in the United States
most successful minor parties have been splinter parties, parties that broke from a major party Examples on Page 175 Bull Moose Progressives of 1912 (from the Republicans) the American Independent Party of 1968 (from the Democrats) often, minor parties’ platforms are adopted by major parties sometimes minor party candidates can have an impact on the outcome of an election

12 Hot Links to Selected Internet Resources:


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