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Interest Groups How Interest Groups Work. Interest Groups  Generally employ 4 strategies for accomplishing their goals.

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Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups How Interest Groups Work. Interest Groups  Generally employ 4 strategies for accomplishing their goals."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interest Groups How Interest Groups Work

2 Interest Groups  Generally employ 4 strategies for accomplishing their goals

3 Interest Groups: Strategies  (1) lobbying  (2) electioneering  (3) litigation  (4) appealing to the public for support

4 Lobbying  Attempt to influence government policies

5 Lobbying  Term was originally used in the mid 17 th century to refer to a large room near the English House of Commons where people could plead their cases to members of Parliament

6 Lobbying  In the early U.S. history, lobbyists traditionally buttonholed members of Congress in the lobbies just outside the chambers of the House or Senate

7 Lobbying  In the 19 th century lobbyists were seen as vote buyers who used money to corrupt legislators

8 Lobbying  Today lobbying is regarded less negatively, but the old stereotypes still remain

9 Lobbying  Today, lobbyists influence lawmakers and agency bureaucrats in many different ways than cornering them outside their work places

10 Lobbying  Some of their activities include:  Contacting government officials by phone or letter

11 Lobbying  Meeting and socializing at conventions  Taking officials to lunch  Testifying at committee hearings

12 Lobbying  Members of Congress have learned to rely on lobbyists for information and advice on political strategy

13 How effective is lobbying?

14 Lobbying  Lobbying clearly works best on people already committed to the lobbyist’s point of view, so much of it directed at reinforcing & strengthening support

15 Electioneering  In order to accomplish their goals, interest groups need to get & keep people in office who support their cause

16 Electioneering  Another important part of the work that interest groups do

17 Electioneering  Many groups aid congressional candidates sympathetic to their interests by providing money for their political campaigns

18 Electioneering  Today PACs do most of the electioneering

19 Electioneering  As campaign costs have risen, PACs have helped pay the bills  About ½ of the members of the House of Rep get the majority of their campaign funds from PACs

20 Electioneering  PACs overwhelmingly support incumbents  Although.. they sometimes play it safe by contributing to the campaigns of challengers as well

21 Electioneering  Incumbents, however, have voting records to check & also are likely to be reelected  Most candidates, including incumbents, readily accept PAC money

22 Litigation  If interest groups cannot get what they want from Congress, they may sue businesses or federal government for action

23 Litigation  Environmental groups have used this tactic successfully to force businesses to follow government regulations

24 Litigation  Even the threat of lawsuits may force businesses to change their ways

25 Litigation  Lawsuits were used successfully during the 1950s civil rights groups

26 Litigation  Civil rights bills were stalled in Congress

27 Litigation  So...interest groups, such as the NAACP, turned to the courts to gain a forum for:  (1) desegregation  (2) equal housing  (3) labor market equality

28 Litigation  Influence groups may influence decisions by filling amicus curiae (“friends of the court”) brief

29 Litigation  Consist of written arguments submitted to the courts in support of one side of a case or the other

30 Litigation  In particularly controversial cases, many briefs may be filed on both sides of the issue

31 Litigation  For example: In the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke  Case challenged affirmative action programs as reverse discrimination

32 Litigation  Over a 100 different groups filed amicus briefings

33 Litigation  Groups may also file class action lawsuits  Enable a group of similar plaintiffs to combine their grievances into a single suit

34 Litigation  A famous example is: Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka in 1954

35 Litigation  Case not only represented Linda Brown in Topeka, Kansas, but several other children with similar situations around the country

36 Appealing to the Public  Interest groups may best influence policy making by carefully cultivating their public image

37 Appealing to the Public  Labor groups may want Americans to see them as hardworking men & women..  The backbone of the country

38 Appealing to the Public  Farmers may favor an image that represents old-fashioned values of working close to the earth in order to feed everyone else

39 Appealing to the Public  Groups that suffer adverse publicity often advertise to defend their products

40 Where Do Interest Groups Get Their Money?  Most interest groups have to work hard to raise money  But.. individual membership organizations have more trouble than most

41 Where Do Interest Groups Get Their Money?  In addition to dues collected from members, groups receive from 3 important sources:  (1) Foundation grants  (2) Federal grants  (3) Direct solicitation

42 Foundation Grants  Public interest groups particularly depend on foundation grants

43 Foundation Grants  Funds established usually by prominent families or corporations for philanthropy

44 Foundation Grants  Rockefeller Family Fund almost single-handedly supports the Environmental Defense Fund

45 Foundation Grants  Bill & Linda Gates Foundation supports many endeavors, including childhood immunizations, public education

46 Federal Grants  Grants that are not granted directly to organizations for lobbying purposes  But.. may be given to support a project an organization supports

47 Federal Grants  Reagan administration reduced grants to interest grants  Partly because much of the money was going to liberal causes

48 Direct Solicitation  Most groups rely heavily on direct mail to solicit funds

49 Direct Solicitation  By using computers, groups can target selected individuals identified by lists developed by staff or purchased from other groups

50 Direct Solicitation  Most groups maintain websites that encourage visitors to contribute to their causes

51 Effective Interest Groups  Many factors contribute to the success of an interest groups

52 Effective Interest Groups  (1) Size  (2) Intensity  (3) Financial resources

53 Revolving Door  Interest groups are often criticized for a type of interaction with government known as the “revolving door”

54 Revolving Door  Through this practice government officials—both Congress & executive agencies—quit their jobs to take positions as lobbyists or consultants to businesses

55 Revolving Door  Many people fear that the “revolving door” may give private interests unfair influence over government decisions

56 Revolving Door  For example: if a government official does a favor for a corporation because he/she is promised a job after leaving government, then the official is not acting for the good of the public

57 Revolving Door  How widespread is this practice?  Does it compromise the government’s ability to act only for the public good?

58 Revolving Door  The evidence is uncertain  There are high-profile cases of individuals who used their government position to leverage work in the private sector

59 Revolving Door  Businesses argue that former government officials seldom abuse their jobs while in office, and that there is nothing wrong with seeking advice form those who have been in government

60 Revolving Door  According to this point of view, former government officials should be able to use their expertise to gain employment in the private sector

61 Interest Groups  So, are interest groups contributors or distracters from the government process?

62 Interest Groups  Do they help or hind the government in making good decisions that benefit citizens of the country?

63 Interest Groups  Does our system of checks and balances work well in keeping the influence of particular groups in proportion to that of others?

64 Interest Groups  Whatever your point of view, it is clear that interest groups have had a long-lasting influence on the American political system  AND.. THEY SHOW NO SIGNS OF WEAKENING NOW OR IN THE NEAR FUTURE

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