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Interest Groups are organizations that try to achieve at least some of their goals with government assistance. “In no country in the world has the principle.

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Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups are organizations that try to achieve at least some of their goals with government assistance. “In no country in the world has the principle."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interest Groups are organizations that try to achieve at least some of their goals with government assistance. “In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used or applied to a greater multiple of objects than in America.” -- Alexis do Tocqueville

2 To protect our government from the “mischiefs of factions” our Founding Fathers established separation of powers, checks and balances and a system of federalism Do special interest groups make government more responsive by giving people greater representation in the political process? Do they pose a threat to the well- being of the American political system? Or are they a valuable part of the American political system?

3 1.They raise awareness and they stimulate interest in public affairs by educating members and the public 2.They represent their membership, serving as a link between members and government 3.Provide information to government, especially data and testimony useful in making public policy 4.Provide channels for political participation that enable citizens to work together to achieve a common goal

4 Why do interest groups form? 1. Social & Economic Stress 2. Technological Changes 3. Government 4. Group Organizers Why do people join groups? 1. Political Goals4. Economic Reasons 2. Monetary Benefits5. Services Offered 3. Coercion6. Social Reasons Why might someone join the National Rifle Association? Why might someone join the National Education Association? In general, who is most likely to join a group? Why?

5 Why do interest groups form? Social and Economic Stress (Revolutionary War, Industrialization, Changes in Agriculture): greatest surge in group formation occurred between 1900—1920 as a result of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and the government response to them. Technological Changes (Railroads, Telegraph, Computers): such advances allow groups to better solicit funds and mobilize members. The Internet encouraged narrow interests to form groups, especially when a low budget was necessary or groups want to operate anonymously. Group Organizers: they gain experience and often become groups of their own Government: attempts by the government to deal with certain problems lead to oppositional groups. Plus, government helps fund some groups, especially non-profit organizations.

6 Why do Interest Groups form? Because members pay dues, providing groups with resources to accomplish their goals and enhance their influence with government, most groups provide a mix of benefits to maximize membership. Membership in groups have been in decline in recent decades (especially in churches, unions, the PTO). The affects revenue as well as the personal relationships necessary to facilitate discussions and trust among citizens (important to the success of government). Formal membership is decreasing but membership in mass organizations is increasing (aka “checkbook” organizations). People pay dues but do not interact with each other. Who joins Interest Groups? People with higher incomes and higher education are most likely to join. They can 1) afford the membership dues, 2) have the free time to take part, 3) have the social skills to participation, 4) have the intellectual ability to contribute, and 5) they appear more attractive to groups and, therefore, are more likely to be recruited.


8 Business: most numerous and among the most powerful interest groups in Washington; regardless of who controls the White House, business generally does well. Labor: Organized labor is the principal competitor with business but runs a distance second in influence; with more than 100 labor unions, the AFL-CIO is the most important politically. Agriculture: Agricultural interests are represented by general and specialized groups; most support subsidies to help farmers. Special interests (cattle, cotton, milt, tobacco, etc) are also represented. Special Interest Groups can be distinguished according to member- ship, organizational structure, and their goals. Private Interest Groups: seek economic benefits for their members or clients.

9 Women’s groups: National Organization for Women (NOW) began as a protest movement and is the largest women’s group with 250,000 members. Religious groups: The National Council of Churches has spoken out on civil rights, human rights and other social issues. Catholic groups have been active in anti-abortion and anti-nuclear movements. Jewish groups have been active in lobbying for the rights of workers and minorities. Racial and Ethnic groups: NAACP, Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and Urban League have pressed for equal rights for black Americans and eventually made major changes in the law. Other Types of Groups: Gays and Lesbians, Elderly and Environmental Public Interest Groups: Lobby for political and social causes (groups working for reasons other than personal of corporate). If they succeed, benefits are shared by non-members. Increased dramatically in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

10 Engage in private meetings with public officials to make known the interests of the lobbyist’s clients. They provide needed information to officials that these officials could not gain on their own. It is to their advantage to provide accurate information. Testify before congressional committees for or against proposed legislation Testify before executive rulemaking agencies for or against proposed rules. Assist in drafting prospective legislation or regulations (provide legal advice on the specific details of legislation). Provide political information to officials (how officials are going to vote). Supply nominations for federal appointments to the executive branch. Direct Technique: An interest group activity that involves personal interaction with government officials to further the group’s goals. Lobbying Techniques: Lobbyists engage in an array of activities to influence legislation and government policy:

11 The Ratings Game: SIGs select the votes on legislation that they feel are most important to the organization’s goals. Each legislator is given a score based on the percentage of time he/she voted in favor of the group’s position. Campaign Assistance: SIGs realize the greatest concern of most officials is to be reelected so they focus on campaign needs (money, workers, volunteers) and offer endorsements (i.e. PACs). Political Action Committee: A committee set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or special interest group. PAC’s raise and give campaign donations on behalf of the organizations they represent. Strategies of Interest Groups 1.Influencing Elections 2.Lobbying 3.Litigation 4.Going Public


13 Providing Expertise: All groups provide information but some have a reputation for providing information based on accurate information. This information is useful in drafting legislation Testifying at Hearings: This is designed to establish a group’s credentials as a “player” in a policy area as well as to convince its own members that it is doing its job. Testifying offers free publicity. Lobbying the Bureaucracy: Lobbyists must also influence the public officials who implement policy and influence who gets appointed to bureaucratic positions (direct lobbying) Lobbying the Courts: Some groups try to achieve their goals by getting involved in cases and persuading the courts to rule in their favor (especially groups that lack sufficient influence in the legislative or executive branch. Courts are used as delay tactics and to force negotiations between two parties (litigation lobbying). Giving Money: The primary way groups give money to legislators is through campaign contributions. Groups set up political action committees (PAC) to channel money to political candidates. Making Personal Contacts: Making personal contacts (formal or informal) is the most effective technique. Contacting key officials and their staff is critical (direct lobbying).

14 Generating Public Pressure: SIGs use advertise- ments in national press, they use television, mass mailings, the Internet, demonstrations and public opinion polls (grassroots lobbying). Using Constituents as Lobbyists: SIGs try to mobilize large numbers of constituents to write, phone or e-mail legislators/president (grassroots lobbying). Building Alliances: SIGs join with other groups concerned with the same legislation; allows for expenses to be shared while their influence is multiplied (coalition lobbying). Indirect Technique: A strategy employed by interest groups that uses third parties (i.e. general public or individuals) to influence government officials.

15 It emphasized public disclosure rather than regulation; It neglected to mention who would enforce its provisions. It defined lobbyist as any person or organization that received money to be used principally to influence legislation before Congress. Such persons were suppose to register 1) their clients, 2) the purpose of their efforts, and 3) report quarterly on activities. It was declared constitutional in 1956 (United States v. Harriss) – this law did not violate due process, freedom of speech, press or petition. Most lobbyists were not registered. There were no reporting requirements for lobbying the executive branch, federal agencies, the courts or congressional staff. Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946: First attempt by Congress to control lobbyists and their activities.

16 Lobbyists must register with the clerk of the House and the secretary of the Senate within 45 days of being hired or making first contact if the organization spends more than $20,000 in one year or to individual who are paid more than $5000 annually for their work. Semi-annual reports must disclose the general nature of the lobbying effort, specific issues, the estimated costs of the campaign, and a list of the branches of government contacted. Representatives of US-owned subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms and lawyers who represent foreign entities must register. The requirements exempt “grassroots” lobbying efforts and those of tax-exempt organizations (i.e. religious groups). A lobbyist is anyone who spends at least 20% of their time lobbying members of Congress, their staff or executive branch officials.

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