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Interest Groups Chapter 11 Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy Fourteenth Edition.

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Presentation on theme: "Interest Groups Chapter 11 Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy Fourteenth Edition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interest Groups Chapter 11 Edwards, Wattenberg, and Lineberry Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy Fourteenth Edition

2 The Role of Interest Groups Interest group Interest group An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals Interest groups pursue their goals in many arenas. Interest groups pursue their goals in many arenas. Interest groups and political parties promote U.S. democracy by linking citizens to the political process. Interest groups are distinct from parties. Interest groups and political parties promote U.S. democracy by linking citizens to the political process. Interest groups are distinct from parties. Political parties fight election battles; interest groups do not field candidates for office but may choose sides. Political parties fight election battles; interest groups do not field candidates for office but may choose sides. Interest groups are policy specialists; political parties are policy generalists. Interest groups are policy specialists; political parties are policy generalists.

3 Theories of Interest Group Politics Pluralism and Group Theory Pluralism and Group Theory Groups provide a key link between the people and the government. Groups provide a key link between the people and the government. Groups compete and no one group will become too dominant. Groups compete and no one group will become too dominant. Groups play by the “rules of the game.” Groups play by the “rules of the game.” Groups weak in one resource may use another. Groups weak in one resource may use another. i.e. all legitimate groups can affect public policy. i.e. all legitimate groups can affect public policy. Lobbying is open to all so is not a problem. Lobbying is open to all so is not a problem.

4 Theories of Interest Group Politics: Pluralism Elites and the Denial of Pluralism Elites and the Denial of Pluralism Real power is held by the relatively few. Real power is held by the relatively few. The largest corporations hold the most power. The largest corporations hold the most power. Elite power is fortified by a system of interlocking and concentrated power centers of these corporations and other institutions. Elite power is fortified by a system of interlocking and concentrated power centers of these corporations and other institutions. Groups are unequal in power because elites prevail when it comes to big policy decisions. Groups are unequal in power because elites prevail when it comes to big policy decisions. Lobbying is a problem because it benefits the few at the expense of the many. Lobbying is a problem because it benefits the few at the expense of the many.

5 Theories of Interest Group Politics: Elitism

6 Theories of Interest Group Politics: Hyperpluralism Subgovernments Subgovernments Networks of groups that exercise a great deal of control over specific policy areas. Networks of groups that exercise a great deal of control over specific policy areas. Consist of interest groups, government agency, and congressional committees that handle particular policies Consist of interest groups, government agency, and congressional committees that handle particular policies Also known as iron triangles Also known as iron triangles The hyperpluralist critique The hyperpluralist critique Groups have become too powerful as the government tries to appease every interest. Groups have become too powerful as the government tries to appease every interest. Trying to please every group results in contradictory policies. Trying to please every group results in contradictory policies.

7 Why Join? 1. Solitary incentives—enjoyment, companionship Solitary incentives require organizations to structure themselves as coalitions of small local units Solitary incentives require organizations to structure themselves as coalitions of small local units Facilitated by the importance of local governments in the U.S. Facilitated by the importance of local governments in the U.S. Examples: League of Women Voters (LWV), NAACP, Rotary, Parent-Teacher Association, American Legion Examples: League of Women Voters (LWV), NAACP, Rotary, Parent-Teacher Association, American Legion 2. Material incentives—money, things, services Organization may also influence how laws are administered to bring benefits to members Organization may also influence how laws are administered to bring benefits to members Examples: farm organizations, AARP Examples: farm organizations, AARP 3. Purposive incentives—goal/purpose of the organization itself Though this group also benefits nonmembers, people join because: Though this group also benefits nonmembers, people join because: They are passionate about the goal(s) of the organization They are passionate about the goal(s) of the organization They have a strong sense of civic duty They have a strong sense of civic duty Cost of joining is minimal Cost of joining is minimal

8 Fundamental Goals of Interest Groups 1. Influence public policy 2. Influence Congress/government 3. Change laws

9 What Makes an Interest Group Successful?

10 The Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groups The Surprising Ineffectiveness of Large Groups Potential group: all the people who might be interest group members because they share a common interest Potential group: all the people who might be interest group members because they share a common interest Actual group: the part of the potential group consisting of members who actually join Actual group: the part of the potential group consisting of members who actually join Collective good: something of value that cannot be withheld from a group member Collective good: something of value that cannot be withheld from a group member Example? Example?

11 What Makes an Interest Group Successful? Free-Rider Problem Free-Rider Problem Some people don’t join interest groups because they benefit from the group’s activities without officially joining. Some people don’t join interest groups because they benefit from the group’s activities without officially joining. Bigger the group, larger the problem Bigger the group, larger the problem Large groups are difficult to organize Large groups are difficult to organize

12 What Makes an Interest Group Successful? 1. Small groups are better organized and more focused on the group’s goals. Multinational corporations are successful because there are few of them and, therefore, have an easier time organizing for political action. Multinational corporations are successful because there are few of them and, therefore, have an easier time organizing for political action. Consumer groups have a difficult time getting significant policy gains because the benefits are spread over the entire population. Consumer groups have a difficult time getting significant policy gains because the benefits are spread over the entire population. Public interest lobbies seek “a collective good, the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership activities of the organization.” Public interest lobbies seek “a collective good, the achievement of which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership activities of the organization.”

13 What Makes an Interest Group Successful?

14 2. Intensity Single-Issue groups: groups that focus on a narrow interest, dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics Single-Issue groups: groups that focus on a narrow interest, dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics Groups may focus on an emotional issue, providing them with a psychological advantage. Groups may focus on an emotional issue, providing them with a psychological advantage. Intensity encourages non-conventional means of participation, i.e.—protests Intensity encourages non-conventional means of participation, i.e.—protests

15 What Makes an Interest Group Successful? 3. Financial Resources Not all groups have equal amounts of money. Not all groups have equal amounts of money. Monetary donations usually translate into access to the politicians, such as a phone call, meeting, or support for policy. Monetary donations usually translate into access to the politicians, such as a phone call, meeting, or support for policy. Wealthier groups have more resources— and presumably more access—but they do not always win on policy. Wealthier groups have more resources— and presumably more access—but they do not always win on policy.

16 How Groups Try to Shape Policy 1. Lobbying “communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decisionmaker with the hope of influencing his decision” “communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decisionmaker with the hope of influencing his decision” Two basic types of lobbyists: Two basic types of lobbyists: Regular, paid employees of a group Regular, paid employees of a group Temporary hires Temporary hires

17 An obvious question… Where are most interest groups located? Where are most interest groups located? Washington D.C. Examples: environmentalists, nurses, automobile manufacturers, automobile assembly-line workers Examples: environmentalists, nurses, automobile manufacturers, automobile assembly-line workers

18 How Groups Try to Shape Policy Lobbyists: Lobbyists: are a source of information are a source of information help politicians plan political strategies for legislation help politicians plan political strategies for legislation help politicians plan political strategies for reelection campaigns help politicians plan political strategies for reelection campaigns are a source of ideas and innovations. are a source of ideas and innovations.

19 How Groups Try to Shape Policy 2. Campaign Contributions Otherwise known as “electioneering” Otherwise known as “electioneering” Groups can recruit/endorse candidates that will support their positions to run for public office Groups can recruit/endorse candidates that will support their positions to run for public office In many ways, groups speak for those who need representation or buy candidate support. In many ways, groups speak for those who need representation or buy candidate support. Provide testimony, and get members to work for candidates; some form PACs Provide testimony, and get members to work for candidates; some form PACs Political Action Committee (PAC): Political funding vehicles created by 1974 campaign finance reforms, PACs are used by interest groups to donate money to candidates. Political Action Committee (PAC): Political funding vehicles created by 1974 campaign finance reforms, PACs are used by interest groups to donate money to candidates. PACs help pay the bill for increasing campaign costs. PACs help pay the bill for increasing campaign costs. Most PAC money goes to incumbents. Most PAC money goes to incumbents. PAC spending makes up a higher percentage of congressional campaign funds than of presidential campaign funds. PAC spending makes up a higher percentage of congressional campaign funds than of presidential campaign funds. The amount of money that PAC’s can contribute directly to a candidate is limited by law. The amount of money that PAC’s can contribute directly to a candidate is limited by law.

20 “The Misplaced Obsession With Political Action Committees” by Sabato PAC’s are often the source of funding to provide a means of increasing the flow of information PAC’s are often the source of funding to provide a means of increasing the flow of information Facts and Myths Facts and Myths Myth- PAC’s are often portrayed as evil and corrupt. Myth- PAC’s are often portrayed as evil and corrupt. Fact- Many contributions before the 1970’s were more “disturbing and unsavory” Fact- Many contributions before the 1970’s were more “disturbing and unsavory” Fact- Independents and Political Parties contributed 3/5 in the House and ¾ in the Senate. Fact- Independents and Political Parties contributed 3/5 in the House and ¾ in the Senate. Myth- PAC’s have a bias towards the incumbent. Myth- PAC’s have a bias towards the incumbent. Fact- Bias is the same in ALL contributions Fact- Bias is the same in ALL contributions

21 “The Misplaced Obsession With Political Action Committees” by Sabato Myth- PAC’s “buy” the votes of the legislature. Myth- PAC’s “buy” the votes of the legislature. Conditions necessary for this to happen: Conditions necessary for this to happen: 1. Issue must be less visible 2. PAC’s are more influential when issue narrow, specialized, and unopposed by other PAC’s Fact- The most important factors for determining a representative’s vote is party, ideology, and constituents. Fact- The most important factors for determining a representative’s vote is party, ideology, and constituents. The goal of PAC’s are to elect candidates. Members aren’t likely to go against their district and will often forego PAC money if their vote is perceived as being “bought.” The goal of PAC’s are to elect candidates. Members aren’t likely to go against their district and will often forego PAC money if their vote is perceived as being “bought.” Madison thought that competing interest groups (factions) would preserve liberty assuming there are two checks: Madison thought that competing interest groups (factions) would preserve liberty assuming there are two checks: 1. Free elections with general suffrage 2. Political Parties

22 How Groups Try to Shape Policy 3. Litigation If an interest group fails in one arena, the courts may be able to provide a remedy. If an interest group fails in one arena, the courts may be able to provide a remedy. Interest groups can file amicus curiae briefs to influence a court’s decision. Interest groups can file amicus curiae briefs to influence a court’s decision. amicus curiae: briefs submitted by a “friend of the court” to raise additional points of view and present information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties amicus curiae: briefs submitted by a “friend of the court” to raise additional points of view and present information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties Class Action lawsuits permit a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similar situated. Class Action lawsuits permit a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similar situated.

23 How Groups Try to Shape Policy 4. Grassroots lobbying/Mass Mobilization Because public opinion makes its way to policymakers, groups primarily use the media: Because public opinion makes its way to policymakers, groups primarily use the media: cultivate a good public image to build a reservoir of goodwill with the public cultivate a good public image to build a reservoir of goodwill with the public use marketing strategies to influence public opinion of the group and its issues use marketing strategies to influence public opinion of the group and its issues advertise to motivate and inform the public about an issue advertise to motivate and inform the public about an issue

24 Narrowing it down… The two major ways interest groups achieve their goals is through: The two major ways interest groups achieve their goals is through: 1. Access to/influence policymakers 2. Have like-minded people/policy advocated in office.

25 The Interest Group Explosion

26 Periods of Rapid Growth 70 percent of Washington-based groups have established their D.C. office since the 1960s. 70 percent of Washington-based groups have established their D.C. office since the 1960s. 1770s—independence groups 1770s—independence groups 1830s, 1840s—religious associations, antislavery movement 1830s, 1840s—religious associations, antislavery movement 1860s—trade unions, Grange, fraternal organizations 1860s—trade unions, Grange, fraternal organizations 1880s, 1890s—business associations 1880s, 1890s—business associations 1900–1920—business and professional associations, charitable organizations 1900–1920—business and professional associations, charitable organizations 1960s—environmental, consumer, political reform organizations 1960s—environmental, consumer, political reform organizations

27 Types of Interest Groups 1. Economic Interests Labor Labor Agriculture Agriculture Business Business 2. Environmental Interests 3. Equality Interests 4. Consumer and Public Interest Lobbies Many interest groups are…ideological interest groups—appeal of coherent and, often, controversial principles Many interest groups are…ideological interest groups—appeal of coherent and, often, controversial principles

28 A few rules of thumb to keep in mind… Movement may spawn many organizations Movement may spawn many organizations Those in power will not inspire nearly as much participation as those out of power. Those in power will not inspire nearly as much participation as those out of power. More extreme organizations will be smaller and more activist More extreme organizations will be smaller and more activist Examples? Examples? More moderate organizations will be larger and less activist More moderate organizations will be larger and less activist

29 Understanding Interest Groups Interest Groups and Democracy Interest Groups and Democracy In The Federalist Papers, Madison expressed the view that factions are undesirable but inevitable in a free society. In The Federalist Papers, Madison expressed the view that factions are undesirable but inevitable in a free society. James Madison’s solution to the problems posed by interest groups was to create a wide-open system in which groups compete. James Madison’s solution to the problems posed by interest groups was to create a wide-open system in which groups compete. Pluralists believe that the public interest would prevail from this competition. Pluralists believe that the public interest would prevail from this competition. Elite theorists point to the proliferation of business PACs as evidence of interest group corruption. Elite theorists point to the proliferation of business PACs as evidence of interest group corruption. Hyperpluralists maintain that group influence has led to policy gridlock. Hyperpluralists maintain that group influence has led to policy gridlock.

30 Understanding Interest Groups Interest Groups and the Scope of Government Interest Groups and the Scope of Government Interest groups seek to maintain policies and programs that benefit them. Interest groups seek to maintain policies and programs that benefit them. Interest groups continue to pressure government to do more things. Interest groups continue to pressure government to do more things. As the government does more, does this cause the formation of more groups? As the government does more, does this cause the formation of more groups? ABSOLUTELY…The more activities government undertakes, the more interest groups form as a response to those activities. (1960’s) ABSOLUTELY…The more activities government undertakes, the more interest groups form as a response to those activities. (1960’s)

31 Summary Group theories: pluralism, elitism, and hyperpluralism Group theories: pluralism, elitism, and hyperpluralism A number of factors influence a group’s success, i.e., being small A number of factors influence a group’s success, i.e., being small Interest groups affect policy process through lobbying, electioneering, litigation, and going public. Interest groups affect policy process through lobbying, electioneering, litigation, and going public.


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