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INTEREST GROUPS - PowerPoint Powered By Docstoc

     Chapter 16
 O’Connor and Sabato
American Government:
Continuity and Change
In this chapter we will cover…
• What Are Interest Groups?
• The Roots and Development of American
  Interest Groups
• What Do Interest Groups Do?
• What Makes an Interest Group
 What Are Interest Groups?
• An Interest Group (special interests) is
  an organization of people with similar
  policy goals that tries to influence the
  political process to try to achieve those
• Interest groups try to influence every
  branch and every level of government.
   The Roots and Development
   of American Interest Groups
• Interest groups have been part of the American
  political landscape since the country’s founding.
• James Madison in Federalist #10 argued for a
  proliferation of groups so that no one group
  could get hegemony over the other groups.
• The open nature of the American government
  invites organized political participation.
   The Roots and Development of
     American Interest Groups
• National Groups Emerge (1830-80)
• Progressive Era (1890-1920)
   – Organized Labor – the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
   – Business and Trade Associations – The National Association
     of Manufacturers (NAM) (1895)
• The Rise of the Interest Group State (1960s and 1970s)
   – Religious and Ideological Groups
   – Business Groups, Trade, and Professional Associations
   – Organized Labor
What Do Interest Groups Do?
• The most common and effective interest
  group technique is lobbying or seeking to
  influence and persuade others to support
  your group's position.
• Lobbyists are hired by your college or
  university, businesses, foreign countries,
  trade associations, and anyone else wanting
  their voice heard on policy matters.
• A lobbyist is someone whose task it is to
  influence legislation or policymaking.
      Interest Groups Techniques
Direct Techniques:         Indirect Techniques:
• Lobbying                 • Generating Public
  – private meetings         Pressure
  – testifying               – groundswell of
  – drafting legislation       public pressure
  – social occasions         – using constituents
                               as Lobbyists
  – providing political
    information              – building alliances
                               with other groups
  – supplying nomination
            Honest Lobbyists
• A lobbyist must be honest and truthful if he or
  she wants to remain effective.
• Access to lawmakers is critical and if a lobbyist
  gains a reputation for being untruthful or
  disingenuous legislators’ doors will close.
• Of course lobbyists put their group’s position in
  a favorable light, but good lobbyists will also
  make lawmakers aware of the downsides of a
  bill and the arguments on the other side as well.
Top Lobbying Expenditures
      What Makes an Interest
       Group Successful?
In general three factors tend to lead to interest
    group success:
  1. Leaders – Having a prominent leader aids in the
     reputation of the group and enhances a group’s
     ability to attain its goals.
  2. Patrons and Funding – Funding is critical.
     Without money, it is difficult to get your message
  3. Members – A group must have members to be
     successful. Organizing members allows for
     strength in numbers and pooling of financial
Interest Group Ratings of Selected
       Member of Congress
         Pluralism and its Critics
• Pluralist theory       •   Three criticism of
                             pluralism are
  argues that interest
                             1. It gives short shrift to
  group activity brings         those who are not
  representation to all.        organized.
                             2. It fails to deal with the
• Interest groups               fact that some interests
                                have more power than
  compete and                   others.
  counterbalance one         3. It seems to leave no room
  another.                      for consideration of
                                transcendent national
   Hyperpluralist Theory
Hyperpluralists argue that when
 interest groups become so powerful
 that they dominate the political
 decision-making structures they
 render any consideration of the
 greater public interest impossible.
  Criticism of Interest Groups
Interest Groups have been criticized for
  – ignoring the wider interest of society
  – producing confusion and deadlock in
  – generating so much emotion that they
    make reasoned discussion difficult
  – having too much influence
Important Points to Think About
Interest Groups
  • promote interest in public affairs
  • provide useful information
  • serve as watchdogs
  • represent the interest of citizens

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