American National Government Today

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             Learning Objectives

 Define interest groups, explain why interest
  groups form, and describe their functions.
 Give three reasons why people participate in
  interest groups.
 Identify the major categories of interest groups,
  and name examples of the primary interest
  groups associated with the business,
  agricultural, and labor sectors.
             Learning Objectives

 Explain the significance of professional interest
  groups, public interest pressure groups, single-
  interest groups, environmental groups, and how
  foreign governments act as interest groups.
 Specify some of the factors that make an
  interest group powerful.
 Identify and explain the direct tactics used by
  interest groups, including lobbying, rating
  systems, building alliances, and campaign
             Learning Objectives

 Identify and explain the indirect tactics used by
  interest groups, including public pressure and
  using constituents as lobbyists.
 Describe benefits and drawbacks of
  unconventional tactics such as demonstrations
  and boycotts.
 Describe regulations on lobbyists in place today
  and explain why lobbying as an activity is so
  difficult to regulate within the U.S. political
 Interest Groups: A Natural Phenomena

 Americans have joined groups to influence
 government throughout our history.

 Interest groups often are spawned by mass
 social movements.

 The Constitution encourages Americans to form
 groups and to express their opinions to the
 government or to their elected representatives
 as members of a group.
  Why Do Americans Join Interest Groups?

Benefits of joining an interest group:

 Solidarity
 Material gain
 Purposive incentives
 Societal incentives
          Types of Interest Groups

Economic Interest Groups:

 Business
 Agricultural
 Labor
 Public Employee Unions
 Interest Groups of Professionals
 Unorganized Poor
Types of Interest Groups
Types of Interest Groups
Types of Interest Groups
Types of Interest Groups
         Types of Interest Groups

 Environmental Groups
 Public Interest Groups
 Single Issue Interest Groups
 Foreign Governments
  What Makes an Interest Group Powerful?

 Size
 Resources
 Leadership
 Cohesiveness
  What Makes an Interest Group Powerful?

 Interest Group Techniques: Direct

  Lobbying

  Publicizingratings of legislative behavior
  Building coalitions

  Providing campaign assistance
  What Makes an Interest Group Powerful?

 Lobbying
  Holding   private meetings with public officials
   where lobbyists often furnish needed information.
  Testifying before Congressional committees.

  Testifying before executive rule-making
  Assisting legislators or bureaucrats in drafting
   legislation or prospective regulations.
  What Makes an Interest Group Powerful?

 Lobbying (Continued)
  Inviting   legislators to social occasions.

  Providingpolitical information to legislators and
   other government officials.

  Supplying  nominations for federal appointments
   to the executive branch.
          Interest Group Strategies

 Strategies: Indirect
  Generating Public Pressure
  Using Constituents as Lobbyists
  Holding Marches or Rallies
  Promoting boycotts
            Regulating Lobbyists

The Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946):

 The Act was ineffective, however, as only full-
 time lobbyists had to register.
            Regulating Lobbyists

The Reforms of 1995: In 1995, Congress
overhauled the lobbying legislation. The new
legislation included the following provisions:
 A lobbyist is a person who spends 20 percent
  of the time or more lobbying Congress or the
  executive branch.
 Lobbyists who earn $5,000 or more must
  register within 45 days of making contact with a
  member of Congress.
              Regulating Lobbyists

 The Reforms of 1995 (Continued)
  Detailed reports must disclose the nature of the
   lobbying business twice a year.
  Subsidiaries of foreign companies based in the
   United States must register as lobbyists.
  Tax-exempt organizations and religious
   organizations are exempt from these
     Interest Groups and Representative

Interest Groups: Elitist or Pluralist?
 Existence of interest groups is an argument in
  favor of pluralism. However, they are often led
  by upper-class individuals, which argues for
  elite theory.

Interest Group Influence
 Even the most powerful groups do not always
  succeed in their demands.
                   Web Links

 Center for Responsive Politics: nonpartisan
 guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections
 and public policy with data derived from
 Federal Election Commission report:

 The Center for Public Integrity: nonprofit
 organization dedicated to producing original,
 responsible investigative journalism on issues
 of public concern; tracks lobbyists and their
 expenditures: .
  What If…Retired Government Employees
   Could Not Work for Interest Groups?

 Interest groups value lobbyists who “know their
 way around Washington,” and former
 government employees and elected officials
 can make effective lobbyists.

 While former government employees or
 representatives with expert knowledge can help
 clients with law making, they can also lobby for
 lucrative benefits for their clients.
  What If…Retired Government Employees
   Could Not Work for Interest Groups?

 A government career may be more attractive if
 it ends with a few years of highly paid,
 comfortable employment.

 Banning such employment might make
 government service less appealing to some,
 possibly resulting in fewer well-qualified
 individuals choosing to enter government and
 politics as a lifelong career.
          You Can Make a Difference:
            The Gun Control Issue

 Should possession of handguns be regulated
 or banned?

 There are 1 million gun incidents occurring in
 the United States each year—murders,
 suicides, assaults, accidents, and robberies in
 which guns are involved.
         You Can Make a Difference:
           The Gun Control Issue

 Research conducted by the National School
 Safety Center shows that more than 300
 students have died in school shootings in the
 past 15 years.
         You Can Make a Difference:
           The Gun Control Issue

What are the options?

 Be more aware of others’ behavior.
 Some want to carry concealed weapons.
 Some want a reinstatement of the Federal
 Assault Weapons Ban.
          You Can Make a Difference:
            The Gun Control Issue

 To find out more about the National Rifle
 Association and their positions:

 To learn about positions of gun-control
 advocates, contact the Brady Center to
 Prevent Gun Violence:

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