An interest group is a group that seeks a collective good, the achievement of
which will not selectively and materially benefit the membership or activists of the
organization. These organizations try to achieve at least some of their goals with
government assistance. The difference between interest groups and political parties is that political parties seek to constitute the government, whereas interest groups try only to influence it. Some of the things that interests groups seek from government are
information that affects the interests of the interest group, influence of the
government policy, goodwill of the administrators who carry out the policy, and symbolic
status. Some of the sources of interest group strength are the size of the interest group, cohesion between the members, geographical distribution, wealth of the members, status of the group, leadership of the group, and program compatibility. Some of the direct techniques for gaining influence are lobbying, private meetings, legislative committees, and bureaucracy. Some indirect techniques are grass roots lobbying, molding public and elite opinion, and coalition building.
Grass roots lobbying is when the constituency of an interest group-a group’s
members, those whom the group serves, friends and allies of the group, or simply those
who can be mobilized whether or not they have a connection to the group-can help in
promoting the group’s position to public officials.
Groups use public relations techniques to shape public opinion as well as the
opinions of policymakers. Ads in newspapers and magazines and on the radio and
television supply information, foster an image, and promote a particular policy. A tactic commonly used by interest groups to influence public opinion is rating members of
Congress. Groups choose a number of votes crucial to their concerns such as abortion,
conservation, or consumer affairs. They then publicize the votes to their members with
the ultimate objective of trying to defeat candidates who vote against their positions.
Coalition building is another form of an indirect lobbying technique. Coalitions
are networks or groups with similar concerns which help individual groups press their
demands. Coalitions demonstrate broad support for an issue and also take advantage of
the different strengths of groups.
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reduce the power of unions, and against the child-labor laws because they “encourage
idleness and juvenile delinquency”. Long after American involvement in Vietnam had
become unpopular in the USA, the AFBF supported aid for the people of Vietnam in their
defense of freedom. The AFBF has always advocated sharp reductions in farm-price
supports, arguing that farm-subsidy programs should be ended “as rapidly as possible”.
The AFBF produces reasoned arguments to support its policies. It contends that
artificially high prices kill demand. When the AFBF has secured a shift in government
policy in the direction it usually favors, of fewer controls and no subsidies, it succeeds not because of its own power or persuasiveness but because of the congruence between its views and those of Republican Secretaries of Agriculture.
In my opinion I think that interest groups detract from the democratic process. If a Congressman grants whatever the interest group wants, they will most of the time be
doing it for publicity. They will not be doing it because they really care they will only take the initiative to do it because they know that’s what people want to see.
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