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Special interest groups have dominated government since the advent of
America's political system. Special interest groups or lobbies are collections
of individuals who join together to pursue common interests and to influence
the decisions on public policies. Many people view special interest groups as
an integral part of the political process, legitimized by the first amendment
of the Constitution. In that way, special interest groups are good. The point
that disgusts many people is that more often then not money overpowers the
right decision; that is why Big Business is a problem. The richer the
companies and organizations, the better chance they have to persuade the
In the United States alone there are thousands of special interest
groups working for their own cause. Some of the causes they are working for
are: business, banking, labor, environment, women, seniors, the economy, and
farming just to name a few. Some groups or businesses which partake in
lobbying are: N.O.W., Green Peace, AFL-CIO, Teamsters, Sierra Club, N.R.A.,
Tobacco industry and the ACLU. These groups often work at the national, state,
and local levels attempting to influence government policy. Many groups have
permanent offices in Washington DC. The primary goals of these groups are the
passing, blocking, or amending legislation to achieve a favorable ruling for
their own benefit. In Washington the groups primary targets are the House and
Senate sub-committees which are the key places where legislation is considered.
The groups often speak in front of Committee hearings to put their views on the
One of the most well known special interest group is the National Rifle
Association. This group has done tireless work in Washington trying to stop Gun
Control bills from passing in Congress. The worst blow that happened to the
NRA was the passing of the Brady Bill and the Assault Rifle Ban. The NRA
believes this is an infringement on the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Recently after a huge lobby in Washington, the NRA forced the Senate to have
another vote on the Assault Rifle ban. The way the NRA forces the senate is as
followed: the NRA gets together with some senators that they know want to
repeal the ban. The NRA gives money to the senators for their campaigns, etc.
The senators then persuade other senators and the NRA has them on their side as
well. When the NRA captures enough senators, it forces Congress to bring it to
the floor and debate about the issue. In this case, the NRA failed. However,
the NRA will continue to support the senators that are a help to the cause and
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Washington. All segments of business and industry have lobbyists. It seems
that private citizens are the only group on their own.
The lumber and paper industry is an important business to many people.
They too lobby in Washington to ensure that no restrictions are put on their
jobs. There is another group fighting against the lumber industry and that is
the environmentalists. The "Greens" feel that the loggers should not be
allowed to cut down as many trees as they do. These two groups confer with
senators at the state and national level trying to persuade them to their side.
However, the loggers' unions join the big companies to protect their jobs.
This is a very steep obstacle for the "Tree Huggers" to overcome. The lumber
industry wins due to the money they have at their disposal.
Political Action Committees are other groups which help in the
persuasion of Congressional people. PAC's are organizations established by
private groups to support a candidate for public office. "In 1971 PAC's became
increasingly popular because the ban on the use of corporate money to set up
PAC's was lifted"(Groliers "PAC"). PAC's contribute enormous amounts of money
into the campaigns for political candidates. The amounts are increasing every
year and it is a multi- million dollar business. Single Issue politics is also
a problem. This form of politics is quite popular these days, it is when
individuals or groups support or reject a candidate based on one view of a
certain issue. The types of issues include abortion and gun control to name
It is now a lot easier for the Special Interest Groups to persuade the
lawmakers. The spread of direct primaries, television-based campaigning, and
the decline of the traditional political party strengths has left many
legislatures vulnerable to special interest groups. The advances in technology
have strengthened these groups power since they can be heard by more people.
This access to mass medid also makes them more appealing to the candidates.
The amount of money spent through lobbying is outrageous. "In the first
half of 1996 lobby's spent at least $400 million dollars to influence the
federal government" ("Lobbyists"). "One of the largest spenders being Phillip
Morris which has spent an estimated $11.3 million dollars in the first
half"("Lobbyists"). This exorbitant amount of money being spent by one of the
largest tobacco companies can be attributed to the governments recent threats
made against the industry. Philip Morris is obviously trying to coheres anyone
into believing in their case.
Big Business seems to have dramatically impacted the political system
of this country. The United States is a country of equality and freedom of
speech. These lobbying groups hurt the integrity of what this country is all
about. We think of the United States as a country ruled by a democracy. The
lobbying groups view this country as their country, they tell the legislatures
to do something hand them a check the receiver will do what the group wants,
not what the people want. We do not elect Congress people to be puppets for
the rich businesses and groups who are self-centered and only care about
themselves. We elect them to do what is best for the public.
I believe there has to be a limit with what the lobbies can do
financially. I know there has been attempts made to control the groups but, it
is not enough. The United States needs to continue to give people equal say in
the laws which govern our society. Our lawmakers can not listen to the voice
of reason in one ear and hear the crinkling of money in the other and have to
make a decision. It is human nature to want money. It is sad but true for the
right price almost anyone can change there mind on something. The only way for
this equality to happen is to get rid of these special interest groups and
PAC's and lobbies. The answer is YES government is dominated by Big Business.
"Political Action Committee." The 1995 Groliers Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM.
"Lobbyists spent $400 million in first half of year." Portland Press Herald 23