A part of the “darker side” of Washington is considered by the American public as interest groups. Even James Madison described them in the federalist papers he wrote in 1787 as “factions” that could be dangerous. The modern day hasn’t changed much. People today largely agree with Madison in how they view interest groups. What interest groups do, how they are supported, and what their stances are an interesting mix of controversy, clash, and representation.
Interest groups are there to represent the people, usually a portion of the people. This representation stems from either a view point or stance for a plethora of issues. There are hundreds of different interest groups that represent view points from big business. Interest groups represent their portion of the public by lobbying congress.
Interest groups use lobbying as a way to influence congress. This process includes getting lobbyists or people who exemplify interest groups before the government. Usually lobbyists do this by educating the government about issues that their members are interested in. When the laws pass the lobbyists then educate their constituents on the issues that are passed. Although many members of the public believe that lobbyists bribe congressmen for votes, they are more involved in the information aspect of the policy making process. The passing of information to the law makers is the most important and time consuming part of the job. Lobbyists want the correct information given to lawmakers to make the important decisions. The majority of the time they try to persuade lawmakers that their data is more accurate than their opponent’s data. The methods lobbyists use to persuade law makers for decisions vary.
The first method that lobbyists use to persuade law makers is called direct lobbying. This method utilizes direct contact with the law maker to influence their decision; usually through a meeting with a congressmen or one of the congressmen’s assistants. The lobbyist does not directly day that the congressman should vote for the bill. They instead talk about how the public would benefit because of the passage of the bill. After meeting with the congressmen the lobbyists stay in contact with the congressmen. Another direct form of lobbying is when the lobbyists testify in a congressional hearing. This allows the lobbyists to express their facts to the congressmen so they are able to make better informed decision and puts their views on the record. The final direct tactic is using legal litigation to have the courts rule in favor of their views. These direct forms are able to get a lot done with direct contact with the law makers, but there are some tactics that don’t use direct contact.
Grassroots lobbying does not use direct contact with congressmen to get their message across. They instead use members of the interest group to write letter, protest, email, call, or fax their representative. The most common tactic is letter witting. Law makers are very sensitive to the mail that they receive so this technique can be quite effective. What this does is put pressure on the lawmakers to make decisions that favor the writers of the letters. This form of lobbying differs form of lobbying still has contact with congressmen but some tactics don’t.
A lobbying tactic that doesn’t involve direct contact with the law maker is an information campaign. This tactic has the lobbyist group bring the issue to the public’s attention. The main goal of this tactic is to gain the support of the public. The methods that are used in this form of lobbying are handing out informational packets, television and radio advertisement, and starting up websites. These tactics are all aimed at gaining the public’s attention and their support. This tactic is aimed at the public which can also be done with multiple organizational groups.
The final tactic that lobbyists use is that lobbyists try to band different organizational groups together to form a coalition....
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