There is an old adeage that states there is power in numbers. Interest groups have mastered this theory in trying to influence politicians and the legislation politicians create. An interest group is an organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making public policy. (Wilson, 2009) Interest Groups have been involved in American Politics since 1700’s. But in the past forty years, the number of interest groups has risen greatly. Four reasons have been identified as the contribution factors in the creation of interest groups. Government policy is one of the factors contributing to the creation of interest group. Two examples would be the return of war veterans demanding benefits and certain professions that government regulate such as doctors and lawyers band together to make sure their interest in politics were heard. A second factor that led to the creation of interest groups was broad economic developments create new interest and redefining old ones. Railroads and mass production led to commerce in areas that farmers had no control over. By creating a group of people with like interests, a second pair of eyes was placed on your products to make sure all commerce operated smoothly. The third factor, and I think the most known, is the creation of interest groups as a result of a social movement. For example, interest groups for and against gay rights and interest groups for women’s rights. The last factor contributing to the creations of interest groups is as the government starts to undertake more activities, the more interest groups will appear to protect their interest. An example of this factor is illustrated well with abortion, pro-life and pro-choice. As the government discussed legislation to prevent abortion or partial birth abortion, interest groups from both sides have been involved.
There are several types of interest groups. The most common types are based on economics, social policy, public interest, and labor unions. Economic groups primarily focus on the economy with most of its members from business and trade association. Some examples of an economic interest group would include the National Association of Home Builders, and professional associations for lawyers, doctors, and dentists. The social party consists of groups that support a set of political beliefs or social beliefs. Examples from this category consist of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Rifle Association (NRA) and National Right to Life Committee. While some of the groups focus on one single issue, like NRA for gun rights and the NRLC for abortion, other groups like the ACLU are more general. Labor unions such a the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are union groups used for bargaining power against business and corporations. Lastly, the public interest groups are groups that exist for pursuing the public interest and promoting issues for general public concern. A few examples of public interest groups include Common Causes which seek campaign finance reform and Sierra Club, which is for protection of the environment. The relationship between interest groups and political parties is quite simple. Interest groups are policy makers. Congress creates the majority of the laws and bills that are passed each year in the US government. Interest groups want as many congressmen on their side in hopes their interest is represented in new policies or by keeping the current policy in place. The political cartoon shown to the right illustrates what most people believe. The only role for interest groups is to fund a politician campaign account. While this is not the principle function of an interest group, it is an important aspect. Relationship between interest groups and politicians cannot be discussed without introducing the term PAC, political action committee. While PAC can be independent, most are affiliated with existing interest groups....
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Mott, Jonathan Ph.D. (2010). Interest Groups. ThisNation.com. Retrieved from http://www.thisnation.com/textbook/participants-groups.html
Twyman, Debbie & Whitney, Craig. (2009) The American Citizen Interest Groups in American Politics. Retrieved from http://www.twyman-whitney.com/americancitizen/links/lobbies.htm
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2011). Interest Groups [Data file]. Retrieved from http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/gov_relations/oirpublicinterestgroup
Wilson, James Q. (2009) American Government. United States. Cenage Learning
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