Interest Groups Chapter 11
Characteristics Interest groups is a linkage group that is a public or private organization, affiliation, or committee Its goal is the dissemination (broadcast) of its membership’s viewpoint Result will be persuading public policymakers to respond to the group’s perspective
Characteristics Interest groups and political parties are both characterized by group identification and group affiliation. Differ in the fact that interest groups do not nominate candidates for political office. Their function is to influence officeholders rather than end up as elected officials.
Characteristics Interest groups provide a great deal of specialized information to legislators. Advocates claim they provide an additional check and balance. Critics say they are partly responsible for gridlock in government.
Characteristics Once formed, group has internal functions such as attracting and keeping a viable membership. Groups accomplish this by making promises that they will be able to succeed in their political goals (which will benefit political, economic, and social needs of its members). Example: People want stricter laws against drunk driving join Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), feel a political and social sense of accomplishment when federal law dictates a national minimum drinking age in return for federal aid to states for highway construction.
Vocabulary Campaign finance reform -Hyperpluralism Elite and class theory -Interest group Faction -Lobbyists Freedom of Information Act -PACs Hard money -Soft money
Group Theory Nature of group membership is not representative of the population as a whole The group theory of modern government encourages the development of special interest groups. Many groups have as their members people with higher income and education; balanced by groups that represent unions and blue collar
Group Theory 3 potential kinds of group activity (review): pluralist, hyperpluralist, and elite. Pluralism suggest a centrist position results because there is a more far-reaching and balancing group representation. Elite defines group behavior as deriving from an upper class (some interest groups are elitist in nature). Hyperpluralism is basically the same theory with different perspective. They believe the groups are too strong and they suppress the power of the government.
Historical background James Madison view (in No. 10) was that the development of factions was inevitable feature of society; fearful of their potential but they shouldn’t be abolished. Factions could be dangerous=Shay’s rebellion The fear and deep suspicion of special interest groups goes back to the early days of the republic
Mode of Operation Interest groups are categorized according to their function. They all have one common goal-to make their viewpoints part of the political agenda. Majority of large interest groups are headquartered in D.C., have budgets and staffs, lobbyists, separate PACs with well financed budgets
Mode of Operation Place their views on the political agenda through following techniques: -testifying at congressional hearings -contracting government officials directly -sending letters to their own membership -trying to influence the press -suggesting and supporting legislation -hiring lobbyists -endorsing candidates -making contributions through PACs to campaign committees
Mode of Operation All these groups and techniques have the potential of helping the legislative process (help inform office holders) Provide elected officials with a viable strategy and a base of support No hidden agendas; special interest groups place their goals on the table
Lobbyists Primary instruments for fostering a special interest group’s goals to the policymakers. Recently attracted negative publicity (taking unfair advantage of contacts) Can play positive role as specialists Lobby coalitions are formed when extremely important, such as healthcare reform, is under consideration.
Lobbyists May take legal action on behalf of interest group May provide rating of officials (ex: American conservative Union) Use media to push their viewpoints
Political Action Committees When interest groups get involved directly in political political process, it forms separate political action committees. PACs raise money from special interest constituents and donate hard and soft money to political parties and candidates
Political Action Committees PACs raise money from special interest group’s constituents and make contributions to campaigns Large PACs have a tremendous impact on local and national elections 1981-1982 $83.7 million; 1999-2000 $245.3 million
Top PAC contributions 2012 1.) National Assoc. of Realtors $3,960,282 2.) National Beer Wholesalers Assoc. $3,388,500 3.) Honeywell International $3,193,024 4.) Operating Engineers Union $3,186,387 5.) National Auto Dealers Assoc. $3,074,000 6.)International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $2,853,000 7.) American Bankers Assoc. $2,736,150 8.) AT&T Inc. $2,543,000
Reform Special interest groups such as Common Cause have been on the forefront calling for reform Want regulation of interest groups, lobbyists, and PACs Think these groups are dominated by rich and ignore needs of poor Majority of groups don’t cross the line; relatively few documented cases of outright corruption
Reform Federal law in this area goes back to progressive era (Congress passed legislation regulating contributions to campaigns) 2006 Democratic Congress passed lobby reform Lobbyists have to disclose how much money they contributed and raised for candidates
Reform Make illegal gifts that lobbyists could give to congressmen; required congressmen disclose on earmarks (money on specific projects) that they inserted in bills States passed individual laws regulating contributions to state elections
Reform 1971 and 1974 Federal Election Campaign Acts passed, brought biggest changes (covered previously) Placed limitations on the extent of contributions to presidential campaigns Act legitimized and increased number of interest groups (allowed set up of separated segregated funds)
Public Awareness Success and failure of interest groups, lobbyists, and PACs to achieve their goals depends, to a large extent, on their public image and their ultimate ability to influence the outcome of public policy.
Essay There are distinct differences in the roles that special interest groups, lobbyists, and political action committees play as linkage groups in the political process. Define the terms of special interest group, lobbyist, and political action committee. Give one example for each term you defined in (a) of the tactics used by each to accomplish their goals.