Wednesday, July 18, 2012


           Whether interest groups are ideal or not, there is no doubt they have a profound influence on policy making and the government. There are theories about whether they all get an equal share from the government or if the rich and corporate interest groups have more of an advantage over policy making. Past politicians have stated that lobbying gets in their way of initiating successful decisions. The results of lobbying can either work in favor of the public (not excluding nature and animals) or for narrow interests that only benefit a small number of people.
            There are single-issue groups whose goal is to influence policy making in only a narrow issue. This consists of environmental groups and pro-life groups. For example, an environmental group like the National Wildlife Federation is probably against oil drilling in Alaska. They have succeeded in some ways because there have been no nuclear power plants since 1977. Public interest lobbies are another example of interest groups which strive to influence policy decisions that will benefit the public. Because of the activism of consumer groups, the Consumer Product Safety was created to regulate consumer products; this benefits everyone in the United States. There are other types of interest groups that seek to influence politicians to serve their economic interests. A company might disapprove of government regulations because it costs more money to ensure complete safety for its workers, so companies can lobby against a regulation policy. On the other side of the spectrum, labor unions might not be opposed to safety regulations, and they want higher wages. Perhaps the best-equipped of the bunch are rich corporations. Despite being rich, they want reduced taxes, greater profits, and are against policy making that can reduce their profits. Some of these rich interest groups spend millions a year lobbying. In contrast, there are interest groups that fight for equality. Equality interests range from gender equality to race equality. The National Organization for Women (NOW) and NAACP fight gender and race discrimination.
            There are quite a few maneuvers that can greatly influence policy making. Some think that these tactics are not devoid of corruption or unfair advantage. Political Action Committees (PACs) fund campaigns, which is a process of electioneering. Electioneering consists of members of PACs or other groups that aid candidates by funding money to them in an effort to serve their interests. Some candidates (especially losing candidates) might even feel obligated to serve the interests of groups that send money their way.
            Litigation is a strategy in which an interest group makes a case out of their interest and takes it to court. For instance, individuals can sue companies that dispose of toxic waste in their neighborhood because their health is at risk. A class action lawsuit can be done when a large group of people share the assertion that they were violated, oppressed, or afflicted by the defendant they wish to sue. All these concerns range from environmental health hazards to race discrimination; furthermore, the nature of these cases is usually to benefit the public or large group of people in some way. Going public is another attempt to grab the attention of the policymakers. To amplify their voice, they call for the public to resist or fight for a certain policy. If a large number of Americans or majority of the U.S. fight for a cause, politicians can be forced to cancel a policy because of immense pressure. Widening the amount of people who propose or are against a policy decision has proven to be a helpful asset.
            Some people feel that lobbying in general should be eliminated or scrutinized. The influential power lobbying has can induce a disastrous outcome of a policy decision or stimulate the government to formulate improvements in legislation. It can be hard for politicians to resist the temptation to receive funds from selfish interest groups, and sometimes there is no way to know whether or not a candidate runs for office solely for their own personal gain. However, the fact remains that most of the best legislative decisions throughout history—some of the most notable occurred during the Civil Rights era—were consequences of various interest groups.

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