Black Print: From TEXT

Blue Print: Definitions

Gitelson Chapter 8: Interest Groups

Interest Group: Or pressure group is and organization that seeks to influence what government decision-makers to adopt policies to benefit their members.

People with similar ideas join an interest group to pressure government to meet their demands. A party’s ultimate goal is to contest and win elections in order to control and operate government, their primary concern is to influence policy in their own area of interest. They also serve as an important link between their members and elected and appointed government officials.

Among interest groups: agriculture, business, education, labor unions and professions are most powerful types.

Agriculture: To encourage survival of viable rural communities for farmers and promote farm growth. American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) promotes quality of life and profitable farms and ranches, National Grange attract owners of medium/large farms who usually support the Republican Party. National Farmers Alliance (NFU), National Farmers Organizations (NFO), National Farmers Union (NFU) grow crops and these are for small farmers who are Democratic.

Farmers are a relatively strong economic force the contemporary American politics, as upwards of 20% of the work of agricultural interest groups is protection from fluctuating prices for meat, grain, and fruit, which affect the income of the groups’ members.

Business: American Bankers Association (ABA) lawyers bankers, Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) members are factory owners, US Chamber of Commerce provide help for small business owners; these groups are Republican.

Education: To improve the conditions of teaching and learning by enhancing the quality of education. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) trade union represents workers in education, health service and public service, California Federation of Teachers (CFT), United Teachers-Los Angeles (UTLA) they belong to AFL-CIO. California Teachers Association (CTA), National Education Association (NEA) to help all students achieve across the U.S. These groups are Democratic.

Labor Unions: These groups were formed to improve economic status and working conditions. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) rights of workers, individual labor unions also lobby independently of the umbrella groups. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) make sure every member gets a fair deal from the boss and politicians, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the United Farm Workers (UFW) was founded by Cesar E. Chavez. The groups are Democratic.

Professions: These concerns are with the advancement of knowledge and improvement of practices in their respective profession. American Bar Association (ABA) appear in court, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Accountants also calculate taxes, American Medical Association (AMA) Physicians prescribe medicine. Two of the most powerful, the American Bankers Association (ABA) and the Association the Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), have large lobbying budgets and maintain full-time staffs in Washington and in many state capitals. These groups are all Republican. American Nurses Association (ANA) assist Doctors are Democratic due to low wages.

Public interest groups: Citizen activist groups that try to represent what they deem to be the interests of the public at large.

Race, Ethnicity, National Origin and Religion: These groups were forms to protect against discrimination of race. Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Indian Movement (AIM), Christian Coalition founded by Pat Robertson gives Christians a voice in government, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League, Operation PUSH, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founder Martin Luther King protect religion freedom. These groups are Democratic.

Single-issue group: Any activist group that seeks to lobby Congress on a single or narrow range of issues.

These groups cover a wide variety of concerns such as drunk driving, pro-choice vs. pro-life, gun issues and animal rights activists. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) free speech, individual rights, and National Rifle Association (NRA) these groups are Republican. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founded by Candy Lightner alcohol concerns, Operation Rescue issues about abortion, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), National Organization for Women (NOW) favor rights for women to have abortions, Emily’s List founded by Ellen Malcolm help mobilize democratic women voters across the country. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS) founded by Ralph Nader, Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD).

Lobbyist: An individual who works for a specific interest group or who serves as the spokesperson for a specific set of interests.

Their techniques are: Contacting-with public officials through meetings, telephone calls, mail, fax and e-mail, Contributing to officials’ campaigns by funds and loans and volunteering, Gaining office-run for public office to have direct influence over legislation beneficial to their interest, Publicizing-during Senate and House floor action on a bill, lobbyists gather outside the chambers to keep a close watch on events and bring pressure if needed.

Political Action Committees: (PACs) Organizations set up solely for the purpose of contributing money to the campaigns of candidates who sympathize with particular goals. A PAC need not be affiliated with an interest group but can be unaffiliated, representing an ideological position or even a candidate or office holder.

PACs contributing to Congressional and Presidential Candidates:

IBEW-International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee of Political Education

AFSCME-American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

UAW-United Auto Workers-Voluntary Community Action Program

SEIU-Service Employees International Union Political Campaign Committee

UFCW-United Food and Commercial Workers, Active Ballot Club

Litigation, though it is expensive, can bring about remarkable political change. An outstanding example of the use of the courts is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1940s and 1950s. A major case was the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas where the NAACP lawyers (Thurgood Marshall) argued that school segregation was illegal in the United States. Courts ruled that discrimination on the basis of race was unconstitutional in determining the school one attended and separate schools were not equal.

Women’s groups, consumer groups, environmental groups, religious groups, and others have followed the lead of the civil rights movement in taking their causes to the courts. Corporations and trade associations have also engaged in litigation.

Coalition Building: The bringing together of diverse interest groups in a common lobbying effort.

Electioneering: Participating in the election process by providing services or raising campaign donations.

Hard-Line Tactics have been used by a number of interest groups, including civil disobedience and illegal action, to further their cause.