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What do Interest Groups Do?

To satisfy the principles of democracy, national or state level policies in the United States are to be based on what the citizens want. The reality shows something different. There is actually no way to comprehend the real opinion of all the citizens. The media and politicians try to rectify the situation by depending on the polls. Another balm is interest group. Don’t fall for this singular term. The truth is that they are many in number. Their core identity relies on the idea that they represent the citizens. With this in mind, they try to influence the policies. To some extent, they are powerful, but divided by their ideologies. Basically, they represent different sections of the country or society. Some of these sections are given below.

Corporate: For this, we have the business groups. Although it is possible for an interest group to work for a single business organization the ones who come from a single industry enjoy the most power. They have more money, skilled influential characters and strategies. The following are some of the businesses and industries having the most active interest groups:
Oil companies
Pharmaceutical
Automobile

Professional: This one has a wide variety of interest groups, for we have a wide variety of professions in the country. Their examples include:

  • American Medical Association
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • American Society of International Law

Labor: It has to do with labor unions. Its focus is rights of the workers. Examples coming under the labor group are:
Service Employees International Union
Public Employees Union
California Teachers Association

Officials from the government: They work as mostly lobbyists. They can be divided into:
Representatives of the states
US Conference of Mayors
National Governor’s Association

Public interest: This is connected to saving the health or rights of the public. The interest groups falling under it can have a variety of topics to focus on. Some examples of public interest groups are:
Greenpeace
US Public Interest Research Group
Consumer and Environmental Groups

Interest Groups are active almost in all the policy phases. Their activities can be slit in the following ways:

Conservation of the benefits: The main aim of an interest group is to make sure that they are not hurt by the policies.
Agenda setting: This is not the most important factor for the interest groups, but yes they can utilize it by either promoting or blocking a new agenda to be used for policy formulation. They also have the power to bring a unique one to the table.
Regulatory: Depending upon the ideology, an interest group here tries to either shrink or increase the size of a regulation. Some may even promote privatization of certain government programs. Generally, private businesses are most active here.
Election: Within this, the interest groups have the freedom to financially support their favorite candidates. They can donate money for the campaigns or do direct advertising. Some even promote voter registration.
Lobbying: Interest groups are typically popular for lobbying. The most general meaning of this is pleading. The word signals drama which is not so positive for a formal discussion. The game has to be played in the gentle manner. Another word used to explain lobbying is influencing the policy of the government. No matter how delicate this sounds, strategies used by some of the groups have been quite effective.
Those that are highly serious and financially secure have offices dedicated to lobbying. They can hire professional lobbyists to work on their behalves. They can pay the congressmen to do the same. Lobbying can also include influencing the judgement of the citizens with the aim to make them support or block a policy. Under this, the lobbyists usually can use advertisement or mails calling for action.

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