Today's Questions: What are interest groups and what is their influence on the American political process?
- amicus curiae briefs
- free riders
- influence peddling
- interest group
- non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
- think tanks
- Oftentimes, individual citizens and voters have a difficult time having their grievances heard and needs met in Washington. The good news for them is that there are many powerful interest groups that lobby on behalf of certain issues, interests, and demographics, not to mention corporations and industries.
- The bad news is that all of these interest groups are competing for attention and money in Washington, to resources that are certainly quite limited. What is more, the terms 'interest groups' and 'lobbyists,' for better or for worse, have become bad words to a lot of Americans, even though there are likely lobbyists working on behalf of issues important to those very citizens.
- in groups of 2, you will be assigned 2 particular interest groups to research (By numbering off, this is not complicated, figure it out).
- next, you will spend the entire class period finding important information about your group, using the organizer below. In addition to the direct websites for each group, explore opensecrets.org to explore this organization's breakdown of the influence lobbyists and money have on the electoral and political process.
- We will then share and discuss our findings and examine the impact, positive and negative, these groups might have on the political process.
First, the list of groups:
- American Association of Retired People (AARP)
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- American Conservative Union
- American Farm Bureau
- American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
- American Medical Association (AMA)
- Children's Defense Fund
- Christian Coalition
- Club for Growth
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Emily's List
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Family Research Council
- Handgun Control, Inc.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
- National Education Association (NEA)
- National Organization of Women (NOW)
- National Rifle Association (NRA)
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- Public Citizens
- Sierra Club
- United States Chamber of Commerce
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
activity part 2:
- Ever wonder why the government struggles with keeping spending under wraps? Read the excerpt below from Mario Cuomo on the power of interest groups and lobbying.