American Interest Groups

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How do interest groups influence policy? Use examples to illustrate your answer.

“Interest groups are no less a threat than they are an expression of freedom” (Berry, 1984).

We start this essay with this famous quote from Berry introducing us to what exactly an interest group is. Indeed in general, public opinion and people unaware of an interest group’s actions might regard interest groups in a negative light. The more famous interest groups can tend to generate a lot of negative publicity. For instance, in the US one of the most famous interest groups is the National Rifle Association, which defends the right to bear weapons. This, of course, has led to controversy especially given the recent high school shootings in
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But interest groups do not have a real place in congress. For them to affect motions in congress they need to utilise their powers of persuasion to influence the right people.

So what characterises the force of an interest group? Let us examine quantity and quality. It is not so much the number of members that makes an interest group influential, like many generally accepted ideas, but more the quality of those members. To be influential, the members must be combative, certainly rich, and must definitely occupy key offices in society. But the best interest groups should have lot of members, as well as having rich and very active members.
If we look at history, particularly the nineteenth century, we can obviously say that bribing was one of the most used tactics. It was the fastest way to have decisions approved, but nowadays, it is very dangerous for interest groups to use any sort of sinister method. In general, the groups tend to abide by the law to give legitimacy to their claims. Moreover, with the 1995 Reforms, the Lobbying Disclosure Act allows congress to scrutinise the activities of interest groups and the interest groups must report all the information relating to their activities in a very clear and concise manner. But we will see later, that sometimes,
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