An interest group



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Advanced Placement American Government and Politics

Chapter 11 Course Outline: “Interest Groups”


A. Interest Groups: An introduction
1. What is an interest group?




2. What are reasons why interest groups will be an important way for people to have their voices heard?




3. THEN: List the type of interest groups that emerged in our country’s history during the following periods.

1770s: 
1830s and 1840s: 


1860s: 
1880s and 1890s: 
4. During the first two decades of the 20th century, the best known and largest associations with an interest in national politics were formed.
5. NOW: What type of interest groups emerged in the 1960s?

a. Ralph Nader sponsored many of these groups in the 1970s and 1980s


6. What is a PAC?




7. How much did PACs increase from the 1970s to the 1990s?

8. Today, business interest groups are more prevalent than ideological interest groups


9. What is a lobbyist?

a. Lobbyists are listed in The Washington Directory so the government can better track their actions.


10. Over 3.5 billion dollars is spent on lobbying today; this figure is seven times greater than 25 years ago.
11. After reading the “How We Compare” section on page 272, explain four reasons why interest groups are more prevalent in the United States compared to Europe.





B. The Birth of Interest Groups


1. The following are four factors that help explain the rise of interest groups in the United States. Explain what each factor means (do your best to explain in your own words!!)
a. broad economic developments 

b. government policy 


c. organizational entrepreneurs 
d. The more government does the more interest groups will exist 
C. Kinds of Organizations
1. Two different kinds of interest groups exist: Institutional Interest Groups and Membership Interest Groups
2. Explain what is meant by an institutional interest group. List two examples of institutional interest groups.

3. Since individuals and groups working for other organizations (usually corporations) are paid so much, what is expected of them?



4. The text addresses how the diversity of a group can often impact the actions of the group. After reading about the American Cotton Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, explain how diversity within an interest group impacts interest groups actions.

5. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents thousands of different businesses in hundreds of different communities. The Chamber spends more money on lobbying than any other organization by far.



6. Besides businesses, what else do institutional interests represent?

7. Membership Interests: people must join an organization for some specific purpose.


8. Membership Interests: In a classic study, what did researchers discover when they asked nations what they would do to protest an unjust local government regulation? What does this discovery suggest about Americans?

9. Incentives to Join: Define incentive




10. Define solidary incentive:

a. solidary incentives are often big reasons why people join interest groups



b. Solidary incentives in action: The League of Women Voters, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) depend on local chapters to acquire members and money so nationally, the groups can exist.
11. Define material incentives:




12. What is the material incentive the following groups offer to members?

a. The Illinois Farm Bureau (and other state Farm Bureaus)

b. The American Association for Retired People (AARP)



13. Define purposive incentive:

a. interest groups with purposive incentives tend to form when a “hot issue” develops (unpopular war in Iraq): the interest group then often fades when the issue grows cold


14. Define ideological interest groups:




15. Define public-interest lobby (groups):




16. Ralph Nader has helped establish many liberal public interest groups. Explain how Ralph Nader acquired popularity and include the different groups he helped establish.

17. Conservatives, like the liberals, eventually adopted the public-interest organizational strategy.


18. What are the two kinds of public interest organizations that liberals and conservatives have formed?


19. Using page 278, explain what is meant by a “think tank” (PIRGS-Public interest research groups)


a. Examples of very powerful conservative think tanks: The CATO institute and the Heritage Foundation

b. liberals have their own think tanks, but they tend to be not as powerful


20. Using the “Public Interest Law Firm” section on page 277, explain the two ways public interest law firms work.

a. Liberal public interest law firm examples



(1) The ACLU The American Civil Liberties Union: work on cases pertaining to individuals whose civil liberties (protections Americans receive in the Constitution) are violated

(2) NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: work on cases pertaining to African Americans


b. Conservative public interest law firm examples

(1) The Center for Individual Rights: work on cases pertaining to reverse discrimination

(2) The Atlantic Legal Foundation: work on cases pertaining to free enterprise; often question government restrictions business experience
21. Since membership organizations (who are public interest groups) rely on purpose incentives, when are they more popular?




22. What do public interest groups do to “remain visible?”

23. When are public interest groups (or lobbies) more popular?




24. Using the “Research Frontiers” section on page 279, Explain the activities for each of the following powerful interest groups
a. (NRA) National Rifle Association
b. (AIPAC) The American Israel Public Affairs Committee
c. (AARP) The American Association for the Advancement of Colored People

25. How can the leadership of an organization’s actions reflect different priorities than most members of the organization?

D. Interest Groups and Social Movements


1. Define social movement:

i.e. the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the environmentalist movement of the 1970s



and the tea party movement in recent years
2. What causes a social movement to occur?

3. The Environmentalist Movement: What organizations developed in the 1890s, 1930s, and 1970s that represented environmentalist views?



4. How does an interest group’s size impact how radical or moderate a group tends to be?


5. How has the environmentalist movement become more fragmented?




6. The Feminist Movement: Various feminist movements have occurred in different decades (1830s, 1890s, 1920s, and 1960’s) These decades produced new feminist organizations to exist.
7. What was the purpose of the League of Women voters in 1920?

a. today they educate all people


8. Describe the three kinds of feminist interest groups that exist. Include examples for each type.
a. Those that rely on solidary incentives
b. those that attract purposive incentives
c. the caucus that takes on specific issues that have some material benefit to women. 

9. How can women’s groups oppose other women’s groups?

10. The Union Movement: When did the major union movement occur in the United States? Why was it so successful?



a. Union membership peaked in the 1940s but remained strong through the 1970s


11. Explain why the union movement has diminished since 1983.

12. Explain why unions will continue to persist.




13. What is the difference between unions in the ‘public sector’ vs. unions in the ‘private sector?’

14. What did Wisconsin and other states consider (and a couple have passed) that pertain to public-sector unions?




15. Despite union’s diminished power, what two unions have powerful PACs in the election process?


16. How do public interest groups budgets differ from institutional interest groups budgets (institutional groups like unions)


a. AFL-CIO: organization that lobbies the government for pro-union policy


17. How do (diverse) interest groups attempt to fund themselves?

18. National Education Association (NEA): Interest group that represents teachers unions: contributes to Democratic candidates:



a. has been more popular in recent years
19. Upper-Class Bias: Explain the two reasons why people believe interest groups have an “upper class bias.”




20. How did the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protect Act of 2010 limit business groups?




a. many business lobbyists attempted to block this act
21. Lobbyists in interest groups are often limited when seeking to benefit their group. Explain the following two reasons that limit lobbyists’ success

a. lobbyists are only certain inputs in the political system 


b. business-oriented interest groups are often divided among themselves 

22. How do conflicts exist within the upper-class?

a. some observers claim that this is evidence that an upper-class bias in organized interests is not as prevalent



E. The Activities of Interest Groups:

VERY IMPORTANT: Interest groups often mobilize big letter campaigns, state a protest demonstration, file a suit in federal court to block or create a government action, supply legislators with information, or supply information to the public regarding a government official or a proposed bill. Their primary purpose is to shape public policy.


1. Information: The single most important tactic interest groups use is providing credible information to the public or government. Why is information so important?

2. Although lobbyist information can be exaggerated, why is the information usually credible?




3. When is lobbyist information most valuable?

4. Lobbyists often take part in “client politics.”



a. Client politics: activities when an organized minority or interest group benefits at the public expense.

b. i.e. airline industries lobby a federal agency (The Civil Aeronautics Board) to develop policies that benefit the airlines

c. Radio and television organizations lobby a federal agency (The Federal Communication Commission (FCC)) to benefit their organizations

d. often evident through litigation: example – The NAACP files a lawsuit against a segregated school system on behalf of a family; the NAACP lobbies the courts to hear the case a court accepts the case and rules that desegregation must occur  everyone is affected when their school systems are changed


5. Define political cue:

6. When accessing political cues, what interests groups will Democrat Congressmen look towards when seeking perspective on an issue?



a. since Congressmen act this way, these interest groups’ lobbyists often work together through informal coalitions.


7. When accessing political cues, what interest groups will Republican Congressmen look towards when seeking perspective on an issue?

a. since Congressmen act this way, these interest groups’ lobbyists often work together through informal coalitions.



8. Define ratings




a. political cues are often revealed through the ratings that interest groups provide.

b. interest groups use ratings to show the public if a politician reflects the groups’ perspectives.


9. How does political information and political cues arrive in the offices of politicians at a faster rate than ever before?

10. Define earmark




a. example of client politics


11. What are two reasons why earmarks have been more evident since the 1970s?




12. Although many people feel earmarks are bad because they do not benefit most Americans and only help small groups, why do some people believe earmarks are favorable?

13. What does it mean when a government official tries to distinguish between a “good earmark” and a “bad earmark?”




14. Public Support: In the past, lobbyists were more inclined to use an insider strategy. Explain what is meant by an insider strategy.


15. More recently, lobbyists have turned to an outsider strategy. Explain what is meant by an outsider strategy.

16. When using the outsider strategy, grassroots lobbying is essential. Grassroots lobbying occurs when organizations contact individuals directly affected by a government policy and try to get that group to perform a specific political action.



a. modern technology (the internet, blackberries, iPhones, etc.) have allowed interest groups to mobilize people to support an agenda much faster than before.

17. What matters (or issues) do grassroots lobbying impact?

18. What type of interest groups do legislators typically listen to?




19. What kind of legislators or bureaucrats do lobbyists often “target”? How do lobbyists persuade these legislators or bureaucrats?


20. Often interest groups deliberately attack actual or potential allies in government in order to embarrass them so the interest groups’ cause can benefit.


21. Example of interest groups using grassroots techniques (grassroots lobbying): Explain how the Calorie Control Council used grassroots techniques.

22. Prior to 1973, interest groups often used money to buy influence in Congress. This changed when the Campaign Finance Reform Law was passed. What were the two effects the law had on interest groups?



23. PAC rules today: individuals cannot give more than $5,000 to a PAC per year, PAC’s: must have fifty members, must give to at least five federal candidates, and cannot give more than $5,000 to any one candidate per election

a. Consequence of PAC rules: more PACs!
24. PAC trends

a. Business PACS give more to Republicans than Democrats

b. Labor unions give more than 90% to Democrats

c. Ideological PAC's gives almost the same to Democrats and Republicans


25. What is a leadership PAC?




a. example: Team Majority – a leadership PAC to help fund Democratic candidates

26. What is a Super PAC?

a. example: American Crossroads: used to assist Republican candidates


27. Interpret, as best you can, the following quote: “The finest Congress that money can buy”




28. How has the increase in PACs caused a limit to the success of PACs?




29. Why do members of Congress develop their own PAC’s?

30. Who sponsors over half of all PAC’s?



31. Ideological PACs: a PAC organized around an idea, philosophy, issue, or political party, not a business. They do not give as much as business PACs, but they have grown faster than business PACs in recent years.

a. Ideological PAC’s raise more money than business or labor PAC’s but spend less because business PAC’s use the profits their organizations produce
32. Explain why many people believe that PAC money is not influencing government too much.




33. What was the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC)? What was a consequence of this decision?

34. How can money affect legislative behavior in ways that will not appear in studies of roll-call votes in Congress?



35. The “revolving door:” How is the federal government like a “revolving door?” How can this “revolving door” impact the influence interest groups have on the government?


36. How can “the revolving door” that was explained in the previous question cause the public interest to suffer?




a. laws exist to limit this issue, but the issue still exists


37. Describe how interest groups can impact the actions of a federal agency because the agency’s leaders may want a job with an interest group later.




38. Making trouble: Often interest groups will use civil disobedience tactics or intimidation tactics to disturb a section of society and to force people to listen or negotiate with their group

a. civil disobedience: disobeying unjust laws

b. civil disobedience examples: Sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement and Anti-abortion activists blocking the entrance of a Planned Parenthood Center

c. terror tactics: the KKK using intimidation and murder to advance their cause

d. “making trouble” is often an accepted interest group tactic
F. Regulating Interest Groups
1. What amendment protects interest group activity?


2. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995: What did the Lobbying Disclosure Act define as “a lobbyist?”


a. lobbyists include any groups that are paid to influence the decisions of the executive branch and congressional staffers as well as elected members of Congress



b. What did the act require Lobbyists to do?

3. Explain how registration and reporting requirements are limited



4. What regulations were passed in 2007 to limit lobbyist influence?

5. How does the government treat non-profit organizations differently from other organizations?




6. How can an interest group that is a non-profit organization lose its tax exempt status?

7. Congress has limited PAC contributions to $5,000 per candidate per election. How has this changed the way PAC’s contribute money?



G. Additional Supplemental Information (not in the textbook)


1. The Difference between interest groups and political parties

a. Fundamental goals of interest groups:

-- pass laws

-- influence Congress/government officials to act a certain way

-- change laws

b. Fundamental goals of polticial parties:

-- elect people

-- gain control in government

c. Usually interest groups represent a smaller portion of people than political parties
2. How do interest groups benefit political parties?

a. PAC donations

b. mobilize people to support a candidate

c. use the media to get a member elected


3. 527 groups: Issue groups not regulated by the FEC (Federal Election Commission) – indirectly support a candidate by supporting a position that a candidate stands for.
4. Interest groups are examples of linkage institutions.

a. linkage institutions: organization that connects the people with their government



b. other examples of linkage institutions: political parties and the media





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