Interest groups are organizations that share a common interest and aim to influence policymaking in favor of the said interest. Interest groups can represent both big corporations and public entities, such as unions or environmental organizations. They employ various techniques to influence the government to pass bills and legislation that would support the interest of the group they represent. Interest groups can help protesters or small activist groups to maximize their effectiveness by providing expertise and organization. Similarly, they can amplify the wealth of big corporations by creating laws that expand their influence and wealth.
Such groups employ lobbying as their primary strategy to influence American politics. Lobbyists meet with the members of congress face-to-face and try to persuade them to adopt legalization to support the interest they represent. Their actions can redirect funds towards a specific area, change tax rates, or legalize certain products. For instance, medical firms can employ an interest group to lobby in favor of increasing funds towards stem cell research (Berry, 2015). Similarly, religious organizations that consider stem cell research unethical can hire an interest group to lobby against this regulation. Additionally, interest groups act to affect public opinion, which puts pressure on politicians to pass or reject a particular bill (Berry, 2015). For instance, anti-abortion groups can frame their stance as “pro-life,” making their opposition appear “anti-life.”
Lobbyists can push the election of politicians who will directly serve the interests of a private party, by changing the law in their favor. Since anyone can hire an interest group, one could argue that parties with a higher socioeconomic status and wealth are more likely to employ their services (Berry, 2015). Large corporations with more abundant resources will arguably have more influence on American politics than small activists group. As a result, the interests of the lower socioeconomic class individuals will be less represented in society. While many interest groups aim to create equality and promote democratic principles, they can equally amplify the disparities between the American classes.
Berry, J. M. (2015). Lobbying for the People: The Political Behavior of Public Interest Groups. Princeton University Press.