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Interest Groups Impact on Politics

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Essay title: Interest Groups Impact on Politics

Interest Group is defined as "an organized body of individuals who try to influence public policy." This system is designed so that interest groups would be an instrument of public influence on politics to create changes, but would not threaten the government much. Whether this is still the case or not is an important question that we must find out. Interest groups play many different roles in the American political system, such as representation, participation, education, and program monitoring. Representation is the function that we see most often and the function we automatically think of when we think of interest groups. Participation is another role that interest groups play in our government, which is when they facilitate and encourage the participation of their members in the political process. Interest groups also educate, by trying to inform both public officials and the public at large about matters of importance to them. Lobby groups also keep track of how programs are working in the field and try to persuade government to take action when problems become evident when they monitor programs. The traditional interest groups have been organized around some form of economic cause, be it corporate interests, associates, or unions. The number of business oriented lobbies has grown since the 1960s and continues to grow. Public-interest groups have also grown enormously since the 1960s. Liberal groups started the trend, but conservative groups are now just as common, although some groups are better represented through interest groups than others are. There are many ways that the groups can influence politics too. The increase in interest group activity has fragmented the political debate into little pockets of debates and have served to further erode the (Page: 2)

power of political parties, who try to make broad based appeals. PACs also give money to incumbents, which means that incumbents can accumulate large reelection campaign funds, that in result, discourages potential challengers. As a result, most incumbents win, not because they outspend their challengers, but because they keep good potential opponents out of the race. Conservatives are one of the big groups that influence politics and for many reasons.

Conservative thinking has not only claimed the presidency; it has spread throughout our political and intellectual life and stands poised to become the dominant strain in American public policy. While the political ascent of conservatism has taken place in full public view, the intellectual transformation has for the most part occurred behind the scenes, in a network of think tanks whose efforts have been influential to an extent that only five years after President Reagan's election, begins to be clear.

Conservative think tanks and similar organizations have flourished since the mid-1970s. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) had twelve resident thinkers when Jimmy Carter was elected; today it has forty-five, and a total staff of nearly 150. The Heritage Foundation has sprung from nothing to command an annual budget of $11 million. The budget of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has grown from $975,000 ten years ago to $8.6 million today. Over a somewhat longer period the endowment of the Hoover Institution has increased from $2 million to $70 million. At least (Page: 3)

twenty-five other noteworthy public-policy groups have been formed or dramatically expanded through the decade; nearly all are anti-liberal.

No other country accords such significance to private institutions designed to influence public decisions. Brookings, began in the 1920s with money from the industrialist Robert S. Brookings, a Renaissance man who aspired to bring discipline of economics to Washington. During the New Deal the Brookings Institution was marked-oriented--for example, it opposed Roosevelt's central planning agency, the National Resources Planning Board. Only much later did the institution acquire a reputation as the head of liberalism.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, as Americans enjoyed steady increases in their

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