Interest groups get their abilities to influence the political process because in some major ways, their opinions are even greater than the process itself. One such group, the National Committee for an Effective Congress, puts it this way: “For all intents and purposes, the Democratic and Republican parties don’t exist. There are only individuals and professionals”. In many ways this is very true in the eyes of the public.
Candidacy for President, for example, used to be all about running on a stable political platform. While to a certain extent it still is about that, these days it has become a lot more about personal image and name recognition. This is exactly why interest groups have become so powerful in the political sphere.
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The public’s eyes have been averted from the politics of the candidate himself in order to focus on campaign contributions and donations to different organizations. These organizations then, with their enormous power of public relations, reciprocate by openly supporting that candidate.
Businessmen are another case. David Vogel and Leonard Silk, a political scientist and New York Times business columnist conducted research on a meeting of American businessmen in the mid 70’s. Their documentation suggested that businessmen believe that the government has completely stopped paying any attention to them and in some cases directly harassing them, resulting in a lack of motivation to invest their capital. Much of this animosity stems from the New Deal and the social programs of the 1960’s. Their only outlet to make meaningful changes in politics, then, is to appeal to interest groups.
Over the years, interest groups have become something of a political substitute, as the different groups break down political issues into a more easily understood fragmentation. By paying attention to interest groups, people have a better understanding of the specific issues that those groups represent. Keeping one’s finger on the pulse of interest groups and paying attention to the information they provide, one could greatly decrease the amount of confusion notoriously generated by political debate. This is because one simply get the facts about certain political issues and are free to make up his/her own opinions regarding them. This observation carries with it implications that certainly influences the political process. Voting, for example, is greatly affected by this because voting in an intellectually honest way, requires making an informed decision. What better way of being informed than by listening to organizations whose purpose it is to collect, analyze and interpret the data, information and statistics of their interest? Collectively speaking, society as a whole will change its political behavior based on the source of information that it gets. The reason some interest groups today are more influential than others is because they may get the most support from its subscribers, members, contributions/external support, or sometimes even the government such as in the case of the New Deal program, which caused the government to strengthen certain interest groups. It can be deduced then, that the US has become a beacon for interest groups. It has gotten to the point that certain countries now have interest groups influencing the US government. It is a dangerous road that America has been on for a while, one which, if it continues to traverse, might leave it in the dust. (Domhoff, 1983)—————————————————————————–
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