Interest Group: Influencing in Foreign Policy



The definition of interest group in US history narates as the organizationas that seek to influence the public policy in which many variety of organizations can be assumed as interest groups. Interest groups then defined as groups range from large, mass-membership organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), to labor unios, such as the United Auto Workers (UAW), to large corporations such as Exxon Mobile. Interest group activity is something in which they they engage in order to protect their primary activities, such as making and selling a product or service. Another distinction that can be made between interest groups that exist to promote a particular cause such as the National Rifle Association in which exists primarily to oppose gun control and interest groups such as corporations that may become involved in a wide range of pulic policies such as taxation, environmental protection, and trade policy that affects their interests.

Interest groups have been long thought to be central to American politics. The writers of Federalist Papers especially in Numbers 10 and 51 cast their arguments in favor of the Constitution in large part on how it would both facilitate and restrain interest-group activity. In the thought of American History, different types of interest groups have been brought to prominent as the products of socioeconomic changer, social movements, and government policies. For instance, the recurring economic crises of American agriculture from the alte nieteenth century onward prompted the creation of a succession of agricultural interest group: the Grange, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmer’s Union. The major social movements of the late twentieth century also left an impac in which civil rights groups came to prominence in the 1960’s, folowed by groups representing women (especially the National Organization for Women—NOW). Business interest groups, seeking to counter the influence of unions and public-interest groups, set the pace in terms of fund-raising and organization in the 1980’s and 1990s. While some of these interest groups have since seen their influence decline, all retain an important presence in American politics today. The interest-group landscape thus reflects a complex geology in which, different interest groups are created by a variety forces.

Interest groups have used a wide array of tactics over the yearrs, ranging from campaigning in elections to bribery. The most obvious tactics used today are lobbying and making campaign contribution. All major interest group such as the American Federation of Labor-Congress Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Business Roundtable, and individual companies such as Exxon Mobile or DuPont employ professionals whose job is to persuade legislators and executive-branch officials of the wisdom and justice of the group’s case. Most studies of lobbyist have condluded that the most effective lobbyist are those who have established with whom they deal[1].

In spite of the the ubiquity, a debate has raged throughout American history about whether interest groups are an aird or a barrier to the practice of democracy. Defenders of interest groups aregued that they are both a central aspect of democratic politics and an aid to good government. The Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to petition theri government and interest groups exists to do just that. The clash of interest between interest groups aids policymakers by prviding more and better information for making policy decisions. However, interest groups also have dominates a policy area to the disadvantage of the public as a whole. Second, it is feared that the interest group system distorts democary because the resources required to be effective attract members and money; the large corporations that they confront can easily command the resources they need to staf a Washington office for their lobbyist, to creat a PAC, or to make soft money contribution.


[1] Most lobbyists feel that they are more likely to gain a hearing for their arguments if their interest group makes campaign contributions to the politicians with whom they deal. Since 1974, campaign contributions made directly to candidates (known as hard money) must be made through Political Action Committee (PACs) that are linked to the interest group but legally separated from its general funds. Contributions are limited to a maximum of $5,000 for each election (primary and general) and must be reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC.) It was hoped that the combination of limiting contributions considerably and publicizing them would prevent abuses. In the late twentieth century, however, interest groups were allowed to make unlimited contributions through parties to candidates. This “soft money” could come directly from the interest group’s general funds and need not have been raised explicitly for political purposes.


About Renny Candradewi Puspitarini

Lecturer at Panca Marga University Faculty of Social Science and Political Science Department of Public Administration

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s