Special Interest Groups: Political Action Committees

A look at the phenomenon of Political Action Committees in America.

The paper discusses how Political Action Committees (PACs) have been part of the political landscape in the United States for many years. The paper explains that in essence, a PAC is a group of people who have come together to raise money for a political cause, which can include support for single issues, candidates or political parties. The paper considers the criticisms of PACs and discusses how PAC contributions do provide donors with critical access and influence; they do affect legislative decisions and are increasingly dominating and paralyzing the legislative process.
“Special interest groups have dominated government since the advent of America’s political system. Special interest groups or lobbies are collections of individuals who join together to pursue common interests and to influence the decisions on public policies. Many people view special interest groups as an integral part of the political process, legitimized by the first amendment of the Constitution. In that way, special interest groups are good. The point that disgusts many people is that more often then not money overpowers the right decision; that is why Big Business is a problem. The richer the companies and organizations, the better chance they have to persuade the government officials.
In the United States alone there are thousands of special interest groups working for their own cause. Some of the causes they are working for are: business, banking, labor, environment, women, seniors, the economy, and farming just to name a few. Some groups or businesses which partake in lobbying are: N.O.W., Green Peace, AFL-CIO, Teamsters, Sierra Club, N.R.A., Tobacco industry and the ACLU. These groups often work at the national, state, and local levels attempting to influence government policy. Many groups have permanent offices in Washington DC. The primary goals of these groups are the passing, blocking, or amending legislation to achieve a favorable ruling for their own benefit.