American Politics Interest Groups

Although academics disagree on the definition of interest groups, they might be defined as organizations whose members share shared concerns and work to influence government policies that affect those issues (Thomas, 2004). Politicians frequently lament the "special interests" that shape American politics. The fact is that interest groups have an impact on the crafting and passage of legislation, as well as the formulation of government policy initiatives. They accomplish this goal in a variety of ways, including as lobbying and education (Nownes, 2013). Ultimately, they push the public and the political class to in-depth consideration of legislation and policies before implementing them. As a result, they wield significant influence on American politics. The present research intends to reveal this major effect. It begins by examining the role of these interest groups in the politics of America before proceeding to assess how they shape public policy. The research then moves to a specific legislation during the Obama Era, the Affordable Care Act better known as Obama Care, where it identifies two interest groups on each side of those that favored or opposed the legislation. It closes with a conclusion of the research detailing its significance.

Role of Interest Groups

As stated, interest groups have a substantial impact on the politics of America. The reason is that they play a critical role in it. In general, interest groups support or oppose the political parties that they believe represent their values, attitudes, and beliefs. In America, the key political parties are the Democrats and Republicans. The two present varying ideas on the way they believe American political and economic affairs should progress. For example, the Democrats are more concerned with enhancing the democratic space by ensuring everyone participates in the politics of the country while the Republicans have maintained a more traditional view that respects each individual’s freedom by allowing them to elect an individual who represents them in public affairs. In this case, interest groups will support the party that stands for their values by raising money or participating in the campaign process to guarantee that their candidate wins. As a result, their role is to raise financing for the political parties.

Another role of interest groups is that they help to stimulate the interest of the public in political, economic, and governance affairs. Because of the implications of legislative and policy directions on their affairs, interest groups will attempt to affect the public to either support or object to the issues. Effective lobbying of the public requires them to take time to bring the issues to their attention. Success in the pursuit of their objectives pushes them to advertise, educate, and hold meetings with the public as a way to sway the public’s opinions. Therefore, interest groups will make more people want to learn more about the issues being discussed. In this way, they make it possible to raise the interest of members of the public.

Maisel & Berry (2012) also observe that interest groups provide technical or specialized information to the government and its agencies as it pursues legislation or policies. The governments at the state and federal levels are constantly examining ways to improve the governance and performance of various industries. For example, they may attempt to enhance the performance of trade. Legislation and policies play an essential role in determining the way that various industries act and the results of their actions. Various businesses in these industries may decide to provide data and technical information that the governments can use to make informed decisions. They do this by forming associations and working within them to push the governments to consider their input. As a result, the enterprises form interest groups that give vital specialized data to the governments influencing the decisions of the governments.

How Interest Groups Shape Public Policy

Interest groups also affect American politics by spreading information to the public. People have the power to influence the way the government behaves in a variety of ways. For instance, they can hold demonstrations or request their elected representatives to act or vote in a certain way in legislative actions. Due to the public’s capacity to direct the actions of governments, interest groups may turn to them to influence legislation or public policy. Educating members of the public on particular issues enables the people to learn more about the intended laws and policies. Although the interest groups may interfere with the presentation of information in some instances to suit their agenda, the education allows the public to learn the consequences of the government actions. As a result, they decide whether to support or oppose the activities. Consequently, the public turns to either or both of the methods mentioned to push their demands. In this way, interest groups affect the legislative and policy agenda of the states and federal governments.

Interest groups also shape public policy by advocating within the political organizations responsible for a particular legislation or policy. According to Grossman (2013), interest groups motivate Congress representatives in the Congress. They hold meetings with them, discuss various policy and legislative issues, and try to affect the thinking of the politicians to support their course. As a result, the interest groups are trying to advocate among the Congress members to ensure that they support their interest when deciding on a law or policy. Educating the members of Congress is also a way to shape public policy as it enables the representatives to consider consequences of their actions once they pass or oppose a piece of legislation, which impacts their decisions. Lastly, lobbying also plays an essential role in influencing the decisions of the governments in policy and legislation. Pressure from a number of people or enterprises to make the governments consider the positions of these entities can make them reconsider a piece of legislation or drive it to become law.

Legislation during the Obama Era

While Barack Obama was the president of America, a variety of controversies arose concerning the administrations legislative and policy outlook. Perhaps no other legislation caused greater discussion than the Affordable Care Act, which continues to influence the Donald Trump regime. During the passing of the Affordable Care Act, various interest groups attempted to influence it. One of the groups that supported the law was the National Women's Law Center. Another one involved the collection of low-income individuals in America. According to Hutchinson (2015), the National Women’s Law Center went to court to sue the federal government to allow tax credits that would support the passing of the law. The organization saw the Act as a means to protect the health of its members by guaranteeing easier access. Low-income earners also influenced the passing of the legislation. They held demonstrations in various cities to push the Congress to make Obama Care law. Those in favor of the law eventually managed to push Congress into passing and implementing the legislation.

On the other hand, there were certain groups that disliked the law that Obama wanted to pass. Two of these groups were the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec). AFP focused primarily or running advertisements that opposed Obama Care. The advertisements presented the problems that the Act would cause and also targeted members of the Republican Party who had shown support for it. For its part, Alec aimed to influence the Members of Congress. Alec works to bridge the space between large corporations and legislators. In the case of the Obama Care, the groups pursued various legislators with an intention of making them change their minds about supporting the Act. In the end, the efforts of those opposed to the law failed as Congress passed it. Nevertheless, their activities revealed the critical role of interest groups in American politics.


Interest groups have a substantial influence on the way individuals and other entities create, pass, and implement legislation and public policy. These groups can lead to improved ability to govern and protect various public issues by ensuring the participation of the public, lobbying legislators, and providing detailed information on various aspects of the laws. However, the same groups can impact the ability to pass the laws by presenting biased views, organizing demonstrations against the intended laws and policies, or misrepresenting the intentions of the laws and policies. As a result, American politics cannot ignore the essential role of interest groups in the passing of legislation and policies. It is necessary that those in positions seek the participation of these groups ensuring they have an adequate understanding of the matters involved to secure the greatest benefit when passing or rejecting a law or policy.


Grossman, M. (2013). New directions in interest group politics. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hutchinson, E. O. (2015). The range of groups who support Obamacare proves its value. Retrieved from

Maisel, S. L. & Berry, J. M. (2012). The Oxford handbook of American political parties and interest groups. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nownes, A. J. (2013). Interest groups in American politics: Pressure and power. New York, NY: Routledge.

Thomas, S. C. (2004). Research guide to U.S. and the international interest groups. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

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