Evaluate the methods used by US pressure groups to achieve their political aims. (30 marks)

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  • methods used by pressure groups
    • lobbying
      • promotes a pluralist democracy in which many different groups can have an impact on policy
        • this should help to prevent tyranny of the majority & a dictatorship-style govt.
      • PGs can use their experience & expertise to advise officials on policy decisions
        • these decisions should be better for the country
      • promotes elitism in which the views of the wealthy are overrepresented
      • this may undermine decisions may by the govt. by giving them less legitimacy & authority
      • ordinary citizens may be put off from politics because of this, so apathy may increase and participation may fall
      • causes scandals such as the 2006 Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal in which Abramoff massively overcharged Native Americans
    • electoral activites
      • the high incumbency rate means that PGs can maintain relationships with incumbents for many years
        • they don't have to spend time & money building a new relationship with a new official
      • the weakness of the parties means elected officials need PGs to finance their campaign
      • could be seen as corrupt & promoting elitism because only the wealthiest individuals & groups can afford to significantly fund electoral camapaigns
      • increases the likelihood of the winner being the one who spends the most
        • undermines pluralist democracy
    • direct democracy
      • gives PGs cause a greater mandate & legitimacy as  it has support from large amount of voters
      • helps to increase political participation
      • PGs need a large amount of money to campaign for initiatives & recall elections
      • the wealthier side often wins which seems undemocratic
    • indirect action
      • often seen as the most politically & morally legitimate method as it is conducted peacefully & respectably by citizens
        • politicians may be more likely to listen
      • large amounts of money may be needed
      • active members are needed to carry out indirect action on a daily basis
    • direct action
      • provides a back-up for PGs that don't have the support from officials in the normal political channels
      • can increase the support for a cause
        • this gives a greater mandate & legitimacy so it's more likely to succeed
      • could give a PG a bad reputation or negative media coverage
      • politicians are less likely to support a PG with a negative reputation
        • don't want to compromise their own position

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