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The Effects of Interest Groups on Politics
Theoretically, politicians are elected based upon the issues by which they stand, and these issues are either supported or undermined by the numerous interest groups that exist today. Interest groups target both major and minor issues, using all of their resources to advocate or defeat the groups' concern. Interest groups are composed of a limited cross-section of the electorate who have a great stake in the issues their group advocates. They make conspicuous the issues their group supports. Their resources are used in an attempt to make their issue public policy. Interest groups are consistent, they do not give in until they have succeeded. They lobby congress, litigate, and attempt to influence election results in order to benefit their cause. "The AARP monitors local and national legislation of interest to its members."1 The AARP, an example of a non-PAC interest group, focus their efforts to electioneering and media. They influence the elections through their voter guides, election forums and the large senior voting population. Through television, radio, and periodicals the AARP is able to achieve many of their goals to aid retired persons.
In 1958, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, a retired educator, founded an organization dedicated to helping all persons over the age of 50.2 The organization, called the American Association for Retired Persons, or AARP, has grown over the years and reports to have 30 million and four thousand chapters nationwide.2 The AARP is unlike any other interest groups because it is a non-profit organization. Similarly to other interest groups, the AARP is a policy specialist that has a narrow view. Their three main policy goals are economic security for the elderly, affordable comprehensive health care for all, and improvements in the attitudes about the elderly in the workplace.4 Research on elderly needs and the economy, as well as a large volunteer network help the AARP influence thousands of potential members every year.5 The AARP is the oldest and largest interest group focused completely on senior citizens, using its numbers and resources to persuade policy makers for the benefit of the members of the organization.
The principle thrust of the AARP is to effectuate positive legislative action on the part of congress. The AARP's size and clout make it the key interest groups advocating old-age interests. They concentrate their efforts in five major fields of policy concerns, medicare, social security, tax reform, long term care, and campaign finance reform.7 The group has proposed and lobbied for an initiative that "declares
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