United States Government Unit 2: Participating in Government CH. 18: INTEREST GROUPS & PUBLIC OPINION A. Power of Interest Groups Members of interest groups share common goals and organize to influence government. Interest groups draw their strength from the financial resources, numbers, and expertise of their members. B. Leadership & Membership Interest groups help promote their member’s economic self-interests, beliefs, values, or attitudes to help create group unity. C. Types of Interest Groups Business: National Association of Manufactures (NAM) Labor: AFL-CIO Agricultural: American Farm Bureau Federation, the Grange Medical: American Medical Association (AMA) Legal: American Bar Association Environmental: Sierra Club D. The Work of Lobbyists Most interest groups use lobbying, or making direct contact with lawmakers or other government leaders, to influence government policy. Lobbyists can: 1. Provide lawmakers with useful information supporting an interest group’s position 2. Give testimony before Congress 3. Help draft bills E. The Nature of Public Opinion Public opinion includes the ideas and attitudes of diverse citizens. Different groups hold different opinions on almost every issue. Interest groups and polls help inform government officials and public opinion. F. Political Socialization Political socialization involves learned political beliefs and attitudes. The parent’s political party often becomes the party of their children. Schools also play an important part in political socialization. Close friends, religious groups, clubs, work groups, and economic and social status influence political socialization. Mass media, especially television, can directly affect political socialization. G. Political Culture Political culture is a set of shared values and beliefs. Belief in and support for liberty and freedom, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, private property, and individual achievement are part of United States political culture. H. Ideology & Public Policy Ideology is a set beliefs about life, culture, government, and society. A liberal believes the national government should be very active in helping individuals and communities promote health, justice, and equal opportunity. A conservative believes the role of government in society should be very limited and that individuals should be responsible for their own well-being.