The Situation on the Hill: Who has the Influence?
To those inside the Beltway it is a fact of life, a process that has been in effect for generations, to those else where in the union it a vague concept. In the eyes of an average American the truth is clouded through smoke screens, through paradigms of freedom and democracy. Many still believe that our government's decisions reflect the will of the voters. Yet, for many years that has not been the case. The US has seen in the last ten years a series of poor voter turnouts, most being well below 40%. According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, the US ranks far behind the rest of the developed world in voter turnouts (http://www.igc.org/cvd/library/turnout/compare2.htm ). With a significant proportion of the US public inactive in politics the influences on our government have materialized in many other forms. The most significant of these forms of influence is the special interest group. Seeking to push their own agendas on the hill these groups use many different techniques to sway congressional votes in their favor. Many of these special interest groups represent significant public opinion in an area of interest, and boast massive membership lists. Yet, there exist special interest groups who do not represent a proportion of the public, but rather owe their construction and direct their mission towards the whims of big business and industry. Like other special interest groups these industry interest groups use lobbying, PR, and soft money to engage politicians to vote in their favor. As I mentioned prior, these special interest groups have been known inside the Beltway as movers and shakers and at the same time they are virtually a mystery outside of it. Perhaps one of the largest and most influential of the industrial special interests groups is the Agricultural Services and Products lobby.