Parties & Interest Groups

In the American political system, there are a wide variety of interest groups that are organized for the sole purpose of exerting influence on the political and legal systems. These groups play a central role in deciding who gets what, when, where and how in legislative and budget processes. They also play a significant role in deciding which values will be promoted and enforced by the government.

Why Do Groups Form?

When individuals have common interests, it often makes sense for them to join together in pursuit of those interests. When this happens, a special interest group is formed. These groups then compete for a share of the limited resources distributed through the political process.

While many groups are formed to compete for economic resources, others are formed to support their positions on issues like abortion and gun control. The limited resource these groups compete for is not money or real estate but rather the use of governmental power to enforce a particular set of values.

Reasearch and Study Helps

What is a "caucus"?
How does the presidential nomination / delegate process work?
What do contributors "buy" with the money they give to politicians?
How did party conventions come about and what purpose do they serve?
What is the history of "third parties" in the United States?

Parties & Interest Groups on the Web

Research the Congress
Keep track of your representatives. Find out what's going on in the Congress today. Find out who gave how much money to your representatives!