Power In and Over Congress
I feel the system is biased because there are inequalities among the representation and participation of interest groups and constituents in the political system. Unfortunately, poor and uneducated citizens arent as organized as interest groups, lobbyists and PACs because they lack the money, resources and connections necessary to influence congress members on legislative bills. It is evident that, businesses, interest groups and labor unions are spending more than $100 million a month to lobby the federal government(Associated Press, SFC, 3/7/98).The actual population of interest groups in Washington surely reflects that there is a class bias in the membership of interest groups(JBG).
Interest groups are organized bodies of individuals who share some political goals and try to influence public policy decisions. Representatives from interest groups are referred to as lobbyists (JBG). Lobbyist seek to bring about the passage or defeat of legislative bills and to influence congress, often using large sums of money in a variety of ways to influence legislative outcomes (APD). I feel that lobbyists have a great deal of influence within congress because they may have direct connections with congress members in high positions. Through PACs, organizations can pool campaign contributions from group members and donates those funds to candidates for political office. Personally, I feel that PACs have the most influence over congress because their campaign contributions speak louder than the constituents voices. Constituents are people who live and vote in a government officials district or state(JBG). In my opinion, I feel that constituents have power over congress members because they have the power to vote them in or out of office. On the other hand, I feel that voting constituents have the least amount of influence over congress members, who strive for money contributions in order to, run their political campaigns, compared to donors and PACs.
Wayne, Lasser, Miller and others tend to agree that lobbyists and PACs have a great amount of influence over congress members because they may have direct connections and give campaign contributions. Recently, the airlines industry convinced congress to pass a $15 billion aid package it needs in order to survive. The airlines had plenty of resources to draw on: 27 in-houses lobbyists, augmented by lobbyists from 42 Washington firms, including former White House aides and transportation secretaries, as well as the airlines own chief executives and corporate board members, whom all are well known in the halls of congress(Wayne, NYT, 10/01/01. Lasser, American Politics, 1999. Miller, The American Prospect, 10/23/00. Geiger, Washington Post, 11/4-10/91.)
I feel that money is an important factor to lobbyist whose connection with people at the top is crucial. Representative Lloyd Doggett agrees that in most cases, All the lobbying is focused on a handful of people at the top(Wayne, NYT, 10/01/01).It seems to me that major corporations have an easier time connecting with congress members because they have more money to contribute during election campaigns compared to poor, uneducated, and unorganized citizen groups. I feel that the congress is fully aware of their dependency of campaign contributions. I believe that its also about making profit from bills, which may be a reason why more airline and oil bills passed unlike environmental bills.Senator Hutchison, senates top recipient of contributions from the oil industry, helped pass a provision that would save the oil industry at least hundreds of millions of dollars-and costs the taxpayers ditto(Ivins, SFC, 5/6/98).
Others may argue that, PACs increase the ordinary Americans voice in our political system (Geiger, WP, 11-4-10/91). However, I dont feel its fair that only the voices of people who give campaign contributions are heard. Their voices outweigh the voice of the poor people who cant afford to contribute cash donations. It is vital that for the system to be equal all groups must have equal representation and participation in the political system. I believe in the majoritarian model of democracy because I feel the people should have the power over the government.