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In order to be successful, an interest group needs to have one or more of three resources. These resources are members, enthusiasm, and money. Any one of these resources can make an interest group successful, but the most successful groups will have more than one of these.
Money can be vital to an interest group. Interest groups that have a lot of money can hire lots of high-powered lobbyists. These lobbyists can influence Congress and other government officials profoundly, particularly on issues that are complex and hard to understand for the general public. Interest groups with money can also help politicians get elected, thus making those candidates indebted to them.
Interest groups can also be successful if they are poor but numerous. This is particularly true on issues that are easy for the general public to understand. This is why, for example, it is very hard to get Medicare and Social Security reform passed. These are things that are easy to understand and they are things that are opposed by senior citizens’ interest groups which tend to have large memberships.
Even if an interest group does not have a huge membership, it can be very successful if its members are very enthusiastic and motivated. Perhaps the best example of this is the National Rifle Association (NRA). Because their members are so dedicated to their cause, it is hard for politicians to oppose them.
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