I just heard a snippet of a speech by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. The NRA [National Rifle Association] is one of the most influential lobby groups in the US, and has been instrumental in sinking every attempt to rein in gun proliferation.
I am strongly anti-guns but this post is not about the rights or wrongs of guns. It’s an attempt to understand the whole phenomenon of lobby groups in general.
We all accept that lobby groups wield enormous power behind the scenes but how on earth do they do it?
I may be very naive but I just don’t get it. What exactly do lobbyists do? Do they bribe elected representatives? Do they threaten them with physical harm? Do they blackmail them? Do they threaten to withhold campaign funds? Or do they just try to sway public opinion?
Here in Australia, the big mining companies fund expensive advertising campaigns to sway public opinion against whatever it is the government is trying to do. Does the same thing happen in the US?
I can understand how advertising campaigns might threaten political parties just before an election, but how effective are they in between elections?
I guess one of the questions that’s puzzling me is why governments pay so much attention to focus groups and campaigns such as these?
Surely the role of government is to present the public with a vision for the future at election time, and then make it happen if they are elected? Why can’t they have the courage of their convictions?
More questions than answers in this post, but I’m hoping some of you will provide clues to this enigma in comments. If you know something then please tell us because I honestly don’t know.