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Interest Groups and Political Parties in the US

Interest Groups

Dark Money

Dark money refers to money that fuels and sustains election campaigns but whose sources remain anonymous. It is common knowledge that political campaigns require substantial investments and those candidates who cannot sponsor their efforts independently rely on the contributions and support of political groups and parties. However, in the United States, the government puts a cap on political donations and requires candidates to disclose the sources. Essentially, dark money is a workaround to forego these restrictions because in this case, money comes from non-political, outsider groups.

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As for the purpose of the interest groups behind dark money, donors intend to influence the outcome of campaigns, especially when it comes to presidential elections. Besides, donors might want to “buy” the loyalty of the candidate or party that they are supporting and gain leverage. The Opensecrets platform estimates that the 2020 presidential elections attracted a total of $30,561,344 from dark money groups. At that, democrats and republicans received similarly sized donations of around $7.8 million, but the smear campaign funding against republicans exceeded that against democrats – $14,397,457 vs $352,175, respectively.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Families Against Mandatory Minimums is an American nonprofit advocacy organization that advances social justice causes. Its purpose is to challenge mandatory sentencing laws while incorporating the values of racial, cultural, and political diversity in its advocacy. The organization is seeking to decrease the US prison population and crime rates and argues that harsh sentences do not necessarily create a safer society. Families Against Mandatory Minimums organizes fundraisers to cover its expenses; besides, its annual report mentions hundreds of “patrons of justice” or individual donors that support the organization. According to the Opensecrets platform, in 2018, Families Against Mandatory Minimums spent $40,000 on lobbying issues regarding law enforcement and crime. There is no information about which parties the organization has been supporting in particular.

Political Parties

One of the Democrats’ key talking points is building a stronger and fairer economy, which they intend to accomplish by raising wages and promoting workers’ rights. Moreover, federally supported at-scale projects, such as new banks and infrastructures, are assigned a role as engines of job creation. Further, Democrats envision universal, affordable, quality healthcare for which they plan to introduce public options and control the pharmaceutical companies that are now in charge of pricing. A special focus is minorities and underprivileged communities who often have little access to healthcare services. Women’s reproductive liberty is also a focal point of Democrats’ vision as they want easier access to abortion and other family planning services. “Healing the Soul of America” includes fervent advocacy for women’s rights, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and disability rights. In particular, Democrats want the government to restrict gun ownership and put more requirements in place.

Republicans argue that Democrats are addicted to spending, which manifests itself through the desire for higher taxes and higher minimum wages. The Republican party opines that lower taxes will grant businesses more freedom and, in turn, benefit workers. In general, Republicans refer to the 2nd Amendment when defending gun ownership rights; in addition, they advocate for less control, for instance, easing up the rules regarding concealed interstate gun carry. This party is against Affirmative Action and does not want to pander to minorities in regards to supporting them in healthcare, academia, or the workplace. Republicans are most often pro-life, which means that they seek to defund Planned Parenthood and install legal barriers to abortion. Both Republicans and Democrats stage socializing and fundraising events throughout the year.

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